End Of Life

We are here to support you and your pet

Knowing when it is time is very difficult for any pet owner. We are caught in between wanting to give our pets as much time as possible, while at the same time not extending any suffering your pet may be experiencing. Family Pet Hospital is here to support you and your pet during this time.

One way to determine whether “it is time” is to focus on the positive. First make a list of all the things your pet loves to do (play frisbee, snuggle with others, bark at the mailman, etc). Then keep track of how many days your pet is able to do these things versus how many days your pet was unable to do these things due to being ill, painful, etc. This can give us a clear idea of quality of life for your pet, and see bigger trends we may not notice on a daily basis.

Another way to decide when is the right time is to make note of how interactive your pet is with family members, and those they love the most. When your pet stops being interactive with those they love this may be a sign that their quality of life is declining.

An appointment can also be scheduled at Family Pet Hospital just to discuss your pet’s quality of life. Your veterinarian will discuss your pet’s condition and help you with deciding the next step that is right for you and your pet.

Euthanasia is the process of ending your pet’s life in a painless and controlled manner. Typically, this happens during a scheduled appointment. After meeting with a veterinary nurse to discuss any questions or concerns you may have, a sedative may be administered to help relax your pet. Once your pet is calm and comfortable, an intravenous catheter is placed in the front leg which allows the doctor to give medications directly into the bloodstream.

You can then spend as much time as you would like with your pet. When you decide you and your pet are ready, your veterinarian will administer medications into the catheter. The first medication that is usually given will make your pet go into a very deep sleep and become completely unaware of what is going on. Once your pet is peacefully sleeping, a second medication is administered which causes the heart to stop, ending his/her life.

The veterinarians and staff at Family Pet Hospital understand that while this process is completely painless for our pets, it can still be a very difficult process for us. Know that we are here to support you.

When scheduling a euthanasia, it is important to think about a couple things beforehand. While considering these options can be very difficult, having a plan in place can help you move through the process as it happens.

Some owners opt to not be present due to the circumstances, while other owners wish to be present with their pet during their last moments. There is no right answer, and depends on you and your pet’s needs. If you elect not to be present, the process is carried out in a loving manner with the veterinarian and staff.

Some of the options include: general cremation and scattering of the ashes, private cremation with return of your pet’s ashes in an urn, or bringing your pet home with you. Please be aware that there are city and county laws regarding home burials that may not allow this to be an option for some pets.

Family Pet Hospital works closely with Rainbow Bridge Crematorium. Their care and attention to detail along with the immense respect they have for your pet’s body care is why Dr. Abernathy selected this cremation service.

Rainbow Bridge is a locally owned and operated business, located in Johnstown, Colorado, and is a veterinary specific crematorium. The staff at Rainbow Bridge are specially trained to help you through the loss of your pet, and provides high quality urns, remembrances, paw prints, and more for your pet.

Hospice care is an alternative for patients who have a decent quality of life but are seriously ill and declining. Hospice care aims to provide palliative care (medical treatment that aims only at relief of symptoms) for your pet in your home, allowing the transition to occur more naturally. Hospice care is not an option for all pets.

The main criteria the doctors at Family Pet Hospital consider when discussing hospice care is pain management and maintenance of pet hygiene. If your pet’s pain level is not controlled with medication without profound sedation or severe behavioral changes, he/she may not be a good candidate for hospice care. Another thing to consider is hygiene. If your pet is unable or too painful to go to the bathroom on their own, eat, drink, or carry out normal functions of daily life, then euthanasia may be the more caring thing to do. Following the doctor’s instructions is extremely important in hospice care to prevent your pet from suffering.

If you are considering this option for your pet, please schedule an appointment with Family Pet Hospital to discuss this in detail.

Regardless of what option you choose, these decisions can be some of the most difficult choices you have to make. During this time, however, these considerations can make a world of difference for your seriously ill, painful pet. Family Pet Hospital is here to support you and your pet and help you navigate this stage of your pet’s life.

  • Took great care of our dog, the staff is awesome. We had to put our down down, they sent us a card a few days later. That meant a lot to us.

    Paul G in Longmont