Saying goodbye to your pet during Covid-19

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Saying goodbye to your pet is one of the most difficult decisions that any pet owner will have to make. Many owners agonise over whether they should attend their pet’s euthanasia. Unfortunately, many veterinary practices have had to make their own difficult decision – to stop owners from being present when their pet is put to sleep.

Saying goodbye to your pet during Covid-19

The decision by the veterinary team to stop allowing owners to accompany their pet, won’t have been taken lightly. Undoubtedly, they care deeply about providing a compassionate euthanasia. However, they need to minimise the risk of their team contracting the Coronavirus.

We have spoken to a number of vets so that we can compile a list of commonly asked questions.

Frequently asked questions about pet euthanasia during the Coronavirus pandemic

I’m not showing any Covid-19 symptoms, please can I stay?

We wish it was a simple case of monitoring COVID symptoms – but it is possible to have the virus and not show any symptoms and unknowingly you can infect people. If staff become infected, it is quite likely that the site would need to close as the team self-isolates. The potential impact on animal welfare is too great.

Can you conduct the euthanasia in the car?

Some practices may offer to put your pet to sleep in your car. There are number of factors to consider. Is it easy to socially distance properly? How will your pet react to members of the veterinary team wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) because social distancing may not be possible? However, this is really on a case-by-case basis. No decisions are taken lightly.

What happens once my pet is taken away?

Please check the exact details with your veterinary practice. We know that this is a difficult time but do not be afraid to ask questions. Any unresolved concerns you have may make coping with the loss of a pet harder.

The vets we have spoken to have ensured us that pets in their care are looked after with dignity. Once taken from you, they are taken to a consultation room where a nurse will be wait to assist. A small catheter will be placed into a vein in your pet’s leg to allow the injection to be given. An anaesthetic drug is used so that your pet will gently fall asleep. Approximately 30 seconds after that your pet’s heart will stop. It is a quick and painless procedure and your pet will be comforted by the nurse and vet.

What can I do to stop my pet being afraid of going to the vet?

If your pet is afraid of visiting the vet, a sedative may help to keep him/her calm. A potential draw back of sedating your pet is that they may need to be carried into the practice.

We are assured that, in most cases, the animals are willing to go alone as long as the owner is calm and reassuring.

We have been monitoring our pet’s condition. Can you help determine whether it’s time to say goodbye?

Knowing when to make the decision and make our final farewell is always going to be a challenge. Normally, you would be able to get your vet’s support in assessing your pet’s quality-of-life. Some practices are even offering video consultations for this purpose. You may also be able to send photographs and videos of your pet for your vet’s opinion. We suggest you contact your vet to see if you can book an appointment.

Do you offer a home euthanasia service?

Some practices may offer home visits and there are vets that specialise in home euthanasia. There are different guidelines that must be followed:

  • If the euthanasia is to take place indoors, only one person can be present. All other family members must make their final farewells prior to the vet’s arrival.
  • Social distancing must be maintained at all times. That is a distance of a least 2 metres between family members and the vet.
  • If there is a garden that can be used the risk of infection is significantly reduced. It may be possible for more than one person to be present. Please check with your vet for confirmation.

What are my options for my pet’s body after the euthanasia?

Your options on how you would like to care for your pet’s body remain the same. If you are able to, you can choose to bury your pet at home. Alternatively, your vet would be able to advise you on pet cremation services.

You have the choice of an individual cremation or communal cremation. If you would like your pet’s ashes returned to you, ask for an individual cremation. A communal cremation is where your pet is cremated alongside other animals; unfortunately you will not receive your pet’s ashes via communal cremation.

If you have any further questions please include them in the comment section or contact your vet directly. If you are finding it hard to cope with pet bereavement we recommend the Blue Cross pet bereavement counselling service.

2 responses to “Saying goodbye to your pet during Covid-19”

  1. Some practices are making exceptions for difficult conversations, such as telling a client their pet has cancer, as well as when a pet has been attacked by another animal or hit by a car. And, for those who feel comfortable with it, in-home end-of-life care remains an option.

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