The Difficult Choice Of Pet Euthanasia

 By: Jeffrey Weber
Our pets are important to us. For many people pets are friends, companions and family members. A pet may be the only family some people have. We care for them, feed them, take care of their health and daily needs and in return we are rewarded with loyalty and unconditional love. Sadly, there are times when pets become seriously ill and tough decisions must be made on their behalf by the pet parent.

When it comes to your pets health your veterinarian is the best judge of their physical condition. However, as a pet parent your evaluation of their daily quality of life is of paramount importance. Often if a pet has been diagnosed with a serious illness but still shows enthusiasm about eating, seeks out the pet parent and is responsive to attention, plays or is involved with day-to-day family activities the pet owner will often decide that this is not the appropriate time. However, if the pet is in pain, is unresponsive to affection, seems unaware of its environment, suffering through treatments that are not helping and generally seems uninterested in day-to-day activities a caring pet parent may want to seriously consider ending their dear friends suffering.

If you, as a pet owner, feel the time has come to make such a decision it is important that you evaluate your pets health with unselfish honesty with your veterinarian. Nothing will make this choice easier but putting off the decision and prolonging your pets suffering in order to avoid the pain and grief that will follow is of no use to you or your pet. As difficult as this choice is to make it is important that you understand that it is an act of love for your pet.

Once the decision to euthanize has been reached you must decide whether or not to be present during the procedure. Be sure to discuss this prior to any commitments to the procedure. Most veterinarians and clinics allow the owner to be present, some do not. If your veterinarian is not able to accommodate your wish to be present ask them for a referral to one that does. Many pet parents believe that their presence is the ultimate act of love and comfort for their pet. Some pet owners find comfort themselves in being present because it gives them the knowledge that their pet passed peacefully and without pain. In some ways this is also helpful in the grief process for many pet owners because witnessing the death and seeing the body helps them to more readily accept the fact that their pet is gone. While being present can be helpful it can also be traumatic for some people and you should ask yourself if you truly believe you can deal with the situation. While being upset in the circumstances is totally natural, uncontrolled tears and emotional upheaval are likely to upset your pet.

Once a pet is euthanized the difficult choices are not over. Now you must choose how you wish to handle the remains. Often, in the emotion of the moment, it seems easiest to leave the pet at the veterinarian's office. If you choose this option be aware that there will probably be a charge for them to handle the remains.

Many pet parents prefer a more formal and dignified option of which there are several. Some people want their pet with them and choose to bury them at home. It is less costly and allows the pet owner to create a service to honor their pet as they choose. Be aware though that this is not a viable option for people who rent a home. It is also wise to check city ordinances as many have regulations against pet burials.

Pet cemeteries offer a sense of dignity and many pet parents find this comforting. Many pet owners find this choice pleasing because of the calm surroundings and the fact that the grave site will be maintained and well kept. The costs for these services vary widely based on the specific services you decide on and the type of pet have

Cremation is gaining popularity with many pet owners. It is less expensive than burial in a pet cemetery and gives the pet parent more options in handling the remains. They may bury them if they wish (even where there are ordinances against pet burial), they can scatter the ashes in place that has meaning to them, for example, the pets favorite place to walk, or they can keep them in a decorative urn of which there are many beautiful choices.

When deciding the best way to handle your pets remains it is important to find out what options are available in your area. You may also want to take into consideration your current living conditions, your personal and spiritual values and finances. It may seem difficult and even unnecessary but it is probably wise to make plans ahead of time rather than have to make these decisions in your moment of loss and sorrow.

While the loss of a pet is heart rending, and the decision to euthanize difficult it is important to bear in mind that those decisions are based in love of your pet and in the end will make the transition easier for both you and your beloved friend.
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