pet-memorial-headstone2

Pet Memorial Stones

pet memorial stones

Pet memorial stones are a beautiful way to pay tribute to the beloved companions we have lost.

I feel so helpless when it’s time to say goodbye. Everything I could have done was done, and I have to figure out how to adapt without my constant companion. Finding a way to honour the memory helps me cope. It’s the “taking action” that helps with the powerlessness I feel when I can’t save them.

One particular passing has still left me feeling raw, three years later. Immediately after it happened, I lit a virtual memorial candle, and I did feel a bit better. In tribute to another dog we lost I bought a memorial garden plaque, engraved with his name and a message. Again I found it helpful.

Memorial stones

Not only do I love the permanence of a memorial stone, I appreciate their versatility – for use outdoors as grave markers and paving stones, or indoors displayed on a shelf or mantle.

I feel most at peace when surrounded by nature, so a memorial stone in my garden is the perfect tribute.  

They make a wonderfully healing gift

When you think “gift” you probably don’t have a memorial stone on your list, maybe you should! We can feel so alone in our grief, knowing someone has honoured our beloved companion in such a way is a beautiful expression of friendship.

Let’s take a look at a few of the options you have to choose from

Dog Paw Print Devotion Garden Stone

evergreen enterprises pet memorial stones

With the look and colour of stone, this high quality resin memorial is 12” x ½” x 3” and has a lovely sentiment carved right in. Perfect for indoor and out, it holds up well to the elements. A nice added feature is the keyhole in the back, making it suitable for hanging.

Granite Memorial Marker 

granite pet memorial stones

This stunning granite marker comes laser engraved with your pet’s name, the dates you wish and wording of your choice. The engravers can even produce a life like photo. Measuring 6″ x 10″ x 3/8″ it will not fade or crack in extreme weather.

Red Stone Heart Shaped Memorial Stone 

heart shaped pet memorial stones

This heart shaped grave marker, hand cut and shaped from natural stone, comes personalized with your pet’s name deep engraved. Perfect for use as a headstone, grave marker, stepping stone or indoor display.

Paw Shape Pet Memorial Stone 

paw print pet memorial stones

This beautiful paw shaped memorial stone, measuring 8 ¼”H x 8.5”W x 1.5”D, comes etched with a poem and has a 2″ x 3″ photo frame. Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, the stone can stand up on its base for display.

Dog Angel Memorial Marker 

dog angel pet memorial stones

Such an eye catching piece, this stunning tribute to a lost angel comes with a touching message.  

Dog Collar Garden Stone

dog collar pet memorial stones

This garden stone is not a design you typically see. Sturdy enough to stand up to harsh winters, yet delicate enough to display in your home, the ability to personalise this, on your own, is a special feature. You can paint the collar and write your dog’s name on the tag, meaning you contributed to the creation of this memorial. How much more special does that make it?

Pet memorial stones – conclusion

This may not be a pleasant topic, but it’s a healing topic. Losing our four legged companion is horrific, there’s no two ways about that, but we still have to learn to cope, and adjust to life without them.

I believe creating memorials is therapeutic, and they have helped me as I looked for ways to pay tribute to beings who were important in my life.

We find the things that work for us, and pet memorial stones may be what give you comfort.   

 

Drop by my Facebook page and join a community of people who share their lives with senior dogs. Post your stories, photos, advice and questions.

If in the UK please click on the flag to shop bigger and bolder

the loss of pets I have loved

The Loss of a Pet: Will You Be There at The End?

the loss of a pet will you be there at the end

When the time has come and you’re about to experience the loss of a pet, will you be there at the end?

No matter how long it’s been since you said goodbye to your last furry family member, it’s always heart wrenching, and you never forget that feeling.

I stay

I have always been there (except once which I’ll explain further down), and will continue to be there as long as I’m able, because I have no doubt it is the right decision for me.

Is it easy? No, it’s one of the most horrific experiences of my life. Knowing there’s nothing I can do to stop the inevitable from happening, and having to say “I’m ready” is tough beyond words. Why do I do it? Because I know it would eat me up alive if I wasn’t there to give them comfort.

Our dog Bailey had pancreatitis, and was at the vet in another city. The end was unexpected, I had no car, and it was late in the day. My husband worked in the same city, and since they were besties, he was the right person to be with him.

Some go

Several people have told me they couldn’t handle being there, and while at the vet I have seen people leave the room, because it was too much for them to witness, and heaven knows it is.

The person who leaves is no less brave than the person who stays, nor did they love any less.

the loss of pets I have loved

Guilt

I want to talk about the guilt some people feel at not having been there. It can hit anytime – soon after, or much later when the grief has subsided.  

That is a road you don’t want to walk down.  

I can certainly understand why you feel the way you do, but not only is it unproductive, it will eat you up inside. Easy for me to say? No it’s not actually, because I know guilt, and I have to learn to handle it regularly.

Please explain this to yourself – you’re feeling guilty in your current state of mind, but you made the best decision for yourself in another state of mind. How can one judge the other?  

Understand what I’m saying?

How will you decide?

While it’s not a topic we want to think about, it’s a good idea to know who would want to be there, and who wouldn’t. At the time, circumstances may force different decisions, but it’s still a good idea to know who stands where, before you’re forced to decide with very little time to think.

If the idea of having it done in a cold, and unfamiliar environment makes you sad, many vets will come to the house. It is an option a lot of people prefer, as it allows their pet to be calm and comfortable in familiar surroundings. It may be easier for you to be there if it’s done in your own home. I hesitate to use the word “easy” because nothing can be further from reality, but you know what I mean.

If this is a strong consideration, know in advance if your vet offers this service, or would you have to look further afield.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you keep changing your mind, I’m the queen of reversible decisions.

If it helps, think about it like this – would you feel worse if you were there, or weren’t there?

Reasons people stay and reasons people go

Here are some reasons why people stay, and why they go. There’s no right or wrong decision, only the decision you make.

Stay

  • Get comfort knowing their pet went peacefully
  • Sure they were treated with respect because they witnessed it
  • Want their pet to know they were with them until the very end
  • Know for sure their pet died – sometimes you have to see to believe
  • Can’t regret not being there

Go

  • Don’t want their pet to be stressed by their reaction/emotions
  • They don’t want it to be the last memory of their pet
  • Don’t want to see death

The loss of a pet – conclusion

It is not our place to judge if someone decides they aren’t able to be there in the last moments of life. Some wouldn’t be anywhere else, others prefer a different final memory. What’s important is you do what’s right for you.

You have to believe your pet knew how much you loved them, and are grateful for how you cared for them.

When you face the loss of a pet, will you be there at the end?

 

Were you with your pet or not? Would you like to share the reasons for your decision? Would you make the same decision if there’s a next time? Sharing your experiences helps others, just write in the comment section below.  

explaining the loss of a pet to children

Explaining the Loss of a Pet to Children

explaining the loss of a pet to children

It’s hard enough for us to cope, imagine explaining the loss of a pet to children.

Sadly it’s one of those things in life that are inevitable. Of course it’s to be dreaded, but if handled properly, it will serve as an important lesson in loss, love, life and compassion.

The bond between them

Do your pets greet the kids at the door when they come home? Do they serve as a confidant, the first one your child talks to? Are they best friends, a support to help them feel less alone in the world?

It is a bond that people who don’t have the pleasure of sharing their lives with animals, can never possibly understand. Yet it is an important one.

how to explain the loss of a pet to children

What you should not do

It’s a natural instinct to want to shelter your kids from the bad in the world, but you won’t be doing them any favours in this case.

Please do not lie and say the dog/cat/rabbit… ran away, or got lost. First of all it’s the wrong thing to do, and why would you allow your child to worry, wondering if he’s okay, and hope he’ll find his way home one day?

How to share the news

If your pet is old, or has an illness that he won’t recover from, you will be able to explain what’s going on, over time. They will see the animal isn’t well, be aware of your trips to the vet, medication etc… so will have time to understand and absorb.

It is an opportunity to teach your child proper care of animals, and compassion for others. Explain the importance of preventing suffering, that everything possible has been done to help, and when the time comes the vet will give him a quick injection that won’t hurt, the pet will not be scared or in pain, and he will die peacefully.

Be careful of the words you use. It’s okay to say things like “died” “death” so they understand what that means, but using words like “put to sleep” or “going to sleep” are not a good idea. They associate those words with bedtime, and can scare and confuse them. Call it what it is.

explaining pet loss to kids

 

How much to share

You know your children, and their age and ability to cope will determine how the detail you go into, and the words you use to explain what’s going on. Answer their questions, don’t ignore them.

What if your pet dies suddenly?

If something drastic happened, and you had no time to prepare yourself, never mind the kids, briefly and calmly explain what happened. Let their questions guide the conversation.

Where do pets go when they die?

I don’t know whether or not you’ve ever broached the subject of death with your kids, but that’s a tough one for any of us to answer. You could talk about your own belief or understanding of death, what your faith says about it, or give an honest “I don’t know” because none of us know for sure.

Helping them cope with the loss of a pet

We all feel a range of emotions when experiencing loss, and they will as well. Loneliness because their friend is gone, anger, guilt because they didn’t always take care of their pet like they said they would.

Encourage your children to express their feelings, and share yours as well. It helps to know you’re feeling the same. If they don’t want to talk right now that’s okay, but don’t let them keep their feelings bottled up for long, and be sure they know when they’re ready you’ll be there to listen.

pet loss and children

Helping your child heal

You’re keeping the lines of communication open, and encouraging your kids to share their feelings. What else can you do to help?

Your children may want to have a funeral. It’s a chance for them to say goodbye and do something special. There are pet cemeteries if you prefer, or a backyard burial means they’re still close.

If your pet will be cremated, perhaps they’d like to help you pick the urn.

How about a scrapbook full of pictures, funny stories… Go shopping with your kids to pick out a special book, coloured paper, stickers, markers… Even if they already have everything at home, they may want things they pick out specifically for this occasion.

Other ideas include planting a tree or bush, buying a paving stone with your pet’s name on it, a picture frame with the pet’s name and picture, or buying some supplies for the local shelter. Explain how this will be helping lots of other animals that are waiting for a home feel so much better.

Adopting another

You may be ready to adopt another pet rather quickly, but hold off for a bit. Your kids may not be ready for such a big step, and they may get angry, feeling theirs wasn’t important and so easily replaced.

Hopefully you will be able to give another animal a home, when everyone is ready. The priority is helping your kids understand what has happened, grieve, accept, and be happy with the memories.

explaining pet loss to children

Explaining the loss of a pet to children – conclusion

Not an easy conversation to have with grownups, never mind kids, but necessary nonetheless.

Be honest about what happened, let their questions guide you, help them understand what a kind and compassionate thing you all did, and how it’s okay to be sad because they were lucky enough to love someone so much.

Explaining the loss of a pet to children isn’t easy, but see it as an opportunity to teach them about loss, love, compassion and the joy that comes with sharing their lives with animals.

 

 

 

the loss of a pet

The Loss of a Pet

the loss of a pet

It’s not a topic anyone wants to talk about, I know I don’t, but the loss of a pet is an inevitable part of sharing our lives with them.

Like you, I have said goodbye too many times. You never get used to it, and it never gets easier. Nothing prepares you for the moment the vet walks in with that euthanasia paper, requiring your signature that will force you apart. I’m tearing up as I write this, because it’s not a moment I can ever forget.

What choice do we have?

Of course it’s horrific, and I’ve met many people over the years who refused to get another animal, because saying goodbye was too hard. Totally understandable, you can’t fault them.

That’s not how I see things, but we’re all different aren’t we? There is no shortage of animals needing homes, so while it’s devastating to say goodbye, I’m always open to helping another.

What this post is about

This article is the first in a series, exploring a wide range of issues surrounding the loss of a pet. This first post is an overview, and future ones will address each topic in more detail.

loss of a pet

When is it time to say goodbye?

Sometimes the answer is clear cut, other times a lot fuzzier.

There are circumstances when you have no choice – your pet is terminally ill, or so badly injured there’s nothing more that can be done. It’s those times when it is morally and ethically the right decision to make.

The less certain times are when it’s quality of life. In my experience, these decisions have been the worst ones. Should I have done it sooner? Did I do it too soon?

While the cut and dried cases were always heart breaking, they never haunted me because the answer was obvious. The quality of life decisions, or those that were a result of negligence on the part of a vet, have never left me.

Your trusted vet is someone to rely on for his knowledge and experience, and so is your love for your animal. It is never about what we want, only about what is right and humane for them.

explaining the death of a pet to your kids

Explaining it to the kids

As hard as it is for us, at least we’re able to intellectually understand what’s going on, even if we feel differently in our hearts. With children it’s harder, especially young children.

It is about explaining that the pet is ill, everyone has done everything possible to help, and now he’s suffering. A simple injection is all that’s needed to let him go, so they don’t worry it will hurt. Obviously the words will be your own, but it’s not a good idea to lie and say your pet ran away or is lost. Death is a part of life, and although we want to spare children from having to deal with it, sometimes we’re confronted a lot sooner than we’d like.

Compassion is such an important lesson for kids to learn, and this is a perfect opportunity. It’s a chance to teach them how important it is to do what’s right for their pet, to not allow them to suffer, even if it hurts us for a while.

Encourage them to talk about their feelings and show them it’s okay to feel sad, because you do as well.

Cremation or burial

Ideally you want to know the answer to this before you’re faced with the decision, but sometimes that isn’t possible. Think about involving your kids in this decision.

coping after the loss of a pet

How to cope

A pet is much more than someone that shares our home. They are family members as important as any other, and sometimes even invaluable helpers in everyday life. When they’re no longer around, the void can be massive. When your dog isn’t at the door to greet you every day, or your cat isn’t sleeping on your head, it’s a big adjustment.

My dog Bailey used to follow my other dog Red up and down the hall, then corner her and lick her ear. I don’t know how long it took for me to stop “seeing” him walking down that hallway.

Grieve

Don’t bottle up or deny your feelings. This is someone who was an important part of your life, who deserves to be missed and mourned. We all have to go through the pain, or we’ll never get to the other side of it.

You’re entitled to your feelings

Don’t be embarrassed or uncomfortable about how you’re feeling, and never, ever allow anyone to belittle you for them. They can say what they like, but we know he or she was not “just a dog/cat/rabbit…”

To tell you the truth, I pity those people for never having known the love and joy animals bring into our lives.

Get support if you need it

If you’re struggling (as we all do at times), speak to someone who can relate. There are an unlimited number of resources both online and in person, where help is available. Type “pet loss grief support” into your search engine, and you will find help immediately.

Create a memorial

Creating a memorial is a great way to honour the life of your pet, and the joy they brought into your home. Don’t be surprised at how much better it can make you feel.

Do it as a family, separately, or both but include your kids as much as possible. Plant a tree, create a photo album with everyone contributing their favourite pictures, make a donation to an animal shelter in your pet’s name…the ways are endless.

Stick to your routine

Your routine has been shaken, but do what you can to maintain the structure. It’s important for everyone, including remaining pets. Don’t forget the loss will affect them too.

Take care of yourself

It’s an emotionally and physically exhausting experience, a shock to the system. When I lost my first pet, a cat named Calypso, I couldn’t do anything but lie in bed for 3 days and cry. I couldn’t move, eat, or go to work.

Do what you have to, but don’t neglect yourself for too long, or you could get stuck in an endless cycle of no energy to get out of bed, not eating, so no energy and around it goes.

Eat healthy, get some rest and keep exercising. At least a walk around the block so you don’t lose complete momentum, and you want to release those endorphins, which will help make you feel better.

Helping seniors cope

As people age and begin to lose friends, and the support system they’ve relied on, the companionship of a pet becomes that much more important, not to mention special. Loss not only brings feelings of emptiness, but reminders of our own mortality as well.

Some of the ways you can help include:

Make sure visitors come around to keep them company

Bring your own pet to visit

Ask if they would consider fostering or adopting an older pet. It would bring some life back into the home, and they would be doing a wonderful thing by saving a life

What about volunteering at a local shelter? Even if they aren’t physically able to walk a dog, they could spend time giving cats and dogs some much needed attention

Recommend a pet loss grief support group. Not only will it give them other people to talk to who can relate, it will get them out of the house and they might even make new friends

Leave them the number of someone to speak with if a group is not an option

Encourage them to get involved in activities or volunteer work, so they aren’t home alone all the time

grief of losing a pet

How long does grief last?

I suppose we would all be comforted if we knew when the pain would end, but grief of any sort doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes it comes in stages, sometimes in waves. Some people feel better in a matter of days or weeks, others months or years. We could be feeling better, and then suddenly something reminds us and we get sad again.

What’s important is to not rush it, but let the process happen naturally.

Be careful that grief doesn’t consume you, and if you are having a hard time coping I recommend you join a pet loss bereavement group as soon as possible. Don’t go through it alone.

The loss of a pet – conclusion

There’s no easy way to get through the grief, so there’s not much choice but to feel the sadness, and the pain, and let time help heal us. Take the alone time you need, but reach out if and when you need help. There’s no shame in needing a shoulder…we all do at times.

The loss of a pet is devastating, but we can get through it, and maybe one day be ready to share our life, love, and home with another animal in need.

 

teach your dog how to use a dog ramp

Coping With the Loss of a Pet

coping with the loss of a pet

I know how impossible it can be, coping with the loss of a pet.

You want to lie in bed and cry. Well, why not? I’ve done it, and it’s certainly better to cry it out to release your grief, then to keep it bottled up.

Just please make sure you don’t get lost in it. If you’re having trouble, get grief counselling, find a support group, and you are more than welcome to contact me as well. I am a certified Pet Loss Grief Support Coach.

Here are some ideas/tips/suggestions that may help you

Don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel. That goes double if it’s coming from someone who doesn’t share their life with animals, or has never experienced this kind of loss.

Honour your grief, don’t deny it, don’t repress it.

Surround yourself with people who understand – pet loss support groups, chat rooms, hotlines and counsellors. Volunteering there can also help.

Keep a journal where you can record your thoughts, feelings and memories.

You had a routine, and now it’s changed. Start a new hobby, try a new activity.

Remember the good times.

Create a memorial – a plaque for your garden, plant a tree, make a scrapbook…

Having a funeral is a way for you and your family to openly express grief.

Go to the beach and watch the waves – do something peaceful and contemplative.

Why not get some books and read about other peoples’ experiences? It helps knowing others have been through similar.

The human-animal bond has no strings attached, not something we experience too often in our human relationships is it? Honour what you had, treasure it.

It is not unusual to find it hard to sleep or eat, but making yourself sick won’t help. Take care of yourself.

Your other pets may be experiencing the loss of their mate, so keep an eye out for changes in behaviour, eating… Stick to the same routine they’ve been used to, and give them some extra TLC.

After experiencing the loss of a pet, many people say they are not prepared to live through that again, while others run out too quickly to try and “replace” the one that’s gone. Give yourself some time, and when you’re starting to feel more like yourself, consider bringing a homeless animal into your life. You still have a lot more love to give, and offering a home to an abandoned animal is a wonderful thing to do, not to mention how great it is for the soul.

Coping with the loss of a pet – conclusion

There are lots of options available, including online pet loss grief support, and local pet bereavement support groups. Many shelters also run regular groups, so contact your local shelter to see if they have one. If they don’t, why not offer to help them start one?

Here are a few sites that may help. I do not personally endorse any of them, I just provide them for you as a place to start.

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement

Pet Loss Grief Support, Rainbow Bridge & Candle Ceremony

Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support

I know how difficult coping with the loss of a pet can be, so please ask for help if you need it. 

Honouring the memory of those we have lost

Top 14 Ways to Honor the Memory of a Dog

14 Ways to Honour the Memory of Your Pet
In memory of my puppy mill rescue Saffy, who knew only a brief moment of peace

I speak from experience when I say, finding ways to honor the memory of a dog will go a long way to helping you heal from their loss.

Honouring Calypso

The first time I ever had to say goodbye to an animal was my cat Calypso. I was beyond devastated and had no idea how to cope. I knew I had to find a way to feel close to her, but wasn’t sure how to make that happen. I had her ashes, I keep all my pets ashes, but that wasn’t enough. After seeing her name on a watch band while on vacation (imagine that!!) I decided I would engrave her name on a heart charm I had found a couple of years before. It may sound hard to believe, but once I started wearing that necklace I felt so much better. 

In memory of Saffy

This is a very painful story for me so I’m just going to let you read it here. What I do want to share is the way I chose to honour Saffy. I started The Saffy Pearson Resource Centre as a way to do something good, and keep her name alive. I go do various locations and set up a stand to answer questions people have about caring for dogs and cats. It can’t erase how devastated I am to this day because of the circumstances of her death, but I can do something to honour the life we shared.

If you, or someone you know, is having a hard time dealing with the loss of a pet, here are 14 ideas to choose from to honour that bond. Please be sure to seek professional help if you are depressed and can’t snap out of it. 

Memorial ideas

Put together a scrapbook, memory book or memory box with your favourite pictures, poems or letters you’ve written, even an id tag. The contents can include anything you like.

A plaque in a pet cemetery or park where your dog liked to play.

Volunteer at your local shelter, and offer a homeless animal some love and attention. If you can’t do that, make a donation in your pet’s name.

Keep a tag, collar, blanket or favourite toy.

Personalize a keepsake urn necklace with your pet’s name, and add some ashes.

Bury your pet in a pet cemetery (or backyard if you’re allowed), and mark it with a gravestone. This gives you a place to visit. Hold a memorial service and invite close family and friends if you like, or keep it small and private.

Garden stones can be ordered with paw prints, names and even inscriptions.

Keep a photo frame in a special place in your home. It’s nice to be able to glance at it, and feel like he’s still a part of the family.

Engrave your pet’s name on a charm, key ring or some other object. Wear it, keep it in your purse, pocket, on your desk…

There are many online memorial sites where you can share your stories, get support, help others work through their grief and light virtual candles.

When you’re ready for a new furry friend, rescuing a homeless animal from a shelter, rescue group or animal control facility, is the greatest tribute you can make.

Way to honor the memory of your dog – conclusion

I know all too well how heartbreaking it is to lose a loved one, and how helpless it can make us feel. The image at the top of this post is of a candle I lit in memory of Saffy. I will never get over losing her, it was too shocking and too sudden, but somehow that act did bring me some comfort.

I hope in this selection of pet memorial ideas, you will find the best way to honour your loved one, and that it will bring you peace. 

 

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, my Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.

 

 

*There are affiliate links in this post, which means if you purchase anything I make a few pennies…literally. That money helps me help homeless animals through donations and fostering, as well as keeping this blog running.

puppy-2197326_1920

Explaining the Death of a Pet to Your Kids

Explaining the Death of a Pet to Your Kids

One of the more difficult parts about losing a pet, may be explaining the death of a pet to your kids. For most kids, pets are family, their best friends. Who greets them at the door when they come home? Do your children have private chats with their pets? Do they seek comfort and companionship from them? Do the animals help your children feel less alone in the world?

It’s natural to want to protect your kids from the unpleasant. But death is a reality of life, and you won’t be doing them any favours to pretend otherwise. If you handle the conversation correctly, explaining the death of a pet to explaining the death of a pet to your kidsyour kids can be a wonderful opportunity for you to teach them important lessons about loss, and how to deal with it in healthy ways.

Please don’t pretend nothing happened, or tell them the pet went away/ran away. It isn’t fair to leave them hoping their pet will return some day. They need to understand they’re gone permanently.

I may be stating the obvious here, but don’t just throw the news out there to them. Gather everyone in a quiet room, no distractions. Once you’ve told them, encourage them to express their feelings.

Explaining the death of a pet to your kids may not be easy, but it’s the right thing to do.

 

Have you been in this position before? How did you handle it? Would you like to share your experiences so others can gain some helpful tips to use with their children? Just leave them in the comment section below.

senior dog care resource page

When Is It Time to Let Your Dog Go

when is it time to let your dog go

Sometimes the answer to that question is very clear cut. You’ve seen how your dog has been behaving, you’ve gotten the test results back and there’s nothing else to be done. The only kind thing to do is to let him go, and as devastating as it is, allowing our dogs to suffer is never an option.

But what about those times when the answer isn’t as obvious, when it comes down to quality of life. How do you decide then?

Decision times for me

With all my animals, except one, the decision was obvious. They weren’t doing well, test results came back and it would not have been fair to keep them with me just because I couldn’t bear to let them go. The one time that was strictly a quality of life issue was the toughest of them all.

Deciding when it was time to let Josephine was horrendous, and not a situation I would ever like to fwhen is it time to say goodbye to your dogind myself in again. Although she suffered from a potentially life threatening illness it was being managed, so that was not a reason to say goodbye. There wasn’t “one thing” but rather a combination of several issues that made it a quality of life decision. 

For a long time after I let her go I beat myself up about what I had done – should I have done it sooner, should I have waited. Intellectually I knew I did the right thing for her, but that didn’t stop me suffering from guilt for quite a long time afterwards. I rely on my vet a lot, and no less when it comes to a life or death decision, something I didn’t have with my vet at the time. He was certainly nice enough but I didn’t have the support, and without it I was less sure of my decision.  

It isn’t about you avoiding the pain

Do you know the time has come but are avoiding it because you don’t want to face the pain? Are you subjecting your pet to life extending, or even painful treatments because you don’t want to say goodbye? Are you in denial about the seriousness of your pet’s condition?

When it’s happening to someone else it’s easy to look at a scenario objectively, and know the animal is suffering. Unfortunately when it’s happening to us, we’re so close and love that animal so much we can’t or won’t see the truth.

Loving your pet means knowing when to end their suffering, even if it means beginning yours.

Finances

The reality is many of our decisions are based on money, and that’s just the way life is. Veterinary care is expensive, and not everyone has insurance or a plan that covers as much as needed. Is the financial burden of continued treatment a factor in your decision? 

Are you involving your vet in your decision making?

The people living with the animal are the best ones to judge the changes in them. That doesn’t mean your vet’s opinion shouldn’t factor in. Ultimately the decision will be yours, but some professional advice, particularly from involve your vet in senior dog caresomeone who knows your animal and who you trust, may prove invaluable.

Make an appointment to have a chat with him or her. Ask him what to expect, the treatment options, success rates etc… Ultimately it is your decision to make, and your vet cannot tell you what you should do, but having that talk may comfort you and help you make a decision you can live with. 

Your dog’s comfort level

Does she seem comfortable? Is it easy or becoming more difficult for her to get up? Is she still interested in playing? What other changes you’re noticing? Are there medications that can offer some relief?

Eating and drinking

How is her appetite? Still eating, “begging” and looking for treats, or losing interest?

Try and think ahead

This may be impossible to do, but it’s another tool that may help you decide. If you could “project” yourself into the future and look back, what would you like to have seen? How would you like to remember how you cared for your dog?

So, when is it time to let your dog go? 

When all is said and done, you want to do the best for your dog, and the best is ensuring she is not suffering. If you do decide letting go is the kindest thing, be comfortable knowing you considered your options and chose the one that honoured her and gave her peace. Our pets have been great companions, and shown us the true meaning of unconditional love and loyalty. At the end of their lives, they rely on us to comfort them, care for them, and do what is best for them.

So when is it time to let your dog go? When you think about their quality of life, and your responsibility to make sure they do not suffer, that’s when you’ll know.

 

I would like to invite you to join Senior Dog Care Club, a new Facebook group for senior dog parents. There you will find lots of helpful tips and advice, a place to ask questions and share experiences. I look forward to welcoming you.