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Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Dog gone to the Rainbow

How Do You Know When It's Time to Euthanize a Pet
How does a vet put a dog to sleep?
How does Euthanasia work for a dog?
What is the drug used in euthanasia?
How much Costs the Euthanasia?
Is it Painful for a Dog to be put to Sleep?
How to help Children to deal with Dog Loss
Interesting Facts about Dog Euthanasia
Why Shelters Perform Dog Euthanasia?
What Dog Feels during Euthanasia?
Is it legal to Euthanasize the Dog?
Dog Euthanasia & Grief Misconceptions
Dog Euthanasia Drugs & Process
Dog Virtual Online Memorials
Putting Your Dog To Sleep
Dog Euthanasia Reasons
How to Deal with Dog Loss
Getting Another Dog
Ethica vs Euthanasia
Dog Veterinary Services
Dog gone to Rainbow
Dog Rainbow Bridge
In Memory of Dog
Dog Death & R.I.P
Bury Your Dog
Put Dog to Sleep
Dog Cremation
Dog Cemetery

Euthanasia is an overdose of barbiturates that stop a dog's heart. The fluids are administered through an intravenous catheter or an injection, and when it's your dog being euthanized you can choose whether or not you want to be present. Some veterinarians will come to your home for this - a good idea if your dog finds going to the clinic or pet hospital stressful.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Crematory, Pet Cemetery
The Power of the Dog
Written by Rudyard Kipling

THERE is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find it's your own affair
But... you have given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled.
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone wherever it goes for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we have kept them, the more do we grieve:

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long
So why in Heaven before we are there
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?


According to some surveys, more than 90% of owners view their pets as members of the family.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials
This article is proudly presented & copyrighted by
Beth Levine
Bernard Rollin

How to manage the decision to euthanize
Here is my suggestion to anyone who is thinking about getting a pet: when you first acquire it, create a list of everything you can find that makes the animal happy - eating a treat, chasing a ball, etc. Put the list away until the animal is undergoing treatment for a terminal disease, such as cancer. At that point, return to the list: is the animal able to chase a ball? Does the animal get excited about receiving a treat? If the animal has lost the ability to have positive experiences, it's often easier to let go. This strategy can be augmented by pointing out the differences between human and animal consciousness. As philosopher Martin Heidegger has pointed out, for humans much of life's meaning is derived from balancing past experiences with future aspirations, such as wishing to see one's children graduate or hoping to see Ireland again. Animals, on the other hand, lack the linguistic tools to allow them to anticipate the future or create an internal narrative of the past. Instead, they live overwhelmingly in the present. So if a pet owner is reluctant to euthanize, I'll often point out that the animal no longer experiences pleasant "nows." In the end, managing euthanasia represents a major complication of the augmented status of pets in society. Ideally, companion animal owners should maintain a good relationship with their general veterinary practitioner, who has often known the animal all of its life, and can serve as a partner in dialogue during the trying times when euthanasia emerges as a possible alternative to suffering.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Terminal Illness and End of Life Decisions
If you are told that your dog has a terminal illness, follow these steps when making end-of-life and dog euthanasia decisions:

First, collect information on the illness and the latest treatments from your Veterinarian. Do some research online to see if there are any drug trials or studies being conducted by any of the Veterinary Research Hospitals

Have a conversation with your Veterinarian about options. Be sure to ask about any symptoms and how they will progress. Ask what can be done to manage those symptoms in order to maintain an acceptable quality-of-life for your dog.

Another approach is to rate your dog's quality of life on a scale from 1 to 10, which is different for any dog. For example, if a dog no longer can do his or her favorite things like chase a ball or play, that would lead to a lower score.

Check the dog quality of life scale here, to do your own dog euthanasia and end-of-life evaluation.

When using a quality of life scale, use it on a day when a dog is experiencing an average level of symptoms. Taking the test when a dog has had 3 to 5 bad days could unnecessarily depress any scores.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials
Palliative Care
Palliative care is designed to reduce or relieve the intensity of uncomfortable symptoms. Sometimes medications can be used to control problems such as urine that dribbles, panting or appetite loss. Alternative treatment options can also bring some relief including supplements (SAMe, omega-3 fatty acids), acupuncture, laser therapy and massage. Pain medications can also bring some relief, including injectable pain medications. And don't forget faith and prayer. Personally I believe dogs most definitely have souls, and I believe that God cares for all animals and I have no qualms about praying for guidance in reference to my pets as well as humans! You love your dog, and you are doing the best you can to make sure that he doesn't suffer and has the chance to pass peacefully from this life to the next. It's a very personal decision and one you are putting a lot of thought into, so once you have decided, try not to second-guess yourself. Trust your decision-making process and do your best to be calm and accepting, your emotions will spill over onto your dog so make it easier for him/her by being easier on yourself.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

If you have any doubts, or if you feel you are not getting the answers, then be sure to seek a second opinion. Even hearing the same diagnosis from multiple sources affirms that you did the best you could for your dog.

Do not avoid the inevitable. Better to have a plan and to think things through even if wrong.

Download the quality of life survey at the bottom of this page. Take the survey as a decision making aid.

Spend more time with your dog and celebrate his or her life. Capture the moments in pictures and words as best you can while you still can.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

When it is time, discuss what to do with your dog's remains. Going through the process to make this decision for an old or sick dog is a long and painful experience. The answer to the question of "When is the right day?" Should always be when you ask

"Am I keeping him alive for me and not for him?"

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

There is no right answer when it comes to making end-of-life decisions, only what makes sense for you and your family. Below, some points to consider. Your dog doesn't experience time the same way you do. In fact, animals have no sense of the future at all. To the animal mind, there is only present quality of life," There is no point in buying your pet a few more weeks if it comes at the cost of pain and suffering at least not from your dog's perspective. Often, dog owners project their own feelings onto the animal and of course you want him to live forever. But as much as your dog feels like a part of you, it is his experience that is most important.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials
Weight all the costs
It sounds callous: How do you put a price on a family member? You may feel guilty that you can't spend every cent to save your pet. But paying for more surgeries and treatments that are unlikely to help will only offer you a temporary feeling of action, especially if old age is the main culprit. When you look at treatment options and interventions, find out if they will give him a good quality of life for a long period of time. Treatments themselves can be painful, and you don't want to put a pet through stress unless there's a good chance it will make a difference. Don't beat yourself up if you opt out of exorbitant procedures. It's perfectly OK to set a limit on how much you can afford.

Think about the whole family's well-being How much can your family take physically and emotionally? We had turned our lives upside down for Buddy. In his last months, only one of us could leave the house at a time, which was stressful, as was staying up all night with him. Were we crazy to do that much? Were we horrible not to do more? In the end, there is no right or wrong. We all do the best we can, in every way, for our dear friends. Check with your vet to find out about local pet grief support groupsonline or in your area.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

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Note: The following is a description of a typical euthanasia. If you do not wish to read about this procedure, please close this document.

Euthanasia is very humane and virtually painless. First, you will be asked to sign a paper - an "authorization for euthanasia" (or similar document). Once you have decided upon your involvement n the euthanasia process, you will need to decide what you would like to have done with the remains. You can discuss your options with your veterinarian before the euthanasia procedure.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Euthanasia is usually performed by a veterinarian. The most typical procedure involves an intravenous injection of a barbiturate anesthetic given at a high concentration (overdose). In general, the euthanasia is rapid, usually within seconds, and very peaceful. Your pet will just go to sleep. On rare occasions there may be a brief vocalization or cry as consciousness is lost. This is not pain although you may misinterpreted it as such.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Within seconds of starting the injection the anesthetic overdose will cause the heart to slow and then stop, and any circulation in the body will cease. As the heart stops and the blood pressure decreases, the unconscious animal will stop breathing, circulation to the brain will cease and your pet will die peacefully.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Once your pet has died, you might observe involuntary muscle contractions or respiratory gasps about one or two minutes after the loss of consciousness and circulation. Again this is not evidence of pain or consciousness, but instead, it represents a physiologic response that occurs whenever the brain is deprived of circulation. The unconscious animal may also lose bladder or bowel control. Veterinarians often cover the pet immediately after injecting the euthanasia solution to partially shield the pet owner from these physiologic responses, which may still be disturbing.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

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What Happens During The Euthanasia Process?
This is something else you might not want to think about, but I know that in order to make a decision about something, I need all the facts. You may be the same way. Plus, if/when the time comes to euthanize my old friend, I'll want to make absolutely sure that she gets the very best care and the most peaceful and pain-free farewell possible.

There's something called the 'Humane Euthanasia Protocol' which is basically a set of guidelines for veterinarian's who are administering euthanasia - whether in a veterinary clinic or in a dog's own home. The Humane Euthanasia Protocol basically calls for there to be two parts to the euthanasia procedure.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Following these steps ensures that your dog doesn't become scared or stressed, and that he doesn't feel any pain as he passes. It's the most humane form of dog euthanasia. There are additional costs involved because multiple drugs are used, but it's not prohibitive and to my mind it's more than worth spending those extra dollars.

First, a sedative/tranquilizer/pain-reliever (or combination of these) is given

Once the pet is relaxed and sedated, an IV is inserted for the administering of the euthanasia solution

Then, after a few minutes spent saying "goodbye" to family, another sedative may be given followed by the final drug which will stop the heart

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

What the Pet will Experience:
Euthanasia means inducing the death of an animal in a humane and painless manner. The euthanasia drug that is used is a very common anesthetic agent, one that is used regularly in veterinary and human hospitals. If you have ever had surgery, you should remember the anesthesiologist asking you to count backwards from 10, then you drift off to sleep. This is exactly how your pet will feel. The only difference is euthanasia will use an extreme overdose of the anesthetic agent which will cause your pets heart to stop.

The bad news is that veterinarian's aren't obliged to follow this protocol! The generally acceptable method of putting a dog to sleep (which is in fact considered the 'best practice' by the World Society of Protection for Animals) is for a veterinarian to stop an animal's heart with one injection of barbiturates. Barbiturates are drugs which depress the central nervous system and given in high enough doses it will cause anesthesia, then death. This form of euthanasia is effective, and relatively quick, but it's not always pain-free and can cause short-term distress or anxiety. Simply let your vet know that this is the procedure you want for your dog and insist it's followed! Your veterinarian should be familiar with it, if not you can describe the steps as I have above, it's not difficult to understand.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

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If you are willing to pay a call out fee, your Vet may euthanase your pet in your own home. You and your pet may find this less traumatic than waiting at the Vet's surgery. Ensure your pet is contained when the Vet arrives. In the case of a home visit where a veterinary nurse is not available and the Vet doesn't feel that you are able to restrain the pet, they may sedate the pet first and then administer the final injection. This is less distressing for all concerned than trying to restrain an agitated pet. Don't be surprised if your Vet leaves soon afterwards, as they don't want to intrude upon your grief and will have other calls to make.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

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Here's a quick look at the positives and negatives of at-home v clinic procedures:

Home Dog Euthanasia
Your dog is too large, sick or immobile to be transported to your vet's office

If he's very anxious about car trips or the vet clinic stresses him out

There are other dogs in the family (they'll benefit from seeing his body)

If you feel that YOU will handle the situation better at home

You'd appreciate the privacy of experiencing this and grieving at home

If money isn't a big worry. At home procedures often incur extra costs

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Vet Clinic Dog Euthanasia
You want your own vet to perform the procedure, but he won't make a housecall

You'd prefer a "neutral" location without the memories being associated with home

Going in the car or to the vet's office doesn't make your dog anxious

He is still mobile enough, or small enough, to transport easily

Cost is a concern

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

A Possible Compromise:
Depending on how well you know your veterinarian and how flexible and caring he/she is, you can often make a clinical euthanasia experience more comfortable and homely by bringing stuff from home to make your dog feel more relaxed. His bed, blanket or a favorite toy can help. Also, you can ask your vet to prescribe a mild sedative (or sedative and pain reliever) that you can give to your dog a little while before you leave home. This will relax him and alleviate some of his anxieties. As you can see there are a lot of things to take into consideration when you're planning how/where to ease your pet from one world to another. It's a very personal decision and only you can make it.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

This article is proudly presented & copyrighted by
Beth Levine

At 6 A.M., I wake up my husband, Bill, and say, "I just can't do this to him anymore. It's time."

I've been up all night with our ancient beagle, Buddy, who is deaf and nearly blind. For the last 14 years Buddy has slept in our bed, but recently, to avoid his falling off, we've taken turns with him on a mattress on the floor. Last night, I watched as he restlessly circled, lost control of his back legs, fell, then tried painfully to get up to circle some more. Our Buddy used to climb all the way into the dishwasher to lick the dirty plates; now he turns up his nose at fresh grilled salmon and homemade meatballs. This morning, as I cradled him to calm him down, I looked into his face. I don't know how else to say it except that all of his wonderful "Buddy-ness" appears to have left him.

Bill and I don't know what's wrong, though the vet is guessing a brain tumor. To find out, Buddy would need to have an MRI and then what? Surgery? We can't afford it, but even if we could, we don't want to put him through that. At most, he'd gain a few months. But with what quality of life?

It's said that an animal will tell his owner when it's time to go. I wish it were that easy. Maybe they do tell us, but we can't or don't want to hear it. The humane thing might be to put an ailing animal down, but how can you give up on a member of the family? What if a pet could have lived another year? How do you know?

The answer is, you don't. An animal can't be made to understand what's happening to him, can't tell you explicitly when the price of dragging his failing body around one more day, one more hour, is too much to bear. Deciding what to do is agonizing, an achingly personal decision that no pet owner ever takes lightly.

We have to make the decision for our Buddy. Today, it seems the fight has gone out of him altogether, and, frankly, from me as well. So, at dawn, I approach my husband. After I tell Bill about the night Buddy and I had spent, and how I think we have to end this for him, I tense up, waiting for an argument. Bill is fiercely devoted to this dog. "I need your permission to call the vet, and I feel like we need to do this today," I press on. To my great surprise, Bill slowly nods.

There are veterinarians who will come to your house to put an animal to sleep, but Buddy is getting worse by the minute: He appears completely confused. We wrap him up in a favorite blanket, get in the car and drive to the vet's office. When our vet comes into the exam room, Buddy lets out a long beagle bay, like we haven't heard from him in years. He seems to be telling the world that he is still here, and it shatters our hearts. Even then, part of me thinks, well, if he can still do that, maybe we shouldn't be doing this? But no, we have to. Today. I don't think any of us can take any more.

Crying, Bill says his goodbyes. I kiss Buddy's gray snout and lean my cheek on that silken ear I know so well as the vet gives him an injection. It's a surprisingly gentle process. First, Buddy is sedated. When he is sleeping peacefully, the vet administers the final dose. It is a very gradual letting go so much so that the vet has to tell us when Buddy is gone. The vet then leaves the room to give us a minute with him. Bill closes Buddy's eyes, as I whisper, "Good-night, sweet puppy. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

That was a year ago, and Bill and I miss him every day. But never do I feel we made the wrong choice. He wasn't living, he was just existing. When I talk to Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, a specialist in emergency veterinary medicine at Cornell University Veterinary Specialists in Stamford, CT, she confirms for me what I already know on some level: "Euthanasia is a gift that you give an animal so he is no longer suffering, the gift of not getting worse. It's a selfless gift, often wrought with guilt, but I hope some people find peace knowing their animal is in a better place." On the next page, you'll find other considerations to help you with this very difficult decision.


This article is proudly presented by
Adam Clark
Dr. Phil Zeltzman
Tyler Carmack

Unfortunately, since the normal life span of most animals is so much shorter than our own, sooner or later most animal lovers will experience the loss of a beloved pet. Whether struggling with an animal's chronic illness, facing a decision about euthanasia, or mourning the loss of a pet, our reactions may be so intense that we feel shocked and overwhelmed by them. Saying goodbye to our pets is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. As pets walk into our lives, our homes, and our families, they also walk into our hearts forever. Of all the worries pet owners may have around surgery, anesthesia probably tops the list. Unfortunately, their concerns are often the wrong ones. There are many misconceptions in our society about dog loss that make it an even more difficult time for grieving pet owners. These are five popular misconceptions about pet loss, as well as the reality most pet owners face.


There is nothing special about the relationship between animals and humans.
Your relationship with a companion animal can be just as special and loving as those you have with any other family member or close friend. Loving an animal is different from loving a human being, because a pet loves you in a way that people cannot: profoundly, boundlessly and unconditionally.

Losing an animal is less painful and less significant than losing a human loved one.
Pain over the loss of a beloved companion animal is as natural as the pain you would feel over the loss of any significant relationship. Since cherished pets weave their way into every aspect of your daily life, in some ways it may be even more difficult to cope with losing them. Once they are gone, you are repeatedly encountering evidence of their absence and constantly reminded of your grief.

Having close relationships with animals and grieving at their loss is abnormal and unnatural.
You need not let anyone influence you to believe that your relationships with animals are somehow wrong or less important than those you have with humans. Loving animals well and responsibly teaches all of us to better love all living beings, including humans. Grief is the normal response to losing someone you love, and grief is indifferent to the species of the one who is lost. Love is love, loss is loss, and pain is pain.

Relationships we have with animals are not as important as those we have with humans.
Having deeply meaningful, spiritual and healthy relationships with animals is not abnormal, and in some cases may be more emotionally healthy, spiritually healing and personally rewarding than those we have with humans. Pets offer us a kind of loyalty, devotion and unconditional love that cannot be found in the more complicated relationships we have with relatives, friends and neighbors.

Death of a pet can be a useful "dress rehearsal" for the real thing, especially for children.
Death of a pet is often a child's first real encounter with a major loss. Suddenly friendship, companionship, loyalty, support and unconditional love are replaced with overwhelming and unfamiliar feelings of loss, confusion, emptiness, fear and grief. Far from being a so-called dress rehearsal, for most children pet loss is a profoundly painful experience.

Most people think of euthanasia as a quick and easy way to get rid of their sick, dying, old or unwanted animals.
Deciding when and whether to euthanize a beloved pet is probably one of the most difficult choices an animal lover ever has to make. On the one hand, you know that choosing to end your dog's life will intensify your own emotional pain, yet postponing the decision may prolong your animal's pain and suffering needlessly. At such times it is very important to explore all aspects of the euthanasia decision with your veterinarian and with others whom you trust, to listen to what your animal may be trying to tell you, and to trust your own intuition.

Conducting rituals, funerals or memorial services for dead animals is a frivolous waste of time and money, and those who engage in such practices are eccentric and strange.
Whether for animals or for humans, death ceremonies and rituals help meet our needs to support one another in grief, acknowledge the important role our loved ones played in our lives, honor the memory of our departed companions, and bring meaning to our loss.

MYTH: Grief only begins
once the dog is gone...

The grief that comes along with saying goodbye to your friend starts the second you receive the diagnosis that your pet has cancer, a serious illness, or that there are limited additional therapies that can make them comfortable as they age. This grief is called anticipatory grief. It is a very real form of grief and can be very strong. Pet owners facing a difficult diagnosis may experience some or all of the stages of grief - denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and acceptance, as they anticipate the loss of their friend. Some owners express that this anticipation is even stronger than the grief that begins after euthanasia when the pet is gone. Once departed, there is often a sense of relief that the pet is no longer suffering.

MYTH: I will just "know" when the time is right for euthanasia
You are mistaken.. for you, there will be never a suitable time for euthanasia! Because it's your best friend. There is no "perfect" time for euthanasia. There is a window of time from terminal diagnosis to natural death, in which euthanasia may be considered appropriate. Within that window, the decision to euthanize a pet is a very personal one for each family. Working with the family's veterinarian, owners should begin to develop their own decision-making guide for their pet. For some owners, a loss of appetite may be their indication that their pet is ready - for others, their pet may continue to eat despite uncontrollable pain or loss of motor function. Discussing the dog's personality, diagnosis, symptoms, progression, and role within the family will assist a veterinarian in helping decide when the time may be right. Ultimately, I encourage family members to discuss their pet together to help decide when the most appropriate time to say goodbye to that pet, prior to any true suffering.

MYTH: No one will understand
There are people who understand the depth of your grief. They may not be your friends, family members, or co-workers, but they are out there. Many towns & villages provide a safe place for dog owners to discuss their feelings and to lend support to others going through similar experiences. These meetings typically consist of a small group of pet owners, a licensed clinical social worker who facilitates the meetings, and myself, a hospice veterinarian. At the start of the meetings, a short video about pet loss and a brief presentation of the normal grief process shown and is followed by an open discussion by those in attendance.

MYTH: Time heals all wounds
Dealing with your grief in a healthy way requires work. Just as the funeral ritual helps people acknowledge and express their grief when a human friend or relative passes away, rituals can also help during the grief journey after the loss of a pet. Grief work can include creating a pet memorial, keeping a journal of your emotions and memories, lighting a memorial candle, writing a letter to your pet, having a small service to spread your dog's ashes. Children are especially good at creating artwork and poetry to honor their lost friends. Many veterinarians have a page on their website dedicated to pet memorials. They allow owners to post their remembrances or light a virtual candle for free.

MYTH: I should get another dog right away
Replacing the loss doesn't work. Some pet owners feel they may never get another pet because the grief is too difficult. Other pet owners feel they need a pet in the house to distract them from their grief. Regardless of the timing of a new addition, remember that it must be the pet owner's decision to get a new pet. A new relationship, even a great new relationship, cannot ever replace the relationship that was lost. If a new pet is forced on a grieving person, they may grow to resent the new pet and or the giver.

MYTH: You shouldn't be grieving for your pet this much
Grieving for the death or loss of your companion is hard work. It can be incredibly exhausting, painful, and overwhelming to process through the many emotions that are faced during this time. It can be made harder if assumptions are made about a few common myths associated with pet loss. This article explores nine frequent misconceptions when it comes to experiencing the death of a companion animal and clears them up with the truth. Research shows that grieving for the death of a companion animal is just as painful, if not more so than the death of an immediate family member. You have a right to experience and feel your emotions whether or not our emotions are understood by others.

MYTH: Expressing your emotions for the death of your pet should be limited and hidden
It's healthier to allow your body to process through emotions and to experience your grief. Emotions can be very high especially in the acute phase of grief, or right after experiencing the death of your companion. Knowing that your reaction is very normal can be helpful to allow yourself to start moving through your experience.

MYTH: You killed your animal by euthanasia and should feel horrible
A lot of Veterinarians decide on Veterinary medicine because the option of euthanasia is available. Our pets don't deserve prolonged suffering and pain. Euthanasia can be a gift in which we can halt suffering and help our dog's transition as comfortably as possible. Facing the choice of euthanasia can be one of the worst and most difficult choice a pet owner may ever have to make, but at times it shows the immense love and compassion shared. It can be a selfless act when we want to hold on but know that our pets deserve more, no matter how painful it is to let go for ourselves.

MYTH: The Veterinarian didn't care about my dog and wanted them to die
When we grieve, we try to cope with our intense emotions. It is common to misplace blame or accuse others for the death of our companion. Medical mishaps do happen, and experiencing one is tragic. Countless Veterinarians have come to my office grieving as such. I have yet to meet one that purposely wanted a bad experience during surgery or for a companion animal to be euthanized. You have a right to be angry and it can be helpful to express your anger, but finding positive outlets to funnel that anger is important.

MYTH: If I have to take time off of work for grieving my dog's death I am weak and crazy
Your pet is a member of the family and the experience of grief can be immense. We need time to grieve and process through our experience. Depending on the personal life circumstances a person is facing, at times it can be just too much to keep working as normal throughout the experience. Taking some time off can be just what we need to step back and process.

MYTH: The pain of loss is too much and you should never have another pet
Yes, the pain loving pet owners experience after their passing is immense. It can be hard to place the experience into words and our journeys are all very much unique. As part of the human condition, we will experience a lot of grief throughout our lifetime and some of the most substantial experiences can be the grief of losing a beloved pet. How much joy and unconditional love was shared? How many times did we experience pure and wonderful emotions shared between ourselves and our pet. The pain of grief can represent the pain in having our companions no longer sharing our lives with us. We grieve as much as we have loved, and at times even more so. Don't rush into adoption to "cover up" your loss, as no two pets are the same. At the same time, don't forever push away any dreams of future companions, either.

MYTH: I have been grieving for months, I should be over this already
Grief does not follow a timeline. Commonly the beginning experience can be intense and it does lessen overtime; however, there are many ups and downs along that process. No two experiences are alike in time, intensity, or duration. The important thing is to continue meeting your basic needs throughout your process of grief to keep going.

MYTH: I should have known this was coming or been able to act quicker
Our pets are biologically pre-programmed to hide pain unless you are trained to be able to identify it. We couldn't have known what the end of life looked like, or will look like for our pets, just as we cannot identify it for ourselves. Feelings of guilt can feel like they are drowning us when it comes to making choices in our dog's end of life, or having to make medical decisions extremely quickly. We do the best we can, with what we know, at the time we know it. No one can ask for anything else.

MYTH: Euthanasia is risky
Okay, so this is not a complete myth. Of course there is always a risk with anesthesia, but it's immensely smaller than most pet owners believe. Of ALL patients, including the healthiest and the sickest, what percentage of pets don't make it through anesthesia? 30%? 20%? 10%? 5%? 1%? What would you guess? Out of 98,000 dogs and 79,000 cats that underwent anesthesia at over 100 different practices. This was an extravagantly large study by veterinary standards. According to PubMed, Brodbelt found that the overall risk of anesthetic and sedation-related death in dogs 0.17% and in cats 0.24%. As you can see, this indicates that anesthesia is very safe overall, much safer than most would think. With our improved knowledge of anesthesia drugs and excellent advancements in monitoring equipment, the percentage of dogs and cats that die under anesthesia is a fraction of 1%. Surely, specific conditions trauma, diseases and infections can increase the risks, but these issues are more manageable than you might think. By performing pre-operative blood work and tailoring the anesthesia drugs for each pet, veterinarians can minimize the risks.

MYTH: Most complications occur during surgery or while under anesthesia.
Here is a great example of a classic urban legend. Most of the time, the biggest risks are not during surgery and anesthesia but during recovery. As a pet awakens, there are a number of complications that can arise. In the Brodbelt study I mentioned earlier, over 50% of pets who died after surgery, died within 3 hours of the procedure ending. this is why it is critical to take your pet to a hospital where trained nurses will continue to closely monitor your pet after anesthesia.

MYTH: All vets offer and practice the same anesthesia techniques
Actually, every veterinarian seems subject to personal opinion when it comes to anesthesia; the same way everyone has their own personal preference when it comes to cars. Some people want a Ford, while others only buy Honda, but ultimately both cars will get you from point A to point B. Similarly, different veterinarians will use different methods. Naturally they will choose the methods that they are the most knowledgeable and comfortable with and that they feel are safest for your pet based on blood work, physical examination, disease, breed, age etc.

MYTH: Anesthesia drugs can harm my pet
While all medications even a "simple" antibiotic have risks, very few pets will experience an unexpected reaction. Each drug has its time and place, which is why pre-operative examination, basic blood work and sometimes additional lab work are important before surgery. Additionally, it may be possible to temper the side-effects of some drugs. For example, some anesthesia drugs can indirectly affect the kidneys, which can be protected by keeping the patient on the proper amount of IV fluids. Please remember, anesthesia is very safe overall. What matters most is the nature of the drugs used, the knowledge of the people using them and the care provided to patients when they wake up from anesthesia.

MYTH: My pet is too young for anesthesia
Young patients do present the veterinarian and their staff with a bit more of a challenge compared to adults. Pediatric pets are typically smaller and more sensitive, so they need anesthesia techniques and protocols to be tailored for them. For example, because of their usually smaller size, they lose heat quicker so their temperature has to be closely monitored and specific techniques should be used to keep them warm. Young patients also have fewer energy reserves than adults. This is the reason why your veterinarian may recommend a small meal the morning of anesthesia, whereas adults should be completely fasted overnight. Youth is not a reason to avoid anesthesia - however, your veterinarian should make sure pediatric patients are kept warm, vital signs are closely monitored and anesthetic drugs are chosen wisely.

MYTH: My pet is too old for anesthesia
This is another big misconception. Old age is basically never a reason not to perform a surgical or medical procedure. Sure, it may be an issue in the owner's mind, but rarely in the veterinarian's opinion. Thanks to the advances in veterinary medicine, pets enjoy longer lives now than ever before. Although, like humans, As pets age their bodies change, resulting in a slower metabolism, greater sensitivity to medications and slower healing time. Geriatric patients often do need some additional pre-anesthesia screening including blood work, chest radiographs - to ensure their lungs are free of disease or cancer and an EKG to confirm they do not have any major heart problems. Once their overall health status has been assessed, the veterinarian can decide on any pre-anesthesia supportive care or medications. Anesthesia drugs should then be chosen to minimize side-effects for geriatric pets based on their specific condition. My philosophy is simple: age is not a disease! Cancer is a disease, a uterus full of pus pyometra is a disease, and a gallbladder about to burst is a disease, but age by itself is not.

MYTH: My dog is too sick for anesthesia
Many pet owners think that their dog or cat cannot be placed under anesthesia repeatedly in a short span of time. While ideally your pets would not need frequent anesthesia, here are examples of times when they may: When pets get radiation therapy to treat cancer, their position has to be exactly the same to irradiate the tumor in the same manner every time. Since pets won't hold still long enough, this means they have to be anesthetized for every session. The "standard" protocol is to put them under anesthesia 5 days a week for 4 weeks. That's 20 anesthesia episodes within one month. And most do very well, even though many of these cancer patients are very sick already. A more common situation might be taking X-rays under sedation on a Monday, fixing a broken bone under anesthesia on a Tuesday and changing a bandage under sedation on a Wednesday. These days, there are many options for very safe drugs to perform sedation or anesthesia. These drugs leave the body quickly, so they have few harmful effects. Some drugs can even be "reversed," which means that we can give sort of an antidote to wake the patient up. Your veterinarian will carefully evaluate your dog's blood work and physical health status to determine if he is stable enough to be anesthetized, or what stabilization treatments are needed first. In some extreme or emergency situations, we may have no choice. A very sick patient may need to undergo anesthesia immediately to have the surgery that will make him feel better or save his life. For example, if a dog "bloats" or presents with a hugely distended or twisted stomach, he will need surgery as soon as possible. I will, however, give large volumes of IV fluids before anesthesia starts.

MYTH: My dog will be groggy for days after having anesthesia
This concern is more often false than true. Sure, every pet, like every human, handles anesthesia differently. Even if two patients are given the same anesthesia drugs and undergo the same procedure, one may recover very quickly and act like nothing ever happened while the other may recover slowly and still seem a little groggy for a day or two. If your pet seems groggy a few days after a procedure, it is important to let your veterinarian know - your vet can look up records to see what drugs were used and adjust accordingly with alternate drugs or lower dosages. A sleepy pet may be a sign of an underlying condition. However, in most cases, pets are not really groggy from the anesthesia - rather they are groggy from their pain medications, which can sometimes cause sedation. Most modern anesthesia drugs are processed by the body within minutes to hours. Again, please double check with your veterinarian.

MYTH: There is no danger
Anesthesia is safe most of the time, some pet owners seem to take it for granted. Whether a procedure is performed under sedation or anesthesia and despite a pre-surgical exam, blood work and sometimes further diagnostic tests, any pet could have a rare reaction to a medication. This doesn't mean that you should be overly paranoid. All it means is that anesthesia should be taken seriously, and that you should talk with your veterinarian before your pet is sedated.

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The death of a family pet is often the first death experienced by a child. Children naturally develop strong attachments to companion animals, relating to them as siblings, playmates, confidants and even imaginary protectors. Although children experience grief differently than adults, they do grieve. They need support and guidance to understand their loss, to mourn that loss, and to find ways to remember and memorialize their deceased loved one.

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Children look to us for guidance in word as well action. The death of a beloved pet presents an emotional stress, even for a well-adjusted adult. Thus, it is important for adults to access bereavement supports for themselves, in order to deal with their emotions and be more effective parents for their children. Also, we must avoid projecting our own overconcerns on a child, creating problems that would not have otherwise existed.

Age-Related Developmental Stages
about The Death Of A Pet

Children do not respond to death as adults do. Their normal reactions are much more natural, curious and varied, until that is changed by the adult world. How the child responds will depend on the strength of the bond with the pet, as well as the child's age and developmental stage. Always keep in mind that the parent is the model here for almost everything. The general subject of death is not unknown to children. They watch movies, television. They hear reports from schoolmates and friends. You may be surprised at how much your child does know.

2-3 Year Olds:
Two to three year olds do not have the life experiences to give them an understanding of death. They should be told the pet has died and will not return. It is important that they be reassured that they did not do or say anything to cause the death. Children at this age may not understand what death really means, but they will sense and copy your emotions and behavior. Note that it is good to cry and show your own feelings of grief, but these must be controlled and perceived as a normal response to the loss of a loved one. Extra reassurance, as well as maintaining usual routines will help the child. At this age one will usually accept a new pet very easily.

4-6 Year Olds:
Children of this age group usually have some understanding of death but may not comprehend the permanence of it. They may even think the pet is asleep or continuing to eat, breathe and play. They may also feel that past anger towards their pet, or some perceived bad behavior was responsible for its death. Manifestations of grief may include bowel or bladder disturbances as well as a change in playing, eating and sleeping habits. Through frequent, brief discussions allow the child to express feelings and concerns. Give extra reassurance. Drawing pictures and writing stories about their loss may be helpful. Include the child in any funeral arrangements.

7-9 Year Olds:
Children in this age group know that death is irreversible. They do not normally think this might happen to them, but they may be concerned about the death of their parents. They are very curious and may ask questions that appear morbid. These questions are natural and are best answered frankly and honestly. At this age they may manifest their grief in many ways, such as school problems, anti-social behavior, somatic or physical concerns, aggression, and withdrawal or clinging behavior. As with young children, it is important that they be reassured that they did not do or say anything that caused the death.

10-11 Year Olds:
Children in this age group are usually able to understand that death is natural, inevitable and happens to all living things. They often react to death in a manner very similar to adults, using their parent's attitude as their model. A pet's death can trigger memories of previous losses of any kind, and this should always be open for discussion.

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This generalized age group reacts similarly to adults. However, the typical adolescent span of expression can range from apparent total lack of concern to hyper-emotional. One day they want to be treated like an adult, and the next day they need to be reassured like a young child. Peer approval is also very important. If friends are supportive, it is much easier for them to deal with a loss. Also, keep in mind that an adolescent is trying to find his or her own true feelings, and may be prone to conflict with a parent on how to express feelings and grief, at this time. It is important to avoid antagonisms over this.

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Young Adults:
Although young adults can hardly be called children, the loss of a pet in this age group can be particularly hard. They may also have feelings of guilt for abandoning their pets when leaving home for college, work or marriage. There may have been a very close relationship with that pet since early childhood. Among other pressures experienced after the departure from home, this can add additional stress. Due to geographical distances, they are often unable to return to the family home to say goodbye to the pet or participate in family rituals associated with the loss.

Children see tears and grief, and they learn from total immersion what bereavement means. Don't try to protect them from this reality. Let them share your feelings to a reasonable degree, according to their maturity and ability to understand. This will help them to know that grief is normal and is acceptable, in whatever loss they are experiencing. Teach them that ultimately, all life is change and growth. That is a very hard lesson to learn, but a necessary one. They need to understand that tears in a loving and understanding environment can help people get past the worst of the sadness. And through experience they will later learn that time will always help make things feel better.

Questions That Children May Ask
Children may ask many questions upon the death of a pet. This may include why did he/she die? Where did he/she go? Will we see him/her again? Is he/she with God? Can he/she hear us?

It is best to answer questions as honestly as possible - but avoid giving too much detail with extra information. Young children, in particular, need only basic answers to satisfy their wonder. Your responses should also be based on your religious or philosophical views, in regards to the soul and an afterlife. It is also okay to say that you really don't know an answer. But by all means, share your own personal thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Let children know that it is alright to ask questions, and to cry. And it is okay for you to cry with them - if they perceive that tears can help ease some of the pain.

Children, as well as adults, need good distractions from fixation on the death of a pet. The following is a list of ways to creatively memorialize a pet.

Encourage children to express their grief by drawing pictures of their pet, and sharing what the pictures mean to them. Always listen to what they have to say, and praise them for their thoughts. If a child would like the picture put in his/her room, then honor that wish. It could keep the pet closer to the child at bedtime until the grief has subsided.

Make a scrapbook or log with photos as well as drawn pictures of the pet and family members. Write memories beneath or beside them. Humorous instances should be included on the pages, which can help develop associations with happiness each time the book is opened. Other small items such as a dogtag, or small toy, can be included, as well as sympathy cards, and letters. You can find some very nice packages on the market, for making scrapbooks.

If a pet has been cremated, a special place can be arranged in the home for the urn, as well as just a few pictures and mementos of the pet. Some people keep those things on the mantle of a fireplace, or utilize a special part of a bookshelf. In choosing and designing this, make sure that children are allowed to participate in the decision - making process. But wherever that place of honor is, it is important that it never be turned into some kind of shrine to the pet's memory. That can be destructive to the bereavement and healing.

If the ashes are to be scattered let the child feel he or she was part of the decision making. It will be more meaningful if this is done at a place where the pet loved to go. Ask for suggestions about this. It is important that a child be made to feel that his or her thoughts and feelings are important to you.

If a pet is to be buried, wrap the body in a shroud or casket that preferably a family member has made. That can also have an effect of closer bonding with the parents and family.

Planting a living memorial, such as a tree or bush in memory of a pet, can feel very satisfying. Making a small flower bed in a spot that was favored by the pet, can also be a fine memorial that brings some closure to the grief.

Some people have a ritual of lighting candles on anniversaries, and reminiscing about their life with their pets. This offers them a special sense of comfort and respect. Let the children participate in this.

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It is good to invite friends to talk about their own positive experiences regarding the death of a beloved pet. It is usually a bittersweet time of laughing and crying with one another, but that is part of the healing process. It is good for children to learn about the joys that pets bring into other people's lives. An exchange of memories helps to broaden their personal perspective of the human/animal bond, and their role in this. Placing a picture memorial with a written message to the pet on our website is another way of bringing peace of mind and comfort to everyone in the family. It assists with coming to some sense of resolution, and accepting the transfer of the pet to a beloved memory. That can be especially helpful to children when they and their friends visit and honor their beloved one, there. To place a memorial, please click on the Join Us link on this website and follow the instructions. The child can help write the memorial statement with you.

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A child's ability to cope with an animal companion's death can be compromised by other stresses, such as parental or sibling conflict, mental health issues, substance abuse, other family pressures or another recent death. Children in high stress families often develop early dependencies and attachments with a family pet. When that companion dies, it may create a crisis for that child.

The loss of a pet can be a significant source of grief in a family. Indeed, it is the loss of a beloved member. That can lead to disorganization in family functioning, due to bereavement and changes in routines. New ones will have to be created, and it can be beneficial to discuss this. Children will need support to cope with the changes, as well as to understand the emotional impact on everyone, including their parents. It is important to show them it is good for families to react and grieve together.

The Loss of a Pet Paperback by Wallace Sife

Childrens' Books about Pet Loss

There are many excellent and heartwarming illustrated books for children, on the death of a beloved pet. Get some of these here and read to them. It will be good medicine for both of you.




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Animals can form very firm attachments with each other. Even pets that outwardly appear not to get along will exhibit intense stress reactions when separated. Grieving pets exhibit many symptoms identical to those experienced by their owner. The surviving pet(s) may become restless, anxious, depressed, lethargic, experience loss of appetite and disturbed sleep as well as do a lot of "sighing". Often, grieving pets will search for their dead companions and crave more attention from their owners.

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Taking time to Grieve
Losing a pet can be similar to losing a family member. It is not an easy thing to experience and grieving is necessary. Everyone is different in their grieving process and I encourage families to allow everyone in the family to grieve differently. Take time to grieve the special relationship you had with your pet. Some people spend more time with their pet than extended family members and friends, so treat the loss accordingly. One suggestion is to plant a flowering perennial in honor of your pet. Every spring, when the plant blooms, you can be reminded of your loved pet. Remember to talk to family members about how they are grieving. If they are not ready to talk, that is okay, too. Try to remember that everyone greives differently. One way to try and help someone open up would be to share funny stories about your pet. Was he/she a good puppy?

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Moving On...
Once you've grieved for your dog, and have adjusted to his loss, you may want to consider adding another dog to your home and family. Of course the "new" dog will never replace the "old" one in your heart, but it can help to ease the loneliness and sadness. BUT remember, every dog is different and don't compare your second dog to your first. They're separate individuals and deserve to be loved and appreciated as such. In our family we honor the memory of the previous dog by rescuing a lonely, needy dog from the local pound or rescue. It's our way of making sure that something positive comes out of a pet's death... and it really seems to help, everyone.

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When is it ethical to euthanize your pet? - In the 1960s, I knew people who, before going on vacation, would take their dogs to a shelter to be euthanized. They reasoned that it was cheaper to have a dog euthanized and buy a new one upon returning than pay a kennel fee.

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Two decades later, I was working at Colorado State's veterinary hospital when a group of distraught bikers on Harley-Davidsons pulled up carrying a sick chihuahua. The dog was intractably ill, and required euthanasia to prevent further suffering. Afterwards, the hospital's counselors felt compelled to find the bikers a motel room: their level of grief was so profound that the staff did not think it was safe for them to be riding their motorcycles.

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These two stories illustrate the drastic change in how animals have been perceived. For thousands of years, humans have kept animals as pets. But only during the past 40 years have they come to be viewed as family. While it's certainly a positive development that animals are being treated humanely, one of the downsides to better treatment mirrors some of the problems the (human) health care system faces with end-of-life care. As with humans, in many cases the lives of pets are needlessly prolonged, which can cause undue suffering for the animals and an increased financial burden for families.

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So what's behind the shift in how pets are perceived and treated? For one, surveys conducted over the last two decades indicate an increasing number of pet owners who profess to view their animals as "members of the family". In some surveys, the number is as high as 95% of respondents, but in nearly all surveys the number is higher than 80%. In addition, the breakdown of nuclear families and the uptick of divorce rates have contributed to singles forming tighter bonds with companion animals. Such attitudes and trends are likely to engender profound changes in societal views of euthanasia. Whereas before, many owners didn't think twice about putting down a pet, now many are hesitant to euthanize, often going to great lengths to keep sick animals alive.


Vets caught in the middle
However, veterinarians continue to experience extensive stress as they experience two opposite, but equally trying dilemmas: ending an animal's life too soon, or waiting too long. In other cases, the animal is experiencing considerable suffering, but the owner is unwilling to let the animal go. With owners increasingly viewing pets as family members, this has become increasingly common, and many owners fear the guilt associated with killing an animal too soon. Ironically this, too, can cause veterinarians undue trauma: they know the animal is suffering, but there's nothing they can do about it unless the owner gives them permission. The consequences are manifest. One recent study showed that one in six veterinarians has considered suicide. Another found an elevated risk of suicide in the field of veterinary medicine. Being asked to kill healthy animals for owner convenience doubtless is a major contribution.

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Do pets know what is about to happen?
If you are agitated or upset, your pet will detect this and also become upset. However, they don't know why you are upset and don't know that this visit to the Vet is any different from other visits e.g. for vaccinations.

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Nothing really prepares us for the death of a pet, whether death is swift and unexpected, like an accident or whether it comes at the end of a slow decline. We are never fully aware of what a pet has contributed to our lives until our companion is gone. A pet's life can end under different circumstances:

We may decide not to pursue medical or surgical treatment in an ageing pet.

A pet's ailment has no cure and the best we can do is alleviate some of its suffering so that it can live the remainder of its days in relative comfort.

An illness or accident may take our pet suddenly.

We might decide to euthanase our pet to end its suffering.

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We all secretly hope that our pet will have a pain free death - ideally we would like our pet to die peacefully in their sleep, and indeed many do. The impact of a pet's death is significantly increased when, as responsible and loving owners, we decide to have the pet euthanased.

About Euthanasia
Euthanasia is the induction of a painless death and literally means "gentle death". Other terms you may hear are "put to sleep", "put down", "put out of its misery" or, less kindly, "destroy". In veterinary practice, it is accomplished by an intravenous injection of a concentrated dose of anaesthetic.

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The decision to end a life is never easy. It is a personal, loving decision to euthanase a dog whose quality of life has deteriorated to an unacceptable level. It takes courage to assume this last duty and it is our last responsibility to a dog who has given us unconditional love and companionship. The bond between dog and owner is unique. It is easy to become emotionally overwhelmed in keeping your pet alive when you know that there is no hope of them regaining their health.

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Vets don't exercise this option lightly. Their medical training and professional lives are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of disease in animals. Vets are keenly aware of the balance between extending an animal's life and its suffering. Euthanasia is the ultimate tool to mercifully end a pet's suffering.

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To request euthanasia for our pet is probably the most difficult decision a pet owner can make. We might experience all the grief feelings and reactions impacting together with intense mood swings. We may resent our position of power or feel angry at our pet for forcing us to make the decision. We might postpone the decision, bargaining with ourselves that if we wait another day, the decision will not be necessary. Feelings of guilt, dread and anxiety abound as we wrestle with the decision.

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Making a decision to euthanse your dog
To help you to prepare for the decision to euthanase your pet, consider the following questions. Use them as a guide. Only you can decide what is the best solution for you and your pet. Take your time and make an informed decision. Speak at length with your Vet who will go through your pets condition, prognosis and treatment options.

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Consider the following:
What is the present quality of my pet's life?

Does my pet have a malignancy, terminal condition or serious injury?

Is my pet still eating and drinking well? Active and playful? Affectionate toward me?

Is my pet able to go to the toilet unaided or is it incontinent?

Is my pet neglecting itself (e.g. grooming)?

Is my pet not able to get comfortable - can I do anything to make my pet more comfortable?

Is my pet interested in the activity surrounding it or is it unwilling to move about?

Does my pet seem tired, withdrawn and lethargic most of the time?

Is my pet in pain (do they cry out if touched)? Some don't show that they're in pain. Is my pet able to hold its head up when at rest?

Are any other treatment options available for its condition?

If a behavioural problem has led me to this decision, have I explored all options for dealing with this, seeking advice and intervention from an animal behaviour expert?

Does my pet sense that I am withdrawing from it because of its condition?

Will I want to be present during the euthanasia?

Will I say goodbye to my pet before the euthanasia because it is too painful for me to be present?

Will I want to wait in the reception area until it is over?

Do I want to be alone or should I ask a friend or family member to be present?

Do I want any special burial arrangements made?

Can my Vet store the body so that I can delay burial arrangements until a little later?

Do I want to adopt another pet?

Do I need time to recover from this loss before even considering another pet?

Dog Euthanasia

In making the decision, it is important to remember that the welfare of the animal is the prime consideration. Having seen our dog when they are happy and healthy, most of us recognise the signs given by a pet who is miserable. Discuss your dog's welfare with your Vet who will be able to advise whether the pet has a treatable ailment or is approaching the end of its life and help you to make the right decision for your pet and you.

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The decision almost always causes much soul-searching, especially if you and your pet have been companions for several years. What matters to the pet is quality of life not length of life since a pet has little concept of future time. An illness may be treatable for a period of time, but there eventually comes a point when the pet no longer enjoys life. They may be in visible distress or withdrawn.

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Sometimes it is possible to delay euthanasia for a day without causing suffering (e.g. where the pet has a terminal illness or is extremely old) and the euthanasia is planned. You might want to give your dog a last night of pampering, their favourite foods or food which was normally forbidden. This is a time for you and others who love your dog, to say "goodbye" and reassure your furry friend that they are very much loved. However, if your pet is suffering, or is already under anaesthetic, they will not enjoy having their misery prolonged.

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How quickly does it happen?
Your animal will not know what is going to happen. They may feel slight discomfort when the needle tip passes through the skin, but this is no greater than for any other injection. The euthanasia solution takes only a few seconds to induce a total loss of consciousness. Soon after, the animals breathing stops and their heart stops beating. If you are holding your dog, you will feel them exhale, relax and become heavier in your arms. Urine may trickle from their bladder as the muscles relax. The Vet will check for a pulse or eyelid-flick reflex and if there is any chance at all that the pet is only deeply unconscious, they will give a second injection. Your pet will not be aware of this second injection if it is needed.

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Your Vet will place the dog into a natural looking sleeping position as if it has fallen asleep and close their eyes if necessary. Because all the muscles of the face have relaxed, their lips may pull back into what looks like a grimace. This is simply due to relaxation of the muscles and to gravity and is not a sign of pain, but it can cause concern if you didn't expect it.

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Should I stay to the end?
This is a personal decision. Some owners feel that it's their last duty to be there. Others prefer not to be present. Many take a friend or family member with them for emotional support. Do what feels right for you. Most Vets will allow you to remain with your pet during euthanasia if you wish. If they don't want you present, it is because you are so distressed and will upset your pet thus making it harder to handle and impossible for your Vet to perform the euthanasia - which is traumatic for all, concerned. Your Vet understands that this is a difficult time for you. If you remain calm this will reassure your pet and make the end very peaceful.

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Not all owners wish to be present and there is no shame in this. Some people simply cannot stand the sight of injections. Your Vet will allow you to say goodbye to your pet and leave the consulting room. If you are taking your pets body away with you, they will call you back in afterwards. Your Vet will treat your pet with as much respect and dignity whether or not you are present.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Dog Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Use something dignified to put your pet's body in: a pet bag, towel or blanket. Your Vet will normally wrap or cover your pet's body, or otherwise, place it in a black or blue bag. This is not a sign of disrespect, it is for hygiene and your own privacy. Some veterinary practices have a place where you can sit for a few minutes afterwards and regain your composure. If you do need a few moments before you are able to leave the surgery, tell the veterinary assistant.

Dog Euthanasia Drugs, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Dog Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Alternatively they may be able to help you back to your car, but bear in mind that they are unlikely to have the time to sit with you. Remember there is no shame in showing your emotions at this sad time, it is a natural reaction. Your Vet and assistant won't think any less of you if you lose control. They understand and probably feel the same for their own pets.

Getting another Dog
Getting another dog following the passing of another is a personal decision that should not be rushed. Some people can not bear the silence of an empty home, while others need longer to come to terms with their loss. There is no right or wrong answer, but do make sure that you don't get a new dog while your emotions are still raw, they need to be welcomed into a forward looking, loving home. They will not replace the dog you lost but will be just as unique and special to you in their own way. You can then look forward to a future of new memories with your new loyal friend.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials
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Burial at home.
Many people who own their homes chose to bury their pet in their yards. Great care must be given to bury your pet deep enough, at least three feet, to deter predators. It is recommended to wrap your pet in plastic and place several large rocks on top of their remains before covering with earth. Many cities have ordinances against home burial so check with your local officials before laying your pet to rest.

Similar to human burial, a casket and headstone are selected. Services are available with or without viewing of the remains. Ask your veterinarian or check your local telephone directory to find a nearby pet cemetery.

Typically, cremation is available in most large cities. Some crematories will privately cremate your pet so you can save the ashes for scattering, burial or storing in an urn. Check with your veterinarian about contacting an animal crematory center.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

If death is sudden or unexpected, you may be so distraught and have difficulty in deciding how to dispose of your pet's body. Where possible, discuss this while the pet is alive and reach a shared family decision that you won't regret later. Your Vet will explain the options available to you, which fall in to four main categories: burial at home, burial in a pet cemetery, individual cremation (where the ashes are returned to you in a casket), and communal cremation.

Each of us mourns differently, some more privately than others, and some recover more quickly. Some pet owners find great comfort in acquiring a new pet soon after the loss of another. Others, however, become angry at the suggestion of another pet. They may feel that they are being disloyal to the memory of the preceding pet. Do not rush into selecting a replacement pet. Take the time to work through your grief.

Dog Euthanasia, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Where Should My Dog Be Put To Sleep?
This subject is fraught with questions, dilemmas and decisions... and the subject of where your dog should spend his last minutes is another big one. Most commonly dogs are taken to a veterinary hospital/office for the euthanasia to be administered, but there are vets who are willing to come into your home and put your dog to sleep in his own bed. There are pros and cons to each of these options, and you'll need to take into account your dog's size, mobility, and temperament as well as your own needs and abilities. You can discuss this with your own vet and ask if he/she would be willing to make a house-call and perform the procedure for you. If the answer is "no", then check out mobile veterinarian's in your area. The In-Home Pet Euthanasia Directory has a comprehensive lists of suitable veterinarians in both the USA and Canada. If you feel that putting your dog to sleep would be easier/better in a clinical environment, your own vet can do that for you.

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This time we're talking about cost in a purely practical way, not the emotional toll it takes but the financial one. As with everything else, location affects pricing and if you live in a small town in a rural area, chances are most things are going to be less expensive than if you live in a big metropolitan area. In-home euthanasia is going to be the most expensive option and even then the cost can vary depending upon 'additional services' or the amount of veterinary hours it is going to take up. The additional services can include removal of your dog's body, and cremation/burial and memorial options. The size/weight of your dog also affects pricing because a bigger dog requires a larger dose of drugs.

Virtual Dog Memorial, DOG DEATH, R.I.P, Dog loss

Cost Of Clinic Euthanasia:
Somewhere between $75.00 and $350.00

It's possible that if you live in a rural area and have a 'big-animal vet' whose job is to call on rural farms and homes, he may charge less. Then again, if you live in a big city where everything costs more, or opt for several additional services, it could almost certainly cost you more.

Cost Of At-Home Euthanasia:
Somewhere between $300.00 and $800.00

Virtual Dog Memorial, DOG DEATH, R.I.P, Dog loss

The basic procedure will usually fall at the bottom end of this scale. The higher end of the price range usually includes additional services such as cremation, return of ashes and so on. You can take a look at the prices of the the "Euthanasia Packages" provided by one of the veterinarian's on the "Pet Loss At Home" network. That way you don't have to worry about payment at a time when your emotions are running high, or have to re-live the heartbreak when you get the bill later on. This all makes perfect sense to me, and I think it's sound advice.

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So, you've decided that it's the right time to put your dog to sleep, and you've decided where, and how, you would like it done. But there's now once last decision to make - what do you want to happen to your dog's body once his spirit has left it. The options are the same as those for people... burial or cremation. Your veterinarian should be able to help you with both of these. You'll need to know about city ordinances which apply to at-home burials of pets, and also the location of pet-cemeteries or crematoriums. You may want to have your dog's ashes returned to you, usually in a decorative urn or box, or you may not. No decision is "right" or "wrong" here.

Dog Euthanasia at Home and Cremation, Dog R.I.P, Virtual Dog Memorials

There are a lot of variables here and you'll need to do whatever you feel will help you let your pet go, yet keep him close in your heart. Your veterinarian is familiar with the facilities and choices available to you and will be able to help. It doesn't hurt to lean on family/friends either at this time. You need to grieve, and you're entitled to do it in whatever way you want to, and take as long as you need to come to terms with your loss. Your pet was not "just a dog"! Hang onto keepsakes if you need to, or hide everything away. Set up a memorial for him if you want to. Whatever works for you is what you need to do.

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Rainbow Bridge is a Grief Support Community for those who are hurting from the death of a beloved pet. They were not "just a pet", they are our family. You are not alone, we are here for you.


We are honored to help you to create a virtual memorial for your beloved pet. We hope that going through the process of creating your pet's online memorial, and creating a place that you can come back to for many years to come, will help you to begin to heal from the pain of your loss.

This wizard will step you through a series of questions to help you create and customize an online memorial web page for a pet that has passed away. Virtually all information requested is optional, so you only need to answer those questions you feel comfortable answering. You can always come back later to revise your answers and to modify the look and feel of the memorial.

An Online Pet Memorial is a great way to keep the memory of your pet alive. While we cannot bring back your beloved pet, we can help you preserve the beautiful memories of the times you shared together with an online pet memorial. An online pet memorial is one of the ways to preserve such memories.

The deep and special bond we share with our pets makes the pain of death just as deep. We have found many people experience healing during their grief by remembering the special times in a virtual memorial.

Leaving a pet memorial helps us share the pain and grief of pet loss with others. We hope that placing a memorial in remembrance of your pet here will make your loss that little more bearable.

DOG R.I.P is a website where users can create virtual memorials for their lost pets. If you too have lost a pet, we invite you to sign up and use our free service. It's always here to gracefully lighten up your pet's grave, with candles that always shine and flowers that never die.

Many people who have a pet consider it as a part of family. Not only when they live and provide us with happy times, but also when they pass away. We honour them as family members and therefore we would like to preserve our memories when they leave us to pet's heaven.

Welcome to the VirtualMemorialsOnline.Com Pet Homepage. Our website was created to soothe the grief of pet owners and H.E.L.P. bring closure to the loss of their loving departed pets.

ONLINE PET MEMORIALS is designed to create a virtual community of family and friends for your pet. Add your beloved friend for FREE! You can include all of the important information about the life of your pet along with photos and memories.

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Your pet may seem to be one of the family members and it when it passes away, a proper closure is sometimes needed and often therapeutic.

You can find many pet cemeteries online that allow you to post an epitaph, photos, and more.

Even though your pet is no longer with you, you can still hold onto the memories of its cherished life and share them with others. Visit your pet's memorial and help yourself through grieving for your lost pet with your virtual pet cemetery plot.






Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

This article is proudly presented & copyrighted by
Allison Gray

Every year, 2.7 million pets in animal shelters in the United States are euthanized - that's around 36 percent of pets who enter the shelters. Animal shelters face a lot of hurdles while caring for and rehoming unwanted pets. The most difficult hurdle is euthanasia. Those are difficult statistics to swallow for an animal lover, and it's natural to want to place the blame for those deaths on the shelters. Before pointing the finger, though, consider these 3 major reasons why shelters have to euthanize pets.

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Animal shelters are breeding grounds for diseases. Even the most meticulously cleaned kennels and sanitized cages cannot keep illnesses from sneaking in. Although keeping the shelter clean can help avoid an outbreak of the worst diseases, it still can't prevent them all. Have you ever seen signs in a shelter requesting that you keep your hands out of the animal cages? One of the reasons is to prevent the spread of diseases, such as upper respiratory infection and kennel cough, which are spread rapidly through direct contact. Although a simple infection is easily treatable in our pets at home, a massive outbreak in a shelter environment can be financially crippling and almost impossible to get rid of.

Other serious diseases, such as feline panleukopenia and canine parvovirus, are highly transmittable and deadly. Lyme disease and heartworm are expensive to medicate and common in pets who aren't treated with tick and heartworm preventatives. Because most shelters operate on tight budgets, the cost of treating every animal's illness is impossibly high. Many shelters have veterinarians to prescribe medications and perform exams for sick animals, but the decision to euthanize must still be made sometimes after considering several factors:

The severity of the illness

The chance of recovery

How infectious the disease is

The cost of treatment

The length of treatment

The adoptability of the pet

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

2. Aggression
Pets of every disposition enter animal shelters daily, including highly aggressive animals. Each adoptable dog undergoes a temperament test before going up for adoption. The dogs' behaviors are assessed through standard testing in a controlled environment. Generally, the dogs are checked for the following:

Food, toy and treat aggression

Reaction to touching

Reaction to body language

Reaction to certain noises

Interaction with other dogs and cats

Depending on their behavior and the staff's comfort level with the dogs' temperaments, the dogs are made available for adoption, placed on hold for more assessment or potentially euthanized if they pose a threat. Most shelters allow pets to acclimate to their new surroundings before they make them available for adoption. This time also allows the staff members to assess the pets' behavior and watch for any aggressiveness. Occasionally a pet becomes aggressive after spending weeks, months or even years in a cage. This is essentially a reaction to the continued confinement and is usually referred to as "kennel crazy." Although an animal who has gone kennel crazy can exhibit signs ranging from depression to anxiety, aggression is often the least treatable and may lead to euthanasia.

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

3. Overpopulation
The most obvious reason for euthanasia in animal shelters is also the most preventable. Pet overpopulation is a serious problem in the United States, leaving animal shelters over capacity and overwhelmed. When the number of incoming homeless pets far outweighs the number of eligible adopters, shelters have few options. They have to make the heartbreaking decision to euthanize less adoptable pets to make room for the neverending influx of unwanted animals.

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

You can help make a difference. Consider these options:

Have your pet spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted litters.

Put an ID on your pet in case she goes missing.

Do not buy from a pet store! Adopt your pet to save a life.

No animal shelter takes the topic of euthanasia lightly. The shelter business is one of rehoming and happy endings. The devastating reality of needing to humanely kill companion animals is the most difficult part of the profession. Ending the need for euthanasia does not start in the shelters. It starts in our own homes. Each of us needs to take responsibility to minimize the pet population, help fund our local animal shelters and promote responsible pet care.

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials
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Brandon Gaille

Although dogs might be considered mankind's best friend, there's a sad fact that dominates society today. There are more than 7 million companion animals that enter into shelters every year. Nearly half of those animals are dogs. Only 1 out of every 3 dogs that enters an animal shelter will be adopted before it is euthanized.

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Dog owners who have their pet go missing are rather proactive in claiming their dogs back from a shelter. More than 500,000 dogs are returned to their owners after coming into a shelter facility as a stray. About a third of dogs are returned to their owners. It's the other third of dogs that face being euthanized because of their circumstances. Is there anything that can be done to save dogs from becoming another euthanasia statistic?

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

It is estimated that up to 80 million dogs are currently owned by Americans right now.

Up to 47% of American households have at least one dog that lives with the family as a companion animal.

About 30% of the dogs that are owned as pets have been adopted from an animal shelter.

The percentage of dogs owned that came from a pure-bred breeder: 28%.

29% of people say that they have had to give away their dogs or admit it to an animal shelter because their new place of residence doesn't allow pets.

The percentage of households that give up pets because of death or a divorce: 10%.

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

10% of dogs are brought to animal shelters because of behavioral problems that they have.

Another 10% of dogs are given to a shelter just because the pet owner claims that they don't have enough time to spend with the animal.

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Virtual Dog Memorials

The problem with pet ownership, especially with dogs, is that they are considered only part time members of the family. Instead of looking for a pet-friendly residence, for example, households will not plan enough time for the searching process and wind up accepting a place to live that will not accept the dogs. Others simply feel guilty about not being around to spend time with their dog and so they give it away. Would so many households be willing to do so if they knew that there was a 1 in 3 chance that their beloved pet would be euthanized instead of adopted?

Dog Euthanasia Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Pet Overpopulation Is A Major Contributing Factor
It is believed that there may be up to 70 million stray animals living on the streets of the United States at any given time.

The average female dog can have a litter of puppies every year, with the average litter size being 4-6 puppies.

Many strays that are on the streets are former companion animals that were not kept properly indoors or provided with any proper identification so that they could be returned home.

Only 10% of the dogs that enter an animal shelter, for any reason, have been spayed or neutered.

Americans spend up to $1 billion every year just to pick up stray animals, house them, and then eventually euthanize a third of them.

On average, it costs approximately $100 to capture, house, feed and eventually kill a homeless animal.

About 25% of the dogs that are taken to an animal shelter every year are purebred animals.

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Dogs are loving animals that will protect a family like no other animal. They are fiercely loyal, love kids, but are also a responsibility that must be fully considered. Many households don't realize what the costs of animal care happen to be with the average animal. It will cost a couple thousand dollars to care for a dog, including food and veterinary care, and those are costs that some families do not realize until it is too late. Running budget numbers now, looking for low-cost veterinary clinics and vaccination days, or simply asking someone for help can help to save a lot of the dogs that are headed to the shelters as their final home.

Dog Euthanasia Drugs, Place, Information, Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

What Dogs Are At The Most Risk Of Being Euthanized?
Dogs that spend most of their time separated from their families, in kennels, cages, or outdoor runs, are the most likely to be surrendered to shelters.

The number of animals euthanized each year has decreased dramatically over the past four decades, from some 20 million in 1970 to about 3 million in 2011.

The number of pets has more than doubled since the 1970's, to about 160 million dogs & cats.

Dogs that are not spayed or neutered run the highest risk because it shows that they have not been treated to the modern standard of veterinarian care.

When there are not any "no-kill" shelters in a community and the local shelter becomes overpopulated, dogs brought in to be surrendered are at a high risk of euthanasia.

Sick dogs, even those that catch something as simple as kennel cough, have higher risks of being put to sleep.

When Reno, NV put a "no-kill" policy in place in 2006, dog adoptions rose by 51%.

Dog Euthanasia Drugs, Place, Information, Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials

Being a dog owner might be a big responsibility, but it is a fun responsibility to take on. There is nothing like being able to play with your dog out in the backyard, to experience the love of a dog's smile, or the fierce loyalty that causes the dog to sit at your feet when you watch TV or guard the foot of your bed while you sleep. Some people do not want dogs and there is nothing wrong with that. Just giving up a dog, however, without weighing all available options, is what is leading the the high euthanasia rates. The numbers might be dramatically better than they were 40 years ago, but with 1 million dogs losing their lives every year just because a loving home does not want them is still a number that is way too high.

Dog Euthanasia Drugs, Place, Information, Statistics, Dog R.I.P, How to deal with Pet Loss, Virtual Dog Memorials



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