When it's time to let go.....

General Services

When it's time to let go.....

Pets sadly have much shorter lives than people so at some point pet owners are faced with the prospect of having to let go. This is not something any owner really likes to think about. Sometimes a pet will pass away themselves suddenly and naturally but in many cases, the owner will have to make a decision to let their pet go humanely in order to prevent serious suffering.

What is euthanasia?

This means letting your pet have a gentle, pain free, peaceful death. It is your last act of kindness for your beloved pet. It involves the vet administering an injection which will end your pet's life.

At All Creatures, we will not euthanase a healthy pet - in these circumstances, we will normally recommend trying to find your pet a new home.

When is the time right to let go?

Sometimes it is easy to despair if your pet is sick or is in pain. We recommend that when pets are sick or in pain you bring them to the clinic as soon as possible to avoid any further suffering. If your pet is in pain you may notice more crying or whimpering, a poor appetite, shivering and trembling, lying around more, tiredness and reluctance to go walks. Many ailments, even in older pets, are treatable and with modern treatments it is often possible to provide good pain relief so that your pet can continue to enjoy a decent quality of life. But if your pet has failed to respond to treatment, it may be kinder to let go. Dealing with an aged pet that requires lots of treatment, attention and commitment, can be emotionally and financially draining. The prognosis or outlook in some illnesses can be so grave so it is sometimes sensible to let go rather than prolong the inevitable and the suffering.

Questions to ask yourself in making the decision include - 

  1. Is my pet eating and drinking?
  2. Does my pet seem bright and alert?
  3. Does my pet still want to go our for walks?
  4. Is my pet mobile and active?
  5. Is my dog still interacting with me? Does he greet me when I come in?
  6. Does she still wag her tail?

If you are finding the answer to most of these questions is yes, then it is likely that this is not the right time to let go. You should think about the decision very carefully, discuss it with your family and friends and trust your vet's advice on the matter - at All Creatures, the vets deal with these issues on a regular basis and are very experienced in guiding you to the correct decision. You must use your own instincts in making the decision and you have to also be comfortable that you have made the right decision.

What happens during the euthanasia?

We recommend that you give this some planning if possible - you may need to schedule some time off work or arrange to bring a friend or family member with you. We recommend that you schedule an appointment with us either at the end of the morning or the end of the evening so you will have some privacy and be able to spend some extra time with your pet to say a final good bye.

We can arrange to have this done at your own home if you wish. Some owners prefer not to stay with their pet at the end - this is ok - sometimes the experience can just be too emotional to deal with. If you are leaving your pet with us, then you can trust us to deal with your pet compassionately and sympathetically in your absence.

If your pet has been hospitalised for an illness then you may wish to simply call in and say a final goodbye if the outlook is poor. Sometimes your pet may be under anaesthetic and the vet may find they are unable to help surgically - for example some kinds of cancer are inoperable - in this instance the vet may advise you that it is better to let go of your pet while they are still asleep rather than bringing them around again to suffer.

  • We will ask you to sign a consent form before carrying out the euthanasia - this is to make sure you understand exactly what is happening.
  • If your pet is distressed, then the vet may decide that a sedative is necessary to settle them first.
  • The vet will then administer a painless injection which is an overdose of an anaesthetic called pentobarbitone.
  • Sometimes the vet will place an intravenous catheter in your pet's arm, especially if your pet has poor circulation or small veins.
  • When the injection is administered, your pet will pass away virtually immediately. Sometimes your pet may give a little final gasp at the end, sometimes they will let go of their bladder and bowels and sometimes their body may tremble for a few moments after they are gone.
  • You may want to hug or hold your pet at this stage - this is quite okay.
  • If you need to cry, this is okay - our vets are very sympathetic and used to dealing with the difficult emotions of this event.
  • If you want to keep a clipping of your pet's hair, just ask the vet - don't be embarrassed.

What happens afterwards?

Most people nowadays have their pet cremated but you may wish to bring you pet home to bury in your garden.

You don't have to make an immediate decision - we can store your pet's body for a day or so until you decide.

At All Creatures, we offer a cremation service  - you can have your pet's ashes back if you wish. We offer a number of different options as to how your pet's ashes are presented. Our pet cremation service is a family run business, trusted and used by vets throughout Northern Ireland - your pet's remains will be treated with dignity and respect. The cremation process is certified and inspected by the Department of Agriculture.

In the aftermath of losing a pet you may experience feelings of sadness and loneliness and the house may seem an empty place. Dealing with children who have lost a pet can be difficult. We are always available to help you through your grief if your need any extra assistance.

For additional pet bereavement support please telephone 0800 096 6606. Support is provided by trained volunteers.

Do dogs and cats go to heaven?

Of course they do - it wouldn't be heaven without them. 

Should I get another pet?

When the time is right, you may decide to get another pet. A new pet will never replace an old one but there will be new bonds to form and adventures to have together.

We can point you in the right direction if you wish to rescue a pet or to purchase a new puppy.