Posts Tagged ‘euthanasia’

   As pet owners, the last thing we want to think about is the day we say “good-bye” to our beloved dog or cat. Especially as pets are living longer — sometimes as long as 15 to 20 years — they are more and more becoming a steadfast part of our lives: children grow up with their pets, and older pet owners rely on the familiar company of a dog or cat to keep them company as kids leave the nest.

   Inevitably, the time comes when a pet’s health declines beyond the point where medical intervention is helpful. When that happens, whether suddenly or over a period of time, the pet owner is faced with a heartbreaking decision: how and when to help the pet pass away through euthanasia.

   The “when” decision is typically made with the guidance of a veterinarian, who assists you in evaluating your pet’s quality of life and lets you know when further medical treatment will be futile.

   The “how” decision provides more room for choice, unless the decision to euthanize a pet (i.e., put it to sleep) is being made in an emergency setting.

   Historically, pet owners have relied on the family veterinarian to provide euthanasia services. Clients choose this method because they want to use the veterinarian they trust, in a familiar clinical setting. On the other hand, some pet owners will choose a veterinary clinic they have never been to before, and do not plan to return to after the euthanasia. The reason? They do not wish to return to a place with the unhappy memory of their pet’s last moments, and they also wish to separate those memories from their preferred veterinary clinic.

   A new option has arisen in recent years: in-home euthanasiaThis option works well for the following circumstances:

  • the pet is too large to move, and is incapable of walking on its own;
  • the pet owner wishes to be present for the pet’s final moments;
  • the pet owner would like complete privacy, which is difficult in a hospital;
  • the pet owner would like the pet to be in a comfortable, familiar setting, to ease the pet’s stress and fear;
  • the pet owner would like the option of having their other pets and family members present;
  • the pet owner needs to schedule the euthanasia outside of their veterinarian’s regular work hours;
  • the pet owner would like to determine how much time they can spend with their pet after the procedure.

   In-home euthanasia is a specialty practice offered by several Norfolk veterinarians (and elsewhere in Hampton Roads.) In addition to euthanasia and cremation services, some of these practitioners offer grief support.

Contact Us at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic for a list of the local specialty practices that offer in-home euthanasia, and learn whether this option is right for you and your pet.


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When your pet is treated on an outpatient basis (i.e. sent home after the treatment visit), the doctor will often request a progress report before the next examination visit. Determining the next step in your pet’s treatment will be assisted by your observation of your pet at home.

So what should you report about your sick or injured pet, and why is it important?

Let’s break down the possibilities, following outpatient care for illness or injury.

Here is what to look for:

A. Your pet recovers fully / its condition significantly improves and does not relapse.

*In this case, further treatment may not be needed; however, always check with the doctor.
*Do not assume that treatment has ended and do not stop giving your pet its medications just because it appears to feel better.
*Some drugs need to be tapered off, while others – such as antibiotics – should be given for the entire course, to prevent relapse or resistant microbes.
*In the case of chronic illness [diabetes, renal failure, etc.], treatment is ongoing to provide your pet with the best chance of a happy life and reduced symptoms of illness.

B. Your pet’s condition improves somewhat, but without complete recovery.

*Further diagnostics and treatment may be needed to give your pet the best chance at a full recovery, if possible.

C. Your pet’s condition improves and then deteriorates.

*Further diagnostics and treatment are needed.
*Sometimes, medication provides temporary relief, and then signs return after medication is finished.
*The doctor will need to determine if a different course of treatment is appropriate, or whether the pet has a chronic condition, which would require long-term treatment.

D. Your pet shows no sign of improvement or your pet’s condition worsens.

*Further diagnostics and treatment are needed.
*If your pet shows no improvement with any treatment method, it may be an indication that recovery is not possible and humane euthanasia may be elected.


It is vital to your pet’s health that you report your observations to the doctor or a staff member. If your pet does not recover or show significant lasting improvement, further steps can be taken, which may include referral to a veterinary hospital or appropriate specialist.
Remember, your pet’s doctor sees your pet for a very limited time in the veterinary clinic and has no information on your pet’s behavior or activity at home — where your pet spends the majority of its time — unless you share that information.
Together, we can work toward improving your pet’s health.


Questions about your pet’s condition or treatment regimen? If you are our client, please Contact Us. Otherwise, please contact your pet’s veterinarian, as we are unable to provide advice on cases outside of our clinic.

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A Rabies vaccination is a lifesaver for your pet — and it’s the law. Life is unpredictable — add wild or stray animals into the mix, and it can become downright chaotic at times.  You can’t control what happens to your pet all the time, but you can work toward better outcomes. Keeping your dog and cat up-to-date on Rabies boosters is just one way to protect your pets from an unexpected, aggressive animal encounter.

It looks cute - but this raccoon could be harboring a deadly virus. Photo by Gaby Muller.

It looks cute – but this raccoon could be harboring a deadly virus.
Photo by Gaby Muller.

Rabies is a fatal viral disease. It is transmitted through saliva (i.e. through biting) and travels through the nerves to the brain. Keep in mind that a pet cannot be tested for Rabies while alive. The test is conducted on the brain tissue of a deceased animal, only. For this reason, once a pet is bitten by an animal suspected of carrying Rabies, the pet is either quarantined and monitored closely for signs of disease (if its vaccine is current) or euthanized and tested for the virus (if the vaccine is lapsed or was never given.) In other words, if your pet is kept current on its vaccination, it is more likely to be spared from automatic euthanasia.

Rabies is considered a zoonotic health risk, since it can be transmitted from animals to humans. The laws requiring Rabies vaccination for dogs and cats are meant to benefit humans, as well. Even if you consider your pet to be 100% indoors-only, it still must receive the vaccination, under the law. Presumably, your pet leaves the house at least once a year to visit the veterinarian. An animal encounter can occur in your yard or at the doctor’s office. Or your pet may unexpectedly escape from the house and tangle with another animal. Or perhaps a member of your household will bring a new pet home, without knowing its vaccine or disease-exposure history.

Check your pet’s Rabies vaccine status now. Notice when it is due — or if it is overdue, call your veterinarian to schedule a booster. Don’t wait: you never know when trouble is hiding just around the corner.

Rabies cases reported this year in:
Virginia Beach………otter, raccoon, raccoon

Photo of raccoon by Gaby Müller, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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  • Toby
  • Marcy
  • Roxy
  • Siera
  • Qimmik
  • Becca
  • Lydia
  • Leo
  • Gino
  • Harley
  • Salt
  • Jasmine
  • Tiger
  • Peanut
  • Rooney
  • Nala
  • Lovey
  • Callie
  • Max
  • Fuzz
  • Peaches
  • Beanie
  • Bubbles
  • Sarge
  • Nitro
  • Thor
  • Charlie
  • Mini


  • Bogey
  • Scout
  • Simba
  • PuppyPuppy
  • Dino
  • Sheba
  • Chloe
  • Sparky


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New Arrivals:

  • Cody
  • CatDog
  • Dora
  • Brutus
  • Max
  • Mimi
  • Kitty Purry
  • Marilyn
  • Noodle
  • Mark
  • Pixie
  • Lacy
  • Titty
  • Roscoe
  • Stanley
  • Little Girl
  • Dash
  • Bailey
  • Ice-Lee


Fond Memories:

  • Buddy
  • Misty
  • Mona
  • Millie
  • Sebastian

webweaver flowers


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     Most of us will experience the rewards of pet ownership at some point in our lives.  Who can resist the fun of playing with a hyper kitten or a roly-poly puppy?  The bond we form with our pets can be as strong as any ties to our family and friends.  But because of this bond, we can experience very real and painful grief over the loss of our beloved pets.

     Whether the pet has lived a long, full life or one cut tragically short, the grieving process is the same.  There is no timetable to follow, no right way or wrong way to process the pet’s death – there is only your way, in your time.

     If you have lost a pet and feel you need the support of a group of people who understand what you’re going through or you’d like to speak privately to a trained grief support hotline staffer, these are the resources you need to know:

Whatever your level of need, someone is waiting to help you.  For face-to-face grief counseling, ask your physician to recommend a therapist.

Originally published on August 16, 2011.

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Each month, we welcome our new patients and remember the patients that have passed on.


  • Shoney
  • Penny
  • Todd
  • Salem
  • Eli
  • Sammy
  • Apollo
  • Zola
  • Rocky
  • Rusty
  • Saint
  • KK
  • Sugar
  • Uva
  • Luke
  • Miach
  • Asche
  • Goofy
  • Alex
  • Emerson
  • Sydney
  • Mischief
  • Champ
  • Diego
  • Creamsicle
  • Nina
  • Murph


  • Louie
  • Penelope
  • Florida Lee
  • Sadie

Image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.

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  • Zoe
  • Garskith
  • Sammy
  • DaVinci
  • Casey
  • Rascal
  • Rommell IV
  • Dakota
  • Miracle
  • Leelou
  • Emmy
  • Ava
  • Lucy
  • Tik
  • Tiger
  • Guiness
  • Atticus Finchley
  • Blue
  • Maddie
  • Perrita
  • Evans Yorkies
  • Koda
  • Pearl
  • Mazey
  • Felix
  • Albert


  • Suzie
  • TaiPan
  • Becky
  • Luke
  • Thad
  • Samantha
Image by The Graphics Fairy

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  • Lexi
  • Cash
  • Button
  • D.O.G.
  • Kuma
  • Lucy
  • Dizzle
  • Bella
  • Dallas
  • Luna
  • Rocco
  • Bella
  • Huney
  • Biggs
  • Buttercup
  • Cupcake
  • Gutz
  • Sadie
  • Remy
  • Leo
  • Bandit
  • Bambi
  • Buster
  • D.O.G.
  • Sam
  • Tinkerbelle
  • Nico
  • RayRay
  • Mary
  • Sisko
  • Cleo

(Note:  We met 2 Bellas and 2 D.O.G.s in March.)



  • Bridget
  • Rodman
  • Sammy
  • Gatsby

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     If your pet has a medical emergency, are you prepared to authorize treatment which can run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars?  Would you care if you never recouped any of the cost?  Or is there a chance you, like many others, may opt for  euthanasia if the cost of treatment is out of reach?  Maybe it’s time to consider pet health insurance.

     Personally, I’ve always thought of health insurance as a forced savings account into which I dump money and it doesn’t pay out unless something awful happens.  I have experience in that area, and I can say for certain that getting a refund check on a medical procedure is a rare pleasure, even though the reason for my visit to the doctor wasn’t a joy.

     Pet insurance is similar, to be sure.  You pay a monthly premium, secure in the knowledge the policy will be there for your pet in an emergency, all the while hoping nothing bad ever happens.  But bad things do happen, usually to good pets.  Now, if you have a pet that likes to shred your wardrobe, pee on your mother-in-law’s suitcase, and bite the lawyer next door, take heart:  your pet will probably live forever.  Or at least it will seem that way.  For all the rest, there’s pet insurance.

     If you like multiple choices and comparison shopping, you’re in luck:  we have information on six pet insurance companies licensed in Virginia.  I recommend stopping by our office to pick up their brochures so you can keep track of the companies as you research them.  For now, here are the six:

     One way in which pet insurance differs from human health insurance is expected payment.  In a human health setting, it is common practice for a doctor to bill the insurance company first and then bill the patient for the remainder.  In a pet health setting, the pet owner may be required to pay the full cost of service upon check-out.  At our office, full payment is required at the time of service.  We then file your claim for you (there is no fee for filing) and the insurance company reimburses you directly.     

     Part of preparedness in an emergency is knowing what is expected of you financially.  Pet insurance can certainly help put money back into your bank account after an emergency, but depending on hospital policy, it may not be a magical elixir you can use to pay your bills at check-out.  Because of this, I recommend you check with the local emergency hospital so you know whether full payment is expected at the time of service or whether they will file the insurance claim first.  Do not be surprised if it is the former.

     Only you can decide if pet health insurance is a wise investment.  I can offer that I have witnessed cases in which I was happy to see that a client had pet insurance and cases where it was a shame they did not.  In every case, the money was spent – but only the clients whose pets were insured saw a return on their investment.  ~~  Jen

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