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Defrosting Pets

Written By: Jane Davidson RVN

It’s sometimes hard to believe that, after writing hundreds of blogs over the 7 years, there are still some things that we do as vet nurses that are such A Thing that we don’t even know they are A THING for other people.


Things that aren’t Things

So far I’ve managed to cover - among other topics - the issues with retractable leads, what to do with our unused pet meds and yet there’s still more to go. Today’s inspiration was from that wonderful Twitter account Mumsnet Madness. Trawling Mumsnet for the best/worst posts and sharing them for us all – mothers or not.

For those of you who don’t know, Mumsnet is an online forum for mums and they were deemed such a powerful forum that Tony Blair and David Cameron have both posted there, or appeared in live webchats, while campaigning and while being PM. So it must be pretty high-brow important stuff on there then?

Well… there might be some intellectual stuff there, but luckily with Mumsnet Madness we can bypass all that and head straight to the fun that is AIBU.


Yes – AIBU and before I explain this, just know that if anyone posts under AIBU then by definition they ARE indeed BU.

AIBU stands for Am I Being Unreasonable and previous joys on this thread have been the lady who doesn’t believe 4 legged animals ‘stand’ and would reserve ‘standing’ for bipeds only. You’re getting the level of posts…

Yet a recent one had me thinking that I’ve not only done the same, but also we were being totally reasonable. What made me side with a mumsnetter?

Frosting or defrosting?

It was the simple act of defrosting a deceased pet – with or without hairdryer/towels/hair brushes etc. A relatively common task for the veterinary team and one which is regularly part of a client’s journey to saying goodbye to their pet.

The realities of pets often being put to sleep at a vet practice is that we need a way to safely store these pets until a number of decisions are made. There are options for burial or cremation and often there are a number of family members’ wishes to take into account. Over the years I have worked in clinics with chest freezers in the basement/shed/garage and even once a large restaurant style walk in fridge with multiple shelves to store the pets on, until either the client or the crematorium collected them.

While we like to think that most of us would be practically minded enough to realise that bodies need to be kept cold, but for grieving pet owners practical issues aren’t at the forefront of their minds. Hence we often end up in situations where a child or parent or partner wishes to see the pet before its final journey. We will try and dissuade you from this visit, as it isn’t easy to see a deceased pet - it is never the image that you wish to remember them by.

Vidal Sassoon

Over the years I’ve often managed to dissuade this visit as, with the best intentions in the world, a deceased frozen pet often bears little resemblance to their memories of their beloved pet. Yet in the most awkward case I can recall a very insistent gentleman who wished to visit his dog as he had been away when she had died. I spent most of that morning shift blow drying and combing some very large hairy spaniel ears… even with my best Vidal Sassoon I couldn’t make their pretty girl look like their pet after a few weeks in a freezer. Although I had spent a lot of time on it I was very grateful when the poor man got to the door of the room and then looked at me and said ‘You were right, my memories of her alive are more important than seeing her now.’



In the mumsnet post a mother had woken to find her daughters hamster had passed away on the daughter’s birthday. Mum had quickly popped the hamster in the freezer and then - after the birthday had passed - got it out, popped a hair dryer on it and put it back in the cage for the daughter to find on a less emotional day. A totally reasonable response…

Normally mumsnetters you are all BU but in this case I’m right there with you… any help we can get with the grieving process is worth it.

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