Saying Goodbye

Our pets are part of our family and each and every one of them is unique, bringing their own special qualities into our homes and lives. It is normal to form strong, life-long bonds with them. When that bond is finally severed, whether suddenly or due to prolonged illness, many of us are unprepared for the emotions that may follow.

No one wants to think about the loss their pet, however being prepared for the event can make it easier to cope with when the time comes. Many of us at Elands Veterinary Clinic have experienced pet bereavement ourselves and you are more than welcome to come and talk to us for support or advice.

 

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Euthanasia
Some pets will pass away naturally, but many of us will be faced with a decision on euthanasia, which is a Greek word meaning "kind death". Commonly referred to as "putting to sleep", euthanasia is a humane way of ending the suffering our pets may experience due to illness or old age and is considered to be the kindest and most loving choice in such a situation.

Whilst you may want to delay any decision for as long as possible, your pet's well-being and quality of life are the most important considerations. Therefore your veterinary surgeon, who may have helped you nurse your pet through a prolonged illness and may know both you and your pet very well, will be able to advise you as to when this decision should be made.

If the time has come for your pet to be put to sleep, we recommend that a friend, neighbour or family member comes to the surgery with you so that you are not alone and have extra support. When you telephone the surgery, please inform us that you are booking an appointment to have your pet put to sleep. We can then arrange for you to come in during a quieter time of the day. You may prefer to have your pet put to sleep at home and we will always try to accommodate such a request. However, staff also have to attend to patients at the surgery and it is not always possible to do a home visit, particularly at short notice. Should events suddenly take a turn for the worse, in order to ensure that your pet can be given prompt care and attention, you may need to bring your pet in to us as soon as possible.

On arrival at the surgery, you will be required to sign a consent form to confirm that you have given your consent for the euthanasia of your pet.

When a pet is put to sleep, a lethal dose of barbiturate is injected, usually into the vein of the front leg. This drug causes an animal to drift off into a deep sleep as the body shuts down. The pet will not be aware that this is happening and many owners, although distressed themselves, are surprised at just how quick and peaceful the whole process is for their beloved pet. If for any reason a pet shows any signs of becoming anxious, a sedative which has a calming and relaxing effect can be given. Many owners choose to stay through the whole process stroking and comforting their pet, but this is a personal choice. Others leave the room and return afterwards to say their goodbyes.


Farewell Arrangement
If you have not already done so, you will need to decide whether to have your pet cremated or buried. Elands Veterinary Clinic uses the local services of a professional pet cemetery / crematorium and owners are given the choice to have their pet individually cremated, with the ashes returned either in a scatter box or a wooden casket or communally cremated with ashes being incorporated into landscape features within the cemetery grounds. The cemetery grounds are open all year round and our clients are welcome to visit. Staff at the surgery will make all the necessary arrangements on your behalf.

Home burials help many families, particularly those with children, to say goodbye. However there are a number of practicalities to bear in mind; the grave should be at least a metre deep to prevent the pet from being exhumed overnight by foxes and there is a recommended minimum distance that graves should be dug away from water sources. You should also consider whether you might be faced with difficult decisions should you choose to move house.


Emotions can run high
When grieving for a much-loved pet some of the emotions that you may experience include denial, shock, anger, guilt and anxiety. Some people may have suffered from anxiety expecting the worse every day. Others, who have been nursing their pet for a long time, may feel a sense of relief after their pet has passed away. These emotions are often then followed by guilt for feeling relieved. All these feelings are perfectly normal and will fade in time.

Owners who have had to make the decision to have their pet euthanased may feel guilty. Others will question themselves as to whether they let their pet suffer unnecessarily. It is important to remember, that any decision you made would have been taken with advice from your veterinary surgeon and would have been the right one with regards to your pet's wellbeing.

After losing your pet, you may be apprehensive about the thought of going home to an empty house. As well as providing companionship, your pet may have given you a sense of security. You may feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness, not just at the loss of your pet but also at the thought that you are the only one who feels like this and that nobody else understands.

It is perfectly normal to travel through some or all of these emotions. However, if you continue to experience such emotions, we would advise that you visit your doctor. In addition, there is a Pet Bereavement Support Service, co-ordinated by the Blue Cross and the Society for Companion Animal Studies. Tel: 0800 096 6606.

For more local and free confidential support contact Rosemary Urquhart on 01732 832354 or email rurquhart@btconnect.com. Being a pet owner herself and having owned animals of all kinds over many years, Rosemary is no stranger to the pain and loss felt when it is time to say goodbye to a much loved family pet. In 2010 Rosemary completed and passed the Foundation Course in Pet Bereavement Counselling delivered by the Cambridge Institute of Pet Behaviour and Care (CIPBC) , and in 2011 passed the CIPBC Advanced Pet Bereavement Counselling Skills course accredited by Middlesex University.


Time is a healer
There are so many adorable animals that need a home and are looking for love. Give yourself time and hopefully, when you feel ready, you will want to share your life with a new companion.

Like all of us that have lost an old friend, they will always hold a special place in your heart.

The Ralph Site is, a new website that aims to provide information and support to pet carers around the difficult time of pet bereavement.

Surrey Pet Cemetery and Crematorium - trusted to provide a caring service for bereaved pet owners
>> Beautifully written by Lorraine, one of our receptionist at Elands - "When the time comes....." Her thoughts after visiting Surrey Pet Cemetery and Crematorium