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Saying Goodbye

When the time comes...

Pet loss is not a subject that is easy to discuss. The thought of losing a pet is unbearable and often euthanasia is something discussed when the owner is faced with a whirlwind of emotions.

We understand that this can be an extremely difficult time for you and your family. Having the time to plan the ‘end of life’ care for your pet can make a huge difference. Planning, for some owners, may not be possible if they have experienced an unexpected loss, but we would like to reassure our clients that every part of your pets care, through every life stage, is important to us. Continued support is here for as long as you may need it. Our receptionists, nurses and vets are dedicated to making the passing of your pet as peaceful as possible.


There are often some decisions which you may not have thought of prior to the passing of your beloved pet.  By discussing and planning some of these arrangements, it can allow you space when the time comes, to cherish your final moments knowing that your wishes have already been discussed.


Often talking through your options can help process loss, and we would like our clients to know that there is the opportunity for this, by making a complimentary appointment with one our specifically trained ALLY support nurses. ALLY, (ally meaning 'supporting another for a specific purpose') is an organisation which specifically trains selected staff to offer assistance, comfort and ongoing support through their journey of pet loss. Our ALLY nurses Lauren and Becky feel extremely privileged to be able to offer this complimentary service to our patients and owners.


For more information about the ALLY support we provide, please visit; http://www.allyforall.co.uk/index.html  or visit their facebook page.

Knowing when to say goodbye

Sadly, few of our pets pass peacefully away in their sleep. We understand that making the decision to euthanase can be a very difficult one, and one that raises many questions. We often get asked, ‘how do you know when it is the right time?’ For many, there is a point where ‘quality of life’ can be questioned, but for others it may not be quite so clear. There are some indications which may help owners in deciding when the right time has come. These can include a loss of appetite, restlessness or your pet becoming withdrawn from you, or a reluctance to play or move around as normal.

When and where to say goodbye

This will vary for every client. We aim to help you make the right choice for you and your family in preparation for ‘saying goodbye.’ Your vet will advise you of your treatment options until the point of euthanasia. At this stage you may wish to make an appointment to discuss ‘end of life’ care with one of our ALLY nurses, or your vet. If you choose to bring your pet the surgery we will aim to plan a time where it is a little quieter for you and your family. Aftercare arrangements can be discussed if that has not already been agreed.


You may choose to have a home visit where a vet and vet nurse will come out to your home at a prearranged time. We can arrange to take the body away and organise the cremation of your choice, or you can keep the body for a home burial. Please note there are additional charges for a home visit, and some times during the day may be more restricted.

What to expect

The vet will discuss the procedure, describing how the euthanasia drug works and what to expect. We will ask you to sign a consent form and where not already discussed, ask for your aftercare wishes for the body.


In some cases we will place an intravenous catheter into their leg, or in some of our more nervous patients advise administering a sedative first.


Euthanasia is carried out by injecting an overdose of anaesthetic into the vein of the front leg, although the injection can be given to other areas of the body. The pet’s leg is held by a nurse, and a small patch of fur is shaved. All your pet may feel, is a tiny prick of the needle; the injection is painless.


As with all anaesthetics, there is a brief feeling of dizziness as the drug takes effect. Unconsciousness follows within seconds, often before the injection is finished. Death occurs within a couple of minutes when the heart stops beating. It may take a little longer if the animal is extremely ill or has poor circulation. The vet will use a stethoscope to check the heart has stopped.


In the few minutes after death you may see reflex muscle movement, or involuntary gasps. These are not signs of life, in fact they are reflexes denoting that death has occurred. The eyes usually stay open and the bladder sometimes empties.


You will be offered the opportunity to spend some further time to say goodbye. For some it provides comfort and closure. This is a very personal decision; we support you in your wishes following this very difficult time.


Following euthanasia you may wish to have a home burial, or have your beloved pet cremated.

Cremation Options

We use St Francis Pet Cemetery and Crematorium in Newquay for our cremation requests. We feel that they provide a professional and caring service, treating each pet as if they were their own.


Communal Cremation - Where a number of pets are cremated together, and their ashes are respectfully scattered within the grounds of the Pet Crematorium. It is not possible to have token ashes from a communal cremation.


Individual Cremation - Where the pet is cremated individually, and ashes carefully collected and returned in a vessel of your choice. (Please be aware there are various options and prices for this).

Individual ashes can take up to two weeks to be returned to the surgery from the crematorium; this can sometimes be longer during very busy periods. You will be contacted by us when your pet’s ashes are returned.


To find out more about St Francis Pet Cemetery and Crematorium products and services, please visit www.pcsonline.org.uk

In some cases where death has been unexpected, there may not have been time for you or your family to plan and discuss aftercare arrangements. We will support and help you with these decisions and can hold the body for a short period of time until you have made these choices. We understand that unexpected death is traumatic.


If you are struggling to come to terms with the loss of your pet, or you are starting to think about end of life care and what your options are, please feel free to call us or make an appointment to speak to one of our dedicated nurses. We can go through your options, cremation and aftercare wishes, making sure you are prepared and informed for your pets passing.

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