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Pet Home Euthanasia

By T. J. Dunn, Jr., DVM

Let's face it -- euthanasia is a scary thing. All pet owners want their pet's last moments to be as comfortable as possible and as stress free for themselves and their pet as the situation can be. So the natural question is "Can the veterinarian come to our home to administer the euthanasia solution?" The answer is Yes.  However, there are a number of things for you to consider.

1. What will you do with your pet after euthanasia?
2. Will your pet require restraint during the euthanasia procedure so that the needle can be carefully placed into a vein? In the animal hospital, the staff is trained in gentle restraint procedures which allows for proper administration of the euthanasia solution.
3. The veterinarian will most likely have to schedule the home visit after regular office hours. Are you willing to pay for an after-hours in-home visit before the euthanasia procedure?
4. Do you understand that often, as the pet is euthanized, there will be an emptying of the bowels and bladder? In an animal hospital setting this is not a problem.
5. Understand that in the animal hospital most animals are willing to accept that they are not in their own territory and they become less defensive than they would be in their own home. This realization by the pet actually allows for easier handling of the pet in the hospital than if the euthanasia procedure were to take place in the pet's home.
6. Are you willing to have your pet sedated prior to attempts to place the needle for euthanasia? Sometimes the process goes much more smoothly if sedation is given prior to the visit. Sedation isn't always the best option for every pet (e.g., Herding dogs like the collie, border collie, Australian shepherd and the sheltie often have a genetic mutation in the ABCB1 [formerly MDR1] gene that allows certain drugs to accumulate in the brain), but it's a good topic to discuss with your veterinarian to determine if it may lessen any stress on your pet prior to an in-hospital or in-home euthanasia procedure.

There are veterinarians who have made it a policy never to euthanize a pet outside of the animal hospital setting. They have some very good reasons for this policy. However, if you must have your pet euthanized at home, don't be reluctant to make some phone calls and you will be able to find a veterinarian who will accommodate your wishes.

Image: Brennan / via Flickr

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