Information for Pet Parents
Credit to EUTHABAG for this content
Veterinary Technicians & Veterinary Assistants, you are often forgotten in the euthanasia and end-of-life discussions…
…Yet, in general, you are the ones who spend the most time with pet parents talking about all sorts of topics related to their pet’s health and behavior.
You are often the ones they talk to on the phone, you are the ones they communicate with via text messages, you are the ones they tell about Fluffy’s life in detail during a pre-consultation appointment…
You are also often the ones who will discuss with the client the options for their pet when it is at the end of its life.
Do they want a private or communal cremation or an aquamation?
Do they want the ashes back or an imprint?
How does the euthanasia appointment work and who will assist them?
While veterinarians have an important role to play in these appointments, your role is just as important. There are many tools for you to make these discussions easier.
We also have many tools to take care of your mental health, as these discussions and euthanasias have a significant impact on our well-being.
QUALITY OF LIFE & END OF LIFE DISCUSSIONS
For some pet parents, it’s very hard to know when the time has come.
Some just can’t make the decision while others are aware of the very clear signs that their pet is no longer comfortable and happy.
It’s a very touchy subject but it’s important to guide the client in the right direction for the wellbeing of the pet, in a tactful way.
Many questionnaires made by professionals can be printed or sent by email to the clients.
Some explore the physical aspects of the pet, while some explore the mental aspect and the quality of life of the family & the pet.
If some parents are in denial about the overall state of their companion, it will be hard for them to accept these facts.
The questionnaires are there to help them realize on their own that their beloved companion is not happy, comfortable or that the situation is just not right anymore for anyone, including the family. A lot of parents can feel guilty.
This process, even though it can be hard for them, will make them understand that euthanasia or palliative care would be the best option for everyone.
When they talk to you about euthanasia or end-of-life care, it’s very helpful to use the words ‘‘we’’ VS ‘‘you’’. We are making the right decision for Fluffy, together.
ONCE THEY DECIDE EUTHANASIA IS THE BEST OPTION
Once they decide on euthanasia, there are a lot of things to prepare & decide that are always better to do in advance of the day of the appointment.
Grief is a long process and losing a companion pet is very painful. It’s almost impossible to have these conversations the right way while the pet parents are there in person on the day of the appointment.
They are also not in the right state of mind to take big decisions since they are there to say goodbye to a loved companion.
Here are some things to talk about and plan in advance with the parents. These can be talked about in person or on the phone.
- Depending on what your practice offers, they can decide between at-home euthanasia with a veterinarian or set up an appointment for it to be done at your practice.
- A lot of options now exist. The Owners can decide between cremation (private or group), at-home burial, pet cemetery burials, or aquamation.
- It’s very important to check the laws on-at-home burials for your place of residence, the body needs to be in a body bag to protect the soil from pentobarbital which will leach into the soil.
PROPER CONTAINMENT AND PERSONALIZATION
- Proper containment of pets to protect them as they cross the rainbow bridge is becoming the standard of care since Euthabag was developed. It offers a respectful way to say goodbye, as well as being in alignment with the new AVMA Aftercare Policy. No more plastic bags!
- Personalizing pet’s bags alone or as a family can be a soothing ritual before saying their final goodbye to their companion. For children, it can facilitate acceptance of their pet’s departure and initiate the mourning process. The bags are able to be personalized with markers: some choose to write poems, others choose to draw pictures. Either way, it’s theirs to create a special symbol between them and their pet. Closure is so important, and this is a great way to create it and help facilitate the grieving process.
- No matter the option, the body will need to be adequately and respectfully put in a body bag to be taken to the crematorium, to be taken to the aquamation facility, or to be buried. They can buy their EUTHABAG from you in advance or on our website.
- Do they want to honor their pet in a different way other than having the ashes back? Here are a couple of ideas that you can talk about.
RESOURCES FOR PET LOSS & GRIEF
For many people, losing a pet is more painful than losing a family member. Many feel judged or misunderstood since the subject is not talked about a lot. It’s always a good idea to offer resources to pet parents who will be losing their beloved pet soon, or just did.
CHILDREN AND PET LOSS
Talking about pet loss and grief can be uncomfortable for parents, but it is recommended by specialists to let children be a part of the process.
After all, the pet is a part of their life too and they deserve the chance to say goodbye. If the parents are open to receiving advice, gently guide them with our resources or let them know support groups or pet loss counselors exist and can help them in the process.