We all wish that our pets could stay with us forever but unfortunately losing them is a sad part of pet ownership. At Dignity we believe that talking about and preparing for pet loss is extremely important so here we will guide you through some of the things to consider and steps you can take.
Making the decision
Sadly we sometimes have to make the extremely difficult decision regarding euthanasia. It’s likely you are already beginning to grieve the loss of your pet at this point so emotions can begin to run high. Talk about your pets health and quality of life with your vet who can provide important advice about the next steps.
Pet charity Blue Cross say it’s important to talk to friends and family as well as your vet, and ask questions like the below to determine whether it’s the right time.
- Can your pet still eat, drink, sleep and move around reasonably comfortably?
- Does he or she respond to your presence and greet you?
- Does feeding time attract interest?
Even looking at the situation objectively, it’s easy to want to keep your pet around as long as possible. Pet bereavement counsellor Carrie Ball says “if it’s something you’re thinking of then it’s the right time, because you wouldn’t entertain the idea of it if doesn’t seem like the best thing to do,” she adds “when the bad days outnumber the good days then it’s time.”
There are also mobile veterinary services that can provide euthanasia at home if you feel your pet would be more comfortable, such as Cloud 9 Vets.
Coming to terms with loss
Following the loss of your pet, and sometimes even leading up to it, we often feel guilty. Despite taking the time to make the best decision for them, the question of whether it was the right one lingers. Don’t be embarrassed to feel this way as it is part of the natural grieving process. The grief will not disappear overnight, and may affect you for many years, but learning to live with your loss can help you to come to terms with it.
Here are some things you can do to help ease the pain of pet loss:
- Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling
- Don’t feel ashamed about grieving the loss of your family member
- Find a way to pay tribute to your pet
- Keep active to distract you from your loss
- Find a routine that works for you
- Contact a pet bereavement service or counsellor if you need support
Choosing pet cremation
If you haven’t thought about it before it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to do with your pet following their death. There are 3 main options; burial in your garden, communal cremation via your vet, or individual cremation. Communal cremation means that your pet will be cremated alongside other pets and you cannot get their ashes back, whereas you usually get to keep them if you opt for an individual cremation. Choosing your cremation option can help with preparing for pet loss.
Many people choose an individual cremation so that they can keep their pet’s ashes close by, or if they do not have access to anywhere they can bury them. We also find many of our clients choose an individual cremation at Dignity due to the caring and respectful way we treat all pets in our care. We can provide you will a Letter of Wishes which you can give to your vet so they know who to contact when the time comes. We also offer a Pre Payment Plan for those who would like to spread the cost of their pet’s cremation, get in touch for more information.
Choosing what to do with your pet’s remains is a deeply personal decision so take the time to think over the different options. Do not feel pressured by your vet to make a decision straight away, this is your choice and you do not have to use the service they recommend. If you have any questions you can always give us a call and we will talk you through how the process works.
Preparing for Pet Loss Checklist
It’s hard to talk, or even think, about losing a pet but if you want to be prepared here are some things to consider:
- Keep an eye on your pet’s behaviour so you can spot any signs their health may be suffering
- Speak to your vet about their health and anything out of the ordinary you have noticed
- Discuss how you are feeling with friends and family
- Decide what you would like to do with your pet following their death
- Think about how you can pay tribute to them – this could be a ashes scattering ceremony, memorial plant or tree, personalised stone, framed photograph or memory box
There are lots of resources when it comes to dealing with the loss of your pet, and it’s important to reach out if you feel you need support. Take a look at our pet bereavement page for resources and links to support services and counsellors for further information.