Letting Go of a Beloved Pet

When at a veterinarian’s office with a terminal or nearing the end of their time here pet, please remember a few things.  Letting go of an animal is never going to get easier or be one size fits all.  We as veterinarians get asked, “Doc, if it was your pet what would you do?”  I wish I could answer that question but the truth is, only you and your family can answer that question.  I am always more than happy to talk things through with you, gently guide you to a point of discovery, but ultimately the decision is yours to make.  Every night we leave the office, and often I think of you, your family, your pet.  Every decision that I make is based on the Veterinary Oath that I took at Ohio State Vet School’s Oath and Hooding ceremony.  Maybe not every vet thinks this way but I want to do no harm.  This is also true with ending a pets’ life.  Sometimes it weighs on me that I can’t fix your pet because his organs are shutting down.  Sometimes I think that an animal lost its battle too soon.  Most of the time, I hope your family is at peace if a pet is lost.

Euthanasia is a loving decision in most cases.  That animal feels no pain, was let go BEFORE suffering.  I would like you to realize that you did it for your pet, not for convenience sake, not a moment too late but also not missing out on a day of love your pet wanted to willingly give to you.  I lost my first pet of my very own too soon.  I wasn’t ready, I grieved and cried at a moment’s notice when I thought of him.  I still miss him every day.  If you cry in the room with your pet it is more than allowed.   As your vet, I don’t see your pain as weakness. I see your tears as love given to this animal that has meant the world to you.

If possible, stay with your pet.  Love them until the last breath, letting them know you care.  Animals make us better in so many ways.  Caring and nurturing a pet is good for the soul.  I have refused to euthanize a few animals in my career.  I have fought for the animals not yet ready to go.  Those times are few and far between.  Most people aren’t ready to lose a pet.  Keep them close and love them with all you have while they are here with us.  If you ever must decide to euthanize a pet just remember that when the decision comes with love, in your heart you will know when it is time.