Primary Care

Pet Loss Support

Making the tough decision:

We understand that considering the end of your pet’s life is a heartbreaking feeling for most people. For this reason, our doctors and support staff will do everything that we can to help you find peace with your decision. If you unsure of your decision, then we can guide you through some questions to help answer the ultimate question;

Does your pet still have quality of life in their day?

For a pet, their needs are very simple;

1. Spending time with you: They want to be able to spend time with you, either getting up to follow you to a room, or resting in comfort near you. They need to be able to do this without feeling pain or stress. Many older pets sleep more than they are awake, and this is okay as long as they can rest in comfort. Many older animals suffer from arthritis, and we can discuss easy oral medications to help them rise and move, if you have not tried this.

2. Going to the bathroom:
They want to be able to eliminate where ever you have trained them to do so. Whether that is outside, on a pad, or in a litter box, to not be able to do this can be stressful for a pet. If your pet’s elimination patterns suddenly change, we can make sure that they have not developed a fixable problem such as a urinary tract infection, or diabetes causing excessive urination.
3. Eating: They need to be able to eat. If your pet is feeling nauseous, they may show initial interest in food, but then turn away from the food when it is placed in front of them, or vomit after a few bites. For some chronic conditions, a simple oral anti-nausea tablet can make them feel like eating again.
In many cases, you have already come to the realization that your pet is no longer able to enjoy the same quality in their life that they used to, even months ago. To respect the difficulty of making the euthanasia appointment, we have tried to provide you with as much information as possible:

Where can the Euthanasia take place?
At the Ballston Spa Veterinary Clinic, we understand that every pet’s needs are different. We offer a quiet exam room with an outside entrance, so that you can enter or exit in private, without having to share your grief with other clients. For dogs, we also offer the serenity of our fenced in garden area, just outside of our quiet room. Because the goal is to keep your pet as stress free as possible, we can also meet you outside in your car.

We realize that you know your pet’s emotional and physical needs better than anyone.  If you feel that the best place for this appointment is in your own home, please call the hospital and we can arrange to travel to you.

What can I expect when I come in for my appointment?

You will be greeted by the CSR at the front desk and the Euthanasia candle will be lit. This communicates with the other clients that someone is saying goodbye to their family member and to respect that bond with silence.
You will be brought into the area of your choice (see above) and the doctor will explain the process. The assistant will handle all of the paperwork and payments inside the room, so that you can focus on your pet without distractions.
Because we know that your pet feels most comfortable in your presence, we encourage you to be with your pet as they slowly relax with a mild injectable sedative. If your pet still loves to eat treats, we provide you with these to offer your pet, as some animals are still happiest when receiving these from their owner.  You are also welcome to bring your own. We respect the emotional bond that you have with your pet, and leave you alone with your pet as the sedation takes effect within 2 to 8 minutes.
When your pet is in a comfortable plane of sedation, and unaware of our presence, we return to give the final injection, an overdose of anesthetic that will stop their bodily functions.

What are my options for Farewell Decisions?
There are several options concerning the aftercare of your pet’s remains:

Paw prints- Clay imprints for $26.50 or Ink prints on paper at no cost. The clay prints are usually ready for pick up in 2 weeks. We mail the ink paw prints to you within a week. You can also request both.
Burial at home- A burial ceremony helps many pet owners achieve closure and say goodbye. Every county has different laws, so check with your local county laws regarding burial.
Cremation- Most families make the choice for cremation. This is available as Group cremation or Private Cremation. When a Private Cremation is chosen, the ashes are returned to you in a beautiful cherry wood urn. When a Group Cremation is chosen, your pet is cremated with other pets, and therefore no ashes are returned.

What do people go through as the normal grieving process?

Denial– At the moment we discover the loss of a loved one, we may deny the death. No one wants to accept the death of a good friend.  We doubt the reality of the situation: “It can’t be true.”
Anger- Once the reality of the death sinks in, we become angry that we can’t bring back our friend. The anger can be toward others or inwards- blaming ourselves.  Mourners may not mean what they say or do during this time with friends, family and often the veterinary medical team.
Sadness- This is the longest stage. If your pet was dealing with a long period of sickness, you may skip the first two types of grieving, and move right into sadness. This is a period of emptiness and loss when we struggle to come to terms with life without our friend.
Acceptance- In this final stage of grieving, we accept the passing of our friend. We wish they were here with us, but we can now fondly recall shared experiences. Accepting the natural passage from life to death allows us to continue with our lives.

What can we do to help you through this?
Ask us for help you with this difficult decision. We understand the enormity of this decision, and we are able to offer you advice and options. It is our goal to make sure that you feel comfortable and supported before and after the event.
Honor your pet’s memory- Fill out and submit the Pet Memorial Form so we can post it on our Memorial Page. You may also choose to share pictures of your pet on social media.
Refer to a Grief Counselor- Counseling may help some people work through their feelings.
We hope that you’ll put your skills and value as a responsible pet owner back to work. When the time is right, consider adopting another pet.  Remember that the new pet will not be just like the friend you lost- each pet is different and special, but sometimes allowing a new life to fill the quiet places in your home can be important.

Links to help:

When Our Pets Leave Us
For many people, the death of a pet is a great loss.

Pets are often more than companions- their personalities make them like members of the family. They are with us to give and receive love and affection. And when they are no longer there, the emptiness can be enormous.

As with the experience of any loss, we often find support and understanding from others who know themselves the grief we experience.

Anyone who is grieving the death of a pet is invited to take part in our “pet bereavement” support group.

Pet Bereavement Support
The Community Hospice of Albany would like to invite you to their monthly Pet Loss Support Group.

The purpose of the group is to offer an Opportunity to share experiences and provide support through the bereavement process.

Services are free of charge and open to everyone in the community.

If you, or someone you know, have lost a pet within the past twelve months and would like to take advantage of this service please call:

Albany and Schenectady Counties
Sue Emanuele
Bereavement Facilitator
(518) 724-0200

Saratoga and Washington Counties
Meg Parobeck