As house call veterinarians we are often asked about in home hospice care and pet euthanasia services. Many pets require an increased level of care as they age, chronically ill pets may need pain management, fluid therapy, and adjustment of treatment plans to help maintain their quality of life. Our veterinarians can help keep your pet comfortable as their needs increase during their twilight years.
When your pet’s quality of life declines to the point that your family is ready to make an end of life decision, our veterinarians can answer any questions you may have. When you and your pet are ready, our veterinarians will do a thorough exam and discuss any concerns or options for treatments. If you decide on euthanasia, the procedure provides the maximum comfort possible. Many owners find it easier to allow their pets pass in the comfort of their own home, as pets can have difficulty traveling in the car and get anxious and stressed at veterinary hospitals.
At home we can provide a much more private and relaxing environment for you and your pet. If this option is chosen, a sedative is administered to help your pet relax and make them more comfortable. This is followed by a solution that compassionately puts your pet to sleep and they peacefully pass. In home euthanasia is a comforting and peaceful way to say goodbye to your beloved furry family member.
We can arrange both private and communal cremations. Home burial is also an option but please be sure to check your local ordinances.
Pet Euthanasia – Knowing When To Say Goodbye
Thoughts on Hospice, Pet Euthanasia, and How To Decide When To Say Goodbye, From Joell Sheahan, Clermont Veterinarian
Anyone who has been lucky enough to share their life with a pet will eventually be faced with the dilemma of saying goodbye. We hope it’s only after years of happy co-existence filled with crazy ups and downs and many magical stories.
Our furry companions give us something that I would argue can not be readily found. They gift us with unconditional love and acceptance. If we are out too late and forget to call, their response is, if anything, an even warmer reception when we return. Maybe we get busy with a new friend or work …. It’s okay, they are always happy to see us and accept whatever time we can share. They live in the moment, and seem to find happiness in most everything.
I think over time we learn to rely on their loving support and even forget sometimes how important it is to us. Then as they age … so much quicker than we do; we realize that eventually we might have to face a quiet house, a less animated homecoming after work, a walk in the park alone.
It is then that it truly hits us, what the value of the friendship from our pets really means to us. They are not just a dog, cat or obligation. They give so much more and ask for very little in comparison. It is for this reason the parting of ways is not only the most difficult time as a pet owner, but also a time of great responsibility. This responsibility rests squarely on our shoulders; as we are our pet’s best advocate.
Making The Tough Decision To Say Goodbye
It’s only natural as they decline in health to wonder if we will have to make the decision to help our pet cross over. We worry how we will know with any certainty that it is the right decision at the right time. As our pets guardian we want our loved one to enjoy every good moment left to them, without enduring one minute of true suffering. Although it feels monumental to make such a decision, to decide “the when” for another living being, the decision falls to us. Only those who have shared the life of a furry family member will know when their quality of life is no longer viable.
As a pet owner I have had to face this decision myself, and know it is never an easy one to make. I can tell you that even if you know it’s the right thing at the right time there will be doubts. It’s human nature to question our important decisions, and I guess it’s not meant to be easy.
As a house call veterinarian, this subject comes up with a degree of frequency. We see many patients through their senior years and on into hospice care. It’s often more comfortable for our older arthritic patients to be cared for at home. We have found there is not one perfect answer for every pet and family. Some of the following suggestions may be of help. Keep in mind that these considerations may vary by individual situations such as disease, type and size of pet and the physical capabilities of their families.
Questions To Help Know When It Is Time
If you think the time is getting close to put a pet to sleep, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your pet have uncontrolled pain? Is it consistent?
- Are they critically injured and will not survive the damage?
- Are they having labored breathing, increase respiratory rate and/or effort (are they moving their belly to breathe)?
- Do they have uncontrollable seizures?
- Have they completely stopped eating on their own?
- Can they stand on their own, or do they fall when they try to move?
If the answer is yes to these questions, the decision maybe easier, but no less devastating. It’s when the need is less urgent, and less obvious that makes it so hard to decide if it’s time. Often pets do not overtly show pain, or are very stoic, so we may have to look at more subtle signs.
Things to consider when making the tough decision:
- Does my pet’s pain wax and wane? Can it be controlled with treatment or medication?
- What is his pain level 1-10
- Has palliative care/ hospice care been exhausted, or is it not an option?
- Have they stopped eating? And if they eat do they become sick and vomit after?
- Is the pet just existing?
- Are they barely moving and not interacting with the family?
- Have they had a personality change like being grumpy or not acting like themselves.
- Does your pet still enjoy their favorite things?
Exercises To Determine Your Pet’s Quality of Life
Keep a Journal
Writing down the facts and our thoughts and feelings about them can sometime help make our path more clear. You may want to make a daily note about your pet’s interactions with the family, his condition, behavior and appetite. It may be easier to reflect on his progression of symptoms this way.
“Quantifying” Quality of Life For A Pet
As a family, make a list of things that your pet loves to do, and activities you enjoy sharing with them. It is important that everyone in the family has the chance to contribute to this discussion, as each family member may have a slightly different relationship with the pet.
Discuss your concerns with your Veterinarian, or a caring trusted friend to gain some perspective.
Keep in mind that the items on the list may not be what they were when the pet was younger. Laying on the couch and watching TV with the family is a perfectly acceptable item to have on this list, even if going on a five mile walk is no longer in your pets’ abilities.
Put this list somewhere near a calendar. Each day review it, evaluating if they were able to do or enjoy an appreciable number of things on this list.
Mark the calendar daily + = good day, – = bad day, / = status quo.
Review the calendar weekly: when greater than 50% of days are bad, or if less than 25% are good than consider it may be time. This exercise of “Quantifying” Quality of Life attempts to make a very emotional and subjective decision a bit more objective. And though nothing makes the decision to say goodbye to a loved pet any easier, sometimes it can make the right decision more evident.
Our emotions surrounding this subject can be mixed and confusing. The best we can do is to try to quantify the things that make life worth living for our pet, and assess the facts without letting our emotions completely overwhelm the decision making process.
Making the decision to euthanize a cat or dog is the hardest part. When the time comes, most pet owners find peace when the decision is made and they know they are acting in the best interest of their pet.
Grieving The Loss Of A Pet
One additional thought on coping with the death of a pet.
I often hear people upset upon losing a pet say that the pain is so great they never again want to love a pet that deeply. I believe it is important at that moment to pull out all the old memories and stories of why our pet was great, silly, mischievous, etc…to understand that the last days and weeks may have been sad, but we had years of warm happy support and love that will live forever in our memories.
I hope that by reminding a grieving pet parent of the joy they have shared with their pet, it might let them be open to the experience again someday. There are so many wonderful companions needing a home and a family to love. And though a new pet may never fill your previous pet’s shoes, if you are able to make room in your heart to love again, they will make their own indelible mark on your soul.
Hospice care veterinarians will often come to your home to examine your pet and walk you through pain management, nutrition, and hygiene protocols, among other issues, so you can help make your pet's final time—be that days, weeks, or months—as comfortable and dignified as possible.Can someone put my dog down at home? ›
Pet euthanasia can be performed in a veterinary clinic or at home. "The best place for a euthanasia is going to be wherever you and your pet feel comfortable," says Dani McVety, DVM, CEO and founder of Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, an organization that provides in-home euthanasia.How can I help my dog pass away peacefully? ›
- Stay Close to Them. Many dogs will seek comfort during this time and may desire more attention and care. ...
- Don't Introduce Your Dog to New People or Places. ...
- Maintain Normal Activities as Long as Your Dog Is Able. ...
- Talk to Your Vet If Medication Is Needed.
The goal of in home euthanasia is to give your dog or cat a peaceful passing at home. During the process, we will use the same kind of anesthesia medications that we use for surgery so that your pet will be completely asleep. During this time, you can be with your dog or cat and give them lots of love and reassurance.Should I stay with my cat when he is euthanized? ›
Choosing to stay with your pet during euthanasia is best because it alleviates their stress. Having you present reduces the anxiety and fear they may experience at the end of life. The process of dying can trigger anxiety in a pet. Having their loved one near relieves some of their discomfort.How do I prepare my pet for euthanasia at home? ›
Bring the props—your dog's favorite comforts.
Feel free to play it on your phone during the euthanasia. Further, consider bringing along a favorite toy or “comfort” item. Finally, whether at home or at the veterinary hospital, your dog will be lying down for the euthanasia. Plan to use your dog's favorite dog bed.
8.2 Euthanasia is not, in law, an act of veterinary surgery, and in most circumstances may be carried out by anyone provided that it is carried out humanely. No veterinary surgeon is obliged to kill a healthy animal unless required to do so under statutory powers as part of their conditions of employment.How can I put my dog to sleep for free? ›
Humane societies also provide free and low-cost euthanasia for dog owners. Most times, you will need to surrender your dog to one of the humane societies for a chance to get a choice of cremation or disposal afterward. Different humane societies offer a variety of services for animals nearing the end of their lives.Do dogs know when they are going to pass away? ›
Some dogs will know their time is approaching and will look to their people for comfort. Saying goodbye to your dog with love and grace means staying with your dog during these final hours, and reassuring them with gentle stroking and a soft voice.What to do if pet dies at home? ›
The first person you should call is your vet. If they don't have the facilities to handle your dog's body as you wish they will be able to direct you to someone who does. If there is a Pet cemetery in your area, they are also usually able to make collections.
Occasionally, a dog may give a small cry as the injection is given – as with all anaesthetics, there is a brief feeling of dizziness as the drug takes effect. Unconsciousness follows within seconds, often before the injection is finished. Death occurs within a couple of minutes when the heart stops beating.Does a dog feel anything when it is euthanized? ›
As the solution is injected, the animal loses consciousness and within minutes the heart and lungs stop functioning. Since the pet is not conscious, they do not feel anything. Most times, the animal passes away so smoothly, that it is difficult to tell until the veterinarian listens for absence of a heartbeat.When a dog is euthanized Is it painful? ›
Our vets want you to know that the euthanasia process is almost completely painless. Putting a pet to sleep is a two part process: A vet will start by giving your pet an IV which is usually painless or nearly painless, depending on your pet's tolerance for shots. If there is any pain, it will be very short-lived.Should you be with your pet when they are euthanized? ›
Family members who want to be alone with the pet should be allowed to do so. Some pet owners choose to be present during their pet's euthanasia, but others choose to say goodbye beforehand and not be present during euthanasia. This is a very personal decision and you should do what feels right for you.What sedation is used before euthanasia? ›
Popular pre-euthanasia sedation techniques combine an anxiolytic medication like benzodiazepines with phenothiazines, and then with or without the addition of an opioid. *Butorphanol is optional with this protocol and is based on veterinarian preference.How long does it take to grieve the loss of a pet? ›
Symptoms of acute grief after the loss of a pet can last from one to two months, with symptoms of grief persisting up to a full year (on average).Should you feed your dog before euthanasia? ›
Can I feed my pet prior to the euthanasia? Yes. Your pet's final moments should be happy and filled with whatever gives him or her joy- be it a steak dinner or a McDonald's burger. Whatever special treat your pet might like is fine.Do they put dogs to sleep before euthanasia? ›
The euthanasia injection
The pet will be given a concentrated overdose of the anaesthetic so that they peacefully fall asleep and then pass away. This usually happens quite quickly, often in less than a minute, and many owners are surprised by this. The injection is not painful.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends sedation or anesthesia before euthanasia, but it is not required. You can always ask your local veterinarian about the best options for you and your pet.What happens to microchip when dog dies? ›
Because they don't have batteries or moving parts, there is no danger in cremating the microchip along with your pet's remains, and it will simply melt away into the ashes.
Benadryl: This mild antihistamine sedative helps keep your pet calm when it is nervous about clipping its nails. Melatonin supplements: Help regulate body rhythm and help calm down your dog. Natural sedation methods: Herbs like California poppy, chamomile, rosemary, or valerian are natural relaxants.Should I let my child watch my dog be euthanized? ›
Be open and honest.
Some children want to be present during euthanasia and most will be very curious about the process. Tously says you should answer their questions. As for allowing the child to be present, some veterinarians are firmly against it; others say it depends on the child's age and maturity.
Typically, the holding period runs from five to seven days. However, it can be as short as 48 to 72 hours in some cases. The holding period allows owners who have lost their pets adequate time to contact the shelter and reclaim their animals.How much does it cost to put a dog down to sleep? ›
The average cost of dog euthanasia runs between $35 and $300. The price varies depending on a few different factors. Location. You can have your pet put to sleep at the vet's office, or you may decide to pay a little more to have someone come administer the procedure in the comfort of your own home.When should you put your dog down? ›
Some common signs that it may be time to put your pup down include the inability or refusal to eat or drink, labored breathing, an inability to get up for potty times without help, urinary or fecal incontinence, and immobility. Essentially, this can come down to your dog's quality of life.What happens in a dog's final moments? ›
Their body will go completely limp. If still open, their eyes will have a blank stare. Their heart completely stops beating. As all tension leaves their muscles, they may release urine or defecate as the muscles that control these bodily functions completely relax.What happens as soon as a dog dies? ›
Following the death of a pet, their body may still show signs of what can look like life, such as the following: Twitching, as a result of natural nerve spasms after death. The release of air from the mouth when moved. The release of bodily fluids and gas.Do dogs know they are loved? ›
"Yes, your dog knows how much you love him! Dogs and humans have a very special relationship, where dogs have actually hijacked the human oxytocin bonding pathway that is normally reserved for our babies. When you stare at your dog, both your oxytocin levels go up, the same as when you pet them and play with them.Why does my dog stare at me? ›
Just as humans stare into the eyes of someone they adore, dogs will stare at their owners to express affection. In fact, mutual staring between humans and dogs releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone. This chemical plays an important role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust.Do dogs want to be alone when they are sick? ›
Simply put, animals, like humans, like to be alone when they aren't feeling well. Moreover, this action is a natural instinct. Animals, including domesticated dogs and cats, are hardwired to hide when they are feeling sick and/or weak because they understand that weak animals are easier targets for predators.
You grieve the loss of your dog because you are human and you truly love your dog. Your feelings are real and need to be honored. Express your feelings and talk about the experience of your dog's life and death or loss.What to do with dog collar after death? ›
- Memorial bracelet. If your dog's collar was made of nylon or leather, you can transform it into a sweet bracelet or wrist cuff. ...
- Dog chain necklace. You can transform nylon and leather collars into bracelets. ...
- Fabric-wrapped choker. ...
- Dog tag necklace.
A growing body of scientific evidence supports the idea that nonhuman animals are aware of death, can experience grief and will sometimes mourn for or ritualize their dead.Do dogs pee and poop when euthanized? ›
Be aware that your dog's body may release urine, feces, and possibly other bodily fluids upon death. This occurs due to the relaxation of all muscles. Know that your dog's eyes will remain open.Do dogs poop during euthanasia? ›
Sometimes dogs will urinate or defecate when they are euthanized due to the total relaxation that happens. If this happens to your dog, it will do so when your dog is no longer aware of what is happening. Euthanasia does not hurt.Are dogs scared when they are euthanized? ›
Do dogs get scared about euthanasia? Realize that your dog may react to the sedative that is given before the euthanasia. Their eyes may start to jitter as they become very dizzy. Generally, they need to lay down or they will lose their balance.Will you see your pets in heaven? ›
The pets that we had to say goodbye to are alive in heaven right now in their spiritual bodies and we will see them again if we accept Jesus as our Savior. Your Pet Is Not Gone Forever.How much does it cost to euthanize a cat at home? ›
What at-home pet euthanasia costs. On average, the cost of a veterinarian house call fluctuates based on urgency and ranges between $200 to $400 plus an added in-home euthanasia fee of $50, according to Domenico.How much does it cost for a cat to be euthanized? ›
Independent Vet Offices: $50-$100. Large Chain Vet Hospitals: $58 (Using the Banfield Price Estimator for ZIP Code 80525) Emergency Vet Hospitals: $100-$200.What do you do with a cat at the end of life? ›
- Offer Special Treats. If your cat still has an appetite, offer tasty foods to help ease your cat's last days. ...
- Make a Clean, Comfortable Bed Available. ...
- Put Your Cat's Things Nearby. ...
- Spend Time Nearby. ...
- Keep Your Cat's Space Calm and Quiet. ...
- Look Into Pain Medication.
You can choose between: cremation – usually, this is communal cremation with other cats but you can arrange for individual ashes to be returned, although this may be expensive. burial – there are pet cemeteries which vets usually have details on or you can take their body home to bury them.What is the cheapest way to put down a cat? ›
If your cat is dying and you cannot afford the price of euthanization, there are options that you can consider. Your local vet, animal shelters and rescues might do it for free or set up a payment plan. You could Sell some belongings to fund the procedure or let the cat pass naturally at home.How do you euthanize a cat with gabapentin? ›
Drugs should be administered at the appropriate time before peak clinical effect is desired (see table). For example, gabapentin should be administered 2-3 hours before the cat is placed in the carrier for travel or before an at-home appointment.Can I bury my cat in my yard? ›
There are no national laws regarding pet burial. In most cases, however, if you have lost a beloved companion animal and want to bury your pet yourself at home or on your property, you will avoid any legal ramifications as long as you take certain precautions first.What is the cheapest way to put a dog down? ›
Humane societies also provide free and low-cost euthanasia for dog owners. Most times, you will need to surrender your dog to one of the humane societies for a chance to get a choice of cremation or disposal afterward. Different humane societies offer a variety of services for animals nearing the end of their lives.How much does it cost to put a dog to sleep at home? ›
The cost of an in-home procedure starts around $170 and goes upwards of $300 depending on how far away you live from the organization. Service. It's possible to receive services from either a vet's office or even a non-profit in the area.How do I know if it's time to put my dog down? ›
He has lost interest in all or most of his favorite activities, such as going for walks, playing with toys or other pets, eating treats or soliciting attention and petting from family members. He cannot stand on his own or falls down when trying to walk. He has chronic labored breathing or coughing.What is Kitty Hospice? ›
Just like human medicine, hospice care is a treatment plan designed to provide supportive care to cats that are in the final stage of life whether it's from progressive disease, cancer or old age. The main goal is to ensure that your cat maintains quality of life as comfortable and as pain free as possible.How do cats act when they sense death? ›
They may become depressed and listless. They may have a decreased appetite and decline to play. They may sleep more than usual and move more slowly, sulking around. They may hide under the bed, choosing to be alone even more than usual for cats.What is the Hhhhhmm scale? ›
One quality of life scale, developed by a veterinarian, is known as the HHHHHMM scale. The letters stand for Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility, and “More good days than bad days.” Some of the issues raised in this scale are discussed in the text.
You may see them twitch or take a final breath. This can be startling, but it's a normal part of the process. Your pet isn't in pain. Use of a sedative makes this step less likely.