If you are reading this, you are likely in a position that no pet owner wants to be in… Your beloved fur child has either passed away on their own in your home, or you are facing the thought that this may be a reality for you in the near future. If this is you, we want you to know that we are so sorry that you are in this situation and that our team at Caring Pathways is here to walk through this process alongside you.
If your pet has passed, you may be flooded with different emotions and questions. What happened? Why did this happen? What do I do now? Who do I call? What next? Whether your pet’s passing was expected or not, your heart is without a doubt breaking right now. Take some time to experience and process the waves of emotions that you are feeling. Invite those who also shared love for your pet to come say their goodbyes. If there are other pets in the home, allow them to sniff around and say goodbye to their fellow companion. Believe it or not, they do understand what has happened to their friend. Give your pet all the affection you want and need. Take your time. And when you are ready, give us a call.
Postmortem Changes to Expect
After your pet has passed, there are some changes that will occur to your pet’s body that you should be aware of. These are normal body changes that occur after death, but we want you to feel prepared for what to expect. One of the first changes you may see will be the release of bodily fluids. This is relatively common and can happen when a pet’s body relaxes. To prepare for this, if you have any potty pads, try sliding them under your pet. Towels or paper towels are also an option if potty pads are unavailable.
Another change you may notice over time is rigor mortis. When a pet passes, their body is no longer receiving oxygen. This oxygen is what allows the muscles to relax. Since their brain is unable to tell their muscles to relax, they begin to freeze up in the last position they were in. This is important to know so you can try to keep your loved one in a comfortable position. This will also help make it easier for our staff members to gently carry them out of your home. A comfortable position we encourage would be similar to a sleeping position. Have them laying on their side with their legs bent and tucked in as close to their body as you are able, while gently placing their head in a comfortable neutral position. Once they are in a relaxed, neutral position, we encourage wrapping them in a towel or blanket. By wrapping them up, it can help keep their bodies tucked in position. If wrapping them up is too difficult at this time, laying a blanket or towel over top of them is also a dignified option. Laying a blanket on them can help slow the decomposition process as well as offering a more peaceful appearance. Having to see your loved one who has passed can be emotionally devastating so keeping their body in a comfortable and peaceful state may ease this difficult time for you and your loved ones.
As time passes and decomposition occurs, you may start to notice an odor. This is natural and a part of death. If you haven’t already and you feel comfortable doing it, you may want to place your pet in a separate space where the odor may not affect you as much. Ideally, this should be a cool, dark, dry area. It is advised not to keep your pet outside or in a warm environment. The heat from outside can speed up the decomposition process and is an invitation for insects. We would like to avoid that as much as possible for the respect of your pet. We know these steps may be hard to keep track of but doing these small gestures for your pet will help this transition be a smoother experience.
Memorializing Your Pet
During this time, think about the aftercare wishes you would like us to facilitate for your pet’s memorialization. Feel free to explore our website for our urn options as well as paw print keepsakes. This may be too much for you to process at this time, which is okay. Our team members are able to walk you through the next steps once they arrive at the home with you.
Acknowledging Your Grief
You may be feeling intense grief after the loss of a beloved pet. You have experienced the loss of a family member. Caring Pathways does have a Grief Support Specialist available to help walk you through the emotions you are experiencing. If you would like to connect with her, please do not hesitate to reach out and let us know. You have a family with Caring Pathways here to support you during this difficult time of transition. Please let us be the first to convey our sincere condolences.
Written by: Chloe Kaszubowski, Veterinary Assistant & Client Care/Field Service Team
Chloe is a Denver native who holds a degree in Social and Human Services and a Veterinarian Assistant Certification. She spends her days off volunteering in a general practice vet clinic. She is excited to be a part of Caring Pathways and believes her Human Services background along with her gentle personality will help contribute to Caring Pathways mission.