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Healthy Pets

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At-Home Pet Euthanasia

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

Pros and Cons continued...

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.

Things to Think About

If you're considering at-home pet euthanasia, take some time to think about the following things:

  • Does the vet know your pet? "We want to make sure that we have worked the pet up medically first before we consider [at-home euthanasia]," Jones says. "We do not perform euthanasia without knowing the patient beforehand or having a long conversation with the owner."
  • Timing. If you can't get somebody quickly, don't let your pet suffer. If your animal is having seizures or in respiratory distress, get it to an emergency hospital or veterinarian immediately.
  • It could be messy. When an animal is euthanized, it's not uncommon to see urine or a small amount of stool. "This is easily controlled with puppy pads, which we bring with us," McComas says.
  • Emotions. Think hard about whether you'll be able to deal with memories in your home. "We have clients who have had pets put down in an exam room in our hospital who won't go into that exam room again," Jones says.
  • Who should (or should not) be there. Decide in advance if you want to view the procedure or to have a friend, relative, or children present. Some find having other pets around comforting. "It's OK to drift in and out of the room as we go through this process," McComas says.
  • Cost. At-home pet euthanasia can be more expensive. In addition to the usual euthanasia fee, Stanek charges $30 to $60 more to travel up to 20 miles from her hospital.
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Reviewed on September 29, 2011

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