Frequently Asked Questions

The team at Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice understands that the end of your pet’s life is a difficult time and we are committed to answering all of your questions and providing the support you need. We invite you to browse through the questions listed below and click on your question to find the answer. If you don’t see your question listed or you need more information, please contact us so we can assist you further.

frequently asked questions

What is integrative medicine for pets?

Integrative medicine combines traditional Western medications and diagnostics with knowledge of Eastern medicine techniques to offer well-rounded care for our patients. The doctors at Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice have been trained by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and the Chi Institute in post-doctoral programs. They have found Traditional Veterinary Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, laser and therapeutic ultrasound, food therapy, Chinese herbal medications, nutraceuticals, and other modalities to be wonderful tools to help treat aging pets without the stress of a visit to the hospital.

How do I know if my pet is in pain?

We invite you to visit our quality of life page to learn more about identifying your pet’s level of pain.

How do I know if the time is right for euthanasia?

We understand that this is a difficult question and we are here to provide the help you need. Our team of professional veterinarians have created a Pathway to Care Assessment to help you understand what services we would recommend based on your pet’s current condition. 

How do I cope with the loss of my beloved pet, companion and friend?

Any of us who consider our pet a friend, companion, or family member, knows the intense pain that accompanies the loss of our pet. 

Our Grief Support Specialist, Mandi Browning, is a great resouce if you are struggling with the loss of your pet. We also have a Pet Loss Grief Support Group on Facebook where you can join a community of pet lovers for support. 

Please see our Grief Support page for more information. 

Will my pet feel anxiety or pain during euthanasia?

Our veterinarian will provide your pet with gentle yet profound sedation prior to the euthanasia injection. This means that your dear companion will be in a deep, peaceful, pain-free, and unresponsive sleep prior to administration of the euthanasia injection. For more details and information please see our In-Home Pet Euthanasia page.

Where will you take my pet after he/she has passed?

When your pet has passed and you have had time and privacy to say goodbye, we will transport the body to Agape Pet Services. Beyond the trust with these two partners, there is communication through identification that stays with your pet as well as identification and instruction forms to ensure that your wishes are followed exactly, whether you request that your animal’s ashes are returned to you or not.

You may also choose to make your own arrangements for aftercare such as burial, transport for burial at another location, or transport to a cremation service of your choice.

Should my child be present for euthanasia of our pet?

You know your child best, but we will always recommend that they be given the opportunity to say goodbye and to grieve. Linda Goldman, author of Life and Loss, has said, “If a child is old enough to love, he or she is old enough to grieve.” Children can understand that existence consists of beginnings and endings—the start and end of a book or a playdate, sunrise and sunset. Death is a part of our lives and should be shared with children as well. That being said, if a child does not want to be present for euthanasia of a pet, they should not be forced. What you choose to discuss with your child regarding what happens during and after death is very personal and will depend on the child’s age. Our veterinarian will take the time and do their best to explain the process to your children at an age-appropriate level and answer their questions about the loss of their family pet.

Should my other pets be present for euthanasia of their companion?

We recommend that housemate pets are present for euthanasia of their companion. The process is very calm, quiet, and peaceful. Dogs and cats will know that their friend has passed. Perhaps the most important aspect is that they have time afterwards to say goodbye so that they are not looking for a “lost” companion. For example, families with a young pup who may be a distraction or an anxious dog who may be distressed by the presence of a guest in the house might choose not to have that pet present for euthanasia, but it is suggested that they be allowed to come in to visit the deceased pet before transport to the veterinarian’s vehicle. Our veterinarian will always give you and your pets the privacy and time you need at that point.

How will my other pets respond to the loss of their friend?

Your other pet(s) will very likely have a time of “mourning” when they lose their friend. Depending on how close the pets were, there may be a time of adjustment for the remaining pet(s). A number of things you may notice are:

  • Clinging to you
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Looking for their friend
  • Restlessness or depression
  • Wandering aimlessly

These behaviors will gradually decrease and be resolved over time. It is interesting to note that dogs often grieve for the loss of a cat, and a cat may grieve after losing their dog friend. At the time of an in-home visit, we will provide handouts that address common characteristics that some pets may exhibit when losing their pet “friend.”

How can I be sure that the ashes returned to me belong to my pet?

We are confident that the ashes you receive are those of your deceased pet. In addition to our long-standing trust in the crematorium, there is an identification tag that originates with our veterinarian who has helped your pet pass. This tag goes with your pet to the crematorium, remains with them through the cremation process, and is with the ashes when they are returned to you. This metal tag is linked to our veterinarian and as well as written instruction forms for aftercare. This tag is your assurance that the ashes you receive are those of your dear companion.


Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice

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