O’Dowd Veterinary Hospital's home page
Dunleer Clinic 041 686 3895
Ardee Veterinary Hospital 041 685 3722

End Of Life Care

As much as we all love our pets, the inevitable final farewell does arrive. Unfortunately, not every pet passes away in their sleep and you, as their owner, may have to make the difficult decision to 'put them to sleep' (euthanasia).

At O'Dowd veterinary we will help with any questions that you may have. We hope to detail you with as much information as possible so that you are equipped with the right information to help you make this difficult decision. We are truly aware how painful this decision is and how distressing the potential loss of your pet is to you.

Do you provide palliative care? 

Your pet may be a candidate for palliative care but you need to have an in-depth discussion with our vets about whether this is a feasible option for both you and your pet. If upon discussions with the veterinary team the plan of palliative care is pursued, we will endeavour to make your pet comfortable in their final days, but palliative care will not prolong your pet's life. 

How do I know the time has come to say goodbye? 

The guiding principle of when to say goodbye to your pet is their welfare. We will answer your questions to the best of our ability with the aim of providing you with as much information to help you formulate your decision. 

A useful tool may be to write out a list of things your pet does on an average day.

For example -

My pet can:

  • Can breath comfortably
  • Exercise and move in a way they are used to
  • Can maintain their bodyweight within normal ranges
  • Comfortably eat their required daily amount of food
  • Comfortably drink their required daily amount of fluid
  • Have conscious and pain free control of their own toileting
  • Can see and hear at a safe level so they are not at risk to themselves
  • Spend their daily existence pain free (old animals may have aches and pains but the pain they experience should not exceed pain management interventions)

 If your pet is no longer able to do one or a combination of these things and the symptoms cannot be managed medically or surgically, it would be an indicator that your pet's daily life is no longer of a satisfactory welfare standard and euthanasia may be the kindest option for them.

What should you expect during euthansia? 

Euthanasia may seem like a scary idea, but the word euthanasia is the Greek for 'good death', and this is what we endeavour to give your pet. A vet will perform the euthanasia and a veterinary nurse may be there to assist. You can choose to stay with your pet or members of our veterinary team can stay and cuddle your pet for you.

We may give your pet a sedative to keep them calm and comfortable. They will be very relaxed but they will still be able to hear you talk to them. Additionally, we may give them drugs to help with access to their veins. All these drugs mentioned may cause a little sting when given but their discomfort is fleeting.

We will clip a little area of their hair off (usually on one of their front legs) to help us find their vein and insert a catheter. Once the catheter is in place the next step is to administer the euthansia drug through the catheter. We will let you know when this is about to happen. You may want to spend some more time with your pet before the final stage begins and we will happily accomodate this request.

From when the drug is administered to the moment of your pet's final passing is a very quick and painless process. Your pet will simply appear to fall asleep. 

Their body may do the following involuntary reactions upon death and this can seem alarming but they are purely signs of your pet's body shutting down, your pet is no longer conscious of these reactions and they do not indicate life. The vet will then listen to your pet's chest for a heartbeat and breaths and confirm to you they have passed away.

Where you should go for the appointment?

As we know it’s an emotional time, we ask that when you arrive, to please park on the left-hand side of the building (as shown in picture). This carpark is more private and allows us to help our clients avoid our busy reception and main carpark. 

Once you have arrived, call our reception at 041 685 3722 and let them know you are here. Please feel free to stay in your car with your pet.

One of our vets will come out to greet you and your pet and bring you all through to a private room via a separate and quiet entrance away from the main hospital.


You can avail of group or individual cremation should you wish.

With group cremation your pet's ashes are not returned to you.

Individual cremation means your pet's ashes are returned to you. You can choose from an array of urns, caskets or keepsakes for their ashes to be stored in. Please click the link of Glenvine Pet Crematorium for an idea of the options to choose from. Prices vary depending on what option you choose so please feel free to call us on 041 685 3722 and talk to one of our veterinary nurses who can discuss the details of this with you.


We've found that clients prefer to settle up payment before the appointment as many prefer to focus on their pet in their final moments.

The simplest way to do this is to finalise details (i.e. cost of appointment; Are you opting for cremation and if so individual or group?).

To do this you can call us on 041 685 3722 to speak to one of our veterinary nurses who can finalise these details with you.

Then, once you arrive for the appointment and phone reception to let them know you here your account will be up to date and you can pay over the phone should you wish.

Previous clients have found this to be the most seamless and private option. It also allows you to avoid the busy reception area should you wish to at this time.

Dealing with pet bereavement 

Further compassionate advice can be found at Compassion Understood. An excellent resource should you or someone you know is going through pet bereavement.