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Pet Loss

Euthanasia

The bond between a human and their pet is extraordinarily special. The relationship requires a unique responsibility of the owner to manage the health and welfare of their pet. 

Perhaps the most difficult decision an owner has to make is deciding when to let their pet go. Euthanasia is the humane practice of providing a painless, gentle passing for a pet.

While heartbreaking, it is a final act of love to help a beloved pet pass peacefully. Even when it is the right thing to do, euthanasia brings with it traumatic feelings of guilt, deep sorrow, confusion, and the weight of final responsibility.

These are natural and normal to experience.  How this decision is reached is a personal and individual experience for every pet owner and it always requires great compassion, bravery, and love.

 

Common Questions about Euthanasia

The bond between a human and their pet is extraordinarily special. The relationship requires a unique responsibility of the owner to manage the health and welfare of their companion animal. Perhaps the most difficult decision an owner has to make is deciding when to let their pet go. Euthanasia is the humane practice of providing a painless, gentle passing for a pet.

We are partnered with Pets at Peace located right next to Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon. Pets at Peace provides aftercare for beloved pets with compassion, respect and dignity.

How do I make an appointment?

When you feel the time is right to put a pet to sleep, you may call our office or reach out directly to Pets at Peace:(925) 408-2428 or info@petsatpeaceca.com and set a specific time to do so.

We know that when you call you may want this handled as soon as possible, and we will make every effort to meet your requests. If it is more appropriate in your case, you can call further in advance.

What type of services does Pets at Peace offer?

Your pet's remains are always handled with dignity and respect; our identification system and Pet Electronic Tracking System ensure that the cremains are those of your beloved pet.

  • Pet cremation service is available for all size dogs and cats, as well as birds, reptiles, rabbits, rodents, goats, pigs.
  • Sorry, we are not able to cremate animals over 250 pounds.
  • You can choose either private or group cremation.
  • By appointment ONLY, you may choose to witness an individual cremation.
  • Home pickup is available for a reasonable charge. By calling first, you may arrange a time to bring your pet to our facility located in San Ramon.
  • Your pet's cremains (ashes) are usually available for pick-up within 5 business days.

Memorial Urns and Keepsakes

Pets at Peace provide a personal, cherished memory of your beloved pet. They do provide a standard urn as a part of the service.

They are also partnered with an online provider to offer an extensive list of memorial urns, keepsakes, and jewelry: http://petsatpeaceca.faithfulforeverpets.com/

Urns are available in many different styles, materials, and finishes. Many memorial products can be engraved to further personalize them. Pets at Peace does not charge an additional fee if a non-standard urn is elected.

Can a pet be put to sleep at home?

If you prefer to have your pet put to sleep at home, we recommend using a Home Pet Euthanasia veterinarian. These doctors can assist you in providing a peaceful euthanasia in your home where your cat may feel more comfortable.

Dog & Cat Housecalls

Dr. Tracy Williams  |  925.735.7387

www.dogandcathousecalls.com

Heaven From Home

Dr. Vanessa Wensing  |  925.218.8282 

www.heavenfromhome.com

Rainbow Bridge

Dr. Anthony Smith  |  510.381.3389

www.rainbowbridgevet.com

How do I know I am doing the right thing?

How do you know when it is time? In our experience we rarely see someone arrive at this decision prematurely. However, we are obligated to tell you if we think it is not yet time to put a pet to sleep. We promise to tell you if we think you are doing it too soon.

We are here to help you during this difficult time and we take our responsibility as seriously as anything we do.

Can I, or should I, be present?

Not everyone chooses to be present for the euthanasia of their pet and it is a very personal decision.  If you chose to be present, the euthanasia process varies based on the doctor involved and special needs of each patient.  

You may want to invite family members or friends to be present for emotional support. If you choose to not be present rest assured that your pet will not be alone in their final moments.

How is it done?

We understand what an intense and emotional experience saying goodbye to a beloved pet is.  We do everything within our power to create a supportive, caring, and respectful environment for you and your pet. If you would like to know more about what to expect during a euthansia appointment, please click here.

Pet Grief

Pets have the ability to grieve for the loss of their fellow companion animals. Every pet is unique and while they are capable of grief it is not inevitable that they will experience it. 

Pets who are grieving may manifest behaviors similar to a bereaved human. They may be restless, agitated, anxious, and depressed. Any unusual behavior after the passing of another household pet can be a sign of grief.

Common symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • Decreased appetite
  • Unusual sleeping patterns
  • Loss of interest in normal pleasures
  • Aloof behavior (including hiding)
  • Quietness, and lethargy  

If your pet does show any of these signs, it is important to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any medical reasons for the behavior.


A pet may grieve for a short while or for several months; during this time try to keep their routine as normal as possible.

While extra attention can be healing for both you and your pet, you want to guard against reinforcing negative behavioral changes.

It may be helpful to create a new daily ritual for you and your surviving pet. This can be something each of you look forward to, whether it is playing together, a brushing, or maybe just snuggle time.

Children and Pet Loss

Children have a unique connection to their pets. Discussing euthanasia or the loss of a pet with a child is a sensitive matter. Often this is a child’s first experience with death.

There are varying points of view on how to handle the topic but in the end, you are the best judge of what your child can handle.

In general, child psychologists agree that being clear and honest is a sound approach. It is recommended that you avoid using the phrase “put to sleep” since children may become confused and develop a fear of falling asleep.

They will often have questions when a beloved pet has passed away. Let them know it is okay for them to ask questions and to feel sad.  We have provided a list of resources, both online and in print, to provide guidance on this subject.

Pet Loss and Grief Resources

The loss of a beloved pet companion may be one of the most devastating and painful experiences we face. It is hard to say goodbye, and just as hard to express the depth of your grief.

Grief is a process that individuals express in unique ways, and at their own pace. Whether your pet is ill or has passed away, it is important to honor your feelings and to understand the emotions you are experiencing.

Because people handle the loss of a pet in many different ways, we encourage you to seek help and talk with family and friends about your loss. You can also talk with your veterinarian, read pet loss books, visit pet loss websites, or seek counseling if needed.

Recommended Books:

So Easy to Love, So Hard to Lose: A Bridge to Healing Before and After the Loss of a Pet Laurie Kaplan, JanGen Press, 2010

When Your Pet Dies: How to Cope with Your Feelings J. Quackenbush & D. Graveline, Simon & Schuster, 1985

When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing Alan D. Wolfelt PHD, Companion Press, 2004

The Loss of a Pet Wallace Sife, Howell Book House, 2005

Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet Moira Anderson Allen, Dog Ear Publishing, 2007

The Rainbow Bridge: Pet Loss Is Heaven’s Gain Niki Behrikis Shanahan, Pete Publishing, 2007

Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet  Gary Kowalski, New World Library, 2006

Cold Noses at The Pearly Gates Gary Kurz, Citadel, 2008

For Every Cat an Angel Christine Davis, Lighthearted Press, 2001

I Will See You in Heaven Jack Wintz, Paraclete Press, 2011

Soul Comfort for Cat Lovers: Coping Wisdom for Heart and Soul After the Loss of a Beloved Feline Liz Eastwood, Sparkletonic Books, 2012

Books for Children:

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children B. Mellonie & R. Ingpen, Bantam Books, 1983

When a Pet Dies Fred Rogers, Puffin, 1998

Cat Heaven Cynthia Rylant, Blue Sky Press, 1997

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney Judy Viorst,  Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1987

Children and Pet Loss: A Guide for Helping Marty Tousley, Our Pals Pub, 1996

Recommended Websites:

Pet Loss Support Hotlines:

  • ASPCA National Pet Loss Support Hotline: 877.474.3310
  • Cornell University Pet Loss Support Hotline: 607.253.3932
  • Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline: 508.839.7966
  • University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine “C.A.R.E. Pet Loss Support Hotline”: 877.394.2273
  • Washington State University Pet Loss Hotline: 866.266.8635 or 509.335.5704

 

Creating a Memorial

Remembering the good times that you shared with your pet can help counteract the grief that comes with loss. One way to help you focus on those positive memories is finding a way to memorialize your pet.

Creating a memorial can be a cathartic and healing experience and is a effective way to help you cope with your grief, while providing you with a loving reminder of your pet for years to come.

There are many ways to memorialize your pet. Here are a few suggestions:

Photo tribute

Select a favorite photo of your pet and have it framed; place it where it will bring you the most comfort. Or, place your pet’s picture in a shadow box and put some of their things inside the box like their collar, lock of hair, favorite toy, or paw print.


Have a portrait painted

A painting is a unique way to commemorate a beloved pet. Most pet portrait artists will work from your favorite photos.

Write a tribute

A written tribute can be a poem, a letter to your pet, an account of your pet’s life, or anything else that seems an effective way of expressing your feelings and memories.


Post an online tribute

Post a picture on the social media site of your choice along with a few words about the love you feel for your pet. There are also several pet loss support websites that allow you to post a photo and tribute of your pet online for free.

Purchase a special urn for your pet’s ashes

If you have chosen cremation for your pet, you may wish to keep its ashes in a decorative urn. There are many companies that offer special pet urns on the internet.

Make a donation in your pet’s name to an animal welfare or humane organization

Sometimes animal shelters or humane societies will provide a plaque or paving stone with your pet’s name on it for a donation. Or, if you adopted a pet from a local animal rescue organization, make a donation in your pet’s name; most of these groups are non-profits.

Contribute to the cure

If your pet died of a particular disease, there may be a research organization that is seeking a cure. A contribution to that organization may help other pets in the future.

Plant a tree 

Some companies offer to plant a tree in your pet’s name, in the state of your choice. Or, plant a tree or special plant in your own garden, park or school for remembrance.

Garden memorial stone

Place a memorial stone, statue or marker in your garden, even if you have not buried your pet at home.You can place the memorial stone in your pet’s favorite spot in the yard.

The Rainbow Bridge

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.  The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together...

Author Unknown