The dvm360 toolkit: End-of-life conversations


Tips, tools and resources to help you have mindful, meaningful end-of-life discussions with pet owners.

End-of-life decisions about pets are inherently emotional, but there are tools you can use to ease the pain. This special package of articles, tips, handouts, videos and tools was specially designed to help you have mindful, meaningful end-of-life discussions with pet owners. 

Articles and tips

> What Dr. Marty Becker learned from a funeral director

> The coin jar exercise 

Your tools for end-of-life decisions


Problem behavior cases are examined for prognostic indicators in this infographic.


> Have you had some rough conversations about end-of-life issues with clients? Well, there's no doubt that people put a lot of stock in how their healthcare professionals handle tough conversations, and pet owners are no different. Get tips on what to say and how to say it best.

> Euthanasia is as tough a situation as you're likely to face with a client. Dr. Robin Downing says you can make things better by empowering and informing pet owners throughout the difficult event.

> End-of-life decisions about pets can be so hard on clients, but there is a tool to help pet owners keep focused. Here Dr. Robin Downing explains the Quality of Life Scale developed by Dr. Alice Villalobos and how it can bring objectivity to a sentimental situation.

Audio tools

Dr. Laura Garrett, a board-certified veterinary oncologist, explains how understanding the stages of grief can prevent you from taking clients' reactions to bad news personally.

Sample script: How to discuss the cost of euthanasia

"Help clients who make the difficult choice to euthanize their pet by approaching the associated costs with sincere consideration," says Sharon DeNayer, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and the clinic manager at Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Windsor, Colo. DeNayer offers this script to broach the topic with clients.


Ready-to-use handout: Helping pets who have lost their buddy

Losing a housemate can be hard on the entire family-including the other pets. For clients faced with one or more surviving pets, point them to this handout for solace and tips.

Sounding off: Veterinarians discuss having pets present at euthanasias

Dr. John Ciribassi, DVM, DACVB, was asked: What happens when a client wants their surviving pet present at the euthanasia in order to decrease the post-traumatic effects on the younger dog? Get his answer here.

> Readers had a strong response to this question-here are some letters about closure for housemantes after euthanasia

Talk back

Does your team go the extra mile for clients dealing with euthanasia and end-of-life decisions? We'd love to share your winning strategies with your colleagues. Did you try one of these tools? We'd love to know what your experience was like. Any other feedback? Let us know.

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