When the time comes
At Home Pet Euthanasia
A compassionate option for saying goodbye
Making The Decision
End-of-life decisions are the hardest decisions we make as pet owners. It is equally a “gift” that we can give to a pet who is experiencing unmanageable pain or suffering. When a family is working hard to manage a pet’s illness or injury it is very difficult to switch gears from improving quality of life to preparing for quality of death.
Often times what paralyzes a pet owner’s decision is the guilt and anxiety over the final car ride, the steel exam table, or the the hated veterinary experience (from the pet’s perspective). At home pet euthanasia provides a quiet private way to give your pet and family (including other pets) the time and space to say a dignified goodbye.
At Home Pet Euthanasia Process: What To Expect and How to Prepare
Each pet and family is unique. Each situation has its own personal story and set of circumstances. The more information you share with me, the better I can tailor the experience to be the most peaceful. We offer initial 30-minute phone consultations for $75. If you need more time we can arrange for additional phone time for an hourly fee of $150.
Here are the basic elements to prepare for:
- Location: Families can choose to perform the procedure inside the home or outside (weather permitting). We can be on the floor, couch or bed, or cradled in your arms. Some families request to meet at a “special” location (beach, lake, family member’s home). Please take a look at our COVID-19 Protocols.
- Family Members: All family members including children and other pets are invited to be present. It is best parents can prepare their children in advance and avoid the terminology (put to sleep). APLB.org has links to children’s books and frequently asked questions. Teach children the meaning of the word euthanasia (peaceful death). I leave it to a parent’s discretion to decide whether children under the age of 10 years should be present. Studies indicate that children 10 years or older should be asked whether they want to be present. The loss of a pet is often a child’s first experience with death and it needs to be handled gently. Having a grandparent or other adult family friend available to assist with an emotional child can be helpful.
- Pre-Sedation : If your pet is anxious, dislikes strangers, dislikes needles, or is untouchable due to the pain, it is good to have a backup plan. I must have a VPCR (veterinary client-patient relationship) to prescribe drugs to administer in advance of my arrival. We can work with your current veterinarian who can prescribe a heavy-duty sedative or anti-anxiety medication to administer 2 hours before my arrival. This can make the administration of the sedative injection considerably easier.
- Sedation: The euthanasia process starts with a sedative. Based on your pet’s personality, fear around strangers, and level of pain we will make choices about the best way to accomplish the sedation safely. Sedation will bring your pet to a stage called unconsciousness (twilight sleep) within about 10 minutes. Their eyes remain open, their breathing relaxes, and their heart rate often slows down. Any pain melts out of their physical body. Many pets will start snoring loudly. My first choice sedative is administered via a small needle that causes a slight “bee sting” reaction. If there are reasons we can’t accomplish this safely, it is good to know in advance. I prefer to not have to muzzle your pet.
- Euthanasia Injection: Once the patient has gently relaxed, the entire family can gather around to caress and speak softly to their pet. While the family is focused on their pet snuggles, I will place a small IV catheter in the rear leg. For a multitude of disease-related reasons, veins can be difficult to find. Be patient while I search for a better vein. Your pet is comfortably sedated and is not experiencing any pain. Often times, I will give the euthanasia injection directly into a cat’s kidney, bypassing the need to place an IV. The injection is an overdose of an anesthetic and will gently stop your pet’s breathing within 60 seconds and will slowly stop the heartbeat within 3-5 minutes.
- Legalities: When I arrive, I will ask the pet owner to sign a consent form. This is giving me permission to perform the euthanasia and attesting that no human has been bitten by the pet within the past 15 days. It is critical that no family member or myself gets bitten in the process of performing euthanasia. If that were to happen and the skin was broken, the pet is required by law to be tested at the state laboratory for rabies. NO EXCEPTIONS. This is why it is critical to be aware of a pet’s personality in advance and for pet owners to understand that an animal in pain can sometimes bite. We need to be aware of where we place our hands and faces during the sedation process.