Losing a pet is hard, and choosing to end a pet’s life is even harder. While making the decision to end a furry friend’s suffering is never easy, there are steps you can take to make the euthanasia process a little bit easier. In this time of grief, you should work toward making the experience as simple and stress free as possible. This start with the first conversations and doesn’t end until long after the pet’s family leaves your clinic.
Make This a Team Effort for Everyone Involved
As with any appointment, your clients are going to make contact with several members of your staff. That means everyone needs to know what to do to make clients comfortable, from the first phone call to the client’s exit from your building.
It’s helpful to be the first person to bring up the topic. Clients may feel like their pet’s life is at its end, but it can be difficult to talk about. If they have to bring it up first, they may feel that they’re giving the impression that they don’t care about their pet.
Approach this as a collaborative process. Saying things like “you are doing the right thing” can make this decision feel more oppressive to clients. Instead, choose phrasing that uses “we” and “us.” This makes the client feel less alone, and makes it less likely that they’ll feel judged.
Create a Separate Path for Intake
The more you can keep the pet and its family separate from everyone else in the clinic, the better the process will be for all who are involved. It’s hard for them to see people with their happy, healthy pets, and it’s hard for your regular clients to see the grieving family.
If you can, have someone meet the client at their car, and bring them directly to the practice area. Less waiting isn’t just easier on this client, it’s easier on everyone in your office, including other clients, staff and pets. Some clinics even reserve a parking spot for euthanasia clients.
Create a Space to Say Goodbye
Your clients need a place to be with their pet one last time. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in decorating, practical considerations should be your first concern. The smoother you can make this process, the better. Where you can, keep the decisions the client needs to make to a minimum. This includes options like sedation and memorial choices. Have all the paperwork ready to be signed when they enter your clinic. Background noises and music in the room shouldn’t just be calming, they should work to block out the noise from the surrounding clinic.
If the animal is still eating, suggest bringing their favorite treat. If they have other well-behaved pets, it may be helpful for them to come, too. Have a way to notify staff that the room is being used, so they can give the clients space to say goodbye to their pet. Clients should also have a way to tell your staff they’ve said their goodbyes. This can be as simple as installing a silent doorbell in the room they can use when they’re ready.
Instruct Clients on the Process
Euthanasia is supposed to be quick and painless. However, parts of this process can be hard to interpret, which may lead the client to think their pet is suffering. Clients should know about the changes their pet will undergo, like how their eyes may remain open. They also need to know what their pet will do as they go under sedation. They may think their pet has already died, or the twitches and changes in breathing indicate pain.
Create a Memorial
Burying a pet in the backyard isn’t always legal, and even if it was, it’s not a desirable option for most owners.Paw print impressions, cremation jewelry and seed packs are all great options for creating a memorial to the pet. If the pet’s family wants something to bury, seeded urns are a great alternative for cremated remains. Like seed packs, these urns will sprout plants that mark the burial site.
A sympathy card signed by staff can go a long way toward helping clients with grief while showing that you still value them. Have everyone involved in the euthanasia, as well as anyone on staff who knew the pet, sign the card.
We Can Help You Make Saying Goodbye a Little Easier
Positive Impressions, LLC has everything you need to stay in contact with your clients from welcome cards to memorial products. We carry supplies and tools for creating pawprint impressions, as well as biodegradable urns, jewelry and sympathy cards. We also offer custom printing for many of our products, letting you add clinic information or graphics that match your practice. Not sure how to get started? You can see our current specials on our website, or by visiting our Facebook page.