End of Life Care

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Dealing with the Loss of a Pet

The death of a beloved pet can be very distressing. Our pets are not only members of the family, they are our faithful friends, our children’s devoted playmates and reliable, affectionate companions for the elderly or disabled. They enrich our dayto-day lives and their passing makes for a deeply felt loss.

There are many reasons why we have to face a pet’s death:

  • Terminal Illness
  • Old age or senility
  • Fatal accident or unexpected occurrence
  • Behavioural problems
  • Long-term or chronic illness


Most of these factors may place you in the heartbreaking position of facing your pet’s death or having to contemplate euthanasia. As an owner, you are responsible for your pet’s overall health and welfare. When his or her quality of life deteriorates, determining to do the humane thing and end the pet’s needless suffering may be one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make. That is why bereavement often begins before the actual death of the pet.

End of Life Care


Losing a friend, and that is what your pet is, is always very painful. Facing such a loss is not easy, and may evoke feelings of denial, anger, guilt or depression before acceptance is reached. These reactions are entirely natural and should be expressed. Everyone grieves in his or her own way. You may experience some or all of those feelings, in varying degrees and for different lengths of time. Acknowledging them is an important step in the mourning process, one that will help you understand why you may have withdrawn from, or lashed out at, people who care about you.

You should realise that it is perfectly natural to need comforting. It will not only help you cope with your emotions and adjust to life without your pet, but may allow you, in the future, to provide welcome support to others around you who are experiencing the same loss.


The Healing Process

There are many stages of grief and the journey through them is not always a straight forward. Recognize that loss and give yourself the emotional time and space to grieve. Getting through the sorrow, guilt and pain varies from person to person.

Seek help. Many hotlines, chat rooms, message boards and support groups are available on the Internet, and books on adult and child bereavement may help you better understand what you are experiencing. And, if you need to, don’t hesitate to reach out for others’ personal and professional assistance. Call us at Third Avenue Veterinary Surgery, trusted friends, or a counsellor. Make a donation or volunteer your services to a pet refuge.

With time, the pain will lessen and you and your family will be able to cherish happy memories of your special friend.

Please contact the surgery if you we may be of any assistance to you and your pet.

Please find listed below some links which may be of use to you during this difficult time.

Pets in Peace Cremation Service

Quality of Life Scale by Dr Alice Villalobos

A Place to Honour & Celebrate Our Pets

Rainbow Bridge Pet Loss Support Community
Pet Loss & Grief Support