End of Life

When is the right time?

It is never easy losing a pet and making the decision about when is the right time to say goodbye can be incredibly difficult.

Sadly few of our pets will pass away peacefully in their sleep and so as pet owners, we often have to take the decision to let them go.

There are many factors which will influence your decision and talking these through with family and friends and veterinary staff may help.

One of our veterinary surgeons can help you to assess your pet’s quality of life and it can help to ask questions such as:

  • Are they in pain?
  • Are they still eating?
  • Are there any behavioural changes?
  • Do they still want to play or go out for a walk?

 We can provide you with a quality of life questionnaire if you require it.

 What to expect

 Euthanasia (or putting to sleep) offers a peaceful and painless end to your pet’s life.

This can either be carried out at home or at the surgery. A home visit can usually be arranged during the week by contacting the surgery in the morning. This is to ensure a mutually convenient time to visit you. Home visits are not usually available out of hours due to staffing constraints.

A visit to the surgery can be arranged by phoning to make an appointment and letting our reception team know why you are coming in. This will allow us to book a longer appointment time for you and to perhaps arrange for your appointment to be at a quieter time of day.

 You are more than welcome to be present and stay with your pet during the euthanasia. We appreciate that this is not for everyone and if you wish, you can wait outside the room and say your goodbyes afterwards.

 Your vet will ask you to sign a consent form and confirm what you would like to do with your pet’s body. You can choose to take your pet home to be buried or you can have them cremated. There are two cremation options available. Your pet can be cremated with other pets and there will be no ashes returned. The ashes are scattered in their memorial garden. Alternatively you can have your pet individually cremated and their ashes will be returned to you in either an urn or casket.  The cremation service that we use is called St Francis Pet Crematorium and they are based in Newquay.

Tamar Valley also provides a cremation service and they are based at Kit Hill. They can collect your pet and return their ashes back to your home.

 Euthanasia involves administering an overdose of anaesthetic into your pet’s vein. The vet may choose to sedate your pet first. A small patch of hair will be clipped from the front leg and some local anaesthetic cream will be applied. A nurse will then usually hold your pet and raise the vein for the vet. Alternatively the vet may use a tourniquet to raise the vein. A needle and syringe will be used to inject the anaesthetic into the vein. After the anaesthetic has been administered, your pet will rapidly lose consciousness, they will stop breathing and their heart will stop.

Sometimes your pet may tremble or take deep breaths or gasp. These may be upsetting, but are the body’s reflexes after death and your pet will not be aware of them. Your pet’s eyes will remain open and it is normal for them to empty the bladder and bowels.

 What happens next?

 Before or after euthanasia, you may want to have a small keepsake of your pet. This may be their collar or nametag,  a paw print or some of their fur.

You could also create a memorial to your pet by planting some flowers or a shrub. We keep a memorial book in our Liskeard surgery. If you would like to put your pet in it, please send us a photograph along with a few words or a poem.

Losing a pet can be an extremely emotional and distressing time. Feelings of grief, guilt and numbness are all normal and sharing your feelings with friends and family can be helpful.

 The Blue Cross run a Pet Bereavement Support Service and has a confidential telephone and email support line for all ages.

 Links to the above services can be found in the menu on the right of this page or if you are on a mobile device, they will be at the bottom of the page.



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