Easing the Death Process
Dying Happens. Dogs, cats, horses, humans, bees and bacteria: all who are born will one day die.
Thems the rules down here on the planet.
The Vedas, the timeless wisdom of India, are even more specific:
When a soul incarnates (enters a body), the time of death is predetermined.
That understanding takes a lot of hubris out of caring for the dying!
It’s ultimately not in our hands to extend life (all the cryo madness aside), but you can do many things to make that final transition out of the current body a lot easier.
Here are ten.
1. Choose natural treatments in the end
This comes from years of working with dying patients, some closely and some from afar.
The ones that die peacefully, often at home without euthanasia, are the ones whose owners chose natural treatments for the illness that would ultimately take their animals’ lives.
The best scenarios are those who always had the benefit of supportive natural therapies. Their owners knowingly avoided vaccines, monthly poisons for fleas and heartworms, and fed them a species appropriate diet.
Those receiving primary treatments like classical homeopathy or other holistic modalities (herbs, acupuncture, chiropractic, Reiki, etc.) almost always die peacefully and at home.
Animals on drugs that suppress symptoms instead of working with the patient to elicit healing have a much more difficult time dying.
2. Euthanasia is a blessing
If the end gets “rocky” (restless, uncomfortable, painful, crying, difficult to rest or sleep comfortably), euthanasia is a loving gift.
It’s especially applicable when you know the disease your animal suffers from has a poor “prognosis” — meaning the expected outcome is death, not cure.
Cancer that’s spreading is classical for this prognosis. Even if it’s been held in check by treatments for a spell but now it’s run amok, choosing euthanasia before suffering gets to an extreme is a boon for your animal.
Many is the dying human who has wished they could hasten their own death and curtail suffering with a simple injection.
3. Where euthanasia takes place matters
When my patients are nearing that dying point, my client and I start discussing euthanasia. I advise hunting down a house call veterinarian who will come to help the transition.
Dying at home, your pet is surrounded by familiar smells, sights, sounds and significant others.
That’s an inestimable comfort compared to being driven to an emergency clinic and hoisted onto a stainless steel table amid smells of disinfectants and perhaps sounds of kenneled strangers barking.
4. Euthanasia is a vet-only procedure (not DIY)
A fairly common question among my newly empowered clients and pack members is often
Is there a way to euthanize Sadie at home myself?
Unfortunately, the answer is no.
The goal is to make the transition from living to dying to gone smooth and painless.
You’ve likely heard of Socrates being given the goblet of hemlock and drinking his way to his prescribed death.
That’d be a difficult substance to get an animal to take, not to mention a potentially painful mode of dying by paralysis.
The drug used in most euthanasia in animals is pentobarbital, a barbiturate that must be given intravenously. If even a bit slips out of the vein, it can be very irritating and painful.
In addition, pentobarbital is a controlled substance, classed as Schedule II, so is only available to vets who’ve had DEA clearance.
When properly administered, it quickly and smoothly takes your animal from consciousness to unconsciousness to death, in the space of less than a minute.
Again: good to have your vet lined up for this ahead of time.
5. Homeopathy assists dying, euthanasia or natural
There’s a well known remedy you can find in every remedy kit and many health food stores that has great utility around the dying process.
It’s used in many other states of disease, but this use is a good one to know. The remedy is arsenicum album.
It helps ease the tension and fear that can accompany probably the biggest transition in life: death!
The key symptoms you’ll see in the dying patient that could benefit from arsenicum album are fear and restlessness.
Obviously, fear is common around dying and it can drive restlessness in some unfortunate pets.
How to Use Arsenicum around Dying
Remedies often come in two main forms:
- A tube full of BB sized round pellets (commonest by far)
- A tube full of mustard seed sized granules (found in my emergency kit)
The latter is the simplest to use, so I’ll start there.
Those tiny granules are impossible to spit out, so you’d pour 5-10 of them into the cap of the vial, open your dog’s mouth, and toss them in.
The common ones from the store are super easy to spit out, so we need one more step.
You’ll crush a few of those BBs in a folded 3X5 card by rolling over them with a heavy glass or bottle.
Then you dump the resulting powder onto your pet’s mouth, and you’re done.
Cheating. You Can Totally Do This
To both stretch your remedy into more doses and make dosing even easier, instead of dumping those granules or your crushed powder right into Sadie’s mouth, pour it instead into a half cup of pure water.
Stir it vigorously for 30 seconds, and you’ve got a half cup full of doses now, with each dose being a dribble on a spoon. Or a 1 ml/1 cc squirt if you’ve got a small clean syringe available.
Either way, it’s usually easier to not struggle to get an open mouth from your animal, but just get some of the liquid into the cheek pouch.
Once even a little wets the inside of the mouth, you’ve dosed your pet, big or small.
The commonest potency you can buy is typically 30C.
That means it’s ultra diluted to the point of having only the “energetic imprint” of arsenic but no physical arsenic present.
Use that 30C, and you’ll do good work.
200C or higher can be used as well.
How Often to Dose?
Your animal is dying. Some stress is likely part of the picture here, right?
Dose her according to her needs.
You might give a stirred dose (or a dry one) and see a nice relief.
The restlessness and concerned look settles down significantly. Maybe a deep nap follows.
But then, it comes back later. How much later doesn’t matter, but it’s clearly back.
That’s the time to stir your cup and give another small squirt.
If your pet is dying, you can repeat this dose when ever you see the fear or restlessness pick back up again, and there’s not a “too much” level of dosing now, as long as you’re seeing some betterment from each dose.
6. Bach Flower Remedies: Huge Help in Dying
You’ve likely heard of Rescue Remedy at some point: a natural stress reliever that resembles a homeopathic remedy (diluted, very safe, more energetic than physical).
This is a remedy I think every household should have on hand.
It’s one that’s useful around the time of a loved one’s dying process.
Useful not only for the dying animal, but for YOU, the caregiver.
And the FAMILY, and other pets. When the social order changes with a death, these remedies help re-establish an equilibrium once more.
It’s not a sedative, but rather an emotional balancer. It’s taken orally and it helps your animal go…
…Ahhh. I got this. It’s not so bad or scary as I first thought.
Rescue Remedy can be like taking a fresh breath and gaining a new perspective on a stressful situation.
Another Bach Flower remedy that’s of great use around this time is Bach Flower Walnut.
Bach Walnut (don’t confuse with black walnut tincture, totally different) helps the emotions around:
- Transitions (pretty much none bigger than death, both for the dying and those who are left behind)
- Safety (big change can be scary and feel unsafe)
Dosing Bach Remedies
I explain this in more detail in my free Bach Flower Remedy course, so I won’t repeat it here.
Bottom line: these remedies are very, very safe, there’s no possibility of overdosing, and they often help.
Balancing the emotions, as Dr. Bach discovered, can often help balance and improve the physical as well.
In your dying animals, we’re not looking for recovery, but an easing of stress.
7. Have Your Bodily Arrangements Made Ahead of Time
Depending on your locale and your leaning, you have some choices ahead when you have an animal who’s about to shuffle off their mortal coil.
If you’re in an urban setting, that may mean cremation for pets.
If you live on a farm, you may opt to bury your loved one’s body under a tree or in a wildflower patch.
What ever you decide, it’s good to have those arrangements already made, so you’re not burdened with that at the time of death.
A caution on cremation, and I hate to bring it up, but a pack member in California saw, with her own eyes from her car, a rendering truck picking up bodies from a crematorium.
And you know where rendered bodies go: into pet food. That’s why some pet foods have turned up with pentobarbital in them.
So, just be cautious in choosing who will cremate your pet’s body.
8. Allow the Whole Pack in On This
Another benefit of having either natural death or euthanasia happen at home is the ease of transition for the family, both human and animal.
We humans and our animals are best served by seeing something of the death process.
It can be life transforming for the people (reminding you of your own mortality) as well as closing the circle of life for this loved one with integrity and dignity.
For the animals left behind, there’s a clear closure that sets the stage for a smooth pack transition.
There’s no mystery. They get to see old Sadie’s body, smell her, appreciate that she’s truly gone, and get on with sorting out their new lives and pack order without her presence.
9. Allow Forgiveness and Grace
Let’s face it, losing a loved one of any species is hard.
We may want to blame, deny, even rail against what just happened, but it’s important to have an attitude of forgiveness and allow grace to enter.
There may have been mistakes. There may be misgivings.
Dying and disease can be messy. Emotions can certainly run high during and after the loss of a loved one.
And you only did the best you knew to do at the time.
Do your best to let it go, use your Rescue Remedy, seek close friends for comfort and …
10. Learn for the Next Gen
One of death’s greatest tributes can be taking what you’ve learned from a dying loved one and using it to strike out on a new path.
It’s not unusual for my new pack members to, at that point in their lives, vow they will never rear another animal without the benefit of the natural path.
They saw the shortcomings of handing over prevention to Dr. WhiteCoat.
Too many vaccines, too many poisons, and food that just didn’t support optimal health.
And Sadie’s death has impelled you to change all that. Next time.
I submit there is no better tribute to a loved one who has died than to make such a powerful commitment.
Have you had a death experience that’s changed you? Anything else about dying you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments.