Saying Goodbye: Navigating End-Of-Life Care and Compassionate Euthanasia

Understanding Pet Euthanasia: A Compassionate Guide from L&L Animal Urgent Care

Deciding on the course of action regarding pets' end-of-life care can be difficult. Our team at L&L Animal Urgent Care understands the emotional challenges involved in making such a decision, and we're committed to supporting you and your pet during this period.

When medicinal interventions no longer enhance your pet’s well-being or offer relief, euthanasia can be a compassionate choice to relieve a suffering pet. Making the decision to euthanize a cherished pet can stand as one of the toughest choices a pet parent may face.

At L&L Animal Urgent Care, your veterinarian will explain the procedure, assessing whether euthanasia is suitable, and help in determining the appropriate timing, if it becomes necessary.

How do I know if it is time?
When deciding if euthanasia is the best option for their pet, pet owners can prepare themselves and their families by monitoring their pet’s quality of life. There are many different factors that play into our pet’s quality of life, from pain management to overall happiness and playfulness, it can be overwhelming to decide when it is the right time to say goodbye.

Below are two different resources to help your family quantify the day-to-day behaviors and quality of your furry companion’s life. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian what you are seeing at home while considering any preexisting conditions that may be causing pain or discomfort to your pet.

Lap of Love Quality of Life Scale

The Ohio State, How Do I Know When

How can I prepare myself and my family for the loss of a pet?

Once the decision has been made between your family and your veterinarian that humane euthanasia is the best option, it is important to discuss and understand the grief that may come with losing a family member. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this battle of losing a beloved pet and there are many resources available to help you and your family cope with loss.

Coping With the Loss of a Companion Animal is a resource available to help guide families in understanding how to cope with the loss of a pet and different ways to support yourself and your loved ones through the grieving process. We also recommend saving the Pet Compassion Careline phone number which is available 24/7. This service supports families by connecting grief counselors who understand how impactful the loss of a beloved pet can be and are available to offer complimentary support and counsel.

It is also important to explain to any children affected what it means to lose a pet. For kids, it can be scary and confusing seeing family members grieve while also losing a beloved pet. Communicating what is happening and ensuring them that it is okay to be sad can help them understand their own emotions. This article, When a Pet Dies: How to Help Your Child Cope,  from has helpful information on how to communicate well as providing book recommendations according to age. 

What Can I Do to Prepare? 

Before proceeding with euthanasia, pet owners can determine which after-care services they would prefer for their pet. This proactive decision-making helps alleviate emotional strain during the procedure. After care services often include at-home burial, individual cremation, or group cremation. There are also less commonly available services such as aquamation.

For an at-home burial, we will gently place your pet’s remains in a zipper bag to be taken home with you at the time of euthanasia. If you would like options of pet cemeteries in the area, we can provide you with a list of options. If you are planning on burying your pet on your own property, please check local/county guidelines to ensure a safe burial. Most of Washington State will require the remains be covered by at least three feet of soil and at least 100 feet from any well, spring, stream, or other surface waters, including plains subject to seasonal flooding. It is also vital to ensure no wildlife can access your pet, since the medications used during the euthanasia process can cause harm if ingested.

With communal cremation, your pet is gently placed into the crematory together with other pets.  After the communal pet cremation, your beloved pet's ashes will be treated with the utmost care and respect, ensuring a thoughtful and dignified farewell by West Coast Pet Memorial Services.

Individual cremation provides you with the opportunity to keep your pet’s cremated remains. You get to choose which urn your pet’s ashes are returned in, with a custom, engraved nameplate complimentary on the chosen urn. When you choose individual cremation, your pet is placed into a crematory separate from other pets. When the process is complete, we ensure that you receive only the cremated remains of your pet in the urn of your choosing.

At L&L Animal Urgent Care, both the communal and individual cremation options include the choice of receiving a single clay paw print, ink paw print, and ink nose print from your pet. There are also many styles of urns and keepsakes offered by West Coast Pet Memorial Services that pet owners are encouraged to look through and select before coming in for the procedure. 

What is the Process Like?

Euthanasia is performed in a peaceful and comfortable environment by one of our experienced veterinarians. Each veterinarian may have their own nuanced process to help make the process of saying goodbye as calm, for both pet and owner, as possible. The veterinarian may begin by administering a sedative to relax and allow your pet to fall into a sleep like state, or an intravenous catheter may be placed first, and then sedative administered through the catheter. Once your pet is completely sedated, the veterinarian will inject an overdose of an extremely concentrated anesthetic-like drug whose sole purpose is compassionate euthanasia. This drug may be administered through a vein, intravenous catheter, or directly into the abdomen for absorption. The sedatives and medications used do not cause paralysis or suffocation, instead the overdose of anesthetic-like medications turn off the function of the brain and heart causing the patient to pass away without any discomfort or stress. Each pet passes slightly differently, and there can be involuntary reflexes that may occur. Keep in mind that these reflexes are a natural part of the process, and while uncommon, do not mean that your pet is experiencing pain or distress. The veterinarian will ensure that the heart, pulse, and breathing have stopped and give the family time to say goodbye to their beloved pet.

Pet owners have the option to remain in the room during the procedure or leave their pets in the arms of our caring staff, knowing their pet will be cared for as if they are one of our own. Whichever option they choose, pet owners should be comforted in knowing their pet will be well taken care of throughout the process.

If pet owners would like their pet’s ashes returned or have asked for keepsakes to be returned, the process takes between 7-14 days to receive. Our staff will inform you when the keepsakes return, and you will be able to pick them up at your convenience.