There are so many great articles regarding grief that we as pet owners feel when we lose a beloved pet, but what to do your vets feel?
For me, over the years I have spent more and more time focusing on providing a compassionate, caring euthanasia service for my clients and their pets. As a vet, I have always appreciated how hard it is for a client to lose their pet, I had always wanted the pet to pass away peacefully and without pain. I truly understood it, when it came to saying goodbye to my dog Maddy. I had all the same emotions and questions as what my clients have and ask me as a vet; Can I do more to help her? Is there another medication to try? Is saying goodbye the right thing? When is the right time to say goodbye? Should I/could I have done more?
These questions are also the questions we ask ourselves as vets about our patients. All of our training at vet school is based on saving animals lives, making them better, protecting them. When it then comes to putting them to sleep, it is like we are going against our training. We are not however. The veterinary code of conduct is to prevent pain and suffering and ensure the health and welfare of animals.
When I put a beloved pet to sleep, I do it because the animal is in pain, suffering or has a diagnosis that means it will be in pain or suffer in due course. I feel that euthanising our pets is the last kind thing we can do for them.
I always sedate the animal first, so they fall asleep, not feel pain or be aware of the next step of the procedure. When the pet has the final injection, they are already asleep, so they pass away oblivious of anything.
The owners pain is the hardest part
For me, the hardest part is not the actual act of euthanasia as I know it is the right thing for the animal, and that I help them pass away peacefully. The hard part is seeing the pain and heartbreak in the owners, my clients. Knowing that the animal that has just passed away was that persons only company, or the reason why they got up in the morning or got out of the house to exercise to take the dog for a walk. With their beloved pet gone, what will they do? How will they manage? Will they still get up in the morning, maintain self-care with eating and sleeping? Will they allow themselves to grieve and realise that the feelings that they have are OK and normal? These are the sad feelings I have every time I leave someone’s house after I have helped their pet pass away.
If you are finding that your grief has become all-consuming please seek help. Please speak to friends/family or support groups/forums.
The Blue Cross provides a free pet bereavement service that you can phone or e-mail:
Here is the phone number: 08000966606 and the e-mail is email@example.com
More details can be found here: https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-bereavement-and-pet-loss?