Services

End of Life Care

When It’s Time To Say Good-bye

We are never quite prepared for the loss of a pet. Whether death is unexpected or comes at the end of a slow decline, few of us are fully aware of what a pet means to our lives until our companion is gone.

We all hope that our pet will have a peaceful passing when the time arrives. However, the impact of a pet’s death significantly increases when we have to face the most difficult decision a pet owner can make; to have a pet euthanized.

The veterinarians at Foothills Animal Hospital do not exercise this option lightly. Their medical training and professional lives are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of disease and injury. They are keenly aware of the balance between extending an animal’s life and prolonging its suffering. We understand that euthanasia may be the ultimate tool to mercifully end a pet’s suffering.

Reaching the Decision

We want to do all we can to help you cope with this difficult choice. To help prepare for the decision to euthanize your pet, consider the following questions. They are intended as a guide only. You alone can decide what the best solution is for you and your pet. Take your time, as these are not easy questions to face. Please feel free to discuss them with any of our team members.

  • What is the current quality of my pet’s life?
  • Is my pet eating well?
  • Are they playful and affectionate towards me?
  • Does my pet seem tired and withdrawn most of the time?
  • Is my pet in apparent pain?
  • Is there anything I can do to make them more comfortable?
  • Can my pet perform toiletry habits with dignity?
  • Are there other treatment options available?
  • Is allowing my pet to die at home with the appropriate medications for comfort an option?
  • If a behavioural problem has led me to this decision, have I sought the expertise of a veterinary behavioural consultant?

You should speak to all family members regarding this decision. As each family member shares in the care giving responsibilities of your pet, each member should have a say in the decision to have the pet euthanized. An honest approach is best when dealing with a child, who needs to know that his or her feelings and opinions have been considered during this process. Children also need time to say good-bye.

The Euthanasia Process

First, we create an appointment for you and your family and schedule as much time as you need. We know this is a personal experience for everyone and welcome as much or as little involvement as you would like. However, a basic understanding of the process is important should you choose to stay for the procedure.

Normally, we will place an IV catheter into the pet’s leg. This will allow you to hold or be very close to your pet while the injection is given. Usually we take the pet from the room for this procedure so that one of our team members can assist the veterinarian. Once the catheter has been placed and a sedative given, we return to the room and the final moments are as minimally stressful as possible.

Some people choose to bring a toy, blanket, written letter or poem to leave with their pet. Be assured that these keepsakes will remain with your pet throughout the aftercare process.

Saying Goodbye

When you are ready, the doctor will administer the injection of the Euthanasia solution. This results in a rapid and painless termination of nerve impulses and complete muscle relaxation. It is essentially an overdose of anesthetic.

Soon after the solution is given, the pet will take a slightly deeper breath, then grow still and finally lapse into what looks like a deep sleep. Once unconscious, chemicals in the solution will stop the heart. The Dr. will listen to your pet’s chest and advise you when the heart has stopped.

After passing, some reflexes may occur. The body may move slightly, there may be loss of bowel and bladder control, and the pet may appear to draw breath or gasp. These effects are common and never indicative of pain or awareness. In the end, the eyes also usually remain open.

If you have chosen to have your pet’s body cremated, it will then be prepared for transfer to the after care facility. Your pet will be treated with care and dignity, ever step of the way.

As pet lovers and owners, we understand how devastating it is to say goodbye. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make the experience easier for you. We are happy to help in any way that we can.

For additional information about pet loss and grieving, go to our Resources page.

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Blair

Got to meet one of the new owner's yesterday. Dr. Prince was so nice & took great care of our girls. Not that much of a wait this time & staff is always so friendly.

JoBeth

I want to thank the staff at FAH for always delivering exceptional service to my babies! Maggie was in for her exam & vaccinations today & the receptionists, techs and Dr were so sweet and made it a great experience for us both. Thank you!

Robbie

Got to meet one of the new owner's yesterday. Dr. Prince was so nice & took great care of our girls. Not that much of a wait this time & staff is always so friendly.

Monica