Saying Goodbye: How Our Veterinarians Can Guide You Through Your Pet's End of Life

By Nicole Abrego

Our pets are a major part of our lives and play a special role in our family. We spend so much time raising, caring, playing, and watching them grow into incredible creatures that we love and care for dearly. When it comes time to say goodbye to a beloved pet, the coping process can be a difficult and overwhelming one. But you don’t have to navigate it alone. Our Veterinarians can help guide you through ensuring that your pet’s end of life is as comfortable and peaceful as possible.

Knowing The Signs

As your pet’s health starts to decline, you may start to notice changes in their normal behaviour and routines. Though subtle, these cues are key in recognizing changes in your pet’s health. Is your cat sleeping in weird places or hiding? Is your dog showing little interest in going out for their usual walk? Is your pet not engaging in their favorite activities? You know your pet best and will be aware when your pet starts to behave differently.

Your pet may start to experience physical changes that could indicate constant pain or discomfort. Is your pet eating and drinking normally? Is your pet able to urinate and defecate properly? Is your pet experiencing physical discomforts such as seizures or limited mobility? Our veterinarians will consider both behaviour and physical factors when evaluating your pet’s comfort and quality of life.

The Next Steps

Based on these factors, our Doctors will help you determine what is the best course of action to take when providing your pet with the most comfortable end of life experience.

Our Doctors may recommend hospice care, also known as palliative care, which helps provide comfort for your pet as long as possible. Hospice care is a common route for cases in which the pet is experiencing a terminal illness such as cancer. This type of care mainly focuses on pain management treatments such as medication or complementary medicine like acupuncture or laser therapy that may help ease your pet’s discomfort. Hospice care is not designed as a cure and is mainly an alternative when more aggressive treatments are no longer desired.

If your pet is experiencing significant discomfort or a decrease in quality of life, your veterinarian may recommend euthanasia as the most peaceful way to end your pet’s pain and suffering. Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally and humanely ending a life in order to ultimately relieve pain and suffering. The euthanasia procedure consists of an injection of barbiturates designed to overdose animals quickly and without pain. The decision to end a pet’s life is incredibly difficult, but your veterinarian will be the best resource in deciding when this is the best option for your pet.

At The Drake Center, we strive to support you through this difficult process in the most compassionate ways possible. Arrangements can be made for the appointment to take place during our quiet time of day such as the early morning and all necessary paperwork, payments and aftercare arrangements can be made beforehand to help minimize stress.

You are able to discuss with our veterinarians ahead of the planned euthanasia appointment if you would like to be present for the procedure. Some people elect to say their goodbyes before the procedure takes place while others elect to be by their pet’s side during their pet’s passing. Others choose to say their goodbyes to their pet after the procedure has been completed.

Bare in mind, we understand that everyone has their own way of saying goodbye. There is no right or wrong way to experience the grieving process as we all have our own ways of how we handle the death of a loved one.

In all cases, you are provided with a quiet, peaceful, and private environment in our hospital so that you and your family can spend as much time as you need to send off your beloved furry friend.

Part of Our Family Too

The Drake Center understands that your pets are your family. As fellow pet owners and animal lovers, our doctors and staff understand the difficulty and pain that is experienced when losing a beloved pet and that it’s okay to grieve a pet.

You don’t have to experience the end of your pet’s life alone. The Drake Center is here as a support system for you and your family during the difficult time of losing a pet. As we look after and care for your pet during their lives, we at The Drake Center build a special bond with our patients and care for them deeply as well.

Through compassion and our own love of our pets, our doctors and staff are here to support you and your family whether it’s through providing a care plan and guidance for your pet’s end of life to providing a quiet space to say goodbye, we are here for you. Because your pets are family and part of ours too.

If you or your family are experiencing the loss of a pet, please feel free to reach to us.

Here are some resources to help you through the grieving process.


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