‘It takes us all to say goodbye humanely and with love’

“Personally, it is not the animal I am saddest for, although they can break your heart. I believe I am helping them by ending their suffering and pain. We were trained to do just that. What we were not trained to do is to relieve the human suffering that will ensue.” 

Veterinarians like Dr. Allison Dascoli, whose words appear above, can’t eliminate the hurt people feel when they have to euthanize their pets, but they certainly try to ease the pain. In one of her recent Ask the Vet columns, Dr. Dascoli writes about the emotional pulls and tugs veterinarians feel when a pet visits the veterinarian for the last time. It’s a wonderful piece, one that paints how painful end-of-life decisions can be for everyone involved. 

For those who have had to make the decision, feelings of guilt are eventually cleansed by the realization that a pain-free, peaceful death for their pet was indeed the right decision. The luxury of having the choice to end a pet’s life humanely through euthanasia is actually one of the beautiful things about veterinary medicine. 

Those who haven’t yet been in the position to make this difficult decision can take comfort in the fact that caring veterinarians like Dr. Dascoli are there to help. They can also rely on us – the American Veterinary Medical Association – for a variety of resources that help educate and assist pet owners with end-of-life questions and concerns. 

We have brochures and other educational items available to the public that explore the life and health issues of senior pets, pet and equine euthanasia, and how to handle the grief and sorrow felt when you have to say goodbye. The words contained therein can’t make a pet healthy again, but they can help pet owners feel good about some very tough choices. 

I’d like Dr. Dascoli’s sentiments to end this blog, because she says it far better than I ever could. 

“This is never about the veterinarian; it is about family – whatever family we all might have, traditional or otherwise. In that room, with that animal before us, and those grieving hearts looking on, it takes us all to say goodbye humanely and with love.”

2 thoughts on “‘It takes us all to say goodbye humanely and with love’

  1. I saw your artical as I was looking for information on my Minn-pinn that died in Sept 2012. I,ve had a hard time eccepting his death because he was not sick, but only the day I brought him to Vets office. And I brought him in early. He died overnight at vet’s office. He had just started the shot for heartworm prevention. Is there any evidence of dogs dying after starting these injections that put them in risk for pancreatitis, this is what they said he had, news to me??? I have my other dog who is due for his second shot soon. I am very reluctate now of even bringing him back to that vet’s office, since we moved here to this new location. My dogs have ALWAYS been followed by vet’s since they were born, My Minn-pinn was eight years old and very, very healthy. Any information on this would be appreciated. Thank you for caring. Belinda

    • Belinda, we’re so sorry to hear of your loss. It’s hard to lose a pet that’s ill, and the unexpected deaths can be even harder to bear. I assume you’re referring to ProHeart 6, the injectable heartworm preventive. On the site, it doesn’t specifically mention pancreatitis, but it does say there is “…potential for adverse reactions, including anaphylaxsis, and be informed of the clinical signs associated with drug toxicity including digestive, hematological, or neurological reactions that can occur and may be serious.” (https://animalhealth.pfizer.com/sites/pahweb/US/EN/Products/Pages/ProHeart%C2%AE6%28moxidectin%29.aspx) Unfortunately, all drugs (including herbal medicines) carry the risk of adverse events (which can range from very minor to life-threatening), and it’s not easy to predict whether or not those reactions will occur in a specific animal – or how severe they may be if they do happen. If you’re concerned about that product being used on your other pets, talk to your veterinarian (whichever one you decide to use) about your concerns. There are options for heartworm prevention, including the injection as well as the monthly tablets. Talk to your vet so you can get the information you need to make the right decision for your and your dog.