Local Resources

We recognize that companion animals play an important role in all of our lives, and that they are an especially important source of support when we are experiencing other life challenges. The loss of a pet can bring up complex feelings and losing such a supportive friend in our lives can be difficult to cope with. Below is a list of local resource that we share in hope that no matter what you are experiencing, you know that there are options for asking for help either for yourself or someone you care about.

Community Outreach for Psychiatric Emergencies (COPE)/Local crisis response: mobile crisis team and phone consultation
Hennepin County: Call 612-596-1223 (adults 18+), 612-348-2233 (17 and younger)
Ramsey County: 651-266-7900
Anoka County: 763-755-3801
Carver/Scott Counties: 952-442-7601
Dakota County: 952-891-7171
Washington County: 651-275-7400

Crisis Text Line
24/7, free help across MN, connects to volunteer crisis counselor
Text HOME or START to 741 741

Minnesota Warmline
(Mon-Sat 5-10PM) confidential peer support from people living with mental health conditions
Call 651-288-0400, text Support to 85511

Walk-In Counseling Center
Free anonymous professional counseling, includes phone counseling
612-870-0565

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-8255, live chat line on website

Trans Lifeline
Peer run, connecting trans people for counseling
Call 877-565-8860

Tubman
Family violence safety planning, 24 hour crisis/resource line
Call 612-825-0000

Sexual Violence Center
24-hour crisis line
Call 612-871-5111 or 952-448-5425

The Bridge for Youth
Assists prevention and resolution of family conflict, provides shelter to unsheltered youth, LGBTQ friendly
Call 612-377-8800 or txt 612-400-SAFE

Red Door
Substance use, addiction, and other health resources
Call 612-543-5555

Southside Harm Reduction,
Another source for substance use, addiction, and harm-reduction supplies
Call/text 612-615-9725

Posted in Grieving the loss of a pet | Leave a comment

Clay Paw Print Alternatives

During the current COVID-19 crisis, MN Pets will continue to take significant precautions during home visits to reduce the potential risk of transmission and exposure. These precautions are crucial in keeping the doctor and her family, you and your family, and our other clients safe. Our doctors help several families throughout the week, and many of our clients are elderly or in a high-risk group.

One of the fundamental ways that we can help flatten the curve is to reduce the opportunities to expose ourselves and others to the virus. We have carefully identified how we can change our practices to eliminate those exposures as much as possible.

The main safety focuses are on maintaining social distance and eliminating things that could be objects for transmission. This includes authorization forms, pens, booklets, and payments.

We realize that the clay paw prints are one of the most cherished memorial objects, and we are currently able to offer them after a temporary pause. These paw prints are optional, and you may wish to decline the paw print due to the inherent risk of handling an object touched by someone else.

It is important to memorialize your pet in a way that feels right to you, and to support you in doing that, we want to provide ideas and options for creating your own memorial items before or after your visit that are safe, personalized, and meaningful for you:

  • Create your own clay paw print – MN Pets uses Crayola Model Magic, which can be found at most retailers and online. It can come in white, like we use, or multiple colors. It is easy to manipulate, air dries, and is safe for children to use, too.
  • Create homemade clay-dough – mix a cup of flour with a cup of salt and add water until you can knead the dough into a ball. Using wax paper, press the flattened dough onto your pet’s paw. Then bake at about 200 degrees for 2-3 hours, checking regularly. You can read more here. Because of the high salt content of homemade clay-dough, it can be toxic to pets who eat it, so be sure to keep it away from your other pets. 
  • Create an ink print – you can use a regular ink pad for stamps, or you can purchase a special ink pad kit made for paw prints. Both types of ink pads are available at most craft stores and on Amazon.
  • Create a paw print painting – you can paint the pad of your pet’s paw with non-toxic paint and press it onto paper. You can use a blend of different colors, and the result looks like a painting.
  • Keep a fur clipping – you can take a small cutting of your pet’s fur and place this in a shadow box, inside a locket or jewelry, or in a scrapbook.
  • Put their favorite items in a shadow box – save your pet’s favorite toy, food dish, a corner of their favorite blanket, their collar and leash – anything that is unique to them and preserve it in a shadow box. Many families include their favorite photos, a quote, or a handwritten note.
  • Take photos of your pet – most of us have many photos of our pets on our phones or on social media. Consider printing your favorite photos and creating a photo album, scrapbook, customized photo book, or frame them or have them printed on canvas.
  • Don’t forget the close-ups – Most of our photos are action and candid shots of our pet, but try to take close-up photos of your pet, too. You can capture the golden glints in their eyes, their rough paw-pads, the speckles on their belly. These are characteristics that make our pets who they are, and it can be helpful to capture that to help keep those memories alive long into the future. 

The possibilities for creating sacred memorial items in honor of your pet are endless. Searching online or on Pinterest brings thousands of results and we encourage you to do what speaks to your bond in the most meaningful way. It is also important to remember that material items are just one important part of honoring your pet’s memory. Writing down your favorite stories, holding your own memorial service, posting a tribute online, donating in honor of your pet – these are all meaningful ways to honor your pet’s memory and acknowledge your profound loss.

On our website, we have several articles about memorializing a pet. You can read about incorporating cremated remains in your garden, 9 ways to memorialize your pet, taking a memorial walk, among other ideas.

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We’re still here

Our world feels so scary right now. There are so many uncertainties, so many worries, and a constant deluge of terrifying information. We can hardly manage to find a routine amidst the fear and the fog of the unknown.

Even if everything in our personal lives remains steady, what is going on outside and in our communities has thrown our world completely off kilter, has upended anything that once seemed normal, and has left us feeling anxious, confused, and helpless.

So what happens when we throw a sick pet in the mix? What happens when, at this tumultuous time, our sweet family pet suddenly becomes ill, or passes away? How can we possibly manage our fear, our worry, our financial concerns, AND our grief?

It can all feel so overwhelming. In some moments, it may feel like more than we can bear.

Before all of this happened, we might have felt like we had some semblance of control over our lives. But now, control is a comical word. Impossible. A myth. There is no controlling anything right now. And that makes us feel so very helpless.

We promised our pet we would always be there for them, always do what was best. Always love and care for them no matter what. But now we’re afraid we might not be able to keep that promise. Our sweet pets have no idea what is going on in the world, and unfortunately, they, too, have no control over what is going on in their bodies. They are doing their best, just like we are. But if things go wrong now, we don’t know what we will do.

The veterinarians, vet techs, and animal medical professionals here in Minnesota are doing their best, too. As much as they are able, clinics are still providing their essential services to families in need. Though the appointments might look a little bit different, veterinary professionals are doing everything they can to still provide your family and your beloved pet the help you need in the safest way possible.

In home end-of-life services for pets are still in operation, too. In the state of MN, veterinary care is still deemed an essential service, and we at MN Pets are still seeing as many visits as we can, and as safely as is within our control. We are doing all we can to still be able to provide a loving, gentle goodbye for your precious pet. Though we, too, have had to alter our protocol to do what we can to keep our doctors and the families we see safe, we are still committed to serving families and pets as long as is allowed.

We’re all facing this uncertainty together. We don’t know what the future holds. And having to navigate this scary time with the added worry of a sick pet makes it even more overwhelming. But we want you to know that you are not alone. We see and hear your worry. We see and hear your concerns. We see and hear your tremendous love for your pet, and we know how much you are striving to do just what is best. We are here to help you through this. As long as we can, we will commit to walking through this uncertain time with you. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any and all questions and concerns.

We are with you through this. We’ll all get through this together.

You can find more information on the precautions MN Pets is taking during the COVID-19 outbreak here: https://www.mnpets.com/blog/mn-pets-covid-19-plans-precautions

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MN Pets COVID-19 Plan & Precautions

Updated 11/17/21

To our MN Pets community,

We are continuing to monitor the COVID situation in Minnesota carefully. While we know that this is a stressful time for our entire global community, we also recognize the very personal heartbreak you are experiencing as you face this difficult decision for your pet. To be faced with a painful personal loss at a time when there is fear and uncertainty in the world around us can feel overwhelming and isolating.

Our goal during this time is to be here to support you through the loss of your pet and to help you say goodbye peacefully and gently at home where your pet is most comfortable. We recognize that when fear and heartbreak increase in the world, so does the need for compassion, empathy, and courage, and our goal is to continue to provide this important service while doing everything we can to minimize risk to you, our doctors, and our other clients.

To ensure that we are able to continue to help pet families in our community, we have developed a plan to keep our clients and staff safer:

  • Everyone is required to wear a mask, both indoors and outdoors, while the doctor is present
  • We ask that you have a maximum of 4 people present in the room in order to reduce risk and ensure social distancing can be followed
  • The doctor will call you when she is on the way. Please be ready to answer your phone
  • The visit can take place outside for safety, or it can take place indoors. If indoors, we ask that you consider opening a window to increase ventilation and be mindful of the size/layout of the space so that social distancing can be done.
  • Please notify us if anyone in your household has COVID-19 symptoms so that we can discuss additional precautions and options.

As this situation unfolds, there may be additional recommendations handed down by the CDC or the MN Department of Health.  We will monitor these and make changes to this plan as necessary.  We promise to communicate transparently and clearly and do whatever we can to identify options and precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy.

 

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Pets teaching us about love

 

What does love look like?

A dozen roses? A box of chocolates? Diamonds?

Maybe.

But I think it can also look a bit….furrier. Maybe slobbery. And it barks, or purrs. Or both. And maybe it covers your clothing in a never ending supply of hair.

 

What does love feel like?

Romance? Butterflies? Or is it maybe a little deeper than that?

Commitment. Devotion. Loyalty. Unbridled joy. Unwavering support, even in the darkest of times.

These deeper aspects of love don’t just come from human partners or family. Sometimes this love comes in the form of a wagging tail and incessant, sloppy wet kisses. Sometimes it comes in the form of tiny, pokey little paws “making biscuits” on your belly at 2am. Sometimes it comes in the form of a quiet, gentle, velvety head, patiently resting on your lap, catching your tears in its fur, sitting with you through the pain of life.

Sometimes this love is an explosion of deafening barks out of a tiny wiggly body- obnoxious, yes, but the proof of enormous, uncontainable, loud love, spilling out.

Sometimes this love shows itself even more subtly. It never says a word, but never leaves your side. Through all the laughter, sorrow, anger, and boredom, this quiet love stands loyally at your right hand until it can stand no more.

 

Valentine’s Day is devoted to human love. But we with furry family members know that in our pet’s world, every day is “love day.” Every single day of a pet’s life is devoted to loving its human (yes, even for cats!)  We humans can barely manage to remember to celebrate human love one day out of the year. For our pets, it is Valentine’s Day all year round.

 

Humans, evolved though we may be, struggle with mastering true, pure, unconditional love. For the experts on this, we must look to our pets. From the day they enter our home until the day we must say goodbye, they are the most perfect example of unwavering, immeasurable love.

Sometimes it takes losing them for us to truly understand.

 

On Valentines Day, we’re surrounded by pink and red and roses and chocolate and mushy human love. But each and every day, though we notice it or not, we’re surrounded by the deep, true, perfect love of our most loyal family members.

So, the next time you brush the pet hair from your clothing, or wipe the sloppy kiss off your face, or hear the thump of a happy tail, or are awakened at midnight by a loud purr in your face, take a moment to feel, to cherish, and to give thanks for that profound, powerful, perfect unconditional love.

 

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We Had So Many Plans

“I should have had 10 more years with him.”

“She should have had a long life.”

“We had so many plans.”

Pet owners are all aware that they face having to say “goodbye” at some point. If they are lucky, their pets enjoy long, healthy lives with them. They spend many joyful years together, and eventually watch their beloved furry family member become slower, and grayer.

But not all of us are lucky.

For some, it is a cancer diagnosis when our cat is 5.

Or our 3-year-old, too-joyful, too-energetic dog getting hit by a car.

Or our pet dies unexpectedly, for seemingly no reason at all. And we don’t even get the comfort of having answers.

How is this fair? Why is it that some families get to watch their pet grow old, when others never get to behold the bittersweet sight of a well-loved, graying face it its golden years? Why is it that some people’s pets seemingly live forever, when others are robbed of a full life?

We know ourselves- we are the best owners a pet could ever have! We would have given them the best, most spoiled, beautiful long life. But we never got the chance.

We had so many plans.

We should have gotten to celebrate a 10th birthday.

We should have gotten to buy the “senior-grade” pet food.

We should have gotten to sit on the front porch together, watching many more summers pass by.

We should have gotten to complain about more vet bills.

Or cleaned up accidents when they started “getting up there.”

We knew just what was going to be on their “Bucket List,” and boy was it going to be great.

We should have had 5 more years. Or 10 more years. We would give anything for one more day.

Why is the future stolen from some of us?

So many take their aging pet for granted, blissfully unaware of the hole that would be in their heart were that pet to leave this earth. But we know the hole. Sometimes it feels like that’s all that is there- a hole, where there once was a heart.

But boy are we grateful for the time we had.

Our face was licked so many times.

We were greeted by an ecstatic blur of fur every time we got home.

We even miss the “bad” things. Like being woken up countless times in the middle of the night. Or the incessant barking. Or the brand new couch that we soon learned was a $500 scratching post.

What we wouldn’t give to get mad one more time, and realize, one more time, that we couldn’t stay mad at all. What we wouldn’t give for one more chance to forgive them, scratch their sweet little head, and let them know how much we love them.

We may not have realized it then, but the time we had was immeasurably precious. Perhaps that’s what makes the pain of unexpected loss so much worse. We didn’t know how precious few the days and years with our pet were, until we had no more days and years with them.

We had so many plans.

But the moments we did have…

…We will cherish those forever.

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The Guilt of an Unready Heart

I was talking to my dad recently. He is one of the biggest animal lovers I know. He has had animals his entire life. But he and my mom don’t currently have any pets at all. Our family dog Maddy passed away in 2011, leaving our kitty Mabel. Then Mabel unexpectedly died in 2018. They haven’t had another pet since.

In the years after Maddy died, I had asked him about perhaps getting another dog. Mabel seemed lonely, and I thought another dog may bring joy to my parents. But there was always the same answer “Oh, ya know. It might be too much for Mabel to handle. And I don’t know if I am ready.” I never pushed. I understand the deep and lasting grief from losing a pet. After all, Maddy was my girl, too.

But since our precious Mabel passed, their home has been empty. As long as I have been on this earth, my parents have never had a petless home. Recently, I gently asked him again, “Do you think you guys will get another kitty? Or maybe even a dog again?” This time my dad got quiet. He said “I…I don’t know. You know, when Maddy died, I didn’t think I would ever be able to have another dog. She was our family. She can never be replaced. And then when Mabel died….I just really don’t know. It is like my heart can’t take it. I feel like Maddy and Mabel were my heart. It belongs to them. I also feel like if I were to let myself move on, it would be like I were forgetting them.”

*

I have a friend who says that the day her dog dies, she will go out and get another one. She said this would never ever be a replacement for her dog. Her dog is her entire world- she loves her with all her heart. But she knows that for her specific grieving process, it will help aid her healing to immediately have another sweet doggy to love and care for. She views it as a tribute to her passed pet, as a way to beautifully serve her memory.

*

Everyone copes with grief differently. Some, like my friend, are ready to open their hearts immediately. But others, like my dad, are left with a hole in their heart that they don’t want to try to fill. It might feel like they don’t begin to heal for a long, long time. They might wonder if they ever can.

It is easy for us (especially those of us who fancy ourselves “animal advocates”) to quickly say, “but there are so many pets who need a home!” I am guilty of saying this to my own dad. And it is true- there are so many amazing, beautiful souls waiting for their forever home. But we must remember that the pets we have lost are family members, and we do not simply “move on” from that. If someone were to lose a child, we would never say “well, just get another one!” We must remember that the loss of a loved one involves a significant and complex grieving process that is different for everyone. It may not make sense to us, but we must respect everyone’s individual healing process, no matter what it may look like.

Sometimes those who could never imagine getting another pet find themselves in a shelter weeks later, walking out with a new joyful little bundle of fur- sometimes we don’t understand even our own grief, and we surprise ourselves!

But it is important to have grace, patience, and compassion for each other as we face the difficult journey after saying goodbye to a beloved pet.

I do hope that one day my parents choose to let another precious animal into their lives. It would be one lucky pet! But it is not up to me to decide if or when that happens.

If you find yourself feeling like you just can’t fathom ever having another pet, please do not feel guilty. Be kind to yourself, be forgiving. Grief looks different for every heart, and no one can tell your heart what to feel.

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Merry Nothing

We’ve officially entered “the most wonderful time of the year.” So they say.

For many, this season is euphoric. The bright, sparkly lights, the incessant din of cheerful music, the buzz of excitement in the air- it’s magical. Intoxicating.

 

But for others, it’s just downright depressing. For some of us, this year brought an empty place at our table. Or on our hearth. Or at the foot of our bed. During the holidays, that empty place might be the only thing we can see.

 

The holidays are a time to gather with family, reminisce about the year past, and look forward to the year to come. But when the past year stole our loved one, and the gathered family is a little bit smaller, it can feel like there’s not much to celebrate, and we’d really rather not remember.

 

And for those of us who have lost a pet, it can be especially painful when we have people in our lives making comments like “Well it was just a dog.” This season that brings us all together also brings more opportunities for people to make ignorant and obnoxious comments.

 

Maybe the holidays remind you of all the beautiful holidays from years past, and the special memories, and the love…and it just throws your pain into sharper relief, casts your loneliness in a brighter light.

 

Maybe the holidays bring up painful memories from holidays past, and the yearly reminders are just too much to bear.

 

Maybe the holidays feel like something you just have to make it through every year. If you can get to the other side, then you can breathe.

 

Or maybe for you, your emotions during the holidays are just complicated. You feel the magic and warmth and find yourself enjoying things, but you also feel guilty, because you are allowing yourself to enjoy life without your loved one.

 

This season, you may feel invisible. The holidays have a nice way of making all those who are not cheery feel very isolated and unseen, and that can just make everything worse. But if you are one of these “invisible” people, whatever you may be feeling- loneliness, pain, complicated cheer, fresh grief, or “stale” grief- please know, you are not alone (no matter how lonely things might feel).

 

If you can, try to surround yourself with supportive, loving friends and family. Let those in your circle know how they can help, and allow yourself to reach out for extra support if you need it. There are many resources for people needing help, not only during the holidays, but all year round. There are support groups, therapists, grief counselors, and more- for people missing humans, AND animals. Countless individuals have used these resources and benefited greatly from them. There are so many people who experience grief and hopelessness, especially at this time of year, and being able to know that there is someone who will walk through it with you, and that there are so many people who have already walked this difficult path, can be a beacon of light during a very dark time.

 

Above all, this holiday season, be kind to yourself. Let yourself feel what you feel. Don’t allow others to belittle your emotions, or incorrectly summarize your experience for you. Don’t allow the insensitive comments to have any bearing on your real, true, valid feelings. If someone says “It was only a cat,” say, “Well, it wasn’t YOUR cat, and you weren’t a part of that relationship.” Don’t allow them to belittle your relationship, and don’t let them tell you the “right way to feel.”

 

This season, remind yourself that it is okay to be sad. It is ok to be joyful. It is ok to have fun. It is also ok to not have fun. It is ok to miss your loved one, whether human or animal. You miss them because they mattered, deeply.

 

And your experience matters deeply.

 

So, if you’re not feeling so merry and bright, remember that you are not alone, and you are not wrong to be feeling what you feel.

 

We at MN Pets are always here for you, to listen, to validate, and to help you remember that you are not alone.

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You Did A Good Job

 

You did a good job, human.

 

You did a good job at feeding me.

Sometimes it was boring food, and sometimes it was my favorite. But you fed me every day, and that was my favorite time of day.

Sometimes I begged for more and you said no. But sometimes your eye twinkled and you said yes.

Sometimes you sneaked extra special yummy bits to me under the table when no one else was looking (And sometimes they sneaked me extra special yummy bits when YOU weren’t looking).

You always fed me, every day.

 

You did a good job at playing with me.

You’d throw the ball so many times! Even though it was probably never enough for me, I know that your human arm would get tired, and that’s ok. Playing ball with you was the best.

Or you’d dangle that string in my face and I would do everything I could to pin it to the ground. Or steal it from you. Sometimes I would win. And if I wouldn’t, it was because I pretended I didn’t care anymore (though secretly I did). You knew this, and you’d always pick that string up again, and I’d always be ready to pounce once more! I loved chasing that string with you.

 

You did a good job at cuddling me.

You’d pull my face close to yours, and kiss the top of my head. That was my favorite.

Or you’d wrap your arms around my body and hug me tight and whisper all those nice words in my ear, about how good I was, and about how pretty I was, and about how much you loved me.

Or I’d climb on top of you in the middle of the night and purr in your face, and you would scratch my head no matter how sleepy you were.

Or sometimes for nap time you would let me climb up on the couch with you, and we barely fit on there together, but that made it even better. The closer I could cuddle with you, the more I loved it.

I sure loved being close to you.

 

You did a good job at taking me to the vet.

I really hated it there. But somehow I always ended up feeling better once I got home.

You forced weird tasting things into my food or into my mouth, and that was so gross. But somehow I always ended up feeling better after that, too.

You did a good job at caring for me.

 

You did a good job at saying “no.”

Even though I didn’t like it at the time, I know you only wanted what was best for me.

You said “no” if I got too close to the street. Thank you. I was dumb, sometimes, and you just wanted to keep me safe.

You said “no” if I was getting too fat. That’s fair.

You said “no” when I barked too loud. Sorry. I sure could be noisy, couldn’t I?

You said “no” when I hissed at my brother. I still think you didn’t understand what I was saying, but it’s ok. I know you loved him, too.

You said “no” when I played too hard with your nice things and they accidentally became shredded. I am sorry. Also…..my brother did it.

You said “no” when I dug holes in your pretty garden.

You said “no” when I jumped on the counter.

You said “no” sometimes, and sometimes, you said “no” lots of times! But that was a good thing. You said “no” because you wanted to set important boundaries, and I needed them. You did a good job with “no.”

 

You did a good job at loving me.

You squealed my name when you got home every day, and I could tell you were so happy to see me. I was so happy to see you, too.

You praised me when I did things right, and that made me so proud.

You laughed when I did silly things, and I could see so much joy on your face. I so loved making you laugh. Your laugh was my favorite.

You rubbed my belly when I asked you to (and you stopped when I asked you to stop).

You always kissed the top of my head, and I always loved that. Come to think of it, the top of my head got a lot of love. I must have had a really nice top-of-my-head.

 

You knew when I started getting tired, and you made sure to slow things down a little. That made me feel important. It made me feel loved.

You knew when my body started hurting and I needed more medicine.

You knew when my body started hurting and I needed more rest.

You knew when I couldn’t go on walks anymore, and even though I missed them so much, I am glad that you knew what was best for me.

 

You loved me even though my face got all grey. You still called me handsome.

You loved me even though my legs started giving out and we couldn’t play much anymore.

You loved me even though I started having accidents. I felt so bad, but you called me your best sweetie anyway.

 

And when I finally got too tired, and my eyes started letting you know, you loved me so much that you knew it was time to say goodbye.

I didn’t want to say goodbye, because I didn’t want to leave you. I loved you so much, too!

I loved your nice voice.

I loved the way you petted me and rubbed me and kissed the top of my head.

I loved all my silly nicknames.

I loved my house.

I loved my family.

I loved my life with you.

But I needed help, and you loved me so very much that you were willing to break your heart to ease my pain.

 

You did a good job when we said “goodbye.”

You told me a billion times that you loved me, and that I was the best sweetie ever.

My nice top-of-my-head got so many pets and kisses.

You gave me my favorite treats, and this time, there were no “no’s.” It was wonderful.

You looked into my eyes, and though I could tell you were sad, I could also see all the love in your soul, looking into mine.

 

We said “goodbye.” But  I know I’ll see you again. Heaven is a really beautiful place. I couldn’t have picked a prettier spot to wait for you. I can’t wait to show you around.

 

You did a good job, human. I loved my life with you.

 

 

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Quality of Life visits

This post was guest-written by one of our very own MN Pets doctors, Dr. Meredith Lum.

Deciding when to say good-bye to an animal companion can be an extremely difficult undertaking. Our pets become some of the most important beings in our lives and the weight of making the decision to humanely euthanize is incomparable to many difficulties faced throughout our lives. Uncertainty can stem from a variety of places such as a newly diagnosed medical condition in a pet, gradual changes in a pet over a period of time, or other outside pressures. It can often be difficult to put words to what a pet’s quality of life is like in any given moment. Quality of life can be defined as the general well-being of a pet based on standards of health, comfort, and happiness. Scheduling a Quality of Life Consultation is an opportunity to have an in depth discussion with one of the MN Pets veterinarians to assess a pet’s overall quality of life as well as address questions and concerns regarding a pet’s medical condition. This is intended to guide the decision making process and to provide judgment free support, insight, and clarity to help determine what is right for each individual pet and situation. These appointments are a wonderful opportunity for a personalized conversation, they are not a time for in depth examinations, diagnostic testing, or prescribing medications.

What should be expected of a Quality of Life Consultation? 

The doctor will arrive at the home during a scheduled period of time. The appointment will last one hour. They will have reviewed information provided by the owner as well as any veterinary records available in order to have the most productive conversation and a sense of what the pet is experiencing. At the time of scheduling, the owner will be provided with a scale called the JOURNEYS scale to review prior to the appointment. This is a scale that was designed to give objective numbers to more subjective situations to help assess the factors that affect a pet’s well-being including pain levels, eating/drinking, social interactions, and uncertainty of medical condtions. This is a starting place for assessing quality of life and a way to facilitate conversation with both a MN Pets veterinarian and the pet’s regular care provider. The JOURNEYS scale can also be used serially to help identify trends in a pet’s overall well being either before or after the Quality of Life Consultation. This scale can be used by all members of a household to provide perspective on how each person is viewing the pet’s well-being. The numbers given while using this scale provide a point of reference. Generally, low scores indicate a poorer quality of life and high scores indicate a happier, healthier pet but they are assessed on a case by case basis and there are no set rules. 

After thorough discussion of the pet’s quality of life, an assessment is provided. Options for next steps may include continued care with an outside veterinarian, in-home hospice (not provided by MN Pets), at-home monitoring by the family, or euthanasia. If the timing is deemed appropriate by the veterinarian, euthanasia may proceed during a Quality of Life Consultation. No matter what path is determined to be best, a plan is set in place including how to schedule a future euthanasia appointment with MN Pets, what to do in case of an emergecny situation/rapid decline of the pet, and what natural death may look like. It is always the goal of the veterinarian providing this consultation to make this process as clear as possible in a time when pets and owners are often at their most vulnerable. The entire MN Pets team is here to support families through difficult times. 

In order to schedule a consultation, please contact our office by calling (612) 354-8500.

Posted in Blog, End-of-life decisions, Preparing for your pet's appointment, Quality of Life | 1 Comment