When it's time...where will your pet be euthanized?

Patty Khuly, DVM
Updated: October 05, 2010
Published: February 11, 2009
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Will it be on the blanket-topped, stainless steel table, surrounded by friends and family? Or will it be a quiet affair with your veterinarian...in your back yard?

An increasing number of pet owners are beginning to realize they have a choice in the matter. Many veterinarians will do house calls for euthanasia...if you ask. At-home euthanasia services (practitioners who dedicate their careers to providing at-home death care) have become increasingly popular. I’ve even euthanized pets at the beach, in parks, in the back of an owner’s car...

Yes, if you live in or near a major metropolitan area...more than likely you have a choice. 

Last week I offered you a post in which I chastised the mystery physician who implanted  an octet of embryos into that confused California woman. Medicine is NOT like Burger King, I ranted,...you cannot “have it your way.” 

Well, I guess I have to take it back in this case, because euthanasia is kind of different...and yet it certainly qualifies as medicine. When it comes to achieving the “beautiful death” you seek for your pets, it’s almost always about what works for you and your family...and not necessarily about the scripted protocols we may try to follow for so many other aspects of our care.

Sure, there are some limitations based on the laws in any given municipality. Your veterinarian may not have the go-ahead from his or her employer to perform “out of office” services. Depending on the insurance we carry, we may not be protected once we get in our cars and drive to your home. And it’s always worth mentioning that non-traditional locations for euthanasia (outside of the hospital) will invariably cost you more. 

Nonetheless, you might be surprised by the leeway your veterinarian can manage if you raise this issue early enough in your relationship. 

This is something I’ve had personal cause to consider lately. When my Sophie Sue’s brain tumor makes itself known again, what will I do? If a second round of radiation is not an option, and the prednisone finally fails, will I take her to her favorite spot in the yard? Will I choose her favorite car seat? Her favorite pillow on my bed? 

Nope. If I have any choice in the matter she’ll die where she’s been most loved...on a blanket in the stainless steel cage all of us at work know she prefers. 

Here’s when I urge you to think about your last moments with your pet. Not to depress you...only to inject a small dose of reality into your occasional thoughts as to what might make for the best possible experience after a lifetime of love. Sappy, yes...but true, too.

Have you ever had your pet euthanized in a non-traditional place? Thought about it? Asked and did not receive? Let us know...