Sat Feb 01 2020 15:21:59

Saying Goodbye

Submitted by: Dr. Shari

Having experienced the unique pain of losing a beloved pet, each member of our team is prepared to help make your furry family member’s last moments with you peaceful. Euthanasia is a humane and caring option for animals who are truly suffering. The following information is meant to assist in your preparation for this difficult, but sometimes necessary transition.


How to know when?

Although there are a efw decisions to be made, the most difficult will be knowing when the time is right. There are many ways to evaluate quality of life, but it is often as simple as determining whether there is still any joy in your pet’s life. For example, if his greatest joy was to greet you at the door and now he either cannot or is choosing not to is a clue. If her greatest passion was food or Frisbee and now she is unable or unwilling to partake in these passions, again, this is a clue. Another approach is to mark the good days and the bad days. When the bad days outnumber the good days, the time may be approaching. The questions in the following links can help.

How do I know when it's time?


Quality-of-life Scoring Tools


Our veterinarians will also give you guidance in evaluating your pet’s quality of llife and level of pain or suffering, but it will always be your decision. You should never feel pressured to make any decision. Remember, we’re here to walk the difficult path with you.


How to tell if he or she is in pain?

It is important to know that many pets who are truly suffering will still eat. Usually when they are in pain, there will be few outward signs. A dog or cat will rarely cry or whine with pain, so when these symptoms are present, we need to be extremely careful in either managing or ending the pain.

Common subtle signs of pain include:

  • Panting

  • Restlessness

  • Inability to get comfortable

  • Pacing

  • Immobility

  • Lethargy

  • Withdrawal from the family

  • Lack of appetite


There are some conditions which do not cause acute pain like we would expect with a broken bone or bad ear infection, but instead cause a different type of misery through symptoms such as weakness, nausea, starvation, or dehydration. Our veterinarians will be clear in communicating the reality of your dog or cat’s condition.


More on how to  tell if your dog is in pain: How to tell if your dog is in pain

Should I/Could I stay with him?

We understand that each situation is unique-there is no one right way to handle this difficult experience. 

For those who choose to stay, we have a private room for you to be comfortable as we proceed. As often as possible we accommodate your preferences. These can range from holding your pet until the end or having some private time before or after the procedure. Any family member choosing to stay is welcome and we can also give age-based guidelines on how and when to involve children.

We are always aware of your comfort, but as always, your pet’s comfort is our greatest concern. Bring a bed, blanket, or favorite toy can help relax them through this transition. This also applies to a special treat which would otherwise be off-limits.

Because the procedure involves an initial sedative which also includes pain medication, there are times when the choice is made to leave after your pet is completely sedated and unaware of your presence. If you choose to step away and allow us to do the procedure without you present, know that your pet will be surrounded by caring people and lovingly handled through the entire procedure.


What is the procedure?

Each situation is handled individually, often depending on the patient’s condition, but the standard euthanasia protocol consists of three main steps

  1. Sedation: This is a medication combination which provides sedation, pain relief, and loss of consciousness. I it is either given as an injection or through an IV catheter.

  2. Euthanasia: This is the final injection which is essentially an overdose of an anesthetic. With this injection, the body processes end all at the same time and there is no pain or awareness. This injection is administered into a vein either alone or through an IV catheter, again based on the individual pet’s needs.

  3. Confirmation: The veterinarian will carefully monitor the vital signs to ensure complete and peaceful passing.


What arrangements can be made for after-care?

After your pet has passed you may take them home for burial, or we can make arrangements for cremation. Options include:

  1. Individual cremation

When you choose individual cremation, Pet Rest ensures that your pet is the only pet cremated at that time. A human grade stainless steel identification tag is attached and sent with the ashes. This step allows us the assurance of accurate returns. The most important factor in this assurance is our relationship with Pet Rest. This is a family owned company, the premier pet crematory in Indiana for over 30 years.

The cremains are returned in a navy and gold container unless your prefer a more decorative option. You can view urn, container, and memorial options at the Pet Rest website.  

  1. Communal cremation

Communal cremation means that multiple pets will be cremated at the same time. This option is preferred by clients who choose to not have the cremains returned. These cremains are then placed in the Pet Rest memorial rose garden.


We are glad to offer a modeling clay pawprint and lock of hair at no charge. Full plaster pawprints are available through Pet Rest.


What if my pet doesn’t like coming to the vet?

Often cases of anxiety are best handled with a mild anti-anxiety medication given by the owner at home prior to arrival. The medication is not a sedative, but instead diminishes fear and anxiety. Contact the clinic prior to your appointment if this is your preference.

Although our practice is centered on your pet’s emotional well-being, especially as we’re nearing the end, there are some occasions where pets would be more comfortable in a different setting. To provide for these situations, we have a private outdoor patio or comfort garden where the procedure could be done outside. Sometimes even staying in the car is an option on a case by case basis. 

At-home euthanasia may be available with our veterinarians on a limited basis. Although we would want to comply with your preferred timing, this would likely need to be scheduled in advance.

Lap of Love is a company which performs at-home euthanasia procedures. They can be contacted at 317-975-1950.


What about my grief?

There are times when others cannot understand the depth of grief created by the loss of a beloved pet. Please know that we understand. We are always here for you. We can also direct you to professionals and groups that can take you through this dark time into the light again. In truth, that’s where your precious pte would want you to be as they complete their journey.

Periodically, we at Zionsville Country Veterinary Clinic gather to celebrate the lives of our dear ones who await us at the Rainbow Bridge. Notifications of these Memorial Services are via email or on our Facebook page. The simple act of lighting a candle or sharing the grief with others can make a world of difference as you struggle with your loss.

Pet grief support center 

Pet loss support 


We hope that his has answered any concerns you have about the option of euthanasia. As difficult as it is, we wouldn’t even consider it if our dear companions are not experiencing significant suffering. It wouldn’t be so difficult if we didn’t love them so much. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have at 317-769-7387.


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