When it’s Time to Say Goodbye… The Gift of Home Euthanasia

When the time comes to say goodbye to one of your beloved pets, we can help by providing a calm, comfortable, and painless end of life transition at home.

If you are not quite sure the time is right for such a decision, we are happy to offer guidance and support to help you make the best choice for your family.

If you’d prefer traditional cremation, we highly recommend Pet Angel Memorial Center, Paws, Whiskers, and Wags and Deceased Pet Care Funeral Home.

We also offer aquamation services through Heavenly Paws. This process is a gentle and environmentally friendly alternative to cremation. Many facilities offer burial services as well. Please visit their websites for details.

We offer an extended service area for end of life visits (some additional fees apply.)

Why at home?

Euthanasia is a terribly difficult decision to face for one of your furry family members. While some pets seem fairly comfortable with the vet clinic environment, many others are very anxious about the smells, sounds, and feel of the relatively sterile setting. Helping them to transition in the comfort of their home surroundings is a wonderful gift –a very special thank you for all the unconditional love they have given throughout their lifetime.

As this is understandably an emotional time, the privacy of the home visit allows for a more comfortable grieving process. Saying goodbye at home is a much more personal experience; some people will read poems, play music, recount stories, have prayers, or use any number of other creative ways to celebrate the life of their animal.

The home option also allows any other pets in the household to experience and process the passing in their own way and helps to avoid confusion when their friend disappears and does not return. Additionally, arrangements for aftercare can easily be facilitated from the home.The seamless process will allow your family to focus on supporting one another and to avoid worrying about the details afterward.

How do I know when it’s time?

While there is no easy answer to this question, there are a few criteria that will help guide you in the right direction. Because our pets are genetically programmed to hide weakness, we do need to be diligent in looking for negative life quality indicators.

Severe pain is perhaps the most common reason owners face this decision; however, there are many other factors that contribute to their well-being. When our animals lose their appetite for more than an isolated day or two, this is a clear indication that they are feeling very poorly. Furthermore, when they seem to be less interested in normal behavior like going outside to play or going to the bathroom and seem reluctant to interact with you in a normal way, they are letting us know about their discomfort. If their movement is so compromised that they must eliminate on their bedding, this causes physical and emotional distress for them and should be considered a negative variable as well.

Many owners ask about whether their pet is in pain and seem to focus on this question to help them make the choice. What is truly important to realize is that pain is not the only reason for a negative life quality; being uncomfortable can result from pain, weakness, decreased appetite, nausea, lack of mobility, and many other situations.  The best time to help your baby is when the bad days outnumber the good ones; try your best to avoid waiting until you no longer see any positives.

While we do occasionally see some pets pass naturally without assistance, hoping for this usually means a fair amount of suffering in the meantime.

What should I expect during the process?

We will first come in and sit down to talk for a few minutes; this allows your pet to relax and feel more comfortable. During this time, we may talk briefly about your baby and make sure we agree that euthanasia is the appropriate decision at that time.

We will first give a very heavy sedative injection; this allows him or her to settle into a sleep state much like undergoing a surgical procedure. Once he or she is completely relaxed and comfortable, we will use a small butterfly needle to inject the euthanasia solution into a vein (usually in the back leg). You will see the breathing slow and stop within a few seconds.

Once the IV injection is completed, we will listen for several minutes to ensure the heartbeats have completely stopped (this can take a minute or two). Occasionally you may see a sudden deep breath; this is called agonal breathing, is not a conscious reaction, and is completely normal to see in some animals. It is also common for their eyes to remain open following the sedation and even after they have passed; this can be disconcerting if you are not aware ahead of time.

If you wish us to transport your pet for cremation afterward, we will give you several minutes to sit with your baby and then will settle him or her on a stretcher or in a basket for the trip.

What should tell my children?

Discussing the concept of death with a child of any age can be very difficult. While many people understandably feel uncomfortable involving their children in the decision to pursue euthanasia, we truly feel it is important to allow them to say goodbye.

We suggest preparing them several weeks ahead (if you have that much time) that he or she could pass on sometime while they are at school or that their friend is slowing down, is very uncomfortable, and may not be with you for much longer. Encourage them to spend extra quality time during the last few days to weeks. Having them come home from school to find their buddy gone can be very traumatic.

If your kids are old enough to understand the process, allowing them to be present can help them grieve and cope with the loss.