Pet Bereavement

Coping with losing a pet

Making the Decision to Say Goodbye to a Pet

Whilst we may not like to think about it, losing a pet is something that all pet owners have to go through at some point. Most of us would hope that our beloved friend passes away peacefully in their sleep at a ripe old age, and many pets will do just that. However it is often left to us as pet owners to make a difficult choice and decide that the time has come to put our pet to sleep

Euthanasia (or Putting Your Pet To Sleep)

Euthanasia is a kindness to pets that are suffering, or unable to maintain a good quality of life. By choosing euthanasia we can ensure that our pet’s passing is peaceful and pain free. This is why we prefer to call this procedure a put to sleep rather than putting an animal down.

It is always difficult to know when the right time is to let our pets go. The vet may recommend euthanasia if they think it is a reasonable option, but the ultimate decision will lie with you as the owner. Consideration should be given to;

  • Whether your pet can live out their normal life;
  • Whether they are in pain;
  • Whether they are eating;
  • or if they are now having more bad days than good.

In the end there are many factors that need to be taken into account but often as pet owners we know when the time is right.

What Happens When You Put My Pet To Sleep?

After clipping an area of fur on your pet’s foreleg the vet will administer the injection that takes effect very quickly. Your pet will fall asleep very rapidly and fall deeper and deeper into unconsciousness until they pass away.

Sometimes pets may urinate, defecate, or have reflex movements of their muscles and chest for some time after passing. Sometimes their eyes do not fully close afterwards. But please rest assured they no longer know anything about what is going on.

Do I have to be there…? If you feel that you do not want to be there whilst your pet is being put to sleep, please do not feel under pressure to do so. We will not judge you, and we will look after your pet throughout the whole process.

cat sleeping

Will They Feel Pain?

Pets undergoing euthanasia feel no pain, as the drug used is an overdose of anaesthetic. Sometimes we may sedate your pet first

Where Does It Take Place?

Many people choose to bring their pets into the surgery when the time has come for them to be put to sleep. Don’t feel that you have to wait in our waiting room – many prefer to wait outside with their pet until the vet is ready.

At our Dunmow surgery we have a special Bereavement Room which is located in a quiet area of the surgery, and is made up with a comfy pet bed and seating. Feel free to request this room either at the time of making the appointment or when you arrive.

Can I Request a Home Visit?

We do offer home visits, and can arrange for the vet and nurse to come and visit you at home to put your pet to sleep there. This is best suited to non-urgent cases, as the visits usually take place outside of consultation hours.

If you wish to have your pet cremated afterwards, the vet will need to bring your pet back with them.

What Are Our Options Afterwards?

You have a number of options as to what will happen to your pet once he/she has passed away or been put to sleep.

Your pet can go for general cremation (the ashes will not be returned), be individually cremated (this means your pet will be cremated alone and the ashes returned to you in a container of your choosing) or you may choose to bury your pet at home.

You will not receive your pet’s ashes back.

Your pet will be individually cremated and you will receive their ashes back in a casket of your choice (see below for options).

Individual cremation is more expensive than regular cremation, so much depends on whether you wish to bring your pet home afterwards . You can find information on the pet crematorium service used by us here.

You can choose to bury your pet at home in your garden, as long as you are the home owner and not renting the property. You are not allowed to bury them in a public place, close to water sources, or if they pose a health hazard. Make sure the hole is at least 3 feet deep to prevent the grave being disturbed.

Individual Cremation Casket Options

Pet Bereavement Support

We recognise that losing your pet can be distressing and is often a very difficult time.

Losing a pet can trigger the grieving process in a similar way to losing a family member. Many of us see our pets as members of the family, and their loss can result in feelings of intense sadness and loneliness.

If you are having difficulty coping with the loss of your pet, the Blue Cross runs a Pet Bereavement Support Service, along with a helpline on 0800 096 6606, which can offer you help.

Cat’s Protection also offers a Paws to Listen advice service and  helpline on 0800 024 9494.

Pet Bereavement Packs

We offer Pet Bereavement Packs to help support you during this difficult time. They contain;

  • Leaflets with advice on putting your pet to sleep and coping when the time comes;
  • Details of the individual cremation casket options;
  • A Blue Cross card and bereavement leaflet;
  • Forget Me Not seeds to plant in remembrance of your pet.


Please ask a member of the team if you would like one of our Pet Bereavement Packs.