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Pet Caregiver Support Blog…

Preparing Pet Families for Euthanasia

For most pet parents, the decision to euthanize a beloved pet is probably the hardest one they will make. Veterinarians need to consider how to prepare pet parents for this possibility, explain the process, and present certain decisions they must make.

Pet Parents Need a Veterinarian’s Guidance Before Euthanasia

As a veterinarian, I realized how important it is for veterinarians to provide support and guidance to clients facing this heart-wrenching decision. I also realized the need to discuss all the options pet parents need to consider before their pet dies, which include:

  • Whether to be present during the euthanasia or say goodbye once it is completed
  • Whether to make arrangements for home euthanasia or have the procedure performed at a veterinary office
  • Whether to have the pet cremated or buried and the specifics of each choice (private vs. communal cremation, type of urn, home vs. burial in pet cemetery)
  • Saving a clipping of fur
  • Making a paw print
  • Who will be present and whether children will be included

pawinhand

Explain the Euthanasia Procedure to Clients

Another important matter is most the obvious, yet often overlooked one: the actual euthanasia procedure. When it comes to performing euthanasia, there are many different techniques. While unpredictable events can always happen, veterinarians owe it to their clients to prepare them as best as possible.

When it comes to performing euthanasia, there are many different techniques. Each brings an unlikely potential for an unpredictable and unpleasant event. Veterinarians owe it to their clients to prepare them as best as possible.

When it comes to performing euthanasia, there are many different techniques. While unpredictable events can always happen, veterinarians owe it to their clients to prepare them as best as possible.

Veterinarians and their teams should provide a detailed step-by-step plan outlining what pet parents can expect and be prepared for. There is always the possibility of an unexpected or unpleasant surprise. At a minimum, they should ensure pet owners are aware of the following:

  • The placement of an intravenous catheter
  • What each syringe contains and how quickly each medication will take effect
  • Any reactions that may occur (loss of bladder or bowel contents, deep reflexive breathing)
  • The pet’s eyes will remain open after death

A multitude of emotions accompanies euthanasia decisions. While pain and sadness are universal, there often is guilt, self-doubt, and regret as well. These can be ameliorated by careful planning and preparation.

Thinking ahead about the loss of a beloved pet is difficult. Guiding your clients who have sick or elderly pets through the options before a crisis or distraught emotional state can have a tremendously positive impact on the grief experience.

Mindy Cohan, VMD

 

 

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