In-home Pet Euthanasia (Part 1) – Why?

Posted on September 23, 2013 by Lynn Henderson

Every pet owner has faced, or will come to face the end of their pet’s life. This is often a time of sadness and turmoil for pet parents, as they grapple with their end-of-life options. Veterinary medicine has come a long way in the last decade, and companion animal euthanasia has become a practice specialization for many veterinarians. Many practitioners have focused their practices on providing geriatric care, hospice services, and in-home euthanasia for dogs ad cats. With this level of specialty and dedication, pet owners have the right to expect high level care in dealing with the death of their companion animals.

In companion animal mobile practice,  we see many geriatric and end-of-life patients. It is our goal to be as compassionate and honest with clients as possible about their hospice and euthanasia options. This article will be delivered in two parts. Part 1 will outline why individual pet parents choose at home euthanasia for their animals, and Part 2 will explain the process of veterinary euthanasia, the steps we choose to follow in our practice, and the medications used. We feel it is important for pet owners to understand the procedure and what they can expect from both their veterinarian and their pets during each step of the process.

Why Choose at home euthanasia for your pet?

Most often, people think of transporting their dog or cat to their local veterinary hospital when ‘it is his/her time’. This is always an option, and depending on the depth of your relationship with your local veterinarian – may be the best and most appropriate choice for your family. For many people and pets however, a trip to the veterinary clinic may be fraught with stress and fear. Clinics often represent a painful past experience (ex. neutering, or hospitalized illness), may smell alarming to sensitive animal noses, and may force a time-limit on your euthanasia appointment based on other client appointments and conflicting in-clinic priorities. Occasionally a veterinarian will perform a pet euthanasia in the clinic examination room, only to then require that same examination room immediately afterwards for their next patient. This does not give a grieving family much time to say good-bye to their pet, or to gather themselves before driving back home. We are making strides in veterinary medicine, however, and some progressive practices are now creating comfort or family rooms, so that families may spend time with their pets and one another during an end-of-life scenario. I would encourage all stationary practices to move towards this model.  

Reasons to consider home euthanasia by a house-call veterinarian:

  • Privacy and personalization. The procedure may be performed in your home, yard, or at your pet’s favourite location (at her favourite hiking trail, or by the lake he loved to swim in).
  • No time constraints – spend as much time with your pet before and after the visit as you wish
  • Less stress and fear – If your pet is normally afraid of car travel, or the veterinary hospital, being in their own home, on their own blankets, with their family around them may be more comfortable.
  • Ease of home burial, if desired. (See your local bylaws for more information)
  • Memorialize your pet, your way. (Photos, pawprints, memorial services, time with other pets/family members)
  • Pet Loss Support Services at time or euthanasia and afterwards.
  • Exact same aftercare (cremation) options as available through stationary veterinary facilities.

Next Post: In-home Pet Euthanasia (Part 2) – The Procedure


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