Euthanasia and End of Life Therapies

When Considering Euthanasia

is the condition treatable?If you are considering euthanasia, discuss the pet’s condition with Dr. Childs or a staff member prior to making a decision. Every veterinarian has a story or two about the pet that was brought in for euthanasia but turned out to have a relatively simple problem and ultimately achieved a complete recovery.

The mental process of making the euthanasia decision is heart breaking and you do not want to have to undergo this process twice but, on the other hand, you do not want to euthanize a pet with a treatable disease. Many times people come in for their euthanasia appointment having already made their decision when, in fact, their pet has a reversible problem. Do not assume your pet’s condition is untreatable.

Call us first and discuss the situation before you are too far into this emotional process to turn back. Use the medical resources available to you to get all the facts and options before making this decision.

Ulitmately, your pet’s life will come to an end and we aim to make it as peacful and painless as possible. Too often pet parents assume their pet will pass away in their sleep when they become too ill. In reality, many pets neadlessly suffer, are painful and struggle in their final moments because they were left too long. Many disease processes cause fluid build up in lungs, are painful, involve prolonged periods of anorexia and are not as peacful as might be assumed. Please call us if you have any concerns you pet may be ill and possibly dying as there are often more humane ways to pass away.

Should You be Present?

This is a very personal decision. On one hand, your pet might like your company final moments but on the other hand they may not be coherant and you may not be up to watching your pet’s death. Every owner wants to think of euthanasia as a gentle slipping into death, much like falling asleep. In reality, the pet will probably not close his eyes, and there may be a final twitch, gasp, or even urination. Some animal hospitals do not allow pet owners to be present for euthanasia as it may be disturbing to an owner. To help ease this transition between and death, sometimes a tranquilizer is given first to alleviate some of the above, but you should keep in mind that this may not be how you want to remember your pet. The issue of children being present is a personal one and the above information should be considered.

How is the Procedure Performed?

Different clinics have different approaches. At The West End Veterinary Clinic, appropriate forms must be signed in order for the procedure to take place. If the owner is to be present, an intravenous catheter may be placed. This takes a few minutes and is usually done while the owner pays for the procedure and deals with paperwork. The payment transaction is done prior to the procedure so that the owner will not have to tearfully sign checks or credit card slips just following the emotional height of the procedure.

The intravenous catheter serves several purposes. First, the euthanasia solution is painful if administered outside the vein. The catheter ensures clean access to the vein, even if the owner is holding the pet. The catheter also allows for a sedative to be administered prior to the euthanasia solution. After the catheter is placed, the pet re-joins the owner in the exam room.

The owner may spend some last time alone with the pet if desired. The procedure itself is very fast. If a sedative is to be used, it is given first so that the pet is euthanized from a sleeping status. The euthanasia solution, most often an anesthetic agent called pentobarbital, is delivered and death comes peacefully in a matter of seconds. The owner is allowed to remain with the pet for final private goodbyes. At the end of this time, after the last goodbyes and caresses are completed, the owner simply exits the room when ready and the hospital staff takes over.

Let us know in advance if you would like a lock of hair or the collar as a keepsake.

What Happens To My Pet Afterwards?

We use a service provided by Until We Meet Again who come to our hospital in the event of a euthanasia.
There are 2 options you may want to consider prior:

1. Private cremation provides you with the opportunity to keep your pet’s cremated remains as a permanent and personal keepsake. When you choose private cremation, your treasured pet will be the only pet in the cremation chamber during the cremation process. When the cremation process is complete, we ensure that you receive only the cremated remains of your pet.

Until We Meet Again offers a wide variety of memorial products. Making a decision regarding memorial products is a personal process. These items may reflect the life you shared with your pet, your personal style or possibly reflect your pet’s personality. Please take a moment to review the “Memorial Products.”

Memorial Products

Your pet’s cremated remains will be returned in your selected urn, along with grief resources and a certificate of cremation, authenticating that your pet was cremated at Until We Meet Again Pet Memorial Center.

2. Keeping the memory of your pet close to your heart, a communal cremation offers both peace of mind and solace. With communal cremation, your pet is gently placed into the crematory together with other pets.

When the cremation process is complete, the communal cremated remains are collected and will be spread on a private country meadow in the Fraser Valley.

Because no cremated remains are returned to you when you choose a communal cremation, you may wish to consider one of our personalized memorial paw prints as a timeless remembrance.

Vancouver prohibits the burial of a pet at home for various reasons, most importantly that the body may be uncovered and other animals become poisoned.


Grief is a natural part of loss and has predicable stages. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed about grieving for the loss of an animal. Our pets are beloved family members and their loss is keenly felt. Still, it is important to realize that death is a natural end to life and that love will always continue. There are many resources available to assist you in your grieving process.

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine has a Pet Loss Support Program that offers toll-free telephone support to callers. The hours are Monday through Friday, from 6:30 am to 9:30 pm Pacific Standard Time.

1-800-565-1526 1-800-565-1526

In addition, the following on-line areas may be helpful:

Helpful books are available as well:

Final Farewell: Preparing For and Mourning the Loss of Your Pet By Marty Tousley and Katherine Heuerman. 85 pages; illustrated. Our Pals Publishing Co, 3629 N 40th Ave. Phoenix AZ 85019. 1997

Healing the Pain of Pet Loss: Letters in Memorium edited by Kymberly Smith, The Charles Press.

Absent Friend: Coping with the Loss of a Treasured Friend by Laura and Martyn Lee, pub. by Henston Press, High Wycombe, Bucks, England, 1992.

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