End of Life
We know that your pet is part of your family. Choosing to share your life with an animal opens up a special and unique bond. For those of us that surround ourselves with animals, there is often that extra special one that paws their way into our heart. We understand that they are NOT just an animal. The decision of euthanasia is a serious one and not easy to make. At the same time it can be one of the kindest acts you can choose for those that are extremely ill or in pain. This is a decision that most of us will have to face at some point. You do not have to face this difficult time alone. We are here to help you through this difficult time.
~ John Muir
Naturalist, Conservationist & Animal Lover
How do I know it is time?
Determining if it is time for euthanasia is never an easy decision. We can help you to assess your pet’s life and evaluate their condition to appropriately discuss chances for recovery, disabilities and long-term problems. We will discuss potential treatments and outcomes to fully understand your pet’s condition. Euthanasia becomes a valid option when your pet is terminally ill, critically injured, or when the financial/emotional cost of treatment is beyond your means. A helpful tool to decide when the time is right is the Quality of Life Scale. This scale was developed by a veterinary oncologist, Dr. Alice Villalobos, for family’s and veterinarians to decide together the pet’s quality of life. ASPCA also has an End of Life page with information on other questions you may have. Remember that quality of life is an important aspect not only for your pet but for yourself as well. Colorado States Argus Institute is another resource to help you work your way through these decisions.
Pawspice – Ending Life with Compassion
Hospice for pets, we also refer to as Pawspice, is a relatively new concept. More than just choosing to die at home or a specific place, pet hospice is a philosophy of allowing a pet to experience death with dignity and with their family. It focuses on the patient’s and family’s needs by providing palliative care and preparing for when the time comes, whether with or without intervention. Our doctors can help you determine the appropriate level of hospice care for your pet. To read more about hospice care in pets, Healthy Pet by AAHA has a well-written article and the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHP) also has some additional information.
Minimum Stress Euthanasia
Our goal is to provide a painless and peaceful passing for pet and owner. Our veterinarians can help you determine when it is the right time. As your pawspice counselor we will do our best to prepare you for what to expect in the final days and moments. We provide a quiet and tranquil area that is private from other happenings in our hospital with an exit directly to the outside. You can choose to be present or allow our caring staff to be there for you. Colorado State’s Argus Institute focuses on the human-animal bond with an entire online section on “Planning for End of Life” and pet loss information. The page on planning will help you work through questions you may have for us or yourself and your family. You can also read a similar page by Healthy Pet. You are not giving up hope by making plans, but instead making sure that your loved pet will have uninterrupted care.
We work with Eden Memorial Pet Care in Paso Robles for cremation services. If you do not have a place where you wish to bury your loved pet, you can choose to receive your pet’s cremains in a tasteful wooden urn or to allow them to be spread in a private family vineyard in Paso Robles. We also work with Central Coast Pet Aquamation which uses a water based system and offers a biodegradable urn or traditional wooden urn option.
We know your pet is more than just an animal. They are our family, our friends, our confidantes, a source of unconditional love and for some they are our eyes, hands and ears. It is natural to feel grief after your pet has died. Grief has several stages, though not everyone experiences them all or in the same order. The stages of grief are:
Grief and loss is different for everyone and may be different for different pets as well. Our friends and family are well-meaning and care for us, but they may not understand the importance of your pet or the intensity of your grief. We have several staff members that are trained in bereavement and are always here for you if you need a little extra help. We also have other resources for you to help you through this difficult time.
- Hospice of SLO – Pet Loss Support Group 805-544-2266
- ASPCA Pet Loss Support Hotline 877-474-3310
- Ohio State C.A.L.L. (Companion Animal Listening Line) 614-292-1823
- Pet Loss and Grief Counseling 855-738-5677
- University of Illinois C.A.R.E. Pet Loss Helpline 877-394-2273
- Washington State University Pet Loss Hotline 866-266-8635
- List of additional pet loss hotline/helplines
Online Loss/Grief Resources
Many of these resources also include online articles, suggested reading lists, information on talking about loss with children, and other surviving pets. The following list is only the tip of the iceberg to the many other resources available.
- Articles & Books
- Colorado State University Argus Institute
- Healthy Pet
- Healing and Inspirational Poetry
- Help Guide – Coping with Pet Loss
- Ohio State – Honoring the Bond
- Rainbow Bridge
- Ten Tips on Coping with Pet Loss
- “The House Dog’s Grave” by Robinson Jeffers
- Washington State University Pet Loss Support
- I Remember You – blog and online pet memorials