What To Do When Your Dog Dies
The death of a beloved pet is an incredibly sad time for owners. Whether your dog dies naturally at home or is put to sleep at the vets, its always a stressful and upsetting time.
If your pet has been unwell, or is very old and naturally approaching the end of their life, you may already have plans in place for their eventual passing. However, even the best-laid plans can be disrupted by external factors or by grief. If youre struggling with your pets death in the immediate aftermath, always ask for help from a friend, family member or veterinary professional.
What often adds to the trauma of a pets death is the uncertainty of how to handle their remains. Take some of the stress out of this period with this comprehensive guide on what to do when your dog dies.
Do My Other Pets Need To Come
Sometimes, people like to bring their other pets to a euthanasia appointment so that they can see their animal companion at the end. Some may feel this gives a sense of closure or prevents their other pets from worrying about what happened to their friend. It can be hard to know what an animal may be going through and to what extent they understand, but many owners feel their pets might benefit from this experience.
If you wish to show another pet the body after they have passed away, its usually best for someone to stay outside the room with your other pet for the procedure and then bring them in afterwards.
Memorial Options For Your Cat
Choosing the right cat memorial is an integral part of the grieving process. Providing a memorial service or monument can help ease the transition to post-pet life.
It also gives you a tangible reminder of your cat that you can keep around the house.
Many pet owners opt for an urn to hold the cremated remains. Urns are moderately priced and come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.
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Grieving And Remembering Your Pet
It can be a time of mixed emotions leading up to and following euthanasia and the loss of your pet. They have been a special companion and member of the family. Coming to terms with this loss can be very hard.
It is important to remember theres no right or wrong way to feel after youve lost a loved one. Its perfectly normal for it to take days, weeks or even years for the grief to fade. Some people experience feelings of grief similar to a human loss. Often people describe feelings of guilt or numbness over their pets passing and this is normal and understandable. For others, there might be a sense of calm and relief that your pet is no longer suffering. Sharing your feelings and experience with others before and after euthanasia can be helpful. Weve put together some advice on coping with grief which you might find useful during this difficult time.
At PDSA, we understand how important it is to remember the special place pets have in our lives. We can help you commemorate your pets life in a way that will leave a lasting legacy for other pets in the future.
Make Sure The Cat Is Dead And Not Just Injured
In most cases, it will be very obvious when a cat is dead. However, when you find a cat hidden away in an outdoor space it might not be so obvious.
In these cases, it can be difficult to know whether the animal is alive or not.
You will need to check for signs of life and ensure the cat receives urgent medical care if required. There are a few simple ways to check whether a cat is still alive. These include:
- Checking for signs of breathing: Can you see the cats chest or stomach moving?
- Checking if the cats eyes are open: Cats eyes tend to stay open after they have died, this is because muscle control is needed to keep them closed.
- Checking the pupils: Pupils often appear larger than usual after a cat has died. You can check whether the cat is unconscious rather than dead by shining a light into its eyes. If the pupils change size, the cat may be unconscious, not dead.
In summary, if the cats chest and stomach are not moving, its eyes are open and its pupils do not react to changes in light, they have more than likely died.
Can I Stay With My Pet At The End Should I
This decision is completely up to you. Often, people will talk this through with their friends or family to decide what is right for them. Some people find being with their pet at the end of their life helps with coming to terms with the loss, or they feel they want to be there to reassure their pet. Others find it too distressing. Every pet and owners situation is different, so it is important not to feel guilty if you are unable to be there. Sometimes people choose to be present at the start, but to leave the room during the procedure and return at the end. Your vet understands how difficult this is for you so shouldnt pressure you either way. Do whatever feels right for you and your pet.
Surround Yourself With People Who Understand
If you can, surround yourself with people who understand the pain and grief of losing a beloved cat. People who don’t share your love of pets may not understand your sense of loss. And folks who don’t identify as “cat people” may not understand that losing a cat can be just as painful as losing a dog. Part of your healing process involves acknowledging and accepting that your pain and sadness is real and valid. Having a friend or family member at your side who can appreciate the significance of your loss will help you slowly recover and heal.
Although you may feel as though no one can possibly understand the intense feelings that arise when your cat dies, take comfort in knowing that there are many more books and resources available to you than ever before. Many crisis line workers, counsellors, psychologists, and health professionals recognize the pain and grief that can be triggered by the loss of a pet. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for support or a referral if you feel like your grief is becoming unmanageable.
- Note: If you’re also looking for some guidance on how to help your children through this difficult time, then check out my article on How to Talk to Your Children About the Death of a Pet.
Talking to an understanding friend about all the cute things your cat did may help ease your pain.
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When To Say Goodbye To Your Dying Cat
So how do you know when its time to say goodbye to your dying cat? Choosing to let your furry friend go is one of the hardest decisions in pet ownership, especially when you are unaware of the signs to look for.
To help you make the most informed decision for your cat, we will get into the signs of when you know its time to say goodbye.
- No longer eating
- Chronic vomiting or diarrhea that wont resolve
- Extremely weak or always sleeping
- No longer getting up to use the litterbox
- Extreme weight loss
- No longer responding to supplementary veterinary care
If your cat is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be their way of telling you they are ready to let go.
Euthanizing your cat can be the kindest thing you can do for them at this point, as they may only continue to suffer as the time passes. If you are ever unsure of what is best for your feline friend, your veterinarian can offer the guidance you need.
Saying goodbye to our feline companions is hard, but it can be the purest form of love when they begin to suffer. Be sure to review the information we discussed above on the signs of a dying cat, and you can better understand your senior cat going forward.
How We Can Help
Sometimes it helps to share your feelings with someone who knows from personal experience how distressing the loss of a cat can be, and who will listen with compassion and without judgement.
Our Pet Bereavement Support Service offers support to grieving pet owners, through a national network of trained volunteers. We’re here seven days a week via phone, email and webchat.
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Caring For A Dying Cat
Palliative care is a multifaceted approach to caring for cats with a life-limiting illness. The goal is to provide a good quality of life by making your pet as comfortable as possible during the last days, weeks or months of life. At this time, treatment focuses on providing comfort, relieving pain, and controlling clinical signs, but not curing the disease.
Make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss an end-of-life plan. At this appointment, you can discuss how to control your cats symptoms, such as pain and hydration. Cats with advanced kidney disease are chronically dehydrated, and it can be a great help if the caregiver can administer subcutaneous fluids to help.
Consult with a vet for pain relief medication
End-of-life diseases can be painful, but your cats veterinarian can prescribe pain relief. Subtle signs of pain include hiding, loss of appetite, drooling, neglect of grooming, sitting huddled together, restlessness, and loss of interest in their surroundings.
Only administer pain medication prescribed by a veterinarian as cats cannot metabolise many common pain medications used to treat pain in people.
Make adaptations to their environment
Offer food by hand
In late-stage disease, cats will lose their appetite. At this stage, hand-feeding will often be necessary. BBQ chicken slightly warmed up, baby food, or some canned tuna may tempt the cat to eat, but at the very end, even this will often be refused as the body shuts down.
Maintain a familiar routine
Pet Loss During Covid
During coronavirus, many pet owners had to make the heart-breaking decision to put their pet to sleep without being there with them at the end. Social distancing and government restrictions made it impossible for vets to allow owners into the clinic.
Though this will be hard to process, remember that there is nothing you could do about this. Coronavirus took a lot of moments away from many people try to be kind to yourself and know that you did the best you could for your pet in a very hard situation.
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If You Choose To Leave The Room For The Procedure:
If you dont want to be involved at all, this is also understandable. The vet has to make sure you understand the decision so you will need to discuss the procedure and sign a consent form, but you can then leave when you are ready. If you dont want to stay with your pet, the veterinary team will make sure their last moments are calm, comfortable and dignified.
Some people might prefer to not be there when their pet passes away, but would still want to say goodbye after they have passed. If you feel this way, let the staff know and they will arrange a quiet room for you to spend the time you need with your pet.
How To Prevent Your Cat Being Involved In An Accident
Unless you have a cat that stays indoors all the time, there is always a risk they could be involved in a road accident.
However, there are a few things you can do to minimise that risk and keep them safer when they are roaming the streets.
These include getting them neutered, making sure they wear reflective collars, setting night time curfews and limiting the distances your cat can roam outside with fences or barriers.
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What Not To Do
Do not bury your cat in a public park unless you have checked with local authorities that it is permitted.
Do not bury a cat near a stream, creek or dam as contaminated soil can leach into the water.
Do not bury a cat in an area where food is grown, choose an ornamental garden bed or a patch of lawn.
How Do I Know That I Receive My Pet’s Ashes
Paws To Angels is a member of the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance and International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. As members, we adhere to the strict code of ethics required by the PLPA and ICCFA. Identification is our priority. From the moment a pet is received our identification tracking system is put in place. We have a 10 step verification process. You may opt to do a witness cremation and we have available at your request a log of the cremations that we do for your viewing. We guarantee that you will receive only your pet’s cremated remains.
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Cat Has Lack Of Energy
When our cats are nearing the end of their life, they will often experience a lack of energy. They may not be as willing to do things they once loved, and you may find them sleeping the days away.
If its becoming harder and harder to get your cat up and moving each day, you may need to discuss your cats quality of life with your veterinarian.
Poor Response To Treatments
Many of the diseases that plague senior cats can be controlled with medications and other treatments for a long time. Over time, your cat may require higher doses of medications or stop responding to treatment. This can be a sign that her body is breaking down and no longer able to utilize medications normally.
Coping With The Loss Of Your Cat
No two cats are the same, and no two people will grieve in the same way for their deceased pet.
Grief does not take a standard trajectory or come in uniform stages.
It may help to consider a few of the following things.
Acknowledging the reality of death is one of the essential parts of moving on from the passing.
Give yourself time to prepare for your new life while continuing the relationship with your pet through memories.
Cat owners can also seek comfort and support from others while they adjust their sense of self.
Whether Its The Result Of A Long Period Of Illness Or A Sudden Accident The Death Of Your Pet At Home Can Be A Traumatic Event For The Whole Family
You may be preparing to say goodbye to your sick or senior pet, or in search of some urgent advice following the unexpected death of your loyal companion. Either way, we’re here to support you at every step of the way.
There are a number of things to consider when your pet dies at home. Dont worry, were here to support you every step of the way. Take a look at what to expect below and what to do if you find yourself at home following the death of your treasured pet.
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How Do You Move Forward
Though the popular saying goes that “time heals all wounds,” many of those with terribly deep wounds and other forms of trauma know that this isn’t always the case. In fact, one could make the case that time heals very few wounds and is often powerless against the most painful of them. Sometimes, you never really stop grieving so much as you learn to live with it. But that doesn’t mean that we are helpless in the face of our grief.
Once again, everyone grieves and heals in their own ways. And to be honest, not all wounds can ever be truly repaired. Some holes just can’t be filled again by anythingor anyoneonce they are created by the parting of a loved one.
How To Dispose Of A Dead Animal
- Bury the dog on your property, in a plastic bag in a box if you wish, at least 2 feet deep.
- If you don’t have a yard, bury the dog at your friend’s house, or a secret place like the woods.
- Have the dog cremated. Call your local SPCA or County Animal Services for help. I list all numbers in the USA here.
- If the dog is on the smaller side, you can actually bag it and box it and put it out in the garbage bin for the sanitation dept. to take away.
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