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When it's time to say goodbye

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Pet euthenasia is a difficult decision and a difficult time for all pet owners. As vets, we deal with pet euthenasia all the time, sometimes on a daily basis. So we understand the process, we understand your concerns and you can trust us to help you through this time.

Quality of Life

Whilst we can inform you of your pets clinical condition, you are the one who has the pet at home and knows what their quality of life is like. We want to know that the animal is eating, drinking, toileting and is ambulatory.

If you think your pets quality of life is not what it should be, we can discuss with you what the clinical signs are, decide if there are medical conditions present and if there are treatments in place or possible.

Sometimes pet owners are just not sure what state of health their pet is in. Common ageing problems such as arthritis causing difficulty in movements, urinary incontinence, excessive drinking or difficulty eating, can all potentially be dealt with so we encourage you to discuss your pets health status with us.

In some circumstances owners may have a pet that they cannot keep, for a variety of reasons and are unsure of what to do next. Behavioural problems are often cause for concern & in these cases we can discuss if rehoming is an option.

When we have all decided that it is time to say goodbye to your pet, we will help you decide the best options for your circumstances.

Burial Arrangements

Pet owners will need to give some thought to burial arrangements. 

1) Home burial. 

Depending on where you live will determine if home burial is possible. For large animals,you may need to check local council arrangements for animal burial.  

2) Pet Cremation. 

Individual Pet Cremation can be arranged & Lawnswood is the company we deal with to assist with these arrangements. They offer some lovely arrangements for urns which can be delivered to your home if you wish. Arrangements can be made for both small and large animals. 

Group pet cremation can also be arranged where an urn is not requested & the pets ashes remain at Lawnswood.

The process of Euthenasia

Wherever & whenever we decide to euthenase an animal, we will do our utmost to ensure the process is as quiet, comfortable and above all, safe, for all concerned.

Small animals   

Pet euthenasia can be arranged either at our clinic or possibly at your home, depending on the individual case and the burial arrangements. We will not euthenase an animal in a car as this is invading the animals private, safe spot.

Pet owners have the option of being present with their pet during the process, but you do not need to feel that you "should be there". Sometimes we find it better for owners to say goodbye first, so their last memory is of the animal alive. Some pet owners wish to stay with their pet throught the entire process, leaving after the animal has passed away.

Safety of people present is essential. Despite our best efforts, some animals will remain extremely agitated or potentially aggressive and may need to be sedated. Some animals will bite out of fear and may need to wear a soft muzzle.

Once the animal is quiet, our staff will place a catheter in a front leg that will allow for administration of the euthenasia solution. This solution is like a very strong anaesthetic, so the animal just goes to sleep. The solution is concentrated that it will, virtually immediately, stop the heart from beating.

The vet will spend a few moments listening to the heart as it stops beating. Due to nerve movements in the body, sometimes animals may yawn, gasp or skin may twitch for a little while until the nervous activity stops. Staff will wrap the animal in protective covers as the animal will go to the toilet after it has passed away.

Large Animals

We often are called upon to euthenase horses and small farm animals. Similar to small animals, owners first need to decide on their burial arrangements. Lawnswood do provide a Individual Cremation service for horses.

The practical aspects of large animal euthenasia are important. If burying a horse at home then heavy earthmoving equipment will be required to dig a  grave in an suitable area. For a horse the grave will need to be the size and depth of a small pool. The ground must be suitable for digging and vehicles need to have access. If using Lawnswood their truck will need to have access.

All horses will be given a sedative first through intravenous (IV) injection. Once heavily sedated a general anaesthetic agent will given IV after which the horse will immediately lay down. The euthenasia solution will then be administered IV.

For animals that cannot be accessed to give IV injections, either through lack of facilities or for safety reasons, we may advise euthenasia via rifle shot. We deal with a company that will assist in these cases, where the animal will be euthenased then removed from the property. This company will also assist with the removal of horses if they cannot be buried at home.

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