at home euthanasia service
1. Quality of life assessment:
Most of us hope that our beloved pet will die peacefully in their sleep, and we will never have to make the decision to end their life. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. As painful for us as this decision may be, most pet owners believe that providing a humane death for pets is part of caring for them. The decision of when to humanely end a much-loved pet’s life is based on the quality of life for your pet and deeply personal factors. What is right for one pet and their family may not be right for another.
A quality-of-life assessment can provide useful information to help answer the question ‘when will I know it’s time?’
The purpose of a quality-of-life assessment is to gather information about your pet’s behaviour, current medications and physical ailments, and provides the opportunity to talk about how you feel your pet is doing – all important considerations in assessing your pet’s quality of life.
This is also a time when we can talk about euthanasia. You may have many questions and concerns. Quality of life can change quickly and may need to be assessed on more than one occasion.
The conversation about your pet might cover factors such as: –
- not interacting with family members as before
- seems dull or depressed
- hiding, soiling, agitation especially at night
- having trouble getting up from a lying position or jumping onto the couch, reluctant to use stairs
- difficulty standing when toileting
- limping or vocalising (yelping/whining)
- sleeping more can indicate pain
- no longer wanting to play games that were previously enjoyed
- reluctant to go for walks
Changes to Breathing Patterns:
- noisy or rapid breathing patterns
- open mouth breathing (cats only)
Appetite and Weight loss/gain:
- reduced appetite or becoming a finicky eater
- vomiting and nausea
Together we can make decisions around what is best for your pet and what is right for you.
2. At home euthanasia
What to expect
Knowing what to expect can help reduce the anxiety and distress you may feel at this time.
Once the decision has been made to humanely end your pet’s life, I will go through a consent form with you. If we are meeting for the first time, you may have many questions and concerns about home euthanasia. It can be a highly emotional time and I will take whatever time you need. I will explain the euthanasia procedure to you and your family and address any questions you have.
Our pets often have favourite and familiar places. It may be in the garden, on a much-loved bed, or on your lap. Wherever that maybe it is important that you are comfortable with your pet’s resting place during euthanasia.
To ensure your pet is relaxed and free from any stress, I will provide sedation. This is given as an injection under the skin. Within 5-10 minutes your pet will feel deeply relaxed and be free of any anxiety.
A catheter with an extension line will then be placed in a vein in one of your pets’ limbs. Your pet will not feel any discomfort or anxiety from this due to the deep level of sedation. A waterproof pad will be placed under your pet as occasionally pets will lose control of their bladder or bowels due to deep relaxation of their body.
When everything is in place and ready for the euthanasia solution (barbiturate anaesthetic) to be administered I will let you know.
Once the euthanasia solution is delivered the heart will stop and breathing will stop. This happens quickly, usually within seconds rather than minutes. Please know your pet will not experience any pain or distress at this time. Very occasionally there may be some involuntary movement or inhalation of air. These are reflex actions and are not an indication that your pet is suffering.
I will listen to your pet’s chest with a stethoscope and confirm that their heart has stopped beating. The catheter will be removed, and a small bandage placed on your pet’s limb.
The way we express grief and the choices we make around our final goodbye are deeply personal. Some of us become silent, some of us wish to hear music that is meaningful to us, some of us prefer to talk about our pet’s lives. And some of us just want to cry, unable to find words. No matter how you and your family need to be during this time your choices and wishes will be respected without judgement. It’s important that you feel safe to be however you need to be. I will support and respect your choices.
You may wish to spend time with your pet after they have passed. Please know there is no time pressure. You are free to spend as much time with your pet as you need.
You may also prefer to place them in the care of a cremation company immediately after euthanasia. If so, I will co-ordinate my visit with the cremation company of your choosing to ensure this transition is smooth.
3. Aftercare for your pet
When deciding on your pet’s final resting place there are several options available to you.
- Home burial (it is important to check local council legislation on home burial for pets)
- Individual cremation with return of ashes
- Group cremation no ashes
- Donation to veterinary education
If you are considering cremation the following companies have websites to assist your choice of service. If this decision feels overwhelming, I can make arrangements on your behalf.
- Pet Angel
- Pets Eternal
- Pets in Peace