Petworks Veterinary Services

End-of-Life Care

Coping with the impending loss of a pet is one of the most difficult experiences a pet parent will face. Whether your furry friend is approaching his golden years or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, it’s important to calmly guide the end-of-life experience and minimize any discomfort or distress.

Overland Park KS Petworks Veterinary Clinic

We not only love our dogs, cats, and other pets, they are members of our families. Whether you love to go on walks with your dog or cuddle up in bed with your cat, having a pet enriches our lives beyond measure.

So, it can be incredibly heartbreaking when we see them grow old before our eyes or endure a terrible illness or injury. Understandably, one of the hardest things any pet parent must cope with is the death and dying of their furry family members. Unfortunately, sometimes pet parents must make the difficult decision to ease their pet’s suffering by helping them say goodbye.

We at Petworks Veterinary Hospital understand how tough end-of-life care can be for anyone and how it can personally affect pet parents and their families. Often there is no single correct answer to when you should elect to euthanize a pet who is suffering from a debilitating illness or pain. We are here to help our patients and their families to make their pet’s final days comfortable and peaceful.

When Should I Seek End-of-Life Care for my Pet?

There is no question that our dogs, cats, and other pets bring our families love and joy. So, when we start to see their health fade either gradually or suddenly, it can be a difficult or confusing time as your pet nears the end of their lives. At Petworks Veterinary Hospital we want to help guide our families during this complicated time. We, by no means, believe that there is a single definitive decision that exactly fits every pet parent’s individual situation. Families must consider many factors in taking care of their terminally ill or dying pet. You and your loved ones may need more time to grieve, say goodbye, cuddle your cat one last time, or take your dog on a final epic road trip. This time in your pet’s life can be sad and confusing not only for a pet but also for their families. Often pet parents are understandably unsure if or when they should take steps to seek end-of-life or palliative care for their pet. Listed below are some of the more common signs that a family may need to seek veterinary or end-of-life care for their pet:



  • Diagnosed with a Terminal Illness
  • Obvious Pain or Suffering
  • Your Pet is Actively Dying
  • Can No Longer Walk or Stand
  • Has Stopped Eating or Drinking
  • Has Become Incontinent or Unable to Control Their Bowels
  • Has Become Listless
  • Has Become Confused or Aggressive
  • No Longer Seeks Attention or Love
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Sudden Weight Loss
  • Frequent Vomiting and/or Diarrhea

Palliative Care for your Pet

End-of-life care does not just mean euthanasia. Many of our families need and have the opportunity to care for their pet’s final days over days, weeks, and sometimes months. The staff at Petworks Veterinary Hospital strive to respect our family’s beliefs as we help them initiate comfort care for their pet’s final days. For families and pet parents who wish to take the time to adjust, we do offer to teach them how to initiate homecare for their pet’s declining health. Where appropriate, our veterinarians can provide pain medications for your cat or dog to help ease their discomfort and help them enjoy their final days with their families.

Euthanasia for your Pet

The sad truth is that sometimes our pet’s health and quality of life deteriorates beyond what is viably fixable. Whether our pets are struggling with the ill effects of advanced age, facing a terminal diagnosis, or suffering from a significant injury, sometimes the best thing we can do is ease their pain through euthanasia. Our veterinarians never come to such a decision lightly. As pet parents ourselves, we understand how difficult it can be to say goodbye to our dogs, cats, and other pets that have brought so much joy into their lives. Bearing this in mind, our veterinarians take the time to discuss your concerns about your pet’s failing health with you and your family. Unfortunately, sometimes, despite our best efforts to provide quality comfort care, there is nothing that can be done to alleviate your pet’s pain or improve their declining quality of life. In these cases, where a pet’s suffering has become too unbearable, many families and pet parents make the difficult decision to seek end-of-life care through euthanasia.

What to Expect when Saying Goodbye to your Pet

With compassionate sensitivity, the staff of Petworks Veterinary Hospital provides end-of-life care in the privacy of one of our exam rooms. This offers a quiet setting that allows our families to spend their final moments with their pets in an atmosphere of peace and love. Our veterinarians will then explain the procedure we use to euthanize your pet. We encourage all families and pet parents to ask any question during this time to better help them understand their pet’s end-of-life care. Families with children or more sensitive members can decide whether they wish to be present for the euthanizing procedure. This is a personal choice, with no correct answer for this difficult situation. Many families find witnessing their furry loved one’s final breath too unbearable. However, if you want to come back after the procedure is done and after your pet has passed away, that is perfectly acceptable. Pet parents and family members who wish to stay in the room for their pet’s final moments are also encouraged if such a choice is right for them.

When we get ready for the end-of-life procedure, we help our families that stay in the room find a position of comfort for themselves and their pets. Smaller pets like cats and small dogs can be held by their families in their laps or on the exam tables. Larger dogs can be comforted by their families on the exam table or the floor, depending on their pet’s and family’s comfort level. In cases where families need assistance or are too distraught to stay in the room, our veterinary staff will hold and console your pet during the procedure.

During the euthanasia procedure, our veterinarians inject your pet with medication intravenously (in their vein) to painlessly stop your pet’s heart and respiratory function. The medicine helps them fall asleep peacefully before they pass away. The procedure is painless, but your pet may experience shivering, uneven breathing before it cease, vomiting, or loss of bladder or bowel functions. These symptoms are normal and are not cause for alarm.

In the time after your pet initially passes away, our staff maintains our family’s privacy to give them the space they need to begin their initial grieving process. We provide a safe, quiet environment to allow you and your family to grieve while you say goodbye to your pet. We understand that words cannot capture the sheer enormity of your loss, but we are here to help you mourn. In addition, we would be more than happy to provide you with memory items like paw prints, fur clippings, and paw impressions if you so desire.

Final Word for End-of-Life Care for your Pet

The staff at Petworks Veterinary Hospital understands that seeking end-of-life care is one of the hardest decisions that you will have to make for your pet. However, please know that you do not have to go through this alone. Allow our expert veterinary team the chance to help you and your pet through this difficult time.

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