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At-Home Pet Euthanasia

What to know if you're considering at-home pet euthanasia.

Pros and Cons

One advantage to at-home euthanasia is that if local laws allow home burial, owners don't have to drive their pet's body home from the veterinarian's office. Stanek and most others also will take your pet's body back to the clinic for cremation or disposal.

Owners also can grieve alone rather than in front of other pet owners. They also don't have to worry about driving while distraught afterwards, Stanek says.

Minnesota Pets does only at-home euthanasia. McComas has three other veterinarians and a social worker trained in pet loss and grief support. She began her practice in 2010.

"I really think end-of-life experiences can be very positive," McComas says. "Death is really a part of life. For me, it's very much a privilege to do this work. I get to witness a very special and meaningful moment for the pet owner and their pet."

There are also drawbacks. Duffy Jones, DVM, owner of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, isn't a fan of at-home pet euthanasia. He encourages most clients to come to the office since it's a more controlled setting.

"The last thing that I want is for something to go wrong or some sort of catastrophic event that will make this event harder for the pet owner and their pet," Jones says.

In someone's home, lighting may be poor and tables unstable. Drugs may not work as expected. The veterinarian may have trouble finding a vein, particularly in dehydrated or elderly animals. The pet could have a seizure.

Moving a pet's body can be difficult -- especially if it's a big dog. "Many times, we cannot afford to bring many staff members," Jones says. "And I hate to have the owners see us struggle moving the body. I hate for that to be their last memory" of their pet.

While some feel their pet will be stressed coming to the office, that's not always true. Some dogs, for instance, enjoy car rides. Jones sometimes tells clients to give their pet an oral sedative before the trip. Another option is to call the vet from the parking lot so the pet can be sedated before it is brought into the hospital.

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