Rainbow Bridge Story

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

(Author unknown)

Useful links:
Time To Say Goodbye?
Saying Goodbye
Coping With Bereavement

Coping With Bereavement

Grief is a place that none of us know about until we get there (anon)

Grieving

Everyone deals with the loss of their beloved pet in different ways. There is no timescale to deal with grief and there are some excellent support networks available if you feel you would like more support.

With grief, you may feel several different emotions, or mainly one. You can feel numb, guilt, anger, sadness or relief. All of these are perfectly normal.

Some people find celebrating their pet’s life can be helpful. If you have their ashes, scattering them in a favourite place or planting a flowering shrub in the garden to remember them by can help.

There are many memorial pet sites available where you can upload a photo of your pet and pay tribute to them. We would love to hear and share in your memories about them on our Forget Me Not Facebook Group page. This can all help with the grief process.

Sharing your grief, talking about your pet and remembering the many wonderful times you shared will help enormously.

Children

Children can feel grief very strongly when they lose their beloved pet. The way in which children, young people and those around them deal with pet loss may lay the foundation for how they cope with other losses later in life. The timing of getting another pet is important. Getting another pet immediately won’t take away the pain. Talk it through with them and make sure any new pet is not seen as a replacement. Where possible we do advise you are honest with them but you are the best judge of how much to say. It is best not to use phrase like ‘putting to sleep’ or ‘went away’ as this can cause fear and anxiety as children can take different meanings from the words. There are various books and sites available which may help you explain the situation to your children.

Missing My Pet by Alex Lambert
Goodbye Mousie by Robie H Harris
Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas
Jasper’s Day by Marjorie Blain Parker
Sammy in the Sky by Barbara Walsh
Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr
Blue Cross Bereavement – Missing My Friend

Pet companions

Other pets in your household may also feel grief. Sometimes allowing your other pets to see and smell their companion’s body can help them understand what has happened. Keep up their routines and activity levels and if they show a change in behaviour, for example sleeping all the time and not eating, it is best to come and see us just to make sure everything is ok.

Many owners feel they don’t want to get another pet as the sense of loss is too much or they feel they are betraying their pet’s memory. In time hopefully you will feel ready to offer a loving home to another pet and there are many that do need one!

Owners can be worried later in life that it is not fair to get another pet but they bring so much love and joy to your life that this shouldn’t always be the case. The Cinnamon Trust is a brilliant trust that can help you with short term care if you need to go into hospital or permanent care if your pet was to outlive you.

Many charities are also always in need of volunteers to come and spend time with the animals in their care. For example Cats Protection often ask for help in socialising cats in their care or some dog charities require dog walkers. These can all be helpful aids in dealing with grief while allowing you to spend time with some furry friends.

Please talk to us if you are struggling to deal with grief. We have a Saying Goodbye support pack with useful details of who to talk to and where to find support. Remember you are not alone.

Useful Links:
Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Service
Blue Cross – Coping With The Loss Of A Pet
Blue Cross Bereavement – Missing My Friend
Cats Protection – Paws To Listen
The Ralph Site
Compassion Understood
Our Special Friends
The Cinnamon Trust

Saying Goodbye

It is very important at a time of loss that you consider all options available to you for your pet’s final resting place.  Where possible it can be easier to think about this in advance and we are more than happy to help discuss the various options available to you so you have no regrets at a later date.

Taking your pet home

If suitable for you, you can bury your pet at home or take them home to make your own arrangements for cremation. In some very rare cases your vet may suggest that home burial is not suitable if your pet has passed away with an infectious disease.

For smaller pets for example rabbits and guinea pigs there are garden burial products which are especially useful for children as they can be uniquely personalised by the children to help them say goodbye.

Individual Cremation

This is where we arrange for your pet to be individually cremated and their ashes returned to you.

A common worry for pet owners regarding individual cremation is if they will receive their pet’s ashes back. This is obviously based on an element of trust between us but we can reassure you that this will always be the case.

We use Cambridge Pet Crematorium which have many years of experience helping owners say farewell to their pets.

The cremations are individual, even the smallest species of pets are cremated alone within an enclosed chamber and all ash carefully collected before the next cremation commences. Owners are guaranteed that the ashes they receive will be only those of their pet.

All reputable crematoriums are happy for you to visit beforehand if you wish to. Please contact them if you wish to do so.

We can arrange the cremation for you with Cambridge Pet Crematorium. Your pet will be collected from the veterinary practice and respectfully transported to Cambridge Pet Crematorium. Their ashes will be returned to you via the veterinary practice (usually in 10-14 days) in one of their caskets or scattering boxes. This allows you to keep their ashes at home or scatter them in their favourite place.

If you prefer, you can take your pet personally to the local Pet Crematorium, David Funnell’s  Cherry Tree Pet Crematorium in High Halden and they will make all the arrangements for you allowing time to say goodbye in their peaceful reception room. They can also arrange same day cremations during the week if you contact them prior to leaving us and taking your pet.

There are various options for creating a lasting tribute to your pet available from all Pet Crematoriums. These can be viewed online. Below are examples of the Scattering Box and Casket Box available from Cambridge Pet Crematorium.

Communal Cremation

This is where we arrange for your pet to be cremated, but you do not receive their ashes back. They are treated with the same care and consideration as individual cremations but their ashes will not be returned to you and they will be cremated with other pets. Their ashes then remain with Cambridge Pet Crematorium.

Paw Prints

We can also offer you the opportunity to have a paw print taken of your pet’s paw in a little keepsake box.

Please also ask if you would like us to take fur clippings for you to keep. We can offer you to take the clippings home in a ‘Remember Me’ paper envelope or for a small charge a keepsake glass bottle.

Useful Links:

Cambridge Pet Crematorium
Cherry Tree Pet Crematorium
Time To Say Goodbye?
Coping With Bereavement
Rainbow Bridge Story

Time To Say Goodbye?

We recognise as pet owners ourselves that losing a beloved family pet is a sad and traumatic time as they are just like a member of our family.

Making the decision to end your pet’s life is a hugely difficult decision. Pet owners often feel a huge sense of guilt.

We want to encourage pet owners to find out more about the process itself and the options available to you when the time comes.

Every pet owner wishes that when the time comes, their pet should pass away in their sleep. Unfortunately natural deaths are not only rare (only 5%) but not always as peaceful and pain free as we would hope them to be. Euthanasia (or putting to sleep) as it is sometimes referred to, is without doubt the kindest way to a dignified end for your pet.

As a veterinary practice we aim to help you through the loss of your pet, inform you about your choices and what to expect and provide the peaceful end which your much loved pet deserves. Your veterinary practice is always available to help and support you through this difficult time.

Making the decision

This can be incredibly hard. Sometimes the decision to say goodbye is due to illness or injury but more often than not it can be because your pet has naturally got older and their quality of life has deteriorated.

People often ask how will I know when the time is right? This is not a straightforward question to answer.

We strongly recommend assessing their quality of life. Keep a record of their activity levels over a period of time.

  • Are they still enjoying their walks or are they are a struggle?
  • How active are they?
  • Do they seem to be comfortable?
  • How energetic and enthusiastic are they?
  • Do they seem to be happy and content?

You can find a helpful quality of life questionnaire here which can be a useful aid for both you and your vet to discuss.

Remember to talk to us. Although we cannot make the decision for you, we can help discuss your concerns and fears and offer you an unbiased opinion for the best treatment for your beloved pet.

What happens next?

Once you have reached the decision, the next step is considering the time and the place. We always try to accommodate your wishes as much as possible.

We offer home visits where we will come to your house, during normal weekday hours, allowing your pet to be in familiar surroundings, surrounded by family members to say goodbye.

Alternatively you may prefer to bring your pet to the surgery. Where possible we always try to arrange the appointment at a quiet time rather than during a busy surgery. You will if you wish, be able to spend time with your pet to say goodbye or you may leave straight away. It is entirely up to you.

Alternatively you may prefer to bring your pet to the surgery and not stay for the euthanasia. There is no right or wrong decision.

The Procedure

Many pet owners are not aware of how euthanasia takes place. For cats and dogs euthanasia involves an injection of an intravenous anaesthetic drug which is given at an overdose rate which stops your pet breathing and their heart beating. This is usually given into the vein in their forelimb or ‘arm’ and a patch of hair will be clipped to enable your vet to see the vein clearly.

Some owners will prefer to hold their pet while this is being done. A veterinary nurse will often help the vet to raise your pet’s vein so they can give the injection.

Occasionally if your pet is a little fractious and prefers not to be held, we will offer you the choice of sedation. This is where we give your pet a small dose of a sedative drug via injection to make them sleepy. Unfortunately sometimes this can make a vein a little harder to find so may not be suitable for every pet.

Smaller pets like rabbits have an intravenous injection given into a vein in their ear but sometimes it is necessary to give them some gaseous anaesthetic first.

Guinea pigs, rats and hamsters do not have veins large enough to allow us to administer the injection intravenously. They will be given some gaseous anaesthetic first to make them sleepy and then the injection will be given directly into their tummy allowing them to drift off peacefully.

Once the drug is injected following one of the methods mentioned, the anaesthetic reaches the heart and brain within seconds and your pet is not aware of anything other than the needle pin prick for the intravenous injection. If we have used sedation first, it can take a few moments longer as the sedation will have lowered your pet’s blood pressure. Your pet is still unaware and will not feel any pain or discomfort.

It is important you are aware of what you may see once the overdose of anaesthetic has been injected as it can be quite upsetting if you are not prepared. Just like humans, animals have reflexes which happen once they pass away. Sometimes your pet may appear to gasp or take a breath along with a noise. This is a reflex spasm not normal breathing. Muscle twitching may also happen and they will usually empty their bladder and bowels. These reflexes only last for a short period of time but it is important you are prepared and they do not happen in every case. Remember all these reflexes happen after death and your pet is not aware of them at all.

Childrens presence at euthanasia depends on a variety of factors, most notably age, maturity and preference of your child. For some it can be a valuable experience as it helps them to understand what has happened. It is important to prepare your child for the process and tell them what will happen and what they may see if they are present.

We do realise euthanasia is a distressing time and we would like to make you aware in advance that we will ask you to sign a consent form giving your permission for this procedure.

Following euthanasia

It is very important at a time of loss that you consider all options available to you for your pet’s final resting place.  Where possible it can be easier to think about this in advance and we are more than happy to help discuss the various options available to you so you have no regrets at a later date. The options range from burial at home, individual cremation or communal cremation. Please see here for more information.

Cost

This is always a difficult subject especially at such a distressing time. It can be beneficial to discuss this prior to euthanasia so you know what is involved and what cost to expect. Euthanasia is a skilled and crucial process and together with ensuring we use the best cremation service possible the cost perhaps can be more than you might expect if you have not experienced the procedure before.

Some owners prefer to settle the cost before the procedure and we are able to accommodate this. Please speak to one of our team members to arrange this.

Please feel free to ask us any question, no matter how trivial you think it might be. We want to make sure you are as fully informed as possible about every aspect of euthanasia. All team members are happy to discuss your options with you.

Please remember you can research euthanasia before the time actually comes. Many people find this helpful as they have made their decisions before the time comes to say goodbye.

Useful Links:

Pet Quality Of Life Questionnaire
Cambridge Pet Crematorium
Cherry Tree Pet Crematorium
The Ralph Site
Compassion Understood
Animal Welfare Foundation
Our Special Friends
Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Service
Blue Cross – When The Time Comes
Saying Goodbye
Coping With Bereavement
Rainbow Bridge Story

Flystrike In Rabbits


During the summer months your rabbit is at an increased risk of having Flystrike. This is caused by flies which lay their eggs on your rabbit usually in the hindquarters area. These eggs then hatch into maggots in as little as 12 hours, burrowing into your rabbit’s skin and eating it away. This causes extensive external and internal wounds. The fly season generally runs from April to October so your rabbit could potentially be at risk most of the year. High risk rabbits are those that suffer from obesity, dental disease, diarrhoea, arthritis and those kept in dirty hutches that attract flies.  It is always important to check your rabbit daily but during the summer they should be checked at least twice a day. If Flystrike is not treated early enough it can be fatal.

Prevention of Flystrike

We recommend that you check your rabbit at least twice a day, paying particular attention to their rear end to make sure it is clean and dry. 

Feed your rabbit a regular balanced diet to help prevent diarrhoea.

Regular cleaning of the hutch is essential to make sure that the bedding is dry and insect free.

During the summer months covering your rabbit’s hutch with an old net curtain can help stop flies from entering their hutch through the mesh.

Your rabbit can be protected from Flystrike by applying a product available from the veterinary practice. This product contains a growth inhibitor and once applied it will prevent any fly eggs from hatching into maggots.This should be applied from the middle of the back to the rear end including the hind legs making sure that the whole bottle is used each time. This product cannot be used in pregnant or lactating rabbits or applied onto broken skin.  Rabbits must be over 10 weeks of age for use and protection lasts for approximately 8-10 weeks.

There is also a germicidal wound spray with insecticide available which repels insects, eliminates maggots and is effective against fleas, flies, mosquitoes, ticks and lice. This product kills any existing eggs and will repel any larvae present which will die within 30 minutes. The spray can be applied to open wounds and is ideal for use in rabbits, guinea pigs and other small rodents. Once sprayed it will last for 7 days.

Treatment for Flystrike

If you discover maggots on your rabbit, it is essential that you contact your veterinary surgery for emergency treatment. The maggots will be carefully removed and the wound(s) if present will then be cleaned. The damage to the skin and surrounding tissue will need to be assessed.  Sedation or anaesthetic may be required depending on the severity of the case. In some cases the damage caused by the maggots is too severe to treat and the only option is euthanasia.  However many rabbits survive and heal well with intensive nursing. This includes antibiotics, analgesia (pain relief) and intravenous fluids.