End of Life Decisions

One of the most difficult decisions we face as pet owners is coming to grips with how to proceed when a pet’s quality of life has deteriorated and we come to the realization that our pet may be suffering. Our veterinarians can help guide you through this process and we are there to support you in whatever decision you make. We are frequently asked to examine a pet or to have a phone conversation with an owner about their pet’s quality of life in order to put an objective perspective on the situation. Too often owners tell us they feel they may have waited too long to make a decision and wished they had the courage to euthanize their pet sooner so that it did not have to suffer. The old statement that “you will know when the time is right because your pet will tell you” is true in many ways, but often it means that you are the one who has to be ready to say goodbye and realize your pet may be suffering. As veterinarians we feel privileged to be able to help our patients have a peaceful end to their lives.

dogs

Euthanasia – a peaceful and good end.

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When we first get a new pet we are only thinking about the great years ahead, but time passes quickly and through age or infirmity there comes a time when the quality of life of our pet is such that euthanasia has to be considered as the kindest, most humane way to end an animal’s life.

It is a blessing bestowed upon vets to be able to stop an animal’s suffering by ending their life with grace and dignity. We recognize that this is a very emotional and difficult time for pet owners. Our compassionate veterinarians and staff are here to help you make the right decision at the right time. We can perform euthanasia in our designated quiet room at the clinic or in the privacy of your home using the Pacific Mobile Veterinary Clinic. Contact our reception staff to discuss the arrangements that best suit your needs.

At, or before the time of euthanasia, your pet’s quality of life is assessed based on your concerns, the pet’s medical history and an examination. We will generally give every pet an injectable drug cocktail to create a state of profound and peaceful sedation. When your pet is calm, totally relaxed and you are ready, a painless intravenous injection of an anesthetic agent (a concentrated barbiturate solution) is given to peacefully and rapidly end life. Some vets prefer to administer this solution through an intravenous catheter placed in a leg. You can be present for the entire procedure to comfort your pet, say some last words and if you wish, to spend time afterwards with your pet. Some owners prefer not to be present or choose to leave after their pet is sedated.

After Care – Cremation Services

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We can make arrangements for your pet to be cremated through our trusted and respectful pet crematorium – Until We Meet Again.
This crematorium provides private or communal cremation. If you wish a private cremation, your pet will be cremated individually and then returned to you in a tasteful urn of your choice. If you do not wish to have your pet’s ashes, your pet will be cremated communally. Arrangements for cremation services can be made by contacting our reception staff ahead of time or you may make a decision at the time of euthanasia.
We also offer to make a clay paw print, which includes an impression of your pet’s paw and its name.

Grief and Pet Loss Support

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When a pet is lost the grief and emotional trauma are intense and our professional responsibility includes compassionate and knowledgeable pet loss support for your family. Initially, pet owners tend to be shocked by the level of their emotions after the death of their pet, especially if the loss is sudden and unexpected. When euthanasia is the chosen option for a pet after a lengthy illness or decline in a pet’s health, the grief may be lessened by a certain relief that a pet has been spared further suffering. Pet owners can struggle with a wide range of emotions that may include; sadness, guilt, regret, uncertainty and concerns for public displays of their loss.

Our society and culture do not have a clearly defined response to the loss of a pet. The idea of a memorial, a funeral for a pet or taking bereavement time from work can be met with a lack of understanding. At McKenzie Veterinary Services we try our best to help you with not only making the decision but to help you cope with the mixed emotions you are feeling. Time and reflections on what a blessed life the pets in our society have because of their owners love and devotion during their short lives are often all that many people need to allow the grief to pass. For others, the pain and grief they feel may seem overwhelming and it is then that professional grief counselling may be necessary to deal with the loss.

We have put together a list of resources specifically to deal with the loss of a pet. Some of these resources have fees associated with them. Please check with each individual service if this is applicable.

Disclaimer: Please note that this is a compilation of available resources only. McKenzie Veterinary Services is not responsible for the quality of service provided by each resource. 

Grief Counselling

1) Corinne Allyson, Ph.D. – 250-686-9601

2) Sarah Flynn, Registered Clinical Counsellor – 888-316-0819

3) Derek Martin, Ph.D., Canadian Certified Counsellor – 250-882-0322

4) Kirsten Mueller, Registered Social Worker – 250-508-1394

5) Dana Simard, Registered Clinical Counsellor – 250-634-8140

Also, refer to these websites for updated counsellor availability:

www.victoriabctherapy.com/pet-loss

www.theravive.com/cities/bc/grief-counselling-victoria.aspx

www.psychologytoday.com/ca/therapists/grief/bc/victoria

www.livingthroughloss.ca

While there are currently no active pet loss support groups, there may be some available through the above counsellors.

Online Pet Support

www.pet-loss.net – The Pet Loss Support Page

www.aplb.org – The Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement

www.daybydaypetsupport.com

www.griefhealing.com

www.in-memory-of-pets.com

www.lafeherwingsofcompassion.com (bird loss support)

www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/pet-loss

www.csu-cvnbs.colostate.edu/vth/Pages/deful.aspx

Pet Loss Hotlines

1) ASPCA Grief Counselling Line – 24 hours

877-474-3310

212-876-7700 x 4355

Pager: 800-946-4646 PIN 1407211

2) Ontario Veterinary College

519-824-4120 (x 53694)

3) Winnipeg Humane Society Pet Loss and Grief Support Line

204-988-8804

Leave name, phone number and best tie to reach you. Messages are checked throughout the day and returned as soon as possible.

http://www.winnipeghumanesociety.ca/pet-owners/pet-loss-grief-support

4) Iams Pet Loss Support Center

888-332-7738

Mon-Sat 8am-8pm

5) Colorado State University

970-491-1242

6) Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline

508-839-7966

7) Cornell University Pet Loss Support Hotline

607-253-3932

Tues/Thurs 6-9 pm EST

Messages will be returned

https://www2.vet.cornell.edu/about-us/outreach/pet-loss-support-hotline

8) Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine

517-432-2696

9) University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine

215-746-8247

10) Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine

866-266-8635

509-335-5704

http://www.vetmed.swu.edu/PLHL/

Also offers email support at plhl@vetmed.wsu.edu

Phones are staffed during semester Mon-Thurs 7-9 pm and Sat 1pm-3 pm PST. While school is not in session and during holidays they check phone and email messages Monday through Thursday and Saturday once daily.

Memorial Services

Until We Meet Again offers our clients the best quality aftercare and cremation services. They also offer memorial services, viewing and visitation, and house call visits to pick up your pet’s remains in your time of need. There is also an online memorial page on their website.

https://www.untilwemeetagain.ca

Books For Adults

  1. Goodbye My Friend: Grieving the Loss of a Pet, by Mary and Herb Montgomery
  2. When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing, by Alan Wolfelt, PhD
  3. The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies, by Wallace Sife
  4. Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die, by Jon Katz
  5. Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet, by Moira Anderson
  6. The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss, by Russell Friedman and Cole James
  7. Good-bye, Dear Friend: Coming to Terms with the Death of a Pet, by Virginia Ironside
  8. Loving and Losing a Pet: A Psychologist and a Veterinarian Share Their Wisdom, by Michael Stern and Susan Cropper
  9. The Pet Loss Companion: Healing Advice from Family Therapists Who Lead Pet Loss Groups, by Ken Dolan-Del Veccio and Nancy Saxton-Lopez
  10. Goodbye Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone who has Ever Lost a Pet, by Gary Kowalski
  11. Men and Grief, by Carol Staudacker
  12. When a Man faces Grief by T. Golden and J. Miller
  13. Sudden Death – No Time for Goodbyes. Coping with Sorrow, Anger and Injustice After a Tragic Death, by Janice Harris Lord
  14. I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Coping, and Healing After the Sudden Loss of a Loved One, by Brook Noel and Pamela Blair

Books for Children

  1. The Tenth Good thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst
  2. Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant
  3. The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye, by Jane Yolen
  4. I’ll Always Love You, by Hans Wilhelm
  5. Annie and the Old One, by Miska Miles
  6. Goodbye Mog, by Judith Kerr
  7. Saying Goodbye to Lulu, by Corinne Demas
  8. Jasper’s Day, by Marjorie Blain Barker
  9. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, by Leo Buscaglia
  10. Remembering Pets, by Gina Dalpra-Berman
  11. Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children, by Brian Mellonie and Robet Ingpen
  12. Parting Gifts, by Susan Varley