In Home Pet Euthanasia

Euthanasia must be handled by vets with the utmost respect, both in deciding it is correct to do the procedure and the process by which it occurs; as it is irreversible and is not an option available to human doctors currently.

When to know it is time to say goodbye

There are no truly objective ways to assess this and most families know when it is time to say goodbye – if the pet that loves food, doesn’t enjoy eating so much anymore, or if there is a terminal illness like heart failure that progresses to appoint where the pet doesn’t enjoy the basic aspects of life.

There are a variety of quizzes online that can be found by searching to help determine if the time is right when the family is not quite sure.

The stages of the procedure

1.     The patient is sedated with a relaxant via injection under the skin

2.    The fur over the arm where the veins are is clippered to skin level.

3.    An intravenous cannula is placed in one of the front arms

4.    The cannula is then flushed with a small quantity of saline to ensure it is in the correct location

5.    A quantity of propofol – a milky coloured general anaesthetic liquid is given to bring about a rapid loss of consciousness

6.    A quantity of the green euthanasia fluid known as ‘Nembutal’ or ‘the green dream’ is then given and death occurs within seconds and is irreversible

Benefits of in home pet euthanasia

It’s the most distressing and upsetting time that all of us pet owners go through. While still considered a medical procedure, the entire process, or only part of the process can be done calmly at home.

More and more often are parents and families of our pets deciding to get this procedure done at home, as it is often less stressful for all involved. Tears will be shed and sobbing done in the privacy and security of one’s home makes the experience somewhat more manageable.

For many older pets, it is stressful to be transported to a foreign environment with smells and sounds of other animals being present, and it may not be the ideal final place for them.

Similarly, it is also often that the very reason for euthanasia is to end suffering and that moving the pet to the clinic into and out of the car may cause additional pain and discomfort that we are trying to avoid. Having the last moments at home can be more comfortable and offer more dignity to the pet.

Benefits of it being done at the clinic

All medical procedures are best done in the clinic, where lighting is optimal to identify where the cannula is placed. It is also a more hygienic option and cold storage of the body is only metres away and the pet once deceased, does not have far to be moved to. Some consider this option to have a lot more dignity.

Hybrid approach

A modern option is a ‘hybrid approach’ where the parents or family are present for the sedation and they witness the pet drifting off to sleep calmly and being very relaxed, to the point of not knowing when people are around.

The medical procedure of hair clipping, cannulation and the series of intravenous is carried out in the controlled environment of the clinic, with the utmost dignity still being applied to the very end.

This approach allows the pets and family’s last memory is in their familiar home.

It also means that no hair clippings, or bodily fluids are left to clean up at home and may offer a more pleasant way to grieve.

Common questions around dog and cat euthanasia:

Why don’t you just give them a needle like my childhood vet did? Why the cannula and all the other stuff?

Too many a time, euthanasia is done with just a single agent and without a cannula, whilst uncommon, this can lead to a somewhat violent death involving screaming as there can be bizarre reactions to the Nembutal if the pet is not already asleep. To eliminate this possibility, we take care and take the time to perform the procedure in the most humane way possible

What do we do with the corpse or body?

Most family will opt to have their pets cremated, but burial at home is also common – just check with your local Council first to see if there are any requirements before proceeding.

Some families choose to have the ashes returned after cremation, other families do not wish for the ashes to be returned and rather decide that ‘general cremation’ – cremation with other animals is acceptable as there is no emotional connection to the body.

There is no judgement as to which option each family chooses – whatever decision is made by the family is the ‘right’ decision.

At Southern Cross Vet, we provide dignified at home euthanasia for dogs, cats and other domestic animals. Contact us to find out more