Our pets are valued friends and important family members.
Companion Animal Loss and Grief

When Is It Time?

Deciding when is the right time is up to you. Your veterinarian may help you to understand the seriousness of your pet’s condition, but the decision of when to let go is ultimately yours.  Our pets communicate what they need throughout their lives. When it comes to their end of life, we must truly understand what our pet is trying to tell us. We must also trust what our own hearts are telling us.

Focus on what is best for your pet’s comfort.

  • It is time to let go of our beloved pets when the pet’s quality of life is compromised.
  • When the bad days outnumber the good days.
  • If your pet does not eat, drink or sleep without shortness of breath.
  • When your pet appears chronically uncomfortable or is appearing to have more pain than pleasure.
  • If your pet is not aware of, or interested in what is going on around them.

Quality of Life Scale

Use this Quality of Life Scale to help you,  10 being ideal




HURT - Adequate pain control & breathing ability is of top concern. Trouble breathing outweighs all concerns. Is the pet’s pain well managed? Can the pet breathe properly? Is oxygen supplementation necessary?


HUNGER - Is the pet eating enough? Does hand feeding help? Does the pet need a feeding tube?


HYDRATION - Is the pet dehydrated? Does pet need  subcutaneous fluids?


HYGIENE - The pet should be brushed and cleaned, particularly after eliminations. Avoid pressure sores with soft bedding and keep all wounds clean.


HAPPINESS - Does the pet express joy and interest? Is the pet responsive to family, toys, etc.? Is the pet depressed, lonely, anxious, bored or afraid? Can the pet’s bed be moved to be close to family activities?


MOBILITY - Can the pet get up without assistance? Does the pet need human or mechanical help (e.g., a cart)? Does the pet feel like going for a walk? Is the pet having seizures or stumbling? (Some caregivers feel euthanasia is preferable to amputation, but an animal with limited mobility yet still alert, happy and responsive can have a good quality of life as long as caregivers are committed to helping.)


MORE GOOD DAYS THAN BAD - When bad days outnumber good days, quality of life might be too compromised. When a healthy human-animal bond is no longer possible, the caregiver must be made aware that the end is near. The decision for euthanasia needs to be made if the pet is suffering. If death comes peacefully and painlessly at home, that is okay.


A total over 35 points represents acceptable life quality to continue with pet hospice (Pawspice).

Original concept, Oncology Outlook, by Dr. Alice Villalobos, Quality of Life Scale Helps Make Final Call, VPN, 09/2004; scale format created for author’s book, Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Anima Bond, Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Revised for the International Veterinary Association of Pain Management (IVAPM) 2011 Palliative Care and Hospice Guidelines. Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alice Villalobos & Wiley-Blackwell.


The Process of Euthanasia

Before the process starts you will need to fill out a Euthanasia Permit Form (available online or in office).  Our receptionist will help you with any questions you may have.  You may want to think ahead of time about whether or not you want to attend the procedure and about after care.

Euthanasia is painless and rapid, peaceful and humane. Our veterinarians often administer sedation (intramuscular injections) before the final injection (intravenous injection).

As the life leaves your pet, muscles relax.  This relaxation can cause some flickers and small twitches. Sometimes pets may gasp. Most pets eyes may not close as this requires active muscle contractions. The muscle relaxation may also cause bowels and bladder to empty.

When those external reactions occur, your pet is not suffering.  Your pet has already passed. This is a difficult time for you and we take great care to reduce the stress as much as possible.


What Will Happen After Euthanasia?

We first want you to know that we will treat your pet as if it was our own.  Each pet is treated with the dignity and respect that’s due a cherished friend.

Choices for the Aftercare of Your Pet.

  1. Cremation With Ashes Returned:
Your pet is carefully and privately cremated. The ashes are returned to you in a beautifully finished wooden box with a custom engraved brass name plate.
You may choose a different pet Urn (Onyx, pewter, brass and wood) at an extra cost.
With private cremations you may also request Sterling Jewelry (at an extra cost) containing a small portion of cremains in sterling silver and varying chain lengths. 
  1. Cremation:

Your pet is carefully cremated and the ashes are spread on a rural private property.  With any cremation option and for a small additional cost you can get a clay paw print of your pet.  A forever keepsake.

  1. Personal Option:

You may take your pet’s body with you for an alternate after care of your choice. (You may bury your pet on your own property, but check local by-laws.)  We do have a strong built cardboard casket we can make available to you (at an extra cost).


Euthanasia is considered For Many Reasons

Euthanasia is considered when your pet’s quality of life is severely compromised. Most often the process follows natural geriatric decline. In other cases euthanasia ends the suffering from critical illness or injury. Sometimes financial means become the determining factor and the owner may choose to halt further treatment.

Losing a pet, no matter what the situation, can topple us into depression, anger, guilt or denial. These are all common normal experiences of grief. Eventually through all of that, you will be able to remember the good times you had with your pet.

Grief won’t leave, but it should lessen with time.


Dealing With Grief Losing a Pet is Heartbreaking

Grief is always difficult and everyone responds differently.  It is important to take care of yourself during this time of pet loss. Cry. Talk to people and take time to reflect and to grieve.

Close friends and family may not fully understand your  loss. They may not value how attached you are to your pet. The bond between you and your pet may be intensely strong and lasting. It is your pet and only you know how strong the bond is between you. Many people find comfort reading books, articles and internet pages written to help with pet loss and grief.

Our website has links to several good pet loss sites.


Should the Pet Owner Attend the Final Moments With Their Pet?

Every owner is different and it’s your choice to be with your pet or not. You may stay for that final goodbye and be with your pet during the procedure.  Another option is to leave after sedation, when your pet will not be aware of your absence and will not experience anxiety.   Some owners choose to wait in another room until after the euthanasia. Others require that they leave their pet at the hospital and retreat to endure their grief alone.

We recommend that you have someone
With you for emotional support
and to drive you home.


Should Children Attend?

Deciding who should attend the final moments with a beloved pet is up to the entire family. Every child or other family member will respond differently.  When we live with pets, chances are we will experience pet loss several times during our lifetimes.


Home | About Us | Meet the DoctorsMeet the Staff | Services | Tour the Hospital  | Our Location
 Contact Us | Electronic Pet RecordsOn line Store | Admissions | Health Articles  | Adoptions
 Pet Links | Donations | Employment | Emergencies | Sitemap