Pets are considered members of the family, and as such, we want to keep them with us as long as we can. Unfortunately, there is no cure for all ills, including those of an aged or dying pet.
It can be hard to know how to care for a dying pet, but following these seven steps should help you lead your cherished companion on their final journey in comfort and peace.
1. Be Honest, but Positive
Part of caring for a dying pet is knowing when enough is enough. It’s essential to be honest with yourself and your vet, but at the same time, you want to remain positive in front of your pet. Pets are perceptive in their own way, and they will pick up on your feelings.
It can be hard to know how to care for a dying pet when many pets seem full of life, no matter their age or sickness. The truth doesn’t have to take away from the bond you’ve built with them over all these years together.
That being said, if you’re struggling emotionally, it might help you both if you speak with an expert — particularly someone who has expertise in this area, such as a veterinarian or therapist.
2. Find a Good Vet for Your Pet
One of the most significant factors that help you care for your dying pet is having someone who knows about euthanasia, can prescribe medication to make your pet comfortable during end-of-life, and understands what you are going through emotionally and physically.
That means finding a veterinarian who is willing and able to offer all of this. If you have several veterinarians in mind, ask friends and family for recommendations on someone they trust their pets with before making an appointment. Make sure your vet works with your budget — euthanasia does not come cheap!
3. Schedule an Appointment to Euthanize Your Pet
After speaking with one or more veterinarians, schedule a suitable appointment for you and your pet. Your vet will help you determine what would be best for your pet, but they may offer medication to make them more comfortable while awaiting their final journey.
Euthanasia itself happens in the veterinary office, which can sometimes cause emotional trauma for people who are not used to it. Ask if someone can stay with you during this process who does not have direct ties to your pet (such as a spouse or close friend).
4. Involve Your Pet in Grieving Their Loss
Pets grieve just like we do when they lose a companion or loved one — they feel loss at some levels even though they might not be able to express it directly with words.
When the time comes to euthanize your pet, it can be too stressful to focus on them and yourself, especially if this is a long-term process like cancer.
Ask an assistant to help you hold and comfort your pet before and during euthanasia, even if that doesn’t mean physical contact; playing familiar music or using aromatherapy can go a long way in comforting them and helping you feel more confident about the final outcome.
5. Have Your Pet’s Body Cremated
After euthanasia has taken place, your vet will take care of any necessary paperwork and store your pet’s body until you are ready for pick-up.
It is best to have their body cremated through the aquamation process, which uses water instead of fire to return your fur baby to mother nature.
6. Say a Final Goodbye
Once your pet’s body has been cremated, have a private memorial for them, perhaps where they felt most at home, such as near their favorite tree in the garden or on top of their favorite hill on a walk together.
You can put any souvenirs from your time spent together, including toys and treats they enjoyed.
7. Move On
Grief is a long process, and you might find yourself going through several stages before finding peace with your pet’s transition to the other side. You might even find that you feel guilty or sad about their death more than your pet does!
It is important to remember that your pet is gone and cannot feel anything, but you can choose to continue a loving relationship with them — a memory that will light up any room.
It is never easy to say goodbye to a pet, but with careful planning and thought, you can make the process as smooth as possible for both yourself and your furry friend.
By following these seven tips, you’ll be able to give your pet the best possible send-off and ensure that their death is not only peaceful but also allows you time to mourn in your own way.