Preparing to Say Goodbye

It isn’t easy to think (or talk) about your pets dying. People who lose a pet unexpectedly may wish they’d had time to prepare, and to say goodbye. A person with a pet who suffers through a long illness may wish that their pet had passed quickly and painlessly. Whether your pet is seriously ill or simply old and running out of time, a little bit of preparation can make things easier once your pet has passed away.

  1. Talk to your veterinarian. Be honest about any questions you may have. Are there treatment options? Is your pet in pain? What will the impact of one pet’s death be on your other pets?
  2. Make plans for your beloved pet’s remains. Will you want to bury him in your backyard? Will you want to have him cremated? Who can help you make the arrangements? What will it cost?
  3. Think about how you will memorialize your pet. Will you want to have some sort of funeral with family and friends? Do you want to collect pictures of your pet in a scrapbook? You don’t have to erase your pet from your thoughts and heart just because they aren’t physically here anymore. Treasure your memories of your special friend.
  4. Think about your own feelings and beliefs about dying, death, and the afterlife. Talk to your family and friends about it. Talk to a religious figure, if you choose.
  5. Do special things in your final days with your pet, if possible. Visit your favorite places, take plenty of pictures, share your favorite treats. You may also want to save a clipping of fur and/or preserve a paw print as a memento of your special friend.
  6. Be sure to take good care of yourself while you care for your sick or elderly pet. If you let yourself get sick, who will take care of your pet?

Choosing whether or not to euthanize your sick or elderly pet is an incredibly difficult choice. On the one hand, it’s a lose-lose situation: your pet loses his life and you lose your friend. However, if your pet is in a great deal of pain or is losing quality of life, it may be better to say goodbye. Watch and listen to your pet; they may show you that they are ready to go. Some animals that are ready to pass away will seek a private place for their final rest.

It is never an easy decision. There are many factors involved! Talk to your friends and family; talk to your veterinarian. The people who care about you and your pet will help you make the right decision when the time comes.