Is Putting Your Dog or Cat Down at Home an Option?

4 min read

Now, more than ever, pet parents think of their dogs and cats as members of the family. So it comes as no surprise that they are giving a lot of thought and attention to the handling of their pet’s end-of-life care.
 

If your pet’s quality of life is declining, or you know that your pet is suffering or in pain, you are probably wondering how you’ll know when it’s the right time to put your pet down.

 

Your local veterinarian has experience with this issue and knows you and your pet well. They are there to support both of you during this difficult time.

 

In the past, your only option would have been to take your pet to your veterinarian’s office or to a shelter for euthanasia procedures. But there have been recent shifts in the veterinary community to accommodate a less stressful method.

 

A new branch of veterinary medicine called “pet hospice” provides concierge end-of-life home services to meet this need, including palliative care and in-home euthanasia. Here’s what you need to know about these services and what they offer.

 

What Is Pet Hospice?

 

Pet hospice services are modeled after hospice services for people. They have mobile veterinarians that will come to your home to examine your pet and walk you through pain-management, nutrition and hygiene protocols so that you can help make your pet’s final days as comfortable and dignified as possible.

 

This concierge veterinary relationship can help provide peace of mind during the difficult end-of-life decision-making process.

 

Euthanizing a Cat or Dog in Your Own Home

 

Instead of taking a stressful car ride and sitting in a waiting room at the veterinary office, you can have your cat or dog euthanized at home in comfortable surroundings.

 

“In-home pet euthanasia provides a quiet, private way to give your pet and family (including other pets) the time and space to say a dignified goodbye,” says Dr. Dale Krier DVM, CHPV of Creature Comforts mobile veterinary services in Sherman, Connecticut. 

 

How Much Does In-Home Euthanasia Typically Cost?

 

In-home euthanasia costs can vary, depending on the services provided. Charges include:

 

  • Travel fee

  • Emergency fee (if applicable)

  • Euthanasia fee

  • Cremation fee

 

Combined, you can expect to spend $400-1,000 for the service.

 

Hourly hospice consultations range from $150-250 per hour.

 

How Does the Veterinarian Prepare?

 

The veterinarian will arrive at your home at the agreed upon time and examine your pet. Based on your pet’s condition, the veterinarian will choose the best medications and process to perform the euthanasia.

 

Once the veterinarian determines the best plan, they will talk you through it and give you the time that you need to ask any questions.

 

Together, you will choose the best location to perform the procedure.

 

What Drugs Are Used? How Do They Work?

 

Euthanasia is typically a two-step process that involves two injections to make it painless and stress-free for your pet.

 

The first injection is a sedative that can be administered into the muscle or intravenously, depending on the medicine. Once injected, your pet will become relaxed and will gradually fall asleep.  Be aware that they may not close their eyes. 

 

Once your pet is resting comfortably, a second injection is given into the vein to stop their heart. The second injection typically takes a few seconds to a few minutes to work. 

 

What Happens to Your Pet’s Body After an In-Home Euthanasia?

 

Prior to the actual appointment, you will have already discussed the details of how your pet’s body will be handled post-euthanasia.

 

“Body care options are important to consider in advance. Choices to consider are home burial, burial at a pet cemetery, cremation arranged by the owner, or cremation arranged by the veterinarian. Special arrangements are best made in advance,” says Dr. Krier. 

 

For cremation, Dr. Krier says that he will typically bring a soft-sided, rolling stretcher to help transport your pet to his car. He explains that you can wrap your pet in a special blanket or sheet, and if you would like, you can even include favorite toys or handwritten letters with your pet to be included in their cremation.

 

End-of-life decision-making can be extremely difficult. Veterinary hospice and in-home euthanasia services are welcome options for pet parents who want to experience these moments in the privacy of their own home.

 

By: Dr. Elizabeth Bales, DVM

Featured Image: iStock.com/ProjectB