Discussions concerning end-of-life care are emotionally challenging for most pet parents, but they’re sometimes necessary. Even with the best preventive care, the reality is pets age and die just like their human companions. City by the Sea Veterinary Hospital is always available to make arrangements for palliative care or humane euthanasia options for pets in the Asbury Park or Jersey Shore area. If your pet requires end-of-life care at home surrounded by their friends and family, we do our best to make that possible. Sometimes being in a warm and loving environment with familiar faces, sights, sounds, and smells around them eases crossing the “Rainbow Bridge” for many pets. Whether your furry family member has reached their golden years or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you shouldn’t have to face difficult decisions alone. Our caring veterinarians and staff are here to ease the burden.
First, you should know there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to preparing for end-of-life care at home. Every pet is different, and every pet owner has a different definition for gauging their pet’s quality of life. Your main goal should be to minimize any pain or discomfort your pet may be feeling. It’s essential to understand that pets do not always express pain the way humans do. Just because they aren’t whimpering or crying out doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing pain. However, your pet may convey pain by eating less or refusing to eat at all, by panting or gasping for breath, by becoming unusually shy or reclusive, or by becoming partially or fully immobile and lethargic.
As your pet’s health and quality of life begin to decline, it will be up to you how you wish to proceed. If you feel your pet would benefit from visits at home because it’s become too difficult to transport them to our office, we’re happy to oblige. If you’re interested in exploring humane euthanasia options, we’re also able to provide this type of information. Euthanasia offers a pain-free, peaceful end to suffering, but it may not be the right choice for every pet owner, pet, or end-of-life situation.
If you’ve decided end-of-life care at home is your best option, someone from City by the Sea Veterinary Hospital will visit you and your pet at home to discuss your pet’s medical history and treatment. The goal for end-of-life care at home, or palliative care, is to make your pet’s final days, weeks, or months as comfortable as possible through pain medications, human interaction, and dietary changes if necessary. This type of care requires an active commitment and almost constant supervision. We’ll also go over your plans for burial or cremation. We offer pet memorial services through Abbey Glen Pet Memorial.
If you’ve decided euthanasia is your best option, you must sign a euthanasia consent form giving our veterinary hospital permission to put your animal to sleep. This form also ensures your pet hasn’t bitten anyone within the past 10 days and isn’t under quarantine for an infectious disease. If you desire, we can also provide cremation or burial arrangements. Euthanasia involves injecting a sedative, usually in your pet’s hind leg muscle. It may momentarily sting, but this is the only part of the euthanasia process that will be uncomfortable for your pet. Within minutes, most animals become very drowsy, although every pet’s reaction is slightly different. You must remain calm during this part of the process if you choose to be present. Once sedated, many pets will not close their eyes and their tongues may protrude from their mouths. Often times many pets snore and can sometimes urinate and/or defecate. Some pet owners only stay with their pet through the sedation process and this is fine, we think it makes pets comfortable to know their family is close. Once your pet has been sedated, a lethal dose of an anesthetic drug will be delivered intravenously. Your pet won’t feel a thing because they’re already in a deep sleep. Often, the animal will pass away before the full dose of medication has been administered. Occasionally, some pets may display agonal breathing even after they’ve been pronounced dead. Agonal breaths are brain impulses – not your pet suffocating for breath – and can be a normal, albeit rare, part of the process.
99% of the time it does. A complication we have run into in the past is sometimes our choice of sedation drug can sometimes not be enough or have dysphoric effects. During this time pet’s act confused. In this event, additional or alternative medications are administered. We can’t usually predict which pets are more resistant to sedation, and when it happens it can be frustrating for the pet owner, but also the veterinarian. However, the pet is often unaware of what’s going on and there is no pain or discomfort associated with dysphoria.
Another complication we sometimes encounter is finding a viable blood vessel to deliver the intravenous euthanasia medication. Many pets are physically ill when we are called for this service and their systems are not functioning appropriately, including blood pressure regulation. We choose a back leg so that pet owners can hold their pets or stay near their face to pet them, but sometimes the doctor may need to change legs or move to a forelimb. Because sedation has taken effect at this point, your pet will not feel the pinch of a needle.
Our team will give you and your family time and privacy to say a final goodbye. Then we will remove your pet to prepare for burial or cremation.
To learn more about end-of-life care at home for your pet in Asbury Park, NJ, please contact City by the Sea Veterinary Hospital. We would be happy to help you explore your options for palliative care to make your pet’s end-of-life care as pleasant as possible. We’re here for you and your furry companions!