How to Prepare for the Loss of a Pet: The Steps of Euthanasia

Are you facing the difficult decision to end your pet’s life and looking for ways to prepare yourself? The team at Passionimo provides you with a kind and sensible explanation of the expected steps.

The entire Passionimo team knows that euthanasia is a difficult and heart-wrenching decision. Many members of our team had to make this hard decision themselves. Your veterinary team is there to support and guide you through the steps.

To help you prepare for the process of euthanasia, the following will explain the various steps. Please remember that we are available to support you through every single one of them.

Once the decision is made

After discussing it with your loved ones and your veterinarian, reading on the topic, and reflecting carefully on the possible options, if you choose to euthanize your pet, we highly recommend that you book an appointment. Several veterinary facilities have a room reserved for this purpose where you and your pet can be properly taken care of.

Although we are aware that this is a difficult topic, we recommend that you find out about the cremation options available so you make a choice prior to the procedure, as you may not be in the right frame of mind to make such a decision on the day of the procedure.

Depending on your wishes or those of your family, there are a few options available:

  • Choose a regular cremation. In such case, your pet will receive a communal cremation, meaning that other pets’ remains will be included in the cremation oven designed for this purpose. In such case, you cannot retrieve the ashes.
  • Choose an individual cremation so you can retrieve your pet’s ashes in an urn after the cremation. There is now a wide variety of urns allowing you to choose the one that suits you the most.
  • Choose to be present for the individual cremation of your beloved companion at the crematorium.
  • Keep a memento such as a paw print in clay, a pet hair ornament, etc. For more information, you can browse the websites of pet crematoriums (e.g. or to select the item of your choice.
  • Retrieve your pet’s remains for burial in a pet cemetery. It’s important to note that some municipalities have enacted by-laws restricting and/or governing the disposal of pets on their territory.

Other options may be available. Please see the Passionimo team.

Before the procedure

First and foremost, please know that it’s up to you to decide if you want to be in attendance. If you choose to be there, you may bring your pet’s favourite pillow or blanket for comfort. Do not hesitate to ask a friend or family member to come with you to support you through this difficult time. Many pet owners prefer to not be present during the procedure, which is completely normal. Rest assured that your pet will be treated well.

Upon your arrival at the clinic, you will have authorization forms to complete because euthanasia is a controlled act with legal administrative requirements. To avoid this step after the procedure, you will be asked to pay your invoice upfront. Which will include the procedure and the cremation fees.

If at that moment, you have doubts or no longer feel comfortable with your decision, please do not hesitate to inform the veterinary team.

When the time comes

You still have the opportunity to stay with your pet during and after the procedure or not. Depending on your pet’s status and stress level, the veterinary team may administer a tranquillizer or place an intravenous catheter before performing the procedure. The goal is always to minimize stress for the animal and for the procedure to go smoothly.

The procedure is done by injection of very powerful drugs that was used as an anesthetic before, which will lead first to unconsciousness and to respiratory and cardiac arrest. The process is usually quite quick and painless. The needle used for bigger dogs is of a larger size, which can be a more difficult experience for those suffering from a fear of needles. If that’s your case, please do not hesitate to alert the team.

Once your pet has passed, we will check all vital signs, including the heart beat with a stethoscope. The eyes will probably stay open. The body will lose all tonus and turn limp. Sphincters will relax and could release some feces and urine. That’s why the veterinary team will make sure to lay some towels or blankets around your companion.

For your family and you, the grieving process starts here.

You can spend as much time as you need with your pet after the procedure. You will most likely experience a flood of emotions: a deep sorrow and feeling of emptiness, guilt, frustration, or even relief in the case of a sick pet. This is the utmost normal, and don’t hold back your tears. Please know that we often cry ourselves when we lose patients, as they become like members of our family.

The body will be put in a clearly marked body bag and stored in a freezer intended for this purpose. Bodies are picked up by the crematorium team on a weekly basis with the utmost professionalism and respect.

The compassionate team will follow your wish for cremation services. If you opted out of the cremation services, please know that your pet’s remains will still be treated with the utmost respect. For individual cremation, meaning that you want to retrieve the ashes, the veterinary clinic will contact you when they receive the urn. For your family and you, the grieving process starts here. Grieving a beloved pet is very similar to grieving a loved one. You will experience feelings of nostalgia, especially at moments of the day that you would normally share with your furry friend, like your morning routine, your evening walk, meal and snack times… There are several books and support groups on grief available. Here are a few book recommendations for you.

Lastly, please know that you are not alone. As animal health care professionals, pets are our passion. We have all been through the loss of a loyal companion and we understand how difficult it is. The pain will ease, but the fond memories will stay. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Help services

Grief Support Service at the DMV Veterinary Centre
1 800 463-8555

Ordre des psychologues du Québec
1 800 561-1223

Suggested readings

  • CARLOS, France. Le deuil animalier, Saint-Constant, Broquet, 2008, 196 p.
  • PION, Lynne. Est-ce que tout le monde meurt?, 1re édition, Québec, Éditions du trèfle à 4 feuilles, 2011, 80 p.
  • LAVERGNE, Annique. Le deuil suite à la perte d’un animal de compagnie, Psychologues Consultants Y2.

Have more questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact the Passionimo veterinary clinic near you.