Pet Loss

Pre-Planning
Bereavement
Euthanasia

Disposition
Burial
Donation
Memorializing Your Pet

Pre-Planning

The decision to end your pet’s life is not an easy one to make.  When possible, it can be helpful to plan in advance so that you are more prepared when the time comes and your emotions surface.  There are a number of considerations and options available to you.

It is helpful to work with your veterinarian to understand what a terminally ill or injured pet is likely to experience for the rest of its life.  Confidently knowing the signs that it is “time”, can relieve stress and pressure on you to evaluate your pet’s condition and make this decision for yourself.  You can also predetermine what to do in the event of an emergency; where to go, how decision-making will be handled. Further, understanding practical pain management and hospice options can be valuable in preserving your pet’s quality of life for as long as possible.

How do I know it’s time?

While consultation with your veterinarian is encouraged, here are some considerations:

  • Do my pet’s bad days outnumber good days?
  • Can my pet still do the things that make him/her happy?
  • How is my pet’s life different now than it was before he/she got sick?
  • Is my pet in visible pain?
  • Is my pet eating?
  • Is my pet incontinent (urinating or defecating indoors, uncontrollably)?

Maintaining your pet’s comfort, both emotionally and physically, is the utmost priority.  If most of your pet’s life is spent in discomfort, it may be time to consider your options.

 

Bereavement

Dealing with the loss of a pet can be extremely difficult for you and your family.  Anger, fear, guilt, confusion, and sadness are all normal emotions you may be feeling at this time.  Everyone expresses grief differently and there is no right or wrong way.  It is best to give everyone space to experience grief the way that comes most naturally to them.  Children should not be excluded from the process.  Discuss with them your pet’s condition and prognosis.  Help them understand that all living things go through stages: Birth, life, and death.  Be honest with them about how you are feeling and encourage them to express their emotions.  Don’t confuse them with made up stories about the pet “going to a different place” or “going to sleep”.  Talk about what will happen with the body afterwards.  Encourage them to find creative outlets for their feelings, such as drawing or making up a poem.

Other pets will also react to the death of one of their pals.  They may howl, become listless, or stop eating.  Some might even become hostile.  Like with children, give them time and space to grieve in their own way.  Acknowledge the loss and try to give them extra comfort.  If they seem lonely, leave a TV or stereo on when you are away to try to provide calming background noise.  In time, they will heal.

Others may not necessarily understand your feelings right now.  They may annoy you with well-intentioned over-expressions of bereavement or they may brush you off with, “oh, it’s only an animal.”  Remember, you are entitled to your feelings about your pet and how you grieve the loss is unique to you.  It is ok to surround yourself with people who “get it” and/or politely isolate yourself from people whose comments are damaging to you at this time.

There are people who understand and there are resources that can help.  Grief counseling or a grief support group can be a welcome shoulder to lean on.

Pre-Planning and Bereavement Resources*

ASPCA Pet Loss Support Hotline: (877) 474-3310

Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement

Dr. Kathleen Ayl: (818) 458-8102
Pet loss recovery specialist offering individual and phone sessions, support groups

Bereavement Support Groups and Counselors in California

Dr. Lani Chin: (310) 344-5550

Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital End of Life Resources

Andrea Keith, LMFT, CEAP, CAMF
Pet loss counseling and support groups

Dr. Diane Kelley: (310) 559-3164

Pet Loss Help

The Grief Recovery Institute – Beverly Hills: (888) 773-2683 (call for referrals)

Pet Loss Partners
Sandra Grossman Ph.D.: (818) 421-1516

Books for Children About Pet Loss and Grief

I’ll Always Love You
Wilhelm, Hans
Dragonfly Books, 1988

Saying Goodbye to Lulu
Demas, Corrine
Little, Brown and Company, 2004

The Forever Dog
Cochran, Bill
Harper Collins Publishers, 2007

The Berenstain Bears Lose A Friend
Berenstain, Stan & Jan
Harper Collins Publishers, 2007

Annie Loses Her Leg but Finds Her Way
Philipson, Sandra
Chagrin River Publishing Company, 1999

Sammy in the Sky
Walsh, Barbara
Candlewick Press, 2011

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
Viorst J
New York, Antheneum, 1971

Dog Heaven
Rylant, C
Blue Sky Press, 1995

Badger’s Parting Gifts
Varley S
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1984

It Must Hurt A Lot
Sanford D
Multnomah Press, 1987

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story for All Ages
Buscaglia L
Slack Books Division, 1982

When a Pet Dies
Rogers F
Putnam Publishing Company, 1990

Activity Books for Children

Oh, Where Has My Pet Gone?
Pet loss memory book, appropriate for ALL ages
B Libby Press, 17225 6th Ave No., Plymouth MN 55447-3568

My Pet Died
Rachel Biale – interactive book
Tricycle Press Dept. CF, P.O. Box 7132, Berkeley, CA 94707

*Note: This information is provided for the convenience of ASEC clients and is in no way guaranteed.  This does not constitute a recommendation or promotion for any provider.  Clients are encouraged to validate this information before selecting a provider.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia can help give you some control over where, when, and how death occurs.  It is never easy to think about the logistics of how this will happen, but pre-planning can ease the decision-making burden when the time comes.  Predetermine where you would like it to happen and, if possible, what environment you would to have around your situation.  Would you like to be with your pet at the time of death?  Should you make the appointment for early in the morning, before your vet’s office is rushed?  This can avoid you facing a loud, busy waiting room full of people at such a painful time.  ASEC offers 24 hour euthanasia services as an option for you.  You could also take your pet to your regular vet, who may have been caring for your pet since its younger days.  At-home euthanasia is also an option, if you would be more comfortable in the privacy of your home.  Mobile services are available.

The Process: What to expect at ASEC

When you arrive at ASEC you will be shown into an exam room in the most private area available at the time.  You will be given a packet of information including an approval form for performing the euthanasia procedure and your choice of disposition options.  Please note we can only hold your pet’s remains for 4 days after euthanasia, so if you haven’t already done so, please make disposition arrangements promptly.  We prefer to know your disposition choice before we proceed with the procedure, if possible.

As difficult a time as it is, these important documents must be signed at this time.  If a doctor has not yet seen your pet, that will happen next.  Usually there is no fee for this service and it merely confirms your end of life decision.

We then will ask for payment for the services as your pet is taken to the back so we can insert an IV catheter.  We do this in the back to minimize your stress.  If you have chosen to remain with your pet, we will return your pet to the room where you can say goodbye in private.  When you are ready, we will administer two medications, one to sedate your pet and one to stop organ function. In most cases you will be able to hold your pet to provide comfort during this process.  The process should occur very quickly and painlessly for your pet, usually in less than a minute.  The doctor will monitor the heartbeat and will let you know when life has ended.

You will be given quiet time alone with your pet if you choose.  Please remember that grief is a normal part of the end of life process and you should allow yourself all of the space you need for your own experience.  Know that every single member of our staff has experienced loss and you have our utmost support and empathy.  You do not need to check in at the front desk or speak to anyone else before you leave, either.  Your privacy at this time is our top priority.  Of course, if you need anything, please do not hesitate to ask.

In-Home Euthanasia Services, Mobile Veterinarians*

Hollywood
Malibu
Orange County
Pasadena
San Fernando Valley
South Bay
West Los Angeles

For a printable PDF version of the list of in-home euthanasia services and mobile veterinarians, click here

Pet Loss at Home directory (877) 219-4811
*Note: This information is provided for the convenience of ASEC clients and is in no way guaranteed.  This does not constitute a recommendation or promotion for any provider. Clients are encouraged to validate this information before selecting a provider.

Disposition

Think about what you would like to do with the remains of your pet: A number of options are available including cremation, burial, or donation.  You may also want to pre-arrange for an autopsy, if having more medical answers will ease your grief.

Individual Cremation

You can decide to cremate your pet individually, which is an outside service you choose that will return your pet’s ashes to you.   Viewing room services are available, and you can cremate items such as collars or a favorite toy along with your pet.  There are even some flexible choices for preserving your pet’s memory such as decorative urns, paw prints, and even jewelry.  Individual cremation is done at an additional cost and you will need to make arrangements with the outside service provider directly.

Group Cremation

Alternatively, you can opt for group cremation where your pet will be removed and cremated with other pets and the ashes disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

Cremation Providers (housecall services available)*
Cal Pet Crematory
(818) 983-2313 or (323) 875-0633

Guardian Animal Aftercare
(818) 768-6465

Royal Pet Mortuary
(310) 313-2108

S.O.P.H.I.E Inc.
Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park
(818) 591-7037

Very Important Pet Mortuary
(310) 365-3224

Only Cremations
(949) 852-1485

*Note: This information is provided for the convenience of ASEC clients and is in no way guaranteed.  This does not constitute a recommendation or promotion for any provider.  Clients are encouraged to validate this information before selecting a provider.

Burial

Though backyard burial is not legal for pets in Los Angeles, you can opt for burial at one of several pet cemeteries. This is an outside service you will need to arrange directly with the provider.

Burial Providers (housecall services available)*
Royal Pet Mortuary
(310)313-2108

S.O.P.H.I.E Inc.
Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park
(818) 591-7037

*Note: This information is provided for the convenience of ASEC clients and is in no way guaranteed.  This does not constitute a recommendation or promotion for any provider.  Clients are encouraged to validate this information before selecting a provider.

Donation
ASEC is a veterinary teaching hospital that assists in the education of veterinarians through continuing education and veterinary students completing their schooling. To enable us to further their education, our hospital accepts for donation of deceased patients to be used for teaching purposes. Be assured that we will treat your pet with the utmost care and compassion during our teaching. As a token of our appreciation, we will waive the disposition fee for group cremation of your pet.  Please talk to the doctor if you are interested in pursuing this option to see if your pet qualifies as an eligible donation candidate.

Another program available for donation of your pet’s remains for educational purposes is the Willed Deceased Animals for Veterinary Education (WAVE) at Western University, College of Veterinary Medicine.

Pet Disposition Providers Compared*  Cremation Provider Comparison

*Note: This information is provided for the convenience of ASEC clients and is in no way guaranteed.  This does not constitute a recommendation or promotion for any provider.  Clients are encouraged to validate this information before selecting a provider.

Memorializing Your Pet

You may want to think about ways to memorialize your pet, such as preserving a paw print or clipping of fur.  This can help family members, especially children, say goodbye.  Writing down some words to share about your pet or making a photo book can help preserve positive memories of your pet’s life and take the focus away from its death.  There are memorial services available, including viewings, website memorials, and a variety of different keepsake options.  Again, these are outside services you will need to arrange directly with the provider.

Memorial Resources*

Best Friend Services
Custom urns, keepsake pendants, sympathy gifts and more…

Life Gem
Certified, high-quality diamond created from a lock of hair or the cremated ashes of your loved one

Paws2Heaven
Design a personalized Pet Urn

Paws and Remember

Peartree Impressions

Pet Memorial Jewelry

Rainbows Bridge
Virtual Memorial Home

Over The Rainbow Memorials

Two Hearts Memorials
Resources for your journey through grief.  Online memorials and more.

*Note: This information is provided for the convenience of ASEC clients and is in no way guaranteed.  This does not constitute a recommendation or promotion for any provider.  Clients are encouraged to validate this information before selecting a provider.