End of Life Care
What is comfort care and how can it help my pet?
Comfort care for your pet means providing treatments, medications, or home care recommendations that help manage your pet’s symptoms of illness or pain until it is time to let them go peacefully. We will work with you within the scope of our medical judgment to ensure that your pet is as comfortable as possible in the weeks or days before passing. We know that it isn’t always easy to know when the time is right for end-of-life care but we are here to offer our advice and guidance whenever you need it.
Comfort care may include pain management, easy access to food, water, and litter, wound management, offering a stable and consistent environment, helping your pet maintain good hygiene and sanitation, keeping bedding and padding clean, and providing mental stimulation.
Maintaining your pet's nutritional needs is one of the most important parts of comfort care. Keeping up your pet's caloric intake is essential to successful comfort care. This means it is important to balance such things as your pet’s need for a therapeutic diet with maintaining their caloric intake.
As your pet approaches the end stages of their disease, we can reassess the value of their ongoing medications and treatments. We may also discuss using medications or combinations of medications that we might have avoided before to in order to promote quality of life over longevity.
What is euthanasia?
While most of us would love for our pets to be in our lives forever, there comes a time when we all must say goodbye. Many pet owners hope their pets will pass peacefully at home without pain or suffering but unfortunately that isn’t possible for many of our beloved pets. For those pets who cannot pass peacefully on their own, humane euthanasia can offer a kind, painless and dignified end to their life.
How do I know when it’s time to say goodbye?
Knowing when the time is right can be very difficult. The most important factor should always be your pet’s quality of life. Consider how many of your pet’s favorite activities they can still enjoy, their mobility, their appetite, symptoms of illness they may be experiencing, or any pain they may be feeling. While making the decision to proceed with euthanasia is extremely personal, your veterinary care team is here to help you in whatever way we can. Whether you need an exam from a doctor or a comforting word to help you make your decision, we will offer you all the support we can.
What should I expect when I bring my pet in for euthanasia?
At Lake Ontario Veterinary Clinic, we strive to make the process of euthanasia as peaceful as possible. You, your pet and any friends, family, or personal belongings of your choosing will be brought into our comfort room where you will be able to spend time with your pet before we proceed if you desire.
The use of sedatives, catheters or other routes of medication administration will be customized to your pet and your personal preferences. If you elect to have us use sedation with your pet (which is usually preferable for your pet's comfort), medications will be selected based on your pet's individual needs. The medication should result in deep drowsiness over a period of a few to several minutes. During the time it takes for your pet to become comfortable and sleepy, you and your family may remain with your pet if you choose to. Many families use this time as a quiet few minutes to say goodbye.
Once your pet is relaxed and sleepy, the doctor and any necessary staff will return to the room. Some owners choose to leave at this point, having said goodbye to their pet as they became sleepy. Others may choose to remain with their pet as they pass on. Whether your pet passes in your arms or ours, your pet will be comfortable and surrounded by love and kindness as they pass on peacefully and without pain.
What options do I have for my pet's remains after they pass?
The decision of how to care for your pet’s remains is another very personal decision. Most owners elect to have their pet cremated as burying a pet's remains is often not legal. We offer two types of cremation services: “group cremation” and "private cremation." If you elect "group cremation," it is a less expensive option where your pet’s remains are cremated as part of a group and no ashes are returned to you. If you elect a “private cremation” it is generally more expensive but allows for your pet to be cremated individually so that their ashes can be returned to you. Owners often select this option if they wish to memorialize their pet in some way. Memorials may include use of an urn, burial or scattering of ashes, jewelry or keepsakes containing a small portion of ashes, artwork infused with ashes, and many more creative, memorable options.. Where allowed by law, pet remains may be buried on personal property but this should be done with care as appropriate location selection and depth of burial are important factors to consider.