Why choose home euthanasia?
Choosing in-home euthanasia will allow you and your pet to remain in the comfort and privacy of your own home during this very personal experience. If you wish, you have the potential to have the company and support of friends, family and other pets. It allows you to avoid the stress of driving to and navigating the veterinary clinic during this difficult time. It also saves you from having to move a pet with mobility issues, chronic pain or other anxieties to the veterinary facility.
Your pet feels safe, happy, and comfortable at home, and we wish to maintain this tranquility during our final visit.
How do I know when the time is right to choose humane euthanasia for my pet?
Making decisions regarding euthanasia for a beloved pet may be one of the most difficult decisions you will face.
There is no right or wrong time to make this decision, and we are here to guide and support you. There are occasions when your pet will be obviously ill, and the decision to ease suffering will be clear. At other times, the decision may not be so straightforward. At times like these, a pre-euthanasia consult and quality of life assessment may aid with your decision making. We can provide a quality of life assessment tool, and it may be helpful to keep a calendar of your pet’s “good days” and “bad days”.
What can I expect during the euthanasia visit?
You may choose a location in your home or on your property where you and your pet feel most at peace. We will discuss each step of the euthanasia with you and your family, and answer any questions you may have. We will also discuss body care and the option for pet mementos. There will be a consent form for you to sign, and payment will be processed prior to the appointment, to reduce distractions and to allow you to stay present with your pet.
The veterinarian will administer an injection of sedative/pain medication subcutaneously (under the skin) that will allow your pet to become very relaxed. This is the only injection that your pet might mind; it is similar to receiving a vaccine. Once your pet is deeply sedated the veterinarian and technician will place a catheter into their vein. Once the catheter is placed, all medications will be given through the catheter. First a general anesthetic agent will be given, to allow your pet to fall fully asleep, and then the Euthanasia solution will be administered. The euthanasia solution is also a sedative, but a very high dose, and will gently cause your pet to pass away.
Can I hold my pet during the euthanasia?
You may of course hold your pet during the procedure. The veterinarian will find the best position to allow you to hold and comfort your pet and also allow access for IV catheter placement and administration of the sedation and euthanasia solutions.
Do I need to be present during the euthanasia?
You may choose to be present for all or only some of the steps during the euthanasia visit. Some family members prefer to stay for only the sedation and move to another room in the house for the euthanasia itself, returning afterwards to say a final farewell, while others stay present for the entire procedure. It is a personal decision with no wrong answer. We will work with you to make you and your pet as comfortable as possible for the visit.
Should children be present during euthanasia?
Having children present for the euthanasia of a family pet is an individual decision and should be made in light of many factors including, but not limited to, the child’s emotional maturity and ability to understand what is occurring.
If your child is capable of understanding, it may be helpful to explain what death is and to allow them to decide whether they wish to be present or not. In this case it is important to discuss death and euthanasia. Explain to them why their pet is being euthanized, and illustrate your pet’s quality of life. Be direct and honest and allow them to ask questions. It is important to ensure that the child knows that the pet has died and will not be coming back. Using terms such as “put to sleep” can be confusing and misinterpreted.
You may consider having a friend or family member in attendance and able to assist with children if they become too upset or do not wish to continue to be present during the euthanasia. Alternately it is possible to have your child say goodbye while your pet is still awake and return following the euthanasia to say their final farewell.
Many of the pet loss resources on this website include ways to assist you in explaining pet loss and death to your children, managing their grief, as well as ideas for memorializing their companion and aiding with closure.
Should my other pets be present? How will they manage with the loss?
It can helpful for your other pets to be present, so they may achieve closure. If they are excitable or rambunctious with strangers in their home, you may consider giving them the opportunity to say goodbye before the euthanasia and then allowing them to view the deceased pet following. This can aid with the understanding that their friend has passed.
Pets show and express grief in different ways. Some pets may seem unaffected by the loss, while others may show signs of distress such as being unable to settle, searching for their companion or becoming depressed and/or losing their appetite. If there are multiple pets in the home there could be fighting as a new balance is established amongst them. If your pet is having a difficult time, is distressed, or refuses to eat, please contact us for assistance.
Is euthanasia painful?
Euthanasia is not painful. The word itself comes from the Greek, and means “good death”. At the beginning of the euthanasia visit your pet will receive a sedative via subcutaneous injection with a small needle. For some pets, mild discomfort can be associated with this, as you would expect with a pinch from a vaccine. Each pet responds differently, with some not even noticing the injection. Over the next 10-15 minutes they will become comfortable and sleepy. Once your pet is relaxed we will place an intravenous catheter, and administer two sedatives which should allow your pet to pass peacefully.
What can I expect to see as my pet passes away?
Upon receiving the final euthanasia solution, most pets will take a few deep breaths and within seconds their heart will stop. It is possible that you may see the last breaths as their diaphragm contracts and relaxes. Muscle fasciculation such as twitching and mild tremors of the skin or movement of the tongue may occur. Occasionally as your pet’s body fully rests they may release their bowels and bladder. In very rare occasions your pet may whine or vocalize as the sedation can cause a mild dysphoria.
Most often the pet is so relaxed from the initial sedatives that these events do not occur and the transition to death is subtle. Some pets may need a little more sedation or euthanasia solution which your veterinarian will administer if required.
Your pet’s eyes will not close once they have passed away. Your veterinarian will listen for a heartbeat and confirm to you once your pet has passed.
What happens to my pet’s body afterwards?
There are several options for aftercare following the euthanasia of your pet. We will go through these with you prior to the euthanasia, and explain costs and service.
- Home burial – You can bury your pet on your property, ensuring that you follow regional by-laws. Be cautious to avoid power/gas lines and water pipes. Ensure that you dig at least 6 feet deep to discourage wild life or other pets from accessing the burial site. The euthanasia solution (pentobarbital) will be toxic to any animal that unintentionally ingests it.
- Cremation – We work with Stardust Pet Cremation, based out of Trail, BC. You can choose to have your pet cremated without return of their ashes, or you can opt for a private cremation, in which you would receive your pet’s ashes back. If you choose private cremation you can decide whether you would like ashes to be returned to you in a scatter box or an urn. Stardust crematorium will contact you directly to arrange delivery of your pet’s ashes to your home. To see urn options, please visit the Stardust Pet Cremation website at http://www.stardustpetcremation.com/urns.