It is always painful to face the loss of a beloved companion. We, too, have grieved the loss of our pets and we do understand how painful the loss can be.
Terminal diseases can often be managed to allow the pet to share precious additional weeks or months with their family. Some owners want to fight disease aggressively, even when the outlook is grim. Other owners feel it is best to let their pet go sooner if they know the disease is terminal and, especially when they have seen the "light go out" of their pet's eyes and have already tried recommended treatments to relieve the suffering. Only you can know what is right for your pet.
In veterinary medicine, our objective is to treat illness when a pet has a reasonable likelihood of recovery and a good quality of life. When treatment of underlying disease is not possible (or not likely to result in significant improvement), our objective is to relieve suffering. Relief of suffering can be achieved through hospice care or euthanasia.
During the course of a terminal illness, there usually comes some point where the owners and doctors agree that the most loving thing to do is to prevent more suffering. Sometimes, we can gain additional time with your pet through hospice (or palliative) care aimed at preventing pain or suffering, while accepting the terminal nature of the disease and so not putting the pet through any additional procedures, tests or treatments that may induce additional stress or pain. During this "hospice" period, treatments including pain medications, fluid administration, and other medications or treatments can help your pet end his life with dignity, comfort and happy times.
If the time comes when the owners and veterinarian agree that there is no realistic hope for a good quality of life for the pet because the pet is suffering and is no longer responding to supportive care, the final act of caring you can make for your pet is often to let him go with euthanasia. If euthanasia is out of the question for you, more aggressive hospice care including strong pain relievers and possibly sedatives to ensure maximum relief from suffering may be needed.
At times, the only way to relieve suffering is euthanasia. The euthanasia process is painless. The pet is sedated and then receives an overdose of an anaesthetic -- so he feels no pain but simply and peacefully passes away, with a loving presence -- you or a nurse -- by his side and wishing him a peaceful journey. You and your family may remain with your pet for as long as you wish. We can arrange for cremation of your pet or you can take him home to bury him. We do everything within our power to make euthanasia as peaceful and dignified as possible for both you and your pet.
We naturally grieve the loss of a beloved pet, just as we grieve other losses in life. This loss can hit some people very hard. It is natural to feel very sad for several days and to continue to feel sad at times for many weeks or months. After some time, your sadness may lessen only to return more strongly some many months later, often around an anniversary of the death, holidays, or other stressful times. This is all perfectly normal but can be very painful.
Everyone is different and there are no "right ways" to deal with loss -- just the right ways for you. Whatever coping techniques (family support, talking, exercise, prayer, time, etc.) help you deal with other losses in life can also help you now.
For some people, a new pet can be a healthy distraction, a happy reminder of former puppy or kitten days with their lost pet and can even ease the pain of loss with new happy times. Other people can't bear the thought of a new pet for many months and do better to wait for a while before making a new commitment to a pet. Trust your own judgment about when is the right time for a new pet.
If you feel overwhelmed with grief or just cannot seem to get back to your "normal self", do not hesitate to reach out for more help from family, friends, grief resources, a grief support network or a professional grief counselor or therapist.
A favorite poem, the Rainbow Bridge, offers a little comfort to many of us.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
--- Author unknown