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Planning for End of Life
Making the decision to assist in the death of your companion animal may be one of the most difficult decisions you ever make. Some individuals have a spiritual, religious or personal belief system that does not support euthanasia. For others it is considered a thoughtful and humane decision.
It can be helpful to do some planning ahead of time to enable you to focus your energy and love on your animal. Creating plans does not mean you are giving up hope, but rather allows you to finalize the decision making so that your attention to your pet is uninterrupted.
While people often hope for the pet to close their eyes and die peacefully in their sleep, this is rarely the case due to the effects of the pet's disease on the body systems. Instead, a natural death may be prolonged and possibly upsetting to witness. Euthanasia can provide you with some control over the circumstances of your pet's death, control that a natural death may eliminate. Gathering information can be helpful to prepare you for this difficult day.

​Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian

  • What are the details of the euthanasia procedure?
  • What are options for the location of the euthanasia?
  • How far in advance should the appointment be scheduled?
  • Does the veterinarian you wish to perform the euthanasia have times or days that he or she will not be available?
  • What is a back-up plan in case your pet has an emergency? Who should you call or go to?
  • What would a natural death look like for your pet, considering the animal's disease process?

Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Family

  • Who will be there?
  • Where will the euthanasia occur? At your home, at a veterinary hospital, outside, under a favorite tree?
  • Which veterinarian will help?
  • What are your wishes for the care of your pet's body? Some options may include private or group cremation, burial at a cemetery or at home, or having your veterinary clinic care for the body.
  • Would you like to have a necropsy, the animal version of an autopsy, performed? This can sometimes provide answers to questions you have about your pet's illness or injury.
  • How would you like to say goodbye and memorialize your pet? This is key in helping you grieve, especially for children. Some people will hold a memorial service, read a poem, plant a tree, or write a story of their pet's life. Perhaps you would like to make a clay or ink imprint of your pets paw or cut a clipping of hair to save. These can be placed in a special display box as a memorial.

​Involving children in decision-making discussions can help them to express their wishes and encourage them to discuss their feelings. 


Webinar on Making End-of-Life Decisions

We love our animals and, for many of us, our pets are part of our families. When our pets become ill or are aging, we are often faced with one of the most difficult decisions we have to make on their behalf—an end-of-life decision. Defining quality of life for you and for them is imperative in making this decision. This webinar is designed to empower you in making the right decision for your pet and for your family.​



Girl kissing yellow lab


Contact Us:
Colorado State University
Veterinary Teaching Hospital
300 West Drake Road
Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523

​(970) 297-1242

(970) 297-1205

If you are at the CSU VTH:
Ask for your medical team to introduce us or have a receptionist page us.
If you are outside of the CSU VTH:
Call our clinic line at: (970) 297-1242