During your cat or dog's last days, you can count on our team in Ruckersville to provide caring and compassionate end-of-life care. 

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What is Pet End of Life Care?

Letting your much-loved cat or dog go is one of the most difficult choices you can make as a pet owner. 

Whether your furry companion is in its twilight years or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you may be feeling many emotions during this loss. 

At Ruckersville Animal Hospital, we will do everything in our power to ensure your pet's final days or weeks are calm, comfortable, and pain-free. We do this by completing a quality-of-life assessment, prescribing food and medication to manage pain, and offering humane euthanasia. 

Hospice & End of Life Care

Humane Pet Euthanasia

Our team at Ruckersville Animal Hospital will complete a quality of life assessment to ensure all other alternatives have been exhausted. We then offer humane euthanasia for cats and dogs.

As an alternative to natural death, which can sometimes be a long and painful process, we offer the medical procedure euthanasia to end an animal's life with medication. Pet euthanasia is a painless, rapid process. 

Preparing for Pet Euthanasia

Also referred to as animal hospice care or palliative care, end-of-life care is administered as a pet arrives at the end of its life. 

Here are a few frequently asked questions about end-of-life veterinary care at our animal hospital. 

  • What is end-of-life care?

    At this time, pet parents have chosen to withdraw or decline the pursuit of curative therapy for illnesses that limit an animal's life. 

    With years of skill and expertise in hospice veterinary care, our vets can help you develop a compassionate end-of-life plan geared to your pet's needs. 

  • What are some signs my pet may be ready to pass?

    Some behavioral and physiological signs that your pet may be ready to pass include:

    • Depression
    • Is in pain 
    • Loss of bowel or bladder control 
    • Extreme fatigue or loss of energy
    • Erratic breathing
    • Change in appetite or loss of appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Hides or withdraws from people 

    Keep in mind that each animal is unique. While your pet may keep eating or drinking, even if they are disoriented or in pain. 

    They may also not display outward signs that would indicate they are in pain, such as crying or whimpering. 

    Please ask your veterinarian about any abnormal symptoms you notice - they can tell you if these are concerning based on your dog or cat's medical history. 

  • How can I help my pet feel healthy and comfortable at home at the end of their life?

    Throughout this time, you can help make your pet more comfortable by making sure they aren't in pain or experiencing distress. 

    Have your vet conduct a comprehensive physical exam to make sure there are no underlying health issues that need to be treated. 

    Ensure their favorite items or toys are within close reach.

    Because your furry friend might spend a significant amount of time in bed, put lots of cushions in this area to make it more comfortable.

    If your pet is incontinent (has lost control of their bladder), regularly inspect their living area to make sure it isn't wet or soiled. You might have to use a towel or sling to help get your pet up to urinate or defecate if required. 

  • How can I prepare for euthanasia?

    For both dogs and cats, hospice veterinary care can include a range of procedures and preparations. We can help you navigate each step with care and compassion for you and your four-legged companion.

    Once the quality of life assessment has been completed to make sure all other alternatives have been exhausted, we might send your cat or dog home with pain management medications until your appointment.

    We might be able to arrange your appointment time for when it will most likely be quieter at the clinic, such as at the very beginning or end of the day. However, with unpredictable illnesses or injuries, this is not always possible.

    If you have children, it can help to provide age-appropriate explanations of what will happen in advance to prepare them for losing their furry friend.

    You might want to bring your pet's bed, or a comfortable blanket or pillow, with you for them to rest on.

    If you have other pets, you can also bring them to the appointment, so they can understand the loss and sniff your pet's body following euthanasia.

    You may decide to sit with your pet, so you can comfort them while the vet provides the medicine via injection.

  • What will happen during the euthanasia process?

    We will ask you if you'd like to stay with your pet for euthanasia. This is an important factor to take into consideration - some people aren't emotionally capable, and any choice you make is okay.

    You might choose to be present when they are sedated, then leave the area during the euthanasia itself. You might also ask a family member or friend that your pet knows and likes to take your pet to this final appointment or to stay with your pet while you leave the room.

    A powerful sedative will be injected directly into your pet's vein to cause the nerves in your pet’s body to cease sending signals (including pain signals).

    Your pet's breathing and heart rate will slow until they eventually stop. This could take as little as a few minutes or up to 15 to 20 minutes depending on your pet, their condition, and other factors. Your vet will then inject the euthanasia solution. This is when the brain function will stop.

    Lots of animals take one last, deep breath as they pass away. Some will urinate or defecate when they are euthanized due to the total relaxation that occurs.

    Euthanasia is not painful for animals. After this, your pet's eyes might still be open. Your vet can close them if you wish.

    The vet will listen to your pet's heart with a stethoscope to confirm that they are gone. We like to allow owners as much time with their pets as they need following the procedure, and are committed to treating every pet owner with as much sensitivity and compassion as possible. The entire process typically takes 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  • What happens after euthanasia?

    You can decide what happens to your euthanized cat or dog's body. You could keep the body to bury personally, choose cremation, or have your pet buried in a pet cemetery. It may be helpful to consider this decision well in advance.

    Information regarding cremation and grief counseling will be supplied to you.

    Every person and pet is unique and can respond differently to the loss of your cat or dog. Children may have questions or feel very sad for a few weeks.

    Adults may feel a range of emotions, from heavy grief to guilt, sadness or emptiness, or relief that their pet is free of pain and that their condition will no longer have to be managed. As vets, we have seen the entire range of emotions, and all are valid and normal.

    Don't forget to take care of yourself afterward. Talk to family and friends or you can even join a pet loss support group. If you have persistent feelings of grief that are interfering with your or your family member's mental health, you might want to consider mental health counseling. 

Crematory & Memorial Services in Ruckersville

Saying goodbye is always a hard choice to make. Even if it is the kindest choice we can make in an animal's final stage of life, the process can still feel difficult and heartbreaking. 

While you may opt for an at-home burial if this is not an option, Paws & Remember provides all aftercare and cremation services for Ruckersville Animal Hospital

Whether you have decided to receive your pet's ashes back or not, rest assured that your pet will receive the utmost care from the moment they leave our animal hospital until they are returned to us again. Ask about our cremation packages. 

Alternatively, you may want to honor the memory of your pet with a picture or shape, urn, clay paw print, ornament, memory jewelry, wind chimes, garden stones, etc. 

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