Priory Veterinary Group understand that pet bereavement is difficult to deal with – we offer support and guidance throughout.
Pet Bereavement and Euthanasia
The loss of a pet can be devastating, and we understand that they are a huge part of your family. Although sadly an inevitable part of having a pet, saying goodbye can be one of the most difficult and emotional decisions you may have to make. At Priory, we firmly believe that taking responsibility for a pain-free, peaceful death, is the kindest act an owner can do for their beloved pet, and we are here to support you through the whole process.
When it comes to making that decision, our vets will discuss it with you as thoroughly as you need, to ensure you feel comfortable that it’s the right time for you and your pet. We will do everything we can to make a difficult time as peaceful, dignified and stress-free for you as possible. Home visits are offered for pet euthanasia as well as appointments at our practice which can take place inside, or in our hospital garden. Priory have dedicated members of the team who have undergone grief counselling training, to be on hand should you need them.
In order to help you feel as prepared as possible, we have written answers to some frequently asked questions below. Equally, if you wish to contact our Client Care Team, we will be able to talk through specific arrangements for your pet.
How will I know it’s the right time?
It can be difficult to know when the time is right to say goodbye, especially if there is a slow deterioration in your pet’s quality of life over many months. Rest assured, you know your pet better than anyone and our vets will be able to guide you and offer advice on signs to look for at home, that may mean your pet is struggling.
Some questions to think about are:
Can your pet still exhibit natural behaviours e.g. eating, drinking and moving around reasonably comfortably? (Even if they can’t go on as long of a walk as usual.)
Are they still greeting you when you come home and interacting/ enjoying company as they used to?
Are they still interested in feeding time? (Especially if they were real foodies in their younger years.)
As animals get older, they may develop issues that mean they require more time and nursing care at home. It can be emotionally (and financially) draining and not everyone is in a position to be able to cope with the demands of a chronically ill pet. In these cases, where the condition is not curable or may result in a sudden deterioration when the animal is alone, pet euthanasia may be the best option.
If you would like to discuss your pet’s quality of life, please let us know and we will arrange a consultation with one of our vets.
What happens when I say goodbye, and how is pet euthanasia performed?
You will be invited through to a quiet room where a nurse will be waiting to help. We will run through a consent form with you, and ask whether you would like us to arrange cremation. Don’t worry if you don’t know yet, you will not be pressured, and we can look after the body until you have made a decision.
We will make sure your pet is settled and comfortable. A small area will be clipped, and a catheter will be placed into your pet’s leg vein so that we may administer the final injection, seamlessly and painlessly. Our vets will talk through what to expect and make sure you are all ready, before giving the final injection. The drug we use is an anaesthetic, so your pet will first go to sleep, and then his/her heart will stop. This usually happens within 30-60 seconds of injection. Please be reassured that our nurses and vets will make every effort to reassure and comfort your pet as if they were our own. If your pet shows any sign of distress, then we may recommend sedation prior to the final injection, but this will be discussed with you before administering any drugs.
What are the options for cremation?
Most people opt for cremation, which we are happy to arrange for you. Alternatively, we can give you details of pet cemeteries if you prefer to take your pet yourself, or you can take the body home for burial.
We offer communal cremation, or we can arrange for an individual cremation, where the ashes will be returned to you. We can arrange to store the body until you have decided.
Pet Cremation Services
For over 15 years, we have been using ‘Pet Cremation Services’ in Dorset, https://www.pcsonline.org.uk who share our value of treating your beloved pet with the respect and dignity they deserve. Please ask our Client Care team for more information on prices.
If you would like individual cremation, you need only to choose a vessel to hold your pet’s ashes.
See below for our most popular options:
Wooden Casket with engraved nameplate
Biodegradable Scatter Box
Slate, Pewter or China Urns – engravable
Hand-Finished, Carved Wood Figurine, with an inner urn
*Pawprint Memory Box
*We are also able to offer these pawprint memory boxes, which can be made either before your appointment, or afterwards.
Equally, please don’t feel embarrassed to ask if you wish us to collect a lock of hair. Our vets will be sympathetic and happy to oblige.
For more options, please see the Pet Cremation Services website: https://www.pcsonline.org.uk
Pet Bereavement Counselling
It is entirely natural to feel upset at the loss of your pet, as they have been an important part of your family. Although reactions differ, it is completely normal to grieve the loss of a loved one and very often a mixture of feelings – sadness, guilt, loneliness and anger – can follow. Try to remember that the decision was taken with your pet’s best interests at heart.
I’m struggling to come to terms with my pet’s passing, what can I do?
Whilst the responsibility of making this heart-breaking decision is a burden we take on as pet owners, we feel it is also very much a privilege that we can prevent suffering for our companions at the end of their life.
For children it can be especially upsetting, as it may be their first experience of death. We usually recommend talking to them honestly about what is happening and, as far as possible, involve them in decision-making. Rituals such as funerals, making a memorial or assembling a scrapbook to help remember the happy memories of their time with the pet may be helpful.
It can be helpful to talk to family and friends who have also shared a special relationship with their animal and understand your pain. Equally, it can be helpful to talk to someone outside your normal circle, who will understand and be able to help you process your feelings.
Can Priory Veterinary Group recommend a Pet Bereavement Counsellor?
Carol Winton offers dedicated pet bereavement sessions for our clients who would appreciate talking in confidence to a sympathetic professional.
Carol holds a diploma in Companion Animal Bereavement from the Animal Care College and, as a pet owner herself, knows how heartbreaking and difficult it can be to lose a beloved pet. She offers in-person one-to-one sessions to help support you through this difficult time. For more information, please visit her website https://moggiesandmuttlies.com.
Alternatively, if you would prefer online or telephone support then we would suggest using the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support service https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-and-pet-loss