End-of-Life Pet Care: Compassionate Guidance for the Pet Owners

end-of-life-care As pets approach the end of life, the families that love them often have to make difficult decisions. Northern Valley Animal Clinic’s technicians and veterinarians understand the unique bond that exists between pets and their families and will help guide you through the process of providing a comfortable and humane situation for your pet.

Are there ways to keep my pet comfortable through a debilitating disease? Understanding your pet’s condition and treatment options can greatly extend the length and quality of life for your pet. While some changes in activity level and mobility are normal, it is important to keep up on regular health exams to rule out any underlying, curable conditions.

When a diagnosed condition exists, Northern Valley Animal Clinic is often able to provide pet pain management to keep your dog or cat comfortable for long periods of time. Our veterinarians will regularly evaluate your pet for signs of pain and will advise you on the best course of action for his or her specific situation.

How do I know when it’s time to consider euthanasia?

The decision to put a pet down is an individual one that families have to make based on the quality of life their pet has. Our veterinarians will help you evaluate any signs of discomfort or degree of pain a pet is experiencing. As pet owners ourselves, we can share with you our experiences and insights but will never pressure you to make any type of decision. Some of the questions we have used to evaluate a pet’s quality of life include:

  • Can the pet’s pain be managed?
  • Is the pet able to move enough or be supported to handle bathroom functions?
  • Does the pet still enjoy his or her favorite activities?
  • Is the pet isolating him- or herself or hiding?
  • Does the pet still enjoy interacting with the family?
  • Can the pet eat enough to maintain proper nutritional levels and comfort?
  • Does the pet exhibit any signs of confusion, fear, or loss of cognition?
  • Is the pet incontinent?
  • Is the pet still drinking water?
  • Is the pet having difficulty breathing?

What should I expect when having my pet euthanized?

Northern Valley Animal Clinic provides a separate room where families can remain with their pets throughout and following the euthanasia so they can take the time they need in a peaceful and comforting environment.

As a memorial, our clinic will make a clay paw print impression for you to keep. You can choose to take your pet home for burial or we offer a cremation service for your convenience.

How should I handle grieving over my pet?

There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a pet. Some find a support group to be helpful while others seek to make a memorial that honors the pet’s life. Still others find strength in spending time with their family members or time around other animals helps. We encourage you to check our pet loss library for information from experts as well as other pet owners who have gone through the loss of a pet.

Whether you need guidance on your pet’s condition or more information on end-of-life care, contact our compassionate staff and veterinarians anytime you have questions.

“I love when my dog Cash and I walk in the door and everyone greets us by name. It means a lot (to both of us! :)), and shows that you all really do care for your patients and guests. You guys are great! Thanks so much for everything!” -C. Johnson

“I chose Northern Valley when I got my first pet due to the extended hours during the week and on Saturdays. That is very helpful considering I work full time. The vets and techs are fantastic. They know my pets by name and are familiar with their medical history even without their charts in hand. All staff are very sweet to my animals.” -M. Moeller

“The vet was so nice and worked so well with Izzy, who is totally paranoid and afraid of other people. I appreciate his time to answer my questions and tell me how to keep Izzy healthy.” -R. Martin

“Thank you to all the wonderful staff of NVAC! You provide wonderful care to us and our owners. This year, we are particularly grateful for your care of Roger—he retrieved over 100 pheasants this season and is at his physical best—despite Addison s and ACL/broken leg—amazing!!!’ -Roger, Noel, Bella & Kiddy” J.&B. Oviatt

“Loved the tech who cut our dogs' nails. She did an excellent job!!! We have been coming to NVAC since 1992. It is so nice that everyone knows us and our pets. We appreciate all you have done for us over the years---esp. those Westie years!!” -C. Parker-Neiss

“The technician was very attentive and made sure to ask about my dog's weight history (we think there must have been an error on the previous visit). Both the vet and tech were accommodating to my dog's quirks (were very gentle with the ears and did not take the rectal temp as she freaks out and was not sick at the time of the visit). They were very kind to her and offered treats with the vaccinations. Even the receptionist made sure to pet her and offer a treat. My dog was not at all traumatized and was as happy as always when leaving. I felt all my questions were answered and I came away with good knowledge of my dog's health (fortunately it was great). I also bought some Heartguard and Frontline as flea and tick season will be upon us soon.” -L. Estes

“Northern Valley is fantastic. The attention and care that my pets and myself have received has been extraordinary, especially when dealing with a deathly ill animal. I really appreciated that the staff paid attention to my concerns and valued my thoughts and observations as we problem solved and determined treatment. I can't help but wonder if we would have had a negative outcome had I been at another vet. Thanks to the great staff for helping treat my kitty!” -M. Moeller

“Always a wonderful experience. Very professional and kind and friendly staff. Thank you! Vladimir had his hair cut by Shannon and she is amazing! She is kind and gentle with our robust pet. She is a brilliant groomer! We LOVE Shannon. Especially Vladimir.” -S. Palmer-Ziolkowski

“I am soooo very happy with Northern Valley Animal Clinic, and I am very grateful for all the care you all have taken care of all the pets we have had. Boozer, Sammy, Dolly, and now Izzy. I feel very confident in her care with you all. Thanks for being there.” -R. Martin

“The whole staff is awesome!!! Been there for/with me & my furkids in good times & in bad. Also, they are wonderful supporters of rescue groups.” -E. Meinecke

“They have treated me with such kindness. I had to put my little man to sleep, my 11-year-old ferret named Sid. Not only were they gentle and caring about the process, they sent me home with a little paw print keepsake. Thank you so much.” -D. Nicole

“Shannon is the best groomer!!” -M. Smith

“The staff were ALL very kind and seemed to truly like and appreciate the animals they were dealing with, they had good empathy with me and also my dear dog, who was their patient. I feel relieved to know that I have found a good "medical home" for my little animal family, at Northern Valley Animal clinic.” -N. Honeychuck

“We really appreciated being able to call at about 11:30 am on a Saturday and being able to be seen at 12:30 pm the same day. Meant a lot to us!” -J. Hill

“There is nothing more important than making sure that your pet is in good hands when it has a medical problem or needs preventative care. The team at Northern Valley Animal Clinic is wonderful and always treats you and your pets with respect. They have the knowledge and dedication to make sure that your furry family member is well taken care of. Every time we take our shelter animals into the clinic, they are always treated with the best of care and compassion. Thank you Northern Valley for all you do for the homeless animals and Paws and Claws!” -T. Johnson

“Dr. McKie really went above and beyond my expectations. I needed to bring my 2 young inquisitive children with me on the night of our cats' visit, and she let my children hear our pets' heartbeats and answered all of their questions even about animals that weren't even present! Thank you to her for giving us such a fun and exciting experience. My kids are still talking about it! Thanks again to all of the staff who made our night with their friendly service and willingness to answer questions!” -T . Tollefson

“Thank you, Thank you for the awesome grooming on my dear Ginger. My wife and I trust no one with our girl. Shannon was kind and warm to her which in turn made us very comfortable leaving Ginger in her care. Gin looked great when we picked her up and she did not seem to mind her ordeal at all. You guys are wonderful and we will be back. Thank you.” -J. Kapinos

“Woof Woof” -from Ginger

“You guys are great!!! I have a dog with lots of issues, and you guys always take good care of us! Thank you!!” -A. Reed