End of Life Decisions
The staff at Pierz Veterinary Clinic understands the importance of your connection to your animal and how challenging decisions can become when navigating care, primarily End of Life care. Our mission is to provide compassion, support, and education during this difficult time. Whether you are navigating long term pain management, sudden illnesses or injuries, or a long-lived life, our team will be with you through every step on this path.
What is Euthanasia?
Stemming from the Greek origins, euthanasia literally means a “good death,” or a death without suffering. The intention of euthanasia is to relieve an animal of current or potential pain and suffering. Our staff understands the potential emotional weight of this decision. We strive to provide clear education and support related to treatments and health care management, to ensure all options are considered before moving forward with the End-of-Life process.
Below are some of the many reasons why it may be time to consider end of life care.
- Terminal illness, such as cancer
- Serious illness or injury that may not be terminal but would cause significant long-term suffering for the animal.
- Aggressive behaviors resulting in the injury of other animals or humans.
- Old age or significant deterioration of major bodily functions, resulting an impaired quality of life.
How do I really know it’s time?
You know your pet better than anyone else. If you have reason to believe that your pet is suffering or struggling, there is likely something wrong. Having your pet examined by one of our Vets is the best place to start. They will be able to complete a physical examination of your animal, complete any testing, or provide referrals to other providers for additional testing or treatments. Following an exam, Dr. Van Stone or Dr. LaBorde will provide you with recommendations and treatment options. Regardless of the outcome, our staff will be with you through this process, offering support, compassion, and guidance while you navigate these decisions.
If you are uncertain about your animal’s Quality of life, you can follow the link below to assess your animal.
Some things to consider in this process while making this decision:
- Is my pet eating and drinking?
- How is my pet’s energy level?
- Does rest seem to help them revitalize?
- Does my pet continue to engage in its’ favorite activities?
- How is my pets’ mood? Is it increasingly reactive towards other animals or humans? Does it avoid touch?
- Does my pet move around in a comfortable manor or seem to struggle with physical activity?
- Does my pet respond to my presence or notice when I am not there?
- Does my pet hide from interaction?
- Does my pet go to the appropriate area to use the bathroom or have any issues while going to the bathroom?
- Will my pet get better with treatment?
- How will the treatment impact the quality of life for my pet?
- Can I provide the ongoing level of care and attention my pet needs to have a good quality of life?
- Will my pet be in pain or suffer in its’ current state?
I have made the decision, now what?
Our veterinary team will continue to support you and your pet through this next phase. The team may begin with asking your preferences on various options, such as, “Would you prefer to be present during the process,” “Would you like your pet cremated,” and “Would you prefer to have the euthanasia take place in our clinic setting or within the comfort of your home?” From there, the team will explain the process based on your preferences.
At home vs in-clinic
Some families may request the euthanasia to take place within the comfort of their home, which is a calming, private, and familiar space for the animal as well as the humans. Our team will do their best to accommodate for this option, but please be aware that this may need to be scheduled out a few days, so that our veterinary team can prepare and provide adequate time for your pet and family. Please also be aware that there may be additional costs for the at-home option.
When performing a euthanasia at our clinic, our team makes every effort to provide a comfortable, respectful, quiet, and private environment for this final stage. Whether you chose to be present for the process or not, our staff will ensure your pet’s comfort throughout. We often recommend a familiar face be present during this stage, if you are able, to provide additional comfort to your pet. If you chose to be present, our staff would provide ample time for you to prepare and say your good-byes.
How does the physical process happen?
Our team makes every effort to provide a gentle and compassionate process for you and your pet. If you chose, the staff would inform you of each step, as they progress through this process. To prepare for administering the solution, a technician will come in and bring the animal back into our treatment area to place a catheter into the animal’s vein. Generally, no medications or solutions are given at this time. Your pet will then be brought back to the room, and you can spend as much time with them as you and your family needs. When you are ready, the Veterinarian will administer an injection of a sedative to your pet, which will cause your pet to fall into a deep sleep. The next step involves a final injection of a solution. The solution works very quickly and is painless. It is just like falling asleep or being sedated for a surgery. Our team will provide you with adequate privacy and time to say goodbye. Once you are ready, our staff will prepare your pet’s body for its final resting place, whether it be burial or cremation.
After Death options
Whether your animal has passed at home, or at our clinic, we offer a variety of After-life services.
- Cremation: You have the option of individual cremation or group cremation. Individual cremation is with the purpose of ashes being returned to the family. Group cremation is a cremation option where ashes are not returned to the family.
- Take home: Families may choose to bring their animal’s remains home with them after Euthanasia for burial.
We offer additional options for memorials for your pet as well, such as:
- Fur vial: A lock of your pet’s hair is placed into a sealed vial for safe keeping. We provide one free vial with a cremation option.
- Paw print: We can provide a clay mold of your pet’s paw print. We provide one free paw print with the cremation option.
After Loss Care Supports
We understand the emotional toll from losing a furry family member, which is why we suggest a variety of supports to help with the grieving process.
Books for adults
- When your pet dies, A guide to mourning, remembering, and healing by Alan Wolfelt
- The Pet Loss Companion by Dolan-Del Vecchio, Ken Saxton- Lopez, & Nancy Saxton-Lopez
- Goodbye, Friend by Gary Kowalski
- Signs from Pets in the Afterlife by Lyn Ragan
- I wasn’t ready to say goodbye by Brook Noel & Pamela D. Blair
Books for children
- When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers
- Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie
- Saying goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas
- Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant
- Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant
Online/ Phone Resources
- UC Davis Pet Loss Resources www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/grief-counselng/pet-loss-resources
- Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline: http://vet.tufts.edu/petloss/
- MN Pet Los Resources: http://www.pet-loss.net/ndex.shtml
Local professional counseling or services
- Lakes Country Counseling in Little Falls, MN
- True Balance Counseling in Little Falls, MN
- The Center for Hope and Healing in Sartell, MN
- The Village Family Services Center in St. Cloud, MN
- Elle Mental Health in Baxter, MN
- Central MN Mental Health Center (Various locations)
- Lutheran Social Services (Various locations)
- Catholic Charities (Various locations)
RESOURCES FOR PET OWNERS
- Tools for Assessing Quality of Life
- The Euthanasia Appointment - What to Expect
- Dr. Mary Gardner's shop for aging pet products