[This article was originally published in 2018]
Losing a pet can be a heartbreaking experience. Only pet owners will truly understand how they become an integral and irreplaceable part of the family throughout their lifetimes, with personalities that are unique, loveable and utterly unforgettable.
While people may feel unconditional love for their beloved companions, it seems that many find it too difficult to say goodbye at the very end.
However, that can be a very unfortunate decision, according to vets on social media.
Vets have been sharing the sad reality of what occurs when they have to put an animal down, revealing that many owners choose not to be in the room when their pet passes away.
Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital in South Africa shared a passionate post written by a vet on its Facebook page explaining why, in the vet's opinion, people should never leave pets who are being put down on their own.
“When you are a pet owner it is inevitable, the majority of the time, that your pet will die before you do,” the post - which has now gone viral - reads.
“So if and when you have to take your pet to the vet’s office for a humane pain-free ending I want you all to know something. You have been the centre of their world for THEIR ENTIRE LIVES!!!!
“It is devastating for us as humans to lose them. But please I beg you DO NOT LEAVE THEM."
Earlier this year, a woman called Jessi Dietrich from Tennessee tweeted about an interaction that she’d had with her vet when asking him about what he found most difficult about his job.
“Asked my vet what the hardest part was about his job and he said when he has to put an animal down,” she wrote.
“90 per cent of owners don’t actually want to be in the room when he injects them so the animal’s last moments are usually them frantically looking around for their owners and tbh that broke me.”
Dietrich’s tweet has resonated with thousands of people around the world, receiving more than 40,000 retweets and 140,000 likes.
Staying in the room with a pet as it passes away is far easier said than done for some.
While doing so can help put a pet’s mind at rest in their final moments, it’s important not to judge those who find staying in the room too hard, as Sean McCormack, head vet at Tails.com, explains.
“People shouldn’t be labelled cowards for walking away from that scenario as we don’t know what they are dealing with personally at the time,” he says.
“The main reason people choose not to be there is uncertainty and fear around what’s going to happen.”
In McCormack’s opinion, there needs to be a dialogue between the pet owner and the veterinary clinic about what’s going to take place so as to make it a slightly easier, albeit inevitably difficult, experience.
“Talk about what the procedure is and what to expect, and that if you are concerned you should talk it through with the vet team so they can make it as peaceful and stress-free as you can," he says.
Animal charity Blue Cross states that if you have a dog that’s being put down, you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you feel you’re unable to stay in the room.
“It may be a comfort to you to see that euthanasia is usually a quick and gentle process, but try not to feel guilty if you feel unable to watch - if you are very upset then this may upset your dog,” the charity says.
“Vets and nurses choose their profession because they want to help animals. You can rely on them to treat your dog sympathetically even in your absence."