The Most Difficult Decision

Making the decision to let our precious pets go when the time comes is always difficult. At the Renforth Vet Clinic, we are here to help you come to the right decision for you, at the right time.

Making a Terrible Day a Little Bit Less Awful

Over the past 20 years I have counselled hundreds of friends and clients on the decision to euthanize their pets. It is never easy. Clients often wonder aloud how I can handle dealing with the loss of client’s pets so often. They generally assume that it would be the worst part of my job. While it’s true that every euthanasia or loss of a pet is heartbreaking, I have to admit that helping clients through the difficult process of losing their beloved pets is actually one of the things that I find most rewarding about my job. Knowing that I have made a terrible day even a little bit less awful for an owner or family, means a great deal to me. As a life long pet owner I have grieved the loss of many furred family members and I understand the tsunami of grief it can bring. I understand what it’s like to be suddenly over come with sadness and heartache even years after they have passed. The memories of kindness and compassion extended to me in those times have never left me.

I feel that we are very fortunate to be able to give our furry family members a final gift; the gift of a peaceful and dignified end of life, surrounded by the people that love them.

How Do I know when “It’s time”…

As a loving pet owner, making the decision to euthanize your pet is one of the most difficult things that one can face. In some cases, people feel that they just know when the time has come. In others, the decision can be long and difficult, full of uncertainty and doubt.
If we could be sure that our beloved pets would pass away peacefully in their sleep, it might make it easier for us to wait for nature ‘to take its course’ when they are sick. Sadly, more often than not, this is not what happens in the end. Some animals will experience significant stress in their last ‘natural’ moments; this is, of course, devastating for their owners as well.

No one can or should make the decision to euthanize your pet for you – but we can help navigate those waters if you feel you are struggling. Sometimes, when we are with our pets every day, we might not be able to appreciate the physical toll that a long term or very acute illness has taken. Other times, because we are so worried about them, even a minor illness is so distressing for us that we see their condition as much worse than it actually is. Owners might ask themselves whether they are delaying the decision out of their pet’s interest or their own. If you are struggling with the decision you may wish to have a veterinarian certified in palliative care do an in home quality of life assessment for your pet to help you.

RVC’s founder, Dr. Wolf Lixfeld, used to say of making the decision, “Better a week too early than a minute too late.” I find so much wisdom in those words, so much so that when I do quote him, I often end up (sometimes unsuccessfully) fighting back tears. I feel that we are very fortunate to be able to give our furry family members a final gift; the gift of a peaceful and dignified end of life, surrounded by the people that love them.

Knowing What to Expect

Knowing what to expect and understanding what it is happening can help to alleviate a great deal of the anxiety some anticipate during the process. Once you have made your decision to euthanize your pet, our clinic will accomodate your needs and wishes as best we can.
While RVC does not officially do in-home euthanasias, we are happy to refer you to a local veterinarian who will come to your home. The doctors to whom we refer are kind, compassionate and professional.
The doctor will administer a tranquilizer or sedative prior to the actual euthanasia injection. This ensures that your pet is restful and peaceful prior to the euthanasia. The tranquilizer is given by injection with a small needle. Generally it takes about 5-10 minutes for a tranquilizer to help the pet relax.
Everyone is different. Those who find the process painful to observe and would prefer to keep only happy memories of their pet in mind may choose to leave their pet in the care of the veterinary medical team. The staff cares for all of these patients as though they were our own pets and ensure that they are as comfortable and relaxed as possible in their final moments. Other owners prefer to be with their pet until the end. In some cases, owners will stay with their pets until the sedation has activated fully but leave before the final injection is administered. Ultimately, this is a decision that people can only make for themselves. We are here to support you in whatever your decision are comfortable with.

Knowing what to expect and understanding what options are available to can help to alleviate a great deal of the anxiety some owners anticipate about euthanasia.

After Care

It is a good idea to consider your plans for your pet’s aftercare in advance. Having to make this decision at the time of the euthanasia when already overwrought with emotion can add significant stress for some owners. The Renforth Veterinary Clinic uses the services of the very reputable Gateway Pet Memorial for all of our patient’s aftercare. Pets sent to Gateway for cremation are treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Owners can have their pet’s ashes returned to them in an urn of their choosing; Gateway also offers a variety of products by special order, including pendants containing a portion of the pet’s ashes, framed plaques and paw print impressions. Ashes that are not requested to be returned to their owners are spread at Gateway’s pet cemetery. Gateway also offers burial and funeral services for owners that do not wish to have their pet cremated. Although it is contrary to municipal by laws to bury pets within city limits, owners with property outside the city may choose to take their pets with them for burial.

We’re here to help. If you are struggling with end of life decisions for your pet, please call us. Part of our job is to help you come to the right decision for you, at the right time; to help you make a decision that, although you will grieve, you won’t regret.