End of Life Care – When is it time to say goodbye?

The human-pet bond is an extremely unique and special relationship between a person and an animal. This bond can make it difficult when having to make decisions about the end of life care for your companion.

Measuring and monitoring Quality of Life (QoL) is a big part of judging when and how you say goodbye to your pet. Your pet may have become withdrawn or stopped enjoying things they used to. Their toileting habits may have changed and they may have become urinary and/or faecally incontinent. For all owners and pets this in an individual thing and what is right for one animal and owner might not be the same for somebody else. The main areas to consider when assessing QoL are toileting, appetite, pain/discomfort, mobility and demeanour/mental state. Assessing these areas regularly and monitoring for changes can help guide on what is in the best interest for our pet, whether it be palliative care or euthanasia.

Often with our pets we have to make the difficult decision to help them on their way to be at peace. This decision never comes lightly and can be decided with the guidance of the veterinary surgeons. However deciding on when is the right time for both you and your pet is a decision that is personal to you and your circumstances. Our staff are here to help talk you through the process and guide you.

Death is never an easy subject to be around and can therefore make talking about or thinking about the end of life care of your beloved pet very uneasy. However if we can be prepared to say goodbye to our companion then this may help to ease the grieving process. Where possible, it is better to spend a little time thinking about what you would want for the final moments of your pet, so that when the time comes you are not rushing making decisions which you may later wish you hadn’t. It takes the pressure off making difficult decisions whilst emotionally distressed and allows you to spend time making memories with your pet.

To help this we offer home visits for euthanasia. These are can only be accommodated in a prearranged appointment. We also try our best to arrange euthanasia’s to take place at the end of consultation surgery times. This allows for the waiting room to be quieter and for owners to have time to spend saying goodbye to their pets without feeling rushed or leaving to a waiting room full of people. This however is not always possible as some situations arise which cannot be planned for.

It is also a time to consider the aftercare of your pet. Whether you are wanting to take them home for burial, or prefer for them to be individually cremated or communally cremated. Pets that are cremated are sent to PCS Leyland Pet Crematorium (www.petcrematorium.co.uk/) and returned back to one of our four surgeries unless otherwise specified. For those wishing for individual cremation there are a wide range of options on how the ashes are returned. Pets who are communally cremated are unable to have their pets ashes returned.

We would also like to make you aware of these very helpful organisations which can offer help and support during this difficult time

The Blue Cross www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-support

Samaritans www.samaritans.org

Compassion Understood www.compassionunderstood.com.