When is the right time to call for euthanasia services or to “put my pet to sleep” as it is commonly called?
This is a difficult decision and often there is no right or wrong answer. One key factor in helping make the decision is to determine when your pet’s quality of life is significantly diminishing with little or no chance of improvement. Changes in their behavior can speak volumes to their quality of life. Illness or aging often compromises a pet’s ability to perform normal everyday functions and the ability to participate in their favorite activities. You know your pet and their habits better than anyone else so you are ultimately the best person to make the final decision. We are here to help you through the decision-making process and can help in objectively evaluating your pet’s health and well-being.
Answering the questions below may help you with the decision:
Is your pet eating and drinking normally?
Is your pet able to urinate and defecate normally and in the appropriate place or is assistance needed? Are you physically able to continually provide the assistance necessary?
Is your pet able to participate in their favorite activities?
Is your pet in pain or having difficulty moving?
If your pet is having any of the above problems, have they been examined by your regular veterinarian to determine if there are treatable causes?
Are treatment protocols or medication dosages no longer helping control the pain?
Is your pet no longer getting up to greet you when you arrive back home?
Is your pet suffering from an illness or disease in which recovery is not likely?
Are there more bad days than good days? A journal may help you determine this.
Is your pet’s declining health having a negative effect on you or other family members?
Every case is different and the above questions are provided here only to help guide you in your decisions. If you are still unsure that your pet’s quality of life warrants euthanasia, call to have a consultation appointment with a staff veterinarian. There will be a charge for this service and a professional opinion will be given to you following a physical exam in your home.
Is your pet coughing or having difficulty breathing?
What can I expect during the euthanasia appointment?
When River Valley Gateway is called out to perform a euthanasia, we respectfully enter the home and begin dispelling any tension you or your pet may be feeling. For the first few minutes we will listen to you, observe your pet and gather information we feel will be helpful with the process. There are questions we will have you answer regarding how you would like to memorialize your pet. Sometimes these can be very elaborate events and sometimes they can be very simple but still very meaningful events. Any additional questions regarding the procedure will be answered and consent forms will be signed.
Payment will be taken before the euthanasia process begins so that everyone present will be able to focus on saying goodbye during this stage of the journey. In acknowledgement of the various ways individuals grieve, you will be given the option of being present for the actual euthanasia injection. At this point, your beloved pet will have already received the first injection containing a muscle relaxant, sedative, and pain reliever and will be in a deep plane of anesthesia and unaware of their surroundings but they will still be breathing and have a heart beat.
You may want to step out of the room at this time. However, if you choose to stay for the second and final injection, it is a peaceful and intimate time where your pet will slip deeper and deeper into unconsciousness before their breathing and heartbeats stop. When a heart beat is no longer detectable, your precious pet will have passed away and we will let you know this has occurred. If you remain present for these events, you are welcome to stay with your pet for a comfortable period of time following their passing and at this time, anyone that did not wish to stay for the passing may come back into the room to view their peaceful body and say their final goodbye.
Where and when will the euthanasia take place?
You can choose the place in your home, in the backyard, on the grass, on the deck in your pet’s bed, a favorite place, a comfortable place — this can be your decision. Usually, within the first 30 minutes of our visit, the euthanasia process has taken place and the remainder of the visit is set aside to accommodate some peaceful quiet time alone with them. For some, this is 5 minutes and for others, this is 20 minutes or more.
If prior arrangements are made, the body can be left in your home for several hours and River Valley Gateway will return at the requested time for body aftercare.
What can I expect after my pet passes, how is the body cared for?
As we make the decision for euthanasia, we must also decide how to care for the body afterward. There are burial and cremation options.
Burial is prohibited inside the city limits there are established pet cemeteries where you may choose to bury your pet. County regulations exist outside of the city limits, please check with your local officials regarding these laws.
Cremation (private, partitioned-commonly known as individual or communal)
River Valley Gateway will personally transport your pet’s body to our crematory located at 573 25 Road in Grand Junction.
Private cremations are chosen when the family wishes to have only their pet in the cremation unit when being cremated making for a truly private cremation. Pets privately cremated are returned to the family and an urn is provided.
Partitioned or commonly known as individual cremations are usually chosen as a slightly less expensive option. The family can still receive the ashes however other pets are partitioned adjacent to your pet during the cremation and are cremated at the same time.
Communal cremations are group cremations where your pet’s body will be cremated together with several other pets without being partitioned and the ashes will be scattered on a field, river bank or scatter garden designated for this purpose.
Who should be present?
This can be a very personable event with just you there or the entire family, extended family, friends, children, other pets — whomever you wish can be present. We can help all involved have a very positive experience and celebrate a life that has been such a part of your everyday.
Should children be present?
The death of a family pet is often the first death experience many children encounter. Children have very special relationships with their pets and we believe they should be present, but that is entirely up to your discretion as every situation is different and as a parent or caregiver, you know your child best and should make the ultimate decision. We will spend extra time prior to the euthanasia explaining what is happening in a way children will be able to understand. We will be honored to answer their questions directly if you desire. Children experience grief differently than adults. River Valley Gateway requires training for employees in this area so that we can be sensitive to the needs of children during these situations. We will offer special gestures of remembrance to leave with each child that is present.
Should my other pet(s) be present?
Yes, if you wish other pets to be present we welcome them. Each pet grieves differently also, so we discourage having expectations for them to do certain things. We believe everyone should be present at some, if even only a small portion, of the service including all the household pets.
What can I do to remember my pet?
Once the decision has been made for euthanasia, you may look for ways to celebrate or memorialize the time shared with your pet. We will discuss gestures of remembrance with you and allow you to choose what seems more appropriate. Below are some ways to remember your pet and save a keepsake.
pewter necklace paw print
create an online memorial on our tribute page
religious customs and practices
keep a collar, toy or blanket
volunteer at or contribute monetarily to a rescue, shelter or other animal care organization/charity in your pet’s name
paint their name on a commemorative rock
donate bedding, dishes or food to an animal shelter in your area
others-we encourage creativity in this area
When is the right time to get another pet?
There is no right or wrong time to get another pet. Just as grief is a personal experience, the decision to bring another pet into the home is also a personal one. You may decide to get a young pet or rescue one or not get another one at all. We are here to help you in this decision if after your pet has passed you still have questions. For example, you may not be ready for another pet but you feel that the other pet still in your home would benefit from adding a pet to your home and help them in their grieving process. As these decisions can ultimately only be yours, we are here to help you talk out ideas and offer suggestions that you may not have thought about. Please call anytime with questions related to this topic as questions requiring guidance with decision making are free of charge as long as medical advice is not needed.