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Harvey Animal Hospital
18479 Mack Avenue
Detroit, MI 48236
Loss of a Pet
Saying Goodbye to a Faithful Friend
How will I know when to say goodbye?
If your animal is in obvious pain and is suffering it is appropriate to plan a euthanasia right away. Sometimes an animal will continue to eat or drink in spite of it’s pain. If you are not sure how much your pet is suffering, keep a daily record of the good days versus the bad days. If your pet is having more bad days, than good days, you should think about ending their suffering. It is important to remember that our pets do not fear death, they fear pain. It is a blessing that we can give our faithful friends a peaceful and pain free death. If you have any questions or are not sure, we are always willing to help you talk through your options. We understand how difficult this decision can be, and we are here to help you in anyway we can.
Sometimes we are tempted to delay the moment of euthanasia, because we anticipate our intense grief. We feel guilty, about letting our pet go. Often times getting to the decision is the most difficult part. Many owners have a sense of relief and acceptance after letting their pet go. Once they realize their pet is no longer suffering, and they no longer have to worry about their pet being in pain, they can focus on grieving and healing. Owners should never feel guilty about letting their pet go.
What happens when an animal is euthanized?
As your veterinarian, it is extremely important to us that we to provide your pet with a humane and gentle death. We want it to be as stress free as possible for you and your pet. We will explain the process and answer any questions you may have. We encourage owners to be present, but if you are unable to stay with your pet, please know they are being loved and comforted until the very end. We use a special medication that functions in such a way that your pet experiences no awareness of the end of life. The process is very much like undergoing general anesthesia for a surgical procedure. We place a IV Catheter, to ensure that the proper dosage is given. The process is very quick. Afterwards, we will check to make sure that your pets heart has stopped. With this procedure, there is no suffering.
Is it normal for me to feel so angry/sad/confused after my pet has died?
There are many forms of grief that are completely normal. The most distressing are hallucination-type experiences that leave an impression that you are hearing familiar sounds of your pet walking or calling. Some people even think that they see their pet out of the corner of their eye, especially after just waking up. Often, it is the most responsible owners who feel guilty and confused about the choices they made regarding the end of their pet’s life. Occasionally, a person may feel temporarily angry with others involved in end-of-life issues. These feelings of anger may be our attempts to distract from the ultimate encounter with the sadness of the loss.
What are some things I can do to work through my grief?
The most important thing is to recognize that the loss of a beloved pet is a serious event that society does not always respect. Your first task is to take care of yourself. Make sure you get the rest and nutrition you need, even when you feel distracted. Your concentration may be impaired, too, so that you need to take extra care with driving and crossing the street. Grief is a normal process, and time really does heal.
Sometimes it helps to create a special place in your home to which you can go when you want to remember your pet. Although remembering may be painful at first, eventually that pain will turn into sweet memories.
My other pets seem sad, how do I help them?
Losing a pet affects not only the people, but can also upset other pets in the home. The makeup of your family has changed with the loss of your pet, and you may notice that your surviving ones may also experience grief. Sometimes you will observe crying, loss of appetite, looking for the missing pet, oversleeping, house-soiling mistakes, even disobedience. The adjustment to a new hierarchy within the home can also be a cause of change in behavior. If you feel the surviving animal is bereaving offer a special treat, a new toy —and most of all, extra attention from you. The grief should diminish over time, as does our own.
How long should we wait until we get another pet for the family?
This is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong answer. When you choose to accept a new pet into your family, don’t worry that it is a betrayal of your lost friend. Your ability to give a good home to a new pet is really is a wonderful way to honor your pet’s memory. The new pet will never replace your lost friend, but it will help heal the hole left in your heart.
If you have questions about adopting or choosing a new pet, we are always available to answer your questions.