How To Prepare For Your Dog’s Death

This is the tough, heartbreaking part of being a dog parent — preparing and for and helping your dog at the end of life.

  Death is a tough subject to cover for anyone in your family, including your furry best friend. Your dog is someone you’ve been with since the beginning and together you’ve likely gotten through some rough patches and experienced some really fun ones too! It’s hard to think that their time here is so short, you want them to be around forever to hug, snuggle, and play with, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case.   If your dog is at the end of life, Vet Set is here to help provide care and act as a resource for all your needs in this extremely difficult time. Our vet hospital has empathetic staff members in an environment that is calming. Take a moment, sit with your dog, and read more about how you can better prepare for your dog’s death.

Preparing For The Day

  If your dog is in the last stage of their life, you know the day is coming, but how do you prepare for it? Below we’ll touch on some considerations, but everyone grieves and handles things differently, so there is no right or wrong way.   Plan for arrangements   Just as you would with a human, making arrangements is a large part in the end-of-life care. Although this is the last thing you want to think of, you want to arrange what you’ll do with the body after your dog passes.   Doing this ahead of time takes some of the stress out of the equation so you have more time to grieve rather than spend energy trying to make decisions. Many options are available including burial, cremation, and veterinary disposal. If you have any questions about what these entail, you can connect with your local vet for more information.   Keep in mind that each option may come with additional decisions or tasks such as health department approval, burial urns, or special caskets, so doing this ahead of time can make things easier.   Talk with all the members in your family, and together, come up with the ideal way to honor your dog after they pass.   Make Your Dog Comfortable   Depending on where they’re at, make your dog feel as comfortable and cherished as possible. This is giving them all the TLC in the end stages with lots of blankets, delicious treats, and helpful pain management products such as CBD.   Connect with your vet and discuss other ways to make your dog comfortable or if any other measures may be needed.     Prepare Emotionally   This is the step that none of us will ever get right because there is no right way, and even trying to prepare yourself we’ll never be the same as the day it happens. So, in all the sadness and grief, allow yourself to feel all the feels. Truthfully, you may feel ready and prepared, and then the day comes and you realize it’s completely different than you thought.   Look into the stages of grief and look for support from your family and friends — be with those who loved your dog and reminisce over funny stories and photos.   Inform Your Children   Whether your kids are young or are away at college, it’s important to talk to them about where your dog is at and to help prepare them for the death. It’s important to talk about it beforehand so they can also have a chance to prepare and say their goodbyes.   Depending on the age of your children, you may have to answer some heavy and big questions, so it’s important that you prepare ahead of time, yet still talk openly and honestly with them.   Make Time   Our lives are stressful and hectic and in these moments, remember to pause and take time away to spend them with your dying dog. In the end, no one ever laments that they spent too much time with them at the end, so get some quality time in. If they’re up for it, take them on their favorite walk or play with them in the yard and enjoy these last moments.   Feeding them their favorite treats and just snuggling with your furry friend is cathartic for you both — being present with your dog and nearby can be comforting as you let them know that you’re by their side.   Create Keepsakes   When your dog is near the end, this is the time to take some photos and make some keepsakes. Oftentimes, people will have a cast of their paw print made, or if your dog has long hair, collect it and make it into a hat or scarf. Whatever makes sense for you, create a memento that you can remember your dog by.     Planning for and making arrangements for the death of your dog is one of the toughest and most painful experiences to go through, but it’s important to help guide and comfort your companion in this time.   Once they are gone take the time and remember the good and cherished time you had with them. Look at pictures and surround yourself with loved ones to tell tales of the good ol’ days or grab a box of tissues and watch Marley and Me!  

If your dog is near the end, there are many things we can do to help in this transition. Connect with us today and learn about our services.  

When Should I Consider Euthanasia For My Pet?

Deciding when it’s the right time to say goodbye to your pet is one of the hardest decisions we make as pet owners.  For some, it’s a difficult, but an obvious decision based upon the pet’s deteriorating condition.  But for other pets with chronic ailments the decision can be hazy.   As a veterinarian it’s important to me to have an ongoing conversation and dialog with my pet parents about the pet’s quality of life.  My belief is quality of life is more important than quantity of life during the final few days, weeks, or months.  But we need to have a way to assess how a pet is doing and evaluate their quality of life.  Veterinarian Dr. Katie Hilst developed the JOURNEY’s Quality of Life Scale for pets.  Utilizing the important facets of quality of life listed below we can quantify a pet’s quality of life.
  • She is experiencing chronic pain that cannot be controlled with medication (your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is in pain)
  • He has frequent vomiting &/or diarrhea that is causing dehydration &/or weight loss.
  • She has stopped eating or will only eat if your force feed her
  • She is incontinent to the point that she frequently soils herself
  • She has lost interest in all or most of her favorite activities, such as going for walks, playing with toys or other pets, eating treats or soliciting attention and petting from family members.
  • She cannot stand on her own or falls down when trying to walk
  • She has chronic labored breathing or coughing
If your pet is experience one or more of these in varying degrees using the JOURNEY scale can help quantify your pet’s quality of life; however, it’s still important to have an open dialog with your veterinarian.  Your veterinarian can help counsel you and support you during this difficult decision.

What to expect…

  Euthanasia is quick, painless, and peaceful.  I truly believe we treat our terminally ill pets with compassion with the goal of alleviating pain and suffering allowing our pets to die peacefully at home with their loved ones.  Your veterinarian will explain what medications will be given to your pet.  Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have about your pet’s euthanasia.  In-home euthanasia can take place wherever you wish in your home.  In some situations your veterinarian may want to set an IV catheter to ensure the vein is patent.  In many cases, a trained veterinary technician will hold your pet for the procedure. The veterinary technician has the skill needed to properly hold your pet so that the process goes quickly and smoothly.  Your veterinarian and technician will need space to work and keep your pet comfortable, but they will assist you in finding a place where your pet can see, hear, and feel you. The Vet Set veterinarians administer pets a sedative prior to administering the euthanasia solution.  Many terminally ill pets are in chronic pain and distress, and the sedative helps them relax for their final moments.  The euthanasia solution used is an overdose sodium pentobarbital which quickly causes unconsciousness and then gently stops the heartbeat.  The euthanasia solution is given IV either in the front or back leg at your veterinarian’s discretion.  The injection itself is not painful.  Once the injection is given the heart stops beating in a matter of seconds to minutes.  Your veterinarian will confirm your pet’s heart has stopped beating by listening with a stethoscope.  It’s not uncommon for mild muscle twitching to take place, or for the bowels or bladder to empty.  This is not cause for concern.  Your veterinarian will then ask if you want some time alone with your pet.

Saying Goodbye

  Once you’ve made the difficult decision to euthanize your pet all family members should have the time to say their private goodbyes.  Putting your pet to sleep can be the first exposure your children have to death, and explaining and helping them through the grieving process is important.  Books that address the subject, such as When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers or Remembering My Pet by Machama Liss-Levinson and Molly Phinney Baskette, may be very beneficial in helping your child to deal with this loss.  The euthanasia itself is very personal, and your veterinarian is there to help support you in this difficult time.  It’s important that you and your pet are comfortable for a home euthanasia.  Other pets in the household are generally aware that their companion is ill.  Some pets will want to be near and some will want to sniff them after the euthanasia, and I believe this behavior is normal and warranted.  I also think it helps with the other pet’s grieving process of losing their companion.

Pet Cremation and Burial

  The Vet Set will help you coordinate how to have your pet’s body handled.  Cremation is the most common request, and you can decide whether you wish to have your pet’s ashes returned to you in a private cremation.  Burial is another but less common choice for your pet.  Burial in the backyard is sometimes considered, but check with your local ordinances.


  Losing a pet is just as hard as losing a family member or close friend.  Grief can come in all shapes and forms, and it can surface in waves.  Sadly, some people don’t understand the pain that comes from losing a pet, but most people have compassion for the impact pet loss can have on your life.  Some people seek out counseling, and there are people who specialize in pet bereavement.  If you’re having a difficult time please reach out to your family, friends, or veterinarian for support.  There’s no reason you should grieve alone.   Euthanasia is a final gift of compassion to our terminally ill pets.  We are able to make the decision with our veterinarian when it’s appropriate to take away their pain and suffering.  It’s a difficult decision, and one that should be undertaken with the guidance of your veterinarian.  If you have further questions about your pet’s quality of life or home euthanasia please reach out to The Vet Set or your veterinarian.

Pet Parent Information

Last Name

Zip Code

Pet Information


Additional pets?

To make an appointment, please call us at (917) 741-4737 or
email us at

Powered by Top Rated Local®