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Vet Speak: Help is available when it’s time to say goodbye

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Alison Laurie.
Alison Laurie.

I love my job, but sometimes being a vet can be extremely hard. Sadly, this past week I had to say farewell to a favourite patient of mine, who I have known for many years, writes Vet Alison Laurie-Chalmers.

It is always a hard decision to let a much-loved pet go.

However, as vets, it is one of the most important duties that we must do for our patient’s care. Euthanasia, when necessary, is very much part of that lifelong patient care.

Making that decision to say a final goodbye and choosing euthanasia for your beloved pet can be one of the hardest and most difficult decisions you have to face as a pet owner.

But it can also be seen as the last positive, compassionate act that you can give your faithful companion at the end of their life, to relieve them of ongoing, end-stage illness, pain, or suffering. It may be a very necessary release and is a way to humanely, and with some dignity, end any suffering, in a pain-free, previously planned, carefully controlled and peaceful manner.

If you are considering euthanasia for your pet and you are wondering what is involved and whether to be present at the procedure, although difficult, if you can, it is helpful for you as the pet owner to take time to discuss beforehand the usual steps involved with your vet. A discussion prior to the time of euthanasia may help make the final “saying goodbye” a little less stressful.

It is entirely natural to feel distraught and upset when your pet passes. Do not be embarrassed about showing your emotions, your vet and vet support team will understand and they will expect you to be extremely upset. They will always help and support you during this sad time.

Losing a much-loved pet can be extremely hard to cope with. The emotion and pain of grief can feel overwhelming. This grief can lead to conflicting and confusing emotions, from shock, denial and disbelief to feelings of guilt and even anger. These emotions are quite normal and confirm the special bond between people and their pets.

It is particularly important to give yourself as much time as you need to grieve. You have lost a very special companion here, so missing them is quite natural. Unfortunately, not everyone understands this grief, so it can sometimes feel like a very lonely, depressing experience. Take time to talk things over with supportive friends and family and speak with your vet practice and the advised support networks. Your emotions here are quite natural, so do not feel ashamed or embarrassed of them. Try not to feel guilty, or to blame yourself. The decision for euthanasia is always a very carefully considered one and is always taken with your pet’s interests at heart and to avoid any further discomfort or suffering. It is important also to remember that, with time, grief eases and its intensity does fade.

For further information and advice on pet euthanasia, do contact your vet. We are here for you and do understand, and we are always here to help, support and listen.

Contact your vet to discuss the procedures in place at your vet practice during these difficult times.

Support is also available from the Pet Bereavement Support Service, a confidential support line open from 8.30am to 8.30pm on 08000 966 606.

Or if you prefer not to speak to anyone, their email support line is pbssmail@bluecross.org.uk

Alison Laurie-Chalmers is a senior consultant at Crown Vets in Inverness.

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