We often hear questions about what to expect during a home euthanasia appointment. It can be helpful to know how this appointment may be different than visits you have made to the veterinary office with a pet at the end of life. After several years of working with pets and families, we have a good idea of what works best to bring comfort to the pet and people who are present in the home. Following is a general description of what you can expect during the appointment. Within this framework, we welcome special arrangements such as prayer, silence, music, poetry or anything that brings you comfort.
After arriving at your home, our veterinarian will want to meet your pet and spend a few minutes discussing their condition. We administer a small sedative injection to help relieve pain and discomfort, as well as to help your pet relax. After about 5-15 minutes, your pet will be comfortable and very relaxed and sleepy. At that time the doctor will administer the second injection into a vein to help your pet pass away. The medication first brings about complete unconsciousness, then the heart will slow and stop. This usually occurs within a few minutes or so. As far as we are able to determine, the pet does not experience discomfort with this second injection. They are very sleepy and seem unaware of what is happening. Following this medication, our doctor will very carefully listen for heart sounds with a stethoscope to confirm that your pet has passed away. We will be happy to make a paw print impression in clay if you wish to have one. All together we plan 45-60 minutes for the appointment.
Any room in your home is usually fine for the appointment. We often visit pets who are most comfortable on their bed or on the sofa. The floor is also good for some dogs. Our doctors are comfortable working anywhere there is space to gather around the pet. It is wonderful to be outside when the weather cooperates.
Our doctors bring everything needed to keep the area clean and dry. There is no need to prepare anything special in your home.
We are experienced and comfortable working with elderly pets, many of whom may be experiencing dehydration. Our doctors are comfortable administering medications under these circumstances and are equipped to handle situations that occasionally arise where a vein is difficult to access.
Your pet can follow a regular routine for eating and drinking on the day of the appointment. They may also take any medications as needed for pain, for example. We recommend avoiding a heavy meal or a large number of treats just prior to the appointment, to help avoid upset stomach after the sedative has been administered. It is a good idea to save some of your best dog treats for when the doctor arrives so administering the sedative is a little less noticeable for your dog. Treats are a wonderful distraction.
We take great care in making sure your pet is handled with care and dignity after death. If our doctor is arranging cremation services, your pet will be comfortably transported in a blanket with the possible additional use of a bin or stretcher for added security in the vehicle. For pets over 40 pounds, our doctor will need assistance from one other person to help carry your pet to their vehicle.
Variations from the usual process aren’t uncommon. Most often this is due to the pet’s disease or body condition, or the way the pet’s body responds to the medications given. Our doctors occasionally make a decision to vary their plan slightly, both to ensure the best experience for you and the most peaceful and comfortable experience for your pet. Our training and years of experience with helping pets at the end of life helps us to know what’s best to do in any situation to help the process proceed smoothly. If you have questions about something that is happening at any moment, don’t hesitate to ask the doctor to explain. Our goal is to keep everyone informed as much as they would like to be throughout our visit.
Questions or Requests
If you have any questions about this information or something we haven’t addressed, feel free to contact our support team at (612) 354-8500 or speak with the doctor during the appointment.
For more information about the medications used during our visit, read Medications We Use.