It’s kind of a weird subject, I know, but death — the actual series of injections and subsequent cremation — can be pretty pricey. You might wonder why that might be, considering the low cost of generic injections. And how hard is it, exactly, to burn a body to an ashy vestige of its former self?

You may well wonder what possessed me to write on this morbidly touchy subject.

A few months back one of my clients popped into the hospital to show me an interesting piece of paper — her invoice for euthanasia and cremation at a local emergency hospital:

Office call: $98

IV catheter: $75

IV sedation: $42

IV euthanasia solution: $80

Private cremation: $350 (ashes boxed in a cardboard container)

Total: $645 

Omigod! I  had no idea pet death could be so expensive! And this was for a cat! How could I have existed in this industry for so long without having encountered this?

I guess it’s no surprise that emergency hospitals significantly mark up all their services. Emergency euthanasia isn’t exactly a convenience issue — usually — but hospitals that are open when no one else is available, even if just for euthanasia, certainly deserve a premium for their services. Somehow though, it seems rude for this premium to run into the high hundreds.

I checked around, and it seems we’re one of the few hospitals in the area that…

1. Do not charge an office call for a euthanasia appointment, and…

2. Do not markup charges on cremation services.

In our office the same procedure would have cost… 

IV Catheter: $25

IV Sedation: $20

IV Euthanasia solution: $20

Private cremation: $150

Total: $215

I don’t begrudge others their prices or their income. But I have a philosophy on pricing death: It’s uncouth to hit up your clients for a huge bill when their pet has just died.

Maybe I’m naïve. Perhaps we have to cover our costs more aggressively than we currently do. Indeed, I know few hospital owners who take home less than my two colleagues. And they’ve been practicing for over thirty-five years in this same location. (I hope they don’t read this!)

Are we doing something wrong? I think we are, but I’d hasten to add that marking up euthanasia is not the right place to start making some better money. But that's just me.

Dr. Patty Khuly