End of life care
As your veterinarian, we’re here to work with you to ensure your pet has the best possible quality of life for as long as possible. During your pet’s senior years, we’ll examine them regularly and provide advice on how to adapt their lifestyle and make your home more comfortable for them. Regular wellness exams allow us to manage any health conditions and minimize any pain that your pet may be experiencing, to help them make the most of their golden years.
Deciding when to say goodbye
As a pet parent, this is one of the hardest decisions you will have to make. We’re here to help in any way we can. We can answer any questions you have about euthanasia, provide you with additional resources, and talk through the options available to help improve your pet’s quality of life.
Euthanizing a pet is always difficult, even when you know it’s the right decision. It’s important that you feel informed, empowered, and supported so that you can make the best decision possible for both you and your pet.
What is quality of life?
Quality of life is a term that’s often used in the veterinary world to describe a pet’s overall well-being. It encompasses a variety of physical, mental and behavioral factors that help us get a better sense of whether a pet is happy, declining, in pain or experiencing any degree of suffering. While pets can’t tell us how they feel, there are typically signs that indicate when a pet’s health or quality of life is diminished.
Even when you know that your pet no longer has an optimal quality of life, it can be extremely hard to know when it’s time to say goodbye. Performing a quality of life assessment and keeping a daily activity log can be really helpful. These practices allow you to gauge your pet’s health and well-being in a more objective way.
We’re committed to providing compassionate, pain- and anxiety-free end of life services for you and your pet. We can provide these services at the time of your choosing.
- Why euthanasia?Euthanasia allows us to minimize a pet’s suffering and give them a quick, painless and more dignified passing – especially if we know that there’s nothing more that can be done medically to treat an illness or improve a pet’s quality of life.
- How do I know when it’s the right time?Performing a quality of life assessment can help you to determine whether your pet is still able to enjoy their usual activities, or whether their life is affected by pain or suffering. It’s also important to discuss quality of life and end of life care with your veterinarian, so that you can make the best decision possible for both you and your pet.
- How can I tell if my pet is in pain?Pets are often notorious for hiding their pain from us, but there are signs that can indicate your pet may be in pain. This includes difficulty moving around, a tendency to lay in the same place, hesitancy to go out for walks, whining or crying, a decreased appetite, and lack of interest in their favorite things.
- How can I make my home more comfortable for my pet when they are elderly?There are many things you can do to adapt your home for a senior pet. Our doctors can advise on specific accommodations your pet may benefit from; this may include: keeping your pet on one level of the home (no stairs) and using pet ramps, raised feeding and water bowls (so they don’t need to bend down), easily accessible litter trays, orthopedic beds or ones with extra padding, removing any trip hazards and refraining from moving furniture around (for pets whose vision is diminished), keeping your home comfortably warm, adding non-slip rugs to any slippery floors, and considering a doggy door to allow your pet to go out to eliminate whenever they need.
- Can I stay with my pet during euthanasia?Yes, you are very welcome to stay with your pet during euthanasia. Some owners decide to stay with their pet throughout the entire procedure, others choose just to stay through the initial sedation, while some prefer to not stay for any of it. This is a personal decision, and you are free to choose whatever feels right for you.
- What happens during euthanasia?We’ll give you and your pet some time together to say goodbye. When you’re ready, we’ll administer a sedative that is a mix of painkiller and a calming agent via a tiny needle. This will help your pet to relax and avoid any stress. Next, we will place an IV catheter, through which the euthanasia solution will be administered. When you are ready, we will administer the solution. This is a painless procedure, and your pet will pass away within a few minutes. We’ll give you some private time with your pet afterwards if you would like, and will then handle arrangements for cremation or burial, according to your wishes.
- Is euthanasia painful for my pet?No, your pet will not be in any pain. The sedatives and pain medication ensures this.
- Do you offer cremation?Yes, we can organize cremation services for you.
- Will my other pets grieve the loss of my pet?Yes, pets may grieve the loss of a pet, regardless of whether they seemed close. Owners may notice behavioral changes after the loss of one pet, including decreased appetite, craving more attention, increased barking or meowing, changes in sleeping, potty habits or other behavioral changes. There are ways you can help pets to adjust, including establishing a new routine, providing distractions such as a feeding puzzle toy, and considering calming collars or sprays.
- Where can I get advice or counseling about the loss of my pet?Coping with the loss of a pet can be incredibly difficult. Many people benefit from speaking about it with others who understand. You might consider joining a support group such as the AMCNY’s Pet Loss Support Group.