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In-Home Pet Euthanasia

Enough time has gone by since my Betty passed for me to be able to write this post. I still miss her and think about her nearly every day, and while I hardly ever cry over her anymore, I still remember all the happiness and love she brought into my life. And I can finally laugh when something reminds me of her, or when I see another basset hound walking down the street.

Knowing when it was time to put her to sleep was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, but knowing that I could do it at home made it a bit easier for me, so I wanted to share with you what I’ve learned about the process.

Not everyone is aware that in-home euthanasia services exist- I wasn’t until a few years ago when a friend mentioned it to me. Although the specifics will vary from company to company, the basics are the same: A licensed veterinarian and vet tech will come to your home and put your pet to sleep. They’ll bring all the medications and other supplies needed, and for an additional fee they’ll take your pet’s body with them when they go, if you wish to have it cremated. They do everything the same way your family veterinarian would do it, the main difference being that your beloved pet never has to leave the comfort of her favorite couch, or his favorite pillow. You can spare your pet the distress, discomfort and fear of a car ride and trip to the vet’s office while still providing a painless (for them, anyway) goodbye.

This website contains a directory of companies offering in-home euthanasia by state as well as for Canada. Another resource you shouldn’t overlook, if you’re considering this option for your pet, is to ask your own veterinarian if they make house calls. I just assumed that mine didn’t, but when I told them about the service I used for Miss Betty, I learned that he does actually make house calls.

I used Peaceful Partings, and for any readers in the Pikes Peak region, I cannot recommend them highly enough. They sent out a veterinarian and two vet techs to assist, and these three women were so caring and compassionate not only towards Betty and myself, but also to my other dogs. After they had given Betty a sedative but before giving her the final injection, while Jason and I were spending our last few minutes with her, they brought out treats for Sally and Cooper and not only kept them occupied, but also kept their spirits up. It’s easy to forget about the feelings of your other pets, but we shouldn’t. They can sense that something is happening- they know that you’re sad, and soon they’ll realize that their furry little sibling is gone.

After they gave Betty her final injection, they monitored her heartbeat until she had passed. Then they all went back outside to give us time to grieve as a family. This was another moment where I felt it was important to be euthanizing Betty at home: It allowed our other pets to sniff her body after she had left it. I’ve read that allowing your other pets to do this can minimize or prevent altogether their own confusion and grieving processes. It’s certainly less confusing to them than to have a pet leave with you in the car one day and just never come back.

When we were ready, they came back in and took a clay cast of her pawprint for us to keep. We said our final goodbyes, and they gently wrapped Betty in a sheet and carried her out to their car. A couple of days later they delivered her ashes back to us in a beautiful hand-carved wooden box.

They made a very painful event easier for me, and for that I’m grateful to them. I’m also glad that I didn’t have to leave an exam room and walk back out through the vets office sobbing. If pressed for one thing I would’ve liked for them to do differently, the only thing I would suggest would be to not have left a folder full of sad poems with me after they took Betty. Every time I’d finally stop crying, I’d look at those poems and lose it again. If nothing else, those poems should have a warning label on them! I’ve never seen anything so sad!

In all seriousness though, for anyone reading this who knows they’ll soon have to say goodbye to a beloved pet, please consider having them euthanized at home. It truly is the most compassionate option for your pet, and it also makes it easier on your whole family, both those with and without fur.

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • narf7 January 23, 2013, 12:52 pm

    We have 2 dogs and know that one day we are going to have to walk the same walk that you just did. It will break my heart. I live in Australia but will look into whether or not our vet will come to the property. I can’t think of a better way for a pet to die than in their own bed or at least somewhere that they feel safe. Thank you for sharing this and for allowing me to find another way (possibly) than that “dead man walking” drive into town 🙁

    • Barb January 24, 2013, 7:42 am

      You’re very welcome, and hopefully (when the time comes) your vet will do a house-call! And, hopefully, that time is a LONG ways off!

  • Annie January 23, 2013, 3:32 pm

    Such a heartbreaking experience, Barb, but it sounds as if you did it just right. Betty had her family around her – as it should be. I’ve also read about letting the other animals in the household have an opportunity to sniff and be with the body of their companion. I believe animals grieve and experience loss just as we do.

    • Barb January 24, 2013, 7:43 am

      I totally agree, and when you think about it, it really makes sense. Of course they grieve!

  • Somer January 23, 2013, 10:22 pm

    I love the way you honored Betty in life and death. I wasn’t aware that those kinds of services were available, Our pup’s only a couple years old, but I know if the time comes for us to make this decision, I’ll be following in your footsteps. Thanks for sharing Barb.

    • Barb January 24, 2013, 7:44 am

      Thank you Somer, and I was really happy to share this story. I think it’s such a wonderful alternative and I really want to help spread the word.

  • Bex @ Vegan Sparkles January 24, 2013, 12:53 am

    I’m still so sorry for your loss, Barb, but it sounds like she had a beautiful, loving ending to her life with you. Huge hugs. xxx

    • Barb January 24, 2013, 7:44 am

      Thanks Bex- hugs backatcha! 🙂

  • Dr. Dani McVety January 24, 2013, 9:54 am

    Beautiful story! This is exactly why I do what I do – for touching stories like Betty’s. As an in-home hospice and euthanasia vet myself, I know how difficult it is lose a pet; vets lose their babies too. It hurts, but that doesn’t mean our little ones have to hurt. You did a wonderful job, you should feel so fulfilled that you gave her such a wonderful life. (Love to all the vegans out there!)

    • Barb January 24, 2013, 9:59 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words- and for the wonderful service you provide!

  • Nikki February 7, 2013, 4:19 pm

    In the last 5 or 6 years I had to take two beloved dogs to the vet to be euthanized and I wish I had known this was an option. Thanks for talking about a hard subject.

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