Hollygate Vets's home page
  • Call our surgery02890 817109
  • Out of hours02890 651729

Time to Say Goodbye

We're here to help

Making the Decision

At times it is a sad fact that we have to say goodbye to our pets, whether that be because they have sadly passed away on their own due to natural causes, or we have made the difficult decision to let them go on behalf of your pet. Whatever the circumstances we at Hollygate Veterinary Clinic strive to make this as compassionate and as painless as possible for both you and your pet.

It is all too often so difficult to decide when the time is right to have your pet put to sleep, however, if he or she is unwell we will do our upmost to give you the facts about their illness or injuries along with the long term possible outcomes. Sometimes this comes suddenly and it can be difficult to take the information in at the time when unexpected events happen. We aim to give advice on the best care that is possible and the options for available treatments or investigations, however, ultimately you are responsible for deciding on the right time. It is very difficult for us as veterinarians to truly know when your pet’s quality of life has deteriorated.

You live with your pet day in, day out and because of the close bond you have with them you know them inside out. We will always try to take these points into consideration when helping you to decide when the time is right to say goodbye. If you are concerned that things have changed or you are worried that your pet is unhappy at home, all of our vets and nurses are on hand to talk to you and give you the advice you may need. Please don’t hesitate to make an appointment or ring us to discuss any concerns you may have.

If your pet is struggling or suffering, it is never the wrong time to end this. Caring for animals as owners or as vets and nurses, it is so very frustrating not to know what they are thinking or what they want. Frequently we get to know them as both their owner or their carer and we get to see their expressions and mannerisms. When overwhelmed with the emotions of making a decision, we often bypass these and we must always take into consideration what is best for them and not ignore their plea for help. It is never the wrong decision to end suffering but it may be the wrong decision to continue their helpless plea for help because of our potential for guilt. Ending suffering and pain can never be the wrong thing to do in the interests of your pet’s welfare. It will undoubtedly bring bad feelings for us, but rarely, if ever for them.

Often the fear of the unknown is what makes the decision difficult and we appreciate it is hard to imagine what may happen, so we will try to talk you through the event and make it as smooth as possible. Often it is easier to make an appointment at a quiet time of the day rather than in a busy clinic and should you wish to have this done at home we will do our upmost to arrange a house visit for you at a time that suits. This will perhaps need some prior planning so we can make sure our staff are available and not leaving the clinic and other animals without veterinary attention.

The process

Firstly, we will discuss the reasons for coming to this decision. This is a chance to go into as much or as little detail as you choose. For some people, once the decision has been made no further discussion is required, for others there are numerous questions to ask. We will be led by you in this and all of us are more than happy to talk to you about anything. Please do not ever feel anything is irrelevant, we are here for you as much as we are for your pet.

Some people choose to stay with them and some do not. No decision is wrong, it is entirely a personal preference which at Hollygate we respect. Please be rest assured that if you do not wish to be present the vet dealing with your pet will be entirely respectful and reassuring and one of our experienced nurses will also be there to make them comfortable and calm in the way they do every day whilst caring for them.

The process itself is very peaceful, and we will do everything to ensure that it is. Every animal has a different personality and every situation has different circumstances. Should your pet be particularly stressed or anxious we can give them a sedative to ensure they are as relaxed and as comfortable as possible.

You may not even be aware of the details at the time, but we will clip a small are on their leg and perhaps insert an intravenous catheter so that when the time comes they will be totally unaware of anything that is happening. You can hold them yourself and any of the family be with them closely at the time. We will administer the injection and they will feel just the same as if going under an anaesthetic. Quickly and gently they will be asleep; unaware, pain free and at rest.

We will allow you and your family as much time as you wish to say your final goodbyes.

As pet owners ourselves, all the staff have been there at times in our lives with our own much loved pets. We have experienced what you will be feeling and can empathize honestly and with compassion being by your side through this difficult time.

No doubt we will have been with you in the upcoming days and weeks, especially if your pet has been to see us regularly for treatment, therefore, we will understand what it has taken to come to this decision and what he or she has been through, not to mention the care and commitment you have given them. In this time please feel free to call in and talk to us about your pet, not everyone will understand what you have been through, but we all do.

When your pet dies, how you may feel...

Sadly, death is an evitable part of pet ownership that at some point we all have to think about.

As with any bereavement, the death of a much loved pet can be devastating and an enormous loss. To some the pet may have become a member of the family, a companion, a friend, – and if you were close to your pet it is normal to have the reactions to their loss that you may experience in the death of a person i.e. shock, disbelief, anger, pain, hurt, sadness, guilt and overwhelming grief.

If you have to make a decision to have your pet put to sleep there can very often be an overwhelming feeling of guilt. However, making that decision shows the massive eternal love you had for them and the ability you had to put your pet’s care and wellbeing before your own thoughts of loss. They would understand that and if they could talk to you they would more than likely be saying thank you.

For some people losing a pet makes them feel sad and they will shed a few tears. For others the impact is huge and deep feelings of despair and loneliness can last for weeks to months. First reactions are of numbness and shock. When the full impact of a loss sinks in, you may experience really strong feelings of sadness.

As with any bereavement it is important for you to have someone to talk to who does understand what you are feeling and what the loss of your pet has meant to you. They contribute to our lives in many different ways in the form of companionship, relaxation, protection and exercise and they may even be a link with important events in our lives.

Talking about your feelings at the beginning may be difficult – meeting people in the street, family visiting, daily routines and empty food dishes can be painful reminders of the loss.

When the pain has eased a little and you begin to talk about your loved one and the many happy memories shared, the path to recovery has begun. Rather than deny these feelings it is important to acknowledge what your companion has meant to you and remember them fondly. They will never be forgotten. Throughout their time with you their love was unconditional and they gave you a chance to love them back. This is what matters, and although losing a pet is extremely difficult, you will always have special memories to cherish that nobody can take away.

Give yourself time to grieve and remember your pet in whichever way helps – talking, writing, looking at photos. Some people find that in time they want to get another pet but don’t rush into this as you need time to come to terms with your loss otherwise it may be something you regret doing too quickly.

Is there anyone I can talk to?

You can ring us or call in at any time and we understand what a difficult time it is. The Blue Cross, one of the oldest animal welfare charities provide advice on bereavement. Their helpline is open daily 8.30 to 5pm, with an answerphone outside these hours and contactable on 0800 0966606.

The following links may be of some use to you at this time:

>> Pets Farewell

>> The Blue Cross Pet Loss

>> The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support

>> The Society of Companion Animal Studies Coping With Pet Loss

>> The Society Of Companion Animal Studies Pet Loss

What options do i have for cremation and what happens to my pet?

Everyone feels very differently about these options and your decision has to be what suits your personal choice and we will try our best to accommodate your needs.

We use the services of a very well respected and trustworthy crematorium called Pets Farewell. They are based in Moira and we will coordinate the arrangements for his or her cremation and return of ashes should this be the option you choose.

  • There are however, some options for you to consider –
    Home burial – remember that if you move house you will have to leave them behind
  • Communal Cremation – Allow us to arrange for ashes to be scattered in a garden of remembrance after group cremation at the crematorium. This does however, mean you cannot have your own pet’s ashes returned.
  • Private Cremation – have an individual private cremation arranged which means that only your pet will be placed in the chamber and being cremated alone. This allows you to either scatter their ashes in a favourite place or always keep them with you in a casket or special tribute box.

Our team can advise you on the options available and coordinate everything for you with the crematorium at Pets Farewell.

Private and individual cremation and return of ashes

There are many options available in terms of caskets, tribute boxes and scatter tubes.

Scatter tubes – these beautifully designed tubes are ideal for burial or scattering that ashes of your loved one in that special place.

Scatter Pouches – hand woven in natural bamboo; an eco-friendly, biodegradable container for pet ashes scattering or burial.

Carved Caskets – Discreet wooden carvings that can hold the ashes of your companion.

Hardwood Caskets – These traditional caskets come in both light wood and dark wood, each casket is supplied with an engraving plate with wording of your choice.

Photographic Tributes – Ideal for displaying a picture of your loved one.

Urns – Beautiful and stylish porcelain and wooden urns.

Engraving – We are able to engrave a variety of plates with the inscription of your choice. These can be mounted onto a casket or left loose. (Engraving plates are available in either bronze or silver)
For a small additional charge we are also able to engrave your choice of silhouette into the corners (cat, dog, heart, paw prints, flower etc) alongside your chosen inscription.

Remember when thinking about the words you would like engraved to make sure that no matter what you put that it comes from the heart.

Below are some suggestions:

  • Beloved friend
  • Loyal friend
  • You left your pawprints on our heart.
  • Your pawprints are forever on my heart.
  • Too well loved to ever be forgotten
  • Loving memories that will last us forever
  • Sweet memories
  • You gave us a lifetime of love
  • Always in our hearts
  • Always loved and missed
  • Run free little one
  • Sleep peacefully
  • At rest

The crematorium we use at Hollygate Veterinary Clinic

For more information on all the services available please visit their website Pets Farewell

Owned and managed by
Ian and Karen Matthews
6 Grovehill Road
BT67 0PW

Tel – 028 9261 2109

'' To live in the heart of those left behind is not to die ''.

A Pet's Peace

I have left you now
but please don’t be sad
You gave me all the love you had.
You did so much for me in my time here
and I’ll always hold those precious times near.
I know someday you’ll find love again
and into your life will come a new friend.
Your heart will heal, though you’ll never forget
memories like the first time we met.
Memories are wonderful, so keep them close
and remember all the good times the most.
Up in the Heaven for animals is where I’ll be
and someday in the future, each other we will see.
I am at PEACE now, so please don’t be sad
you gave me all the love you had.

By: Tracy M Johnson