Pet bereavement & cremation services

Deciding to have your pet put to sleep can feel like it’s going to be one of the most difficult decisions of your life, although the need to intervene often feels right when the time comes. The vets and staff at Garston Vets are available with a wealth of experience & expertise to help you through the process of assessing your pet’s medical status and quality of life at what is often a highly emotional time. We have created this page as a means of summarising the steps you may need to go through as your animal’s life draws to an end. We hope this helps both you, your family, and your pet.

Talk to us about end of life care

Here are some questions you may be wondering about…


When is the right time?

This is often the hardest question for many pet owners. As veterinary surgeons we hope to provide you with information that can give you a better understanding of the prognosis for your pet’s condition. Our entire team of vets, nurses and receptionists are more than happy to discuss any aspects of your decision-making from a compassionate point of view.

Where will my animal be put to sleep?

Routinely we put most animals to sleep at one of our surgeries at a veterinary appointment. At the time of the booking we try and allow for longer appointment times and schedule the procedure for a quieter period of the day. We are sometimes able to organise a home visit if requested in advance, so always feel free to ask what options are available.

What will happen on the day?

At your appointment the vet will first discuss your wishes with you, from whether you would like your pet sedated before the procedure, whether you would like to be present whilst your animal falls asleep, and what you would like to happen with your pet’s body afterwards. We will ask you to sign a consent form to give us legal permission to put your animal to sleep, and as final clarification of the decisions you have made. Your pet will be put to sleep by a veterinary surgeon, often assisted by a veterinary nurse. The process involves giving an injection of an anaesthetic drug, so a small patch of fur will need to be clipped on your animal’s leg to allow a catheter or needle to be inserted into a vein. The anaesthetic is then slowly injected leading to your pet becoming drowsy at first, but then unconscious. Soon after their breathing and their heartbeat will stop. As animals pass away it is very normal to see some involuntary muscle twitches and often what appears to be a gasp for a final breath. At this point your animal will no longer be aware that these reflexes are taking place. The procedure of euthanasia is both quick and painless, but we may recommend that your pet is sedated beforehand if they are obviously anxious or tricky to handle. We tend to give smaller pets like rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters anaesthetic gas so they are fast asleep before we inject them. The vet can discuss how this is done at the time.

Should I stay with my pet?

The decision of whether to stay with your pet or not is a very personal choice. The procedure undertaken to put your animal to sleep is exactly the same whether you are present or not. We are more than used to it being an emotional time, so please don’t feel you shouldn’t stay if you are upset. Being with your animal can be reassuring for your pet and can help provide closure for yourself if you witness how peaceful the process is. If you decide not to stay, we will make sure that your pet is comfortable and handled with the utmost care.


We are always happy for you to take as much time as you need to say goodbye to your pet and to make a final decision on what happens to them next. We offer the following options for your pet after they have been put to sleep.

  •  Some people have the space to take their pet back to their premises for a home burial. We can provide biodegradable cardboard coffins for any size of pet.

Many people prefer to have their pet cremated.

  • A communal cremation means your pet will be cremated with other pets.
  • If you chose an individual cremation for your pet, then they will be cremated in a single cremation chamber, allowing their ashes to be collected separately. These will then be returned to you in their own receptacle. We routinely offer a wooden casket with an engraved name plaque or a cardboard scatterbox for easier access to the ashes.

There are also a number of other scattering tubes, caskets, and decorative urns available if you would prefer something more individual – please speak to a member of our staff if you would like an alternative option.

We do hope this page provides you with the reassurance you need to know your pet will be treated with respect and handled with dignity at all times. If you have any further questions then please don’t hesitate to speak to a member of Garston Vets’ team.