The Euthanasia and Pet Memorial Process
Saying goodbye to a family member is an extremely difficult and personal decision. While some pets die quietly at home from old age, many other pets grow seriously ill, become painful or have extreme limitations which diminishes the quality of life for your pet. Euthanasia is a humane choice to ease a pet's suffering. Knowing the facts about euthanasia can help your family make a decision and be at peace with the process.
Making the decision.
While the idea of saying goodbye to your pet may be devastating, watching your pet suffer is a far more terrible experience. Try to assess your pet's quality of life by asking yourself the following questions:
- Does your pet have a terminal illness?
- Can your pet's illness be alleviated with medication or surgery?
- Is treatment affordable?
- Is your pet losing his or her bodily functions? Can your pet stand up, walk up and down stairs, defecate, and urinate on his or her own?
- Does your pet still want to eat and drink water?
- Is extending your pets life in his or her best interest? Or are you extending his or her life for yourself? Many pet owners find it difficult to answer this last question and struggle to answer it.
If you are unsure on how to answer some of the above questions, talk to your veterinarian. Every pet, illness and situation is different and a veterinarian is the best qualified person to help you decipher through your options and guide you through the process. Also talking to loved ones is a great way to help sort out emotions and see things from others perspectives.
Making an appointment.
When you and your family are ready to say goodbye, simply call your veterinarian to set up an appointment. While an appointment is not always necessary, it is preferred because it helps the veterinary team set up an appointment during a quieter time of day to limit waiting and allow for pet owners to take their time. Many veterinary clinics also do at home euthanasia if requested.
The All Valley Pet Clinic on Emerald and Federal Way do in home euthanasia by appointment. The appointments are usually set for early mornings, lunch times or for the end of day to allow time for the veterinarian to block off enough time in the schedule to do the euthanasia and still see other appointments during the day. If there's a special request you have (i.e. doing the euthanasia outside, in the car, etc.), most veterinarians will try their best to accommodate these special requests.
To set up an appointment for in home euthanasia, you can call the All Valley Pet Clinic on Emerald at 208.322.0033 or call the All Valley Pet Clinic on Federal Way at 208.331.0667.
For an appointment to perform the procedure in a clinic setting, you can call the two clinics above or the All Valley Animal Care Center in Meridian at 208.888.0818.
Please note that the All Valley Animal Care Center in Meridian is unable to perform in home euthanasia procedures as this time.
The choice between being at the appointment or not.
Most pet owners find it comforting to stay for the procedure, however, it is not mandatory. Some pet owners find it easier to drop off their pet for euthanasia and pick up the pet's body or cremations at a later time. There is no right or wrong way to say goodbye, whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
What does the euthanasia process entail?
The process varies slightly if the pet owner chooses to be present or not, but in general, the veterinary team will place an iv catheter while the pet owners signs paperwork, chooses burial or cremation options and pays for the procedure and other services. Pet owners are then given time to say goodbye. Many bring a pet's favorite toy, blanket or "forbidden" foods like cheeseburgers and french fries. When the family is ready to say goodbye, they alert the veterinary team and the veterinarian gives the euthanasia solution Iv through the catheter. After confirming that the heart has stopped, the family is given more time to say goodbye if desired. Then, based on what the family has decided to do, the family will take the pet home in a small coffin or the veterinary team will take the pet to prepare the body for cremation.
What is the euthanasia solution exactly?
The solution is pentobarbitol which is a barbiturates class drug that in high doses will depress the brain centers that control respiration and cardiac activity. It will rapidly and gently cause unconsciousness at the doses used for euthanasia.
In some cases, the veterinarian will inject a pet with an anesthetic of sedative before the injection of pentobarbitol. This sedative will usually be given in the rear leg muscle and will take about 5 to 10 minutes to become effective. This will make your pet feel very calm, warm, and drowsy and, in some cases, unconscious. This allows your pet to feel calm during the process and allows the veterinary team to more easily perform the IV injection.
What to expect during the procedure.
Once the injection is given, the drug begins working almost immediately. Your pet will become completely unconscious within a few seconds and death will occur within only a few minutes or less. The most common things veterinarians see are some light moving (pulling arm away, etc.) when the injection first starts. Pets also sometimes have gaspy sorts of breaths after the heart stops, these are agonal breaths and are scary to many owners but are not a sign of distress, just the breathing centers shutting down. Finally, the eyes do not close after death which may be bothersome to some people. Many pet owners like to assist their pets in closing their eyes by gently sliding down their pet's lids with their fingers.
Coping with fear or anxiety about euthanizing a pet.
Most anxiety is from uncertainty about whether or not euthanasia is the best choice for their pet. So, it's important to carefully consider your options and find a veterinarian that will be supportive of the decision.
Grieving over a lost pet.
Grief is expressed in many different ways and each person's situation is unique. The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine offers support to pet owners who have recently lost a loved one. The volunteers that operate the hotline are students who have been trained in grief counseling by a licensed therapist. If you or a loved one is having a difficult time with the grieving process or simply need someone to talk, the WSU Pet Loss Hotline is a wonderful resource. You may reach them by phone at 1-(866) 266-8635 or (509) 335-5704 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Pet memorial options.
Your veterinarian can offer you a variety of options for your pet's resting place. Cremation is the most common choice for pet owners. Some owners choose to have the ashes returned to them in the form of an urn, scatter tube or other personalized product. Other pet owners select to have the crematory spread the ashes for them.
Some pet owners choose to bury their pet in the yard or in a cemetery. If you choose to bury your pet in the yard, make sure to check with local ordinances for any restrictions.
Our in house cremation services.
We own and operate our own crematorium to ensure we provide a dignified farewell to loyal companions and beloved family pets. We provide compassionate, professional, full-service cremation services and remembrance items to ensure that once cherished pets will be honored in a respectful and meaningful manner. Through our services, we can assist you in helping you pay tribute and celebrate the lives of your beloved pets.
We provide a full range of services and items that ensure pets will be remembered in a unique, special and meaningful way.
Communal Cremation. Several pets are cremated together and the ashes are taken to a beautiful private property in Star and spread among the trees.
Segregated Private Cremation. More than one animal are cremated together at the same time, but each animal is separated so that the ashes may be individually collected for each animal. The animals do not touch each other in the cremation chamber. Segregated Private Cremations include your choice of a wooden urn or scattering tube.
Private/Private Cremation. Only one animal is placed in the cremation champed and cremated. No other animal is placed in the chamber. Segregated Private Cremations include your choice of a wooden urn or scattering tube.
Woodern Urns & Scattering Tubes. Segregated Private Cremations and Private/Private Cremations include your choice of wooden urn, ocean scattering tube or rainbow scattering tube. Our wooden urns are hand crafted locally here in Idaho.
Special Requests. We often can accommodate special requests, so please don't hesitate to ask our staff if you have any specific requests or another memorial item in mind.
Other Memorial Items. There are several companies that offer unique memorial items that you may purchase by contacting the company directly. Here are a list of a few that our clients have used in the past:
- Mack's Memorial Glass infuses ashes of loved ones into a unique glass pendant. All products are made locally here in Idaho.
- Cuddle Clones creates customized plush animals, figurines and ornaments out of pictures of your loved ones.
- Petsmart offers personalized memorial stones for your house or garden.
- Eternal Paw Prints sells a large variety of pet memorial items ranging from garden benches, keepsake boxes and jewelry.
If you have any other questions about euthanasia or cremation options, please call any of our facilities and we will be happy to assist you.
All Valley Animal Care Center
2326 E. Cinema Drive, Meridian, ID 83642
Tel. 208.888.0818 Fax.208.855.5776
Monday-Friday: 9:00 AM - 5:30PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Emergency Hours: Open 24 hours a day, including holidays and weekends.
All Valley Pet Clinic on Emerald
9140 W. Emerald, No 500 Boise, ID 83704
Tel. 208.322.0033 Fax.208.322.7578
All Valley Pet Clinic on Federal Way
6801 S. Federal Way
Tel. 208.331-0667 Fax.208.331.2205