Primary Care

Pet Loss Support

How To Know When It’s Time

Our doctors will help you understand all your options and also let you know if there are no more options.

We understand that this is a very difficult time and that it is not uncommon to have people reschedule the final appointment a time or two because they are not sure it is the right time, or just need more time to prepare and spend with their best friend. We also understand that once the decision is made by the family, sometimes the family needs to do it right away because the decision is so difficult. We will do our best to schedule the appointment with our doctor at a time that works best for you.

It is always OK to schedule an appointment to discuss quality of life.

Quality Of Life

Our doctors will help you understand all of your options and also help you determine if your pet still has a good quality of life.

Things to consider:

  • Does he/she eat and drink?
  • Does he/she seem happy?
  • Is he/she breathing comfortably?
  • Does he/she seem comfortable?
  • Does your pet still seem to enjoy your company or do they isolate themselves in your home?
  • What has made your pet joyful in the past and do they still experience this joy?
  • Are there more good days than bad days?

Mobility concerns can be an issue depending on the size of your pet. It may be a hardship for the family if their 150 lb. dog cannot walk outside or go down the stairs, but this may not be as much of an issue for a family with a 15 lb. dog.

What To Expect

When it is time for that final appointment we will have you come in and speak to a doctor in an exam room. The doctor will meet with you and help you determine if it is time. We encourage you to be with your pet during this final visit as you will bring comfort to each other.

You have options to bring your pet home after for burial, or we can arrange for cremation. If you chose cremation you may choose to have the remains returned to you; if you choose this option they are returned in a velvet pouch inside a carved wooden box. We will also give you the option to have a clay paw print made of your pet’s foot print with your pet’s name imprinted onto it, this is our gift to you – there is no charge. Some people like us to cut a lock of hair as a keepsake, we would be happy to do this – please ask if you would like this done. Before going forward we will have you sign an authorization form and ask you to sign off on which options you have chosen. We want to be sure there is no miscommunication.

Next your pet will be taken to treatment where we will place an IV catheter. While this is being done you will be escorted upstairs to our comfort room. We will then bring your pet up to join you and let you spend time with him/her. The family is welcome to be in the room. When you are ready the doctor will come in and perform the humane euthanasia via painless injection. It is up to the family if they want children to remain in the room at this time.

If you have elected home burial we will place your pet in a box for burial and help you out to your car. If you asked for a paw print we will mail it to you after we bake it. If you have elected cremation we will make the arrangements for your pet to be transported to the crematorium. If you have elected to have the remains returned to you we will call you when they are returned to our office and have you come in to pick up the remains and the paw print.

We understand that this is a very difficult time. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you.

Comfort Room

We hope that our pets will live a long and comfortable life but unfortunately there comes a time that difficult decisions may need to be made and sometimes the kindest thing you can do for your pet is to bring peace to them and end their suffering. We have a room upstairs that is away from the hustle and bustle of the busy hospital which provides a place that you and your beloved pet can spend some time together and you can say goodbye to your best friend in a peaceful environment. Our comfort room has a sofa and pillows and
soft blankets rather than an exam table. We use lamps instead of the overhead lights, and we can have soft music playing if you would like. We understand what a difficult time this is and want to make it as comfortable as possible for your family.

Pet Loss Program

Ithaca Pet Loss Group Monthly Meeting
The 4th Tuesday of each month

If you’ve lost that close companion and friend that we call a pet, but who was in reality a family member, who loved and was loved, and who is missed beyond explanation now that he or she is gone, feel free to come to our monthly Ithaca Pet Loss Group meeting. This is a self-help, professionally facilitated gathering designed to share education about coping with loss and provide emotional support.

You don’t need to sign up or call ahead, just drop in. It’s free, and you can discuss your feelings or just sit and know that there are other people who are going through a similar ordeal.

*There is no pressure to talk if you don’t want to.* This is a time and place where individuals can pay tribute to their pets. Participants are encouraged to bring a picture or other memento. We offer an opportunity to be with others who are grieving for their pets, too, and maybe to take some comfort in each other or learn how others are dealing with their losses. We’ve had attendance ranging from a couple of people to eight or nine.

The group is run by a local therapist at each meeting to coordinate and help. Cathie Simpson, PhD, LMHC, is an Ithaca psychotherapist who specializes in helping people get over grief, anxiety, and depression. Whether you lost your pet this morning or 15 years ago, you’ll be welcome.

*7:00 to 9:00pm*
316 East Court Street
(Corner of Court and Linn, white brick building, purple door) Ithaca, 14850

Please use entrance on Linn Street side of house, the door with the huge white-and-black sign on it that reads PET LOSS GROUP. If you see this notice and need us, Cathie’ll be there on the 4th Tuesday of every month.

Pet Loss Hotlines

ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline, 800-946-4646, enter pin number 1407211, then add your own phone number

Cornell University Pet Loss Support Hotline, 607-253-3932, T/Th 6-9 pm ET; messages will be returned

University of California-Davis — Staffed by University of California-Davis veterinary students, 916-752-4200, weekdays, 6:30-9:30 pm, pacific time

University of Florida, Staffed by University of Florida veterinary students, 904-392-4700 then dial 1 and 4080, weekdays, 7-9 pm, eastern time