Roger Salmon column

Roger Salmon.
Roger Salmon.

Saying goodbye – the ultimate kindness, and often the most difficult decision to make if your pet is very ill or very old.

Euthanasia may be the most caring option and owners have choices of the different ways that euthanasia may be performed. Virtually every owner would prefer their pet to die in its sleep because nobody wants to make the decision to end a life.

This is a perfectly normal human reaction but unfortunately natural deaths are rarely as peaceful and pain-free as we picture them.

Euthanasia or putting the animal to sleep, is without doubt the kindest way to a dignified end to your pet. No matter what else we do as vets, helping you the owner through the loss of your pet is most important part of our job.

If you know what your choices are and what to expect, you will hopefully feel comfortable with the decisions you’ve made and won’t feel self-conscious asking questions.

Where and when it will happen is your next decision. You may prefer a home visit when the whole family can be there or might mean leaving the pet at the surgery whilst most owners prefer to stay with their pet at the end.

Many owners worry about how it will be done so ask your vet what are the choices.

The simplest explanation for virtually all pet euthanasia is an overdose of anaesthetic and they just go to sleep.

For many animals, especially dogs and cats, this may be injected straight into a vein and most of the time it will be possible for you to hold and comfort your pet while it is done, but a veterinary nurse is always at hand to help.

The anaesthetic reaches the heart and brain within seconds and your pet will be aware of nothing after the initial pin prick.

You need to be prepared for slight movement after death due to reflexes which often result in a sudden gasp that can be quite surprising if you are not prepared for it.

Afterwards you can take your pet home to bury or the vet will arrange for cremation.

This can be done individually and you can have the ashes back to scatter or in a casket if you prefer. All types and shapes of caskets are available with inscriptions if required.