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Pet Euthanasia – An Owner’s Tale


Pet Euthanasia - An Owner's Tale

Pet Euthanasia – An Owner’s Tale


It is great to talk to you every couple of weeks or so, and we love to read your comments on our blogs. As compassionate and dignified, we can make home pet euthanasia; it is still an incredibly emotional time for everyone involved. We thought it essential to allow our customers to give some open feedback on how their experience went.

Our first client to share their experience is Sheryl Feniger from Tathall End, Hanslope in Milton Keynes. Her dog Dawson, a mixed terrier, was suffering from dementia. This article is her experience, capture by one of our care coordinators in Cloud 9 Oxford.

What Was the Impact of Dawson’s Condition?

I discovered that Dawson had a condition after some minor surgery while we were living in Hong Kong. The first indication we had was when we noticed him becoming disoriented during walks when we let him off the lead. Before this, he had started to slow down and seemed to be enjoying his sleep more than previously. We just put this down to the summer heat setting in, and Dawson getting more fatigued from his walks. 

Our concerns were raised when we noticed that Dawson would not walk under the table or chairs. He also started sitting still, staring into corners of the room, pacing up and down the apartment, or walking round in circles. This behaviour was not normal for Dawson, and his frequent crying at night convinced me there was something not right. 

We were planning to return to the United Kingdom, but I was unsure how Dawson would cope with the fifteen-hour flight and being confined to a pet crate. There was no way I would have considered leaving Dawson in Hong Kong or even going through with pet euthanasia there. We had been together for fifteen years and had developed an incredible bond with each other.

How Did Dawson Cope on the Flight?

When it came to fly, our concerns appeared unfounded, and Dawson rose to the occasion. He coped with the flight tremendously well, and when we saw him at the other end, he was in great form. However, his dementia was becoming more acute, and he was even becoming stressed during short car journeys. His crying fits during the night increased and started extending into the daytime. 

We took him to the vet, who gave Dawson some medication. However, these did no good, and if anything, they seemed to worsen Dawson’s condition. We continued trying to take him for walks and treat him with his favourite foods to improve his mood. However, it was clear that Dawson’s quality of life was low and continuing to deteriorate. 

I was coming to terms with the fact that Dawson was suffering too much and that I should not keep him alive just for myself – I had to put his interest first. One night, Dawson was so stressed out crying. He came and licked me, then walked away howling. I knew it was time that I had to do something to take his pain away.

How Was Your Experience With The Care Coordinators?

My first contact with Cloud 9 Vets was through their care coordinators. I was very impressed with the way they handled this difficult situation. All of them were empathetic, knowledgeable, and organised. I cannot speak highly enough of the team, and I believe they helped me cope with this incredibly emotional experience.

I remember one of them, Vicki, explaining the details of the procedure to me and the feeling of reassurance that this gave me. Pet euthanasia is not something I’ve had to go through before. Vicki also explained the options for cremation and waited for me to confirm these after I’d considered what I wanted to do. Her follow up and handover to Trusted Friends made sure everything went smoothly.

How Did You Prepare For The Vet’s Visit?

I wanted the procedure to be done at my friend’s home, which Dawson was very familiar with and where he enjoyed playing. I did not wish Dawson to become stressed in the car, and being around other pets may have also caused him anxiety. So, a home visit was the best option I decided.

I chose Cloud 9 because of the many positive reviews I read about them. Their ability to carry out the procedure at home was another factor that led me to choose them. 

The day Charlotte, the vet, was due to come, I was in a dreadful state. I tried to make things as usual as possible so that Dawson would not pick up on my emotions. However, my feelings would get the better of me, and I would lock myself in the bathroom to compose myself out of Dawson’s sight. I prepared Dawson his favourite meal for breakfast, lamb steak, and made sure that he had it early enough to digest it before the vet arrived.

Charlotte had previously prescribed a pre-med for Dawson, so my friend helped me administer this to Dawson. By the time Charlotte arrived, Dawson was already quite drowsy. I am very fortunate to have had a friend willing to help me. She helped me prepare an area in the garden where I could spend the last moments with Dawson.

What Was Your Overall Experience During Vet’s Visit?

When Charlotte arrived, I immediately became more relaxed. She calmly, compassionately, and confidently told me how the procedure was going to go. I’d already been informed of this by the care coordinators. However, it was comforting to hear it being explained again, knowledgeably and empathetically. 

Usually, the vet would start the procedure by giving the pet an initial anesthetic, but as Dawson was prescribed a pre-med, she did not have to do this. Charlotte spoke with us for some time, asking me about my life together with Dawson. Talking about this made me feel good, but my voice did break a couple of times as I remembered our time together.

Charlotte was excellent throughout the procedure; she had an extraordinary way about her, and it was comforting for me. She explained everything that she was doing as we went through with it. Dawson did notice the injection being put in, but he was not stressed in any way. As he became unconscious, Charlotte administered the final injections, checking Dawson all the way to make sure everything was happening as it should be. It took a little while for things to affect Dawson – but he always had a defiant Terrier spirit about him!

The one thing that I do remember, as Dawson passed away, were the clouds suddenly parting to reveal beautiful sunshine. Charlotte remained with us for around an hour, never hurrying or rushing. It was a very compassionate and dignified process, and I am grateful for the professionalism and empathy she showed throughout the procedure.

What Were Your Feelings Following The Visit

After Charlotte left, I felt so relieved Dawson had gone peacefully; in fact, I couldn’t quite believe it. It was everything I could have hoped for him and more. We received a call from Allison at Trusted Friend this for us, but I had a friend who was willing to help me, so I did not need any further help. I decided to spread Dawson’s ashes in a special place, but I also had the option of keeping his ashes in an urn.

I am so relieved and grateful that the whole process went as well as possible. Although I was grieving, of course, the way Dawson passed has contributed significantly to me knowing I made the right decision for him and my well being.

Pet Euthanasia – The Vet’s Perspective

The vet that carried our the pet euthanasia procedure on Dawson, was Charlotte Moody from Milton Keynes. This is her perspective of how the procedure went.

What Is The Importance Of Good Communications Throughout the Vet’s Home Visit and Pet Euthanasia Process?

It is a stressful and emotional time for everyone involved, making listening and understanding more challenging than usual. It requires clear, calm, and empathetic communication.

How Did Pet Behave/React During the Home Visit?

Dawson had been sedated orally before my arrival. He was already fast asleep on a doormat when I arrived but not fully sedated as he responded to his owner on being moved to somewhere more comfortable.

How Was The Owner During the Home Visit?

As with everyone, it is a very emotional time, and Dawson’s owner was no different. I felt that she was ready and confident that it was the kindest thing to be done, given Dawson’s condition. She was also happy to see him so peaceful with the sedation.

How Was the Home Visit Compared To Pet Euthanasia in the Vet’s Surgery?

The most significant difference is in the amount of time available. As the Cloud9 vet, I am not in a hurry to continue consulting or operating with a busy schedule. This situation is better for everyone involved. I also think it is excellent for the pet’s final hours to be in a familiar space without any stresses associated with going to a vet. I appreciate this is not always possible and want to emphasize that euthanasia can also be special at a vet’s practice. It is a good idea to have an open discussion with the vet to decide what is the best option.

How Does the Vet Cope With the Emotion/Stress of the Procedure/Visit?

I find in-practice euthanasias that are rushed incredibly stressful. They inevitably overrun, especially in dealing with it in a dignified and compassionate manner – this should be a priority. I consider it to be a privilege; owners invite me into their home to support them and their pet at a challenging but memorable time.

What Soft/People/Communications skills Are Essential For Home Pet Euthanasia?

With Cloud9, I haven’t met the pet beforehand. So I like to hear all about its life from the owner. Listening is, therefore, essential. You can then understand what can be done to most suit this pet and family as no two euthanasias are the same.

Vet’s Overall Impression of the Home Visit and Procedure

This visit with Dawson was emotional, him being such a loved companion for his owner, and they’d been together on many big adventures for so long. The courage of his owner to know it was the right time to let him go was admirable. All I ever want to see is that a pet has been truly loved, and there was no doubt of that here. I hope his owner remembers the sun shining as he passed, and all the happy memories they had together.

To ensure your pet’s last days are as special and comfortable as possible, you will need the advice and support of a skilled professional. Our vets can provide necessary veterinary treatment as well as offering the compassionate and dignified attention you need at this challenging time.

All Cloud 9 vets are, of course, members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and work in conjunction with your local veterinary surgery to give you extra peace of mind.