Veterinarian Explains What Pets Do Before Passing Away

Having to say goodbye to your pet isn’t easy, particularly if that pet is in a significant amount of misery and pain. In that case, putting them down is sometimes the only option. While it is a difficult decision, it’s typically the most humane option for certain situations.

One viral post from a South African veterinary hospital in 2018 spoke to those difficulties and the hard truths of putting a pet down. Additionally, we’ve added some advice from a March 2021 Los Angeles Daily News piece that might help pet owners decide if euthanasia is the right option. This article was updated in April 2021.

Although putting a pet down is often in the best interest of the pet, that doesn’t alleviate the uncomfortable and distressing feelings that come with it. This moment can be so emotional that many owners avoid being there the moment their pet is actually put down. They say goodbye to their pets before leaving them with the veterinarian to take care of everything else.

However, a veterinarian’s post, shared by The Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital in South Africa, wants pet owners to reconsider their decision to leave their pets alone in their darkest hour.

In a post reposted by the hospital’s Facebook page, the veterinarian shares that in almost every situation, pets will die before their owners. In the event that the owner has to take their animal to be put down, the veterinarian shares that while it is without a doubt a sad time for the owners, being put down is the saddest moment in a pet’s life.

For pets, their owners are with them for their entire life, while pets are only with their owners for a portion of the owner’s life. While it is emotionally trying for owners to witness their pet being put down, for pets, being left on death’s door alone and afraid is the worst feeling they might ever experience. The vet goes on to share:

“The thing you people need to know…is that THEY SEARCH FOR YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE THEM BEHIND!!!!”

After pets are left alone to be put down, they search frantically for their owners, hoping to find a familiar face. They’re afraid and alone and they don’t know why. The vet shares that owners that think that they couldn’t bear to watch their pets be put down are cowards. These pets are at their most vulnerable and vets are the only ones that are able to comfort them and try to explain why their owners left them alone, as they sit minutes away from being put down.

Instead of avoiding having to face their pets as they die, it’s essential for owners to stay with them. While this moment will be painful, owners have the joy of being able to comfort their pets as they take their next step in life.

Signed “from a tired broken-hearted vet”, the veterinarian’s message immediately went viral. The post has gained more than 100,000 shares since Hillcrest reposted it in 2018. This veterinarian shed some light on a subject most of us would rather avoid.

In a March 2021 column for the Los Angeles Daily, Jack Hagerman of the Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA had some more advice for pet owners considering euthanasia.

“Before your dog gets to the point where euthanasia is a consideration, and you’re still fairly calm, write a list of what gives them a good quality of life,” he writes. “Decide how many of those points they can be without in old age and still enjoy their life.”

Along with considering other factors — like pain and cost of veterinary care — you can make a more informed decision.

What do you think about this vet’s call to action? Have you ever faced such a difficult decision? If so, how did you handle it? Let us know — and pass this on to other pet owners to get their takes on the matter.

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