A Few Parting Words

I’ve been present at many, many euthanasias. 

That probably sounds like the world’s most horrific nightmare to you. It is actually a valuable opportunity to help others find their way through an agonizing experience that virtually every pet owner will eventually face. Here are a few tips to help you make the best of things on what will definitely be a very challenging day.

Call ahead. In a waiting room full of barking dogs, when it feels like every eye is on you, voices often fail. Certain information will need to be obtained from you, and no one enjoys answering questions in a stressful situation. If your pet is the type to panic, ask the doctor toadminister a tranquilizer of some sort. It’s totally fine to be drowsy and relaxed on your last day. I myself am hoping for that sort of end.

If there’s a special toy or blanket that gives him comfort, bring it along. When preparing for the inevitable with a geriatric or chronically ill pet, why not teach him about music? Routinely playing a particular piece when he is comfortable and content may help him to stay calm during his final visit at the clinic. Be careful selecting the music, though, because you will not be able to listen to it again without tearing up.

Is it okay to let him havea super special snack on his last day? Absolutely. Doctor’s orders. Just limit that junk food to the last hour or two before your appointment. Pizza and peanut buttercups invite chaos in the canine stomach, but it usually takes a couple of hours to brew up.

Now, this next part will be difficult; you must bebrave for your pet. When you drove your mother to an important medical procedure, what was your demeanor? Were you wide-eyed and panic-stricken, or did you assure her that everything will be fine inside this potentially scary building? Your pet is highly skilled at reading body language and interpreting your tone. He will be able to remain calm only if you remain calm.

Please remember that, as long as your pet is conscious, this visit is completely about him. Although it is natural (but virtually always unwarranted) to feel some guilt about the decision to euthanize, please don’t waste his valuable time dwelling on it. This isn’t about you.Our animals don’t understand (or care) if we lie to them; they adore us too much to ever bother with something so trivial. So if telling a few lieswill help you maintain your own composure, then by all means do so. Tell him there will be a pup cup after, or a trip to the park. Tell him it will just take a minute to finish up here. It will.

Your pet perceives his final visit to the clinic as “just another visit” to the clinic, but that in itself is a pretty taxing day for a dog or cat. Try your best to put his comfort before all else during this emotional experience, and you will never regret your efforts.

Dr. M.S. Regan