How to Gently Say Goodbye to Your Pet

Losing a pet is one of the toughest things you’ll go through in life.

It’s an unfortunate fact that their lives are way too short. But there are organizations that help you make this transition as bearable as possible. Here are just a few steps to help you when you find yourself facing this challenging time.

Know When it’s Time

Your veterinarian can keep you apprised of most medical issues, but unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us how they feel. If your pet is old or sick and the end seems near, it’s still hard to decide when to let go. The “HHHHHMM” Scale as created by veterinarian Dr. Alice Villalobos helps you gauge what condition your pet is in. She encourages you to look at your pet’s hurt, hunger, hydration, hygiene, happiness, mobility and “more good days than bad.”

Both you and your vet should consider each of these when trying to make that tough decision. You can see more information from Dr. Villalobos thoughts on cancer treatment and palliative care at the site for her California practice, Pawspice.

Passing at Home

Instead of that dreaded trip to the vet’s office, the At-Home Euthanasia movement has been gathering steam. A quick Google search in your area should turn up several options. Vets such as Dr. Julie Rabinowitz, founder of Peaceful Passage in Baltimore, have decided to base their practices on end-of-life house calls. Most services are available weekdays, nights and weekends; and though the price is a tad higher than a vet visit, this is a more humane way for both you and your cherished friend to say goodbye. An excellent site for information on this service in more than 30 states can be found at

Sometimes They Just Leave

Sometimes pets just disappear; this can be just as unsettling when you have no idea what happened to them. Cats especially have been known to leave when they feel the time is near. Other times, they may just be lost or trapped somewhere.

If your pet was microchipped, check with the organization he or she was registered with and let them know. Try checking Craigslist in your area under the lost and found section. If your pet may be lost, also check with your local vets and shelters. Other online help can be found at organizations created to help reunite you with your lost pet. Pawboost is one such organization that can assist in finding your lost pet. Another option is PetFBI, which has a large database of found and/or missing pets.

We Can All Use Some Help

There are many great resources that can help you deal more in-depth with the process of loss. Check out The Grief Support Center at Rainbows Bridge for some great suggestions on how you and your family can handle these trying times. You may also want to try the Animal Health Foundation, especially for helping your children with these issues.

Meet the Author: Michael Ryan

Michael Ryan is a full-time musician along with a humor, travel and outdoor recreation columnist. He's also an avid skier and golfer and has traveled extensively around the U.S, the Caribbean and Europe. His musical career takes him all over the U.S. and his wife drags him everywhere else. His weekly columns “The Life of Ryan” ran in the Transcript and Sentinel newspaper chain for several years and have been featured in the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Mile High Magazine. He is the co-founder, editor and humor columnist for and currently resides in Morrison, Colorado.

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