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: Yesterday 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 a cat! How could I have existed in this industry for so long without having encountered this?

I checked around. It seems we’re one of the few hospitals in the area that…

1-charges no office call for a euthanasia appointment and…

2-charges no markup on cremation services.

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 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.

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.