While people often hope for their pet to close their eyes and pass quietly in their sleep, this is rarely the case.  Instead, a natural death may be prolonged, painful, and upsetting for you to witness. Euthanasia is a way to provide your pet with a peaceful and dignified passing. It is a way to give back to them for all their years of friendship, loyalty, and unconditional love.

Knowing when it is the right time

It is important to discuss with your pet’s primary care provider and specialist regarding the specifics of your pet’s condition, their prognosis, and what you may see as their disease progresses. They can help guide you in adjustments of their medications or whether further testing or treatments may help.

Deciding on the right time can vary based on your pet, their disease, and the caregiver. Your pet should be doing the basics of eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating (ideally in the appropriate areas). Beyond this, are they doing any of the things that are unique to them or show they are enjoying their days? This could include going for walks, sunbathing, playing, greeting you at the door, or engaging with others in the home. Make a checklist of these things so you can visualize as you start to mark things off. You could also make a good/bad day calendar.

You can use our Quality of Life Assessment to help put things into perspective.

Making an appointment

We understand that scheduling an appointment to help your beloved pet pass is very difficult. You are trying to spend as much time as possible with them while minimizing suffering. Although Dr. Au can generally accommodate a home visit request within 24 hours, more notice is best especially if you have specific scheduling constraints.

You can see availability and book an appointment request using the link below.

The process

The appointment is approximately 30 minutes, but Dr. Au will adjust the pace to your pet’s needs and yours.  We can gather in a location that you and your pet are comfortable.  The first injection given will provide pain relief and relaxation, oftentimes inducing a deep sleep within 5-20 minutes. Once your pet is relaxed, the second injection will be administered and allow for a peaceful passing within 1-2 minutes.  Dr. Au will give you time to visit in private with your pet before they are transported for aftercare.

Preparing for the visit

You should decide who you would like to be present and where in your home everyone is comfortable.  A place to gather could be in the living room, on a bed, or in the backyard. Oftentimes, your pet will decide for you.

You are welcome to play music, light candles, share stories and memories, read a poem or prayer, or perform any religious or cultural ceremonies that you would like.

Encourage a potty break 1 hour prior to appointment time, if possible.  The sedation relaxes the bladder and can stimulate the GI system, so pets will get anxious if they feel the need to go potty.

If your pet is on any medications that provide pain relief or are anti-anxiety/sedating, Dr. Au recommends giving a dose 1 hour prior to appointment time.

While it is ok to feed your pets the day of the appointment, if they are given new foods or excess amounts it could cause stomach upset (vomiting or bowel movement changes). Save a few yummy treats to offer during the appointment. Canned food, favorite treats, deli meat, roasted chicken, steak, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and peanut butter are good options.

Should my other pets be present?

Other pets are welcome to be present during the process as long as they are not causing stress or discomfort to their housemate. If they need to be separated, we can give them a chance to say their goodbyes once the patient has passed. Pets do grieve and we encourage the opportunity for them to say their goodbyes too.

**There is more information available in the Resources section.

Should my children be present?

The death of a family pet is oftentimes a child’s first experience with loss.  It is an important time for parents to teach children how to express grief in emotionally healthy ways.  Please read the documents listed in the Resources section for more information on how different age groups process and understand the death of a pet and appropriate ways that you can address it.  Ultimately you are the parent and will make the best decision on how to involve your children.

**There is more information available in the Resources section.