Small Animal

Euthanasia

The decision of when to say a final farewell to a pet may be one of the hardest a pet owner has to make - it is also one of the bravest and kindest.

As pet owners ourselves, many of us at the Meopham Hospital and The Sevenoaks and Swanscombe Veterinary Surgeries have experienced the loss of a much loved pet. If you would like to discuss any of the following information, please speak to a member of staff who will be able to advise you.

Euthanasia is carried out by a vet, usually at the practice. When making the arrangements beforehand, inform the practice of your wishes so we can allow as much time as necessary for these emotional appointments. We also do our utmost to secure these appointments at quieter times of day.

A home visit for euthanasia may also be arranged, where familiar surroundings may be more relaxed for your pet and you.

What happens beforehand?

When the decision has been made to put your pet to sleep, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This is a document confirming that you have authorised us to proceed with your pet's euthanasia.

Can I stay with my pet?

It is a personal choice as to whether or not you stay with your pet during the euthanasia. If you do stay, the euthanasia will only happen when you are ready and you will be able to stroke and comfort your pet during the procedure. If you do not wish to stay or if you feel distressed, it may be best to leave the room and return afterwards, when you can spend some time with your pet to say goodbye.

What will I see?

Euthanasia is usually performed by the injection of a concentrated anaesthetic agent into a vein. Your pet will quickly and peacefully lose consciousness as the body shuts down. Your vet will then confirm that your pet has passed away.

How to remember my pet - What are my options?

After the euthanasia you will need to decide what happens to your pet's body. It is recommended that where possible, you discuss the

options in advance with all those involved so you can consider all the available choices carefully and calmly. Options to consider are:

Cremation

The Meopham Hospital and Sevenoaks and Swanscombe Veterinary surgeries use the services of Cambridge Pet Crematorium (CPC), the UK's leading pet crematorium since 1979. Before making a decision, you can speak to a member of our staff.

Individual cremation

You leave your pet in our care, to be cremated individually with dignity. After the cremation, the ashes of your pet will be carefully placed into a casket or urn of your choice. Your pet's ashes will then be securely packaged and returned to us ready for you to collect.

With individual cremations, there is the opportunity to attend and say a final farewell to your pet at the crematorium. Should you decide to do this, a bereavement advisor will explain the service to you on arrival at CPC, and be on hand throughout to provide you with support and comfort. After you have said your last goodbye, you may find it reassuring to witness your pet's cremation on a television monitor in the farewell room. If you do attend, you may be able to take your pet's ashes home with you on the day. If you are interested in this then please speak to your vet prior to the euthanasia so arrangements can be made.

Caskets and Urns

There are several choices of caskets and urns suitable as a keepsake or for interment, but the following two options are the most popular:

  1. Beech Casket - A simple and elegant beech casket with your pet's name engraved on a brass plaque.
  2. A Presentation Container - Biodegradable cardboard container. Suitable for the scattering of ashes. Many clients choose this option and scatter their pet's ashes on a favourite beach or woodland walk.

Communal cremation

You leave your pet in our care, to be cremated with other pets at CPC. Token ash from each communal cremation service will be placed into a casket. This casket will then be stored in a columbarium vault in the crematorium's Garden of Remembrance. For clients who wish to visit CPC, each columbarium is surrounded by a remembrance area where you may place a memorial in memory of your pet.

Burial

You may wish to take your pet home for burial, but please bear in

mind that this may not always be practical for health, safety and environmental issues. A fact sheet outlining the practicalities of home burial can be obtained from CPC.

When do I have to decide?

It may help you to have made your decision regarding final arrangements before bringing your pet for euthanasia. However, it is possible for us to keep your pet's body for 7 days, allowing time for reflection before making your decision.

Bereavement counselling

Counselling can provide compassionate and sympathetic support for those who have experienced the loss of a beloved pet. You may wish to contact the following organisations for confidential support:

  • The Pet Bereavement Support Service - Co-ordinated by the Blue Cross and the Society for Companion Animal Studies - Tel: 0800 096 6606
  • Cruse Bereavement Care - Tel: 0844 477 9400, www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk * The Samaritans - Tel: 08457 90 90 90, www.samaritans.org

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