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’ve made at a veterinary office for end-of-life. After working with pets and families since 2010, we understand what works best to bring comfort to pets and people who are present at home. Here is a general description of what you can expect during your appointment with MN Pets.
BEFORE THE VISIT
Pre-Visit Phone Call
When on the way to your visit, your veterinarian will call you to give you an arrival time, confirm cremation options and answer any questions you may have before the visit. The doctor may ask if you were able to locate the links for the prepayment and electronic consent form. These phone calls typically last 1-3 minutes.
Payment & Paperwork
We will send you a confirmation email with an electronic consent form attached. You will be able to keep a copy of this form electronically. If a paper copy of the consent form is needed for any reason, these are available upon request.
If you would like to prepay, you may do so while you are scheduling your visit, either over the phone with our support specialists or by using the link provided in your confirmation email. If you prefer to pay the doctor during the visit, you can pay with a credit card, a check made out to MN Pets, or with cash (please plan to have the exact amount as our doctors do not carry change). We also accept Care Credit, which can be processed over the phone with a support specialist before your visit.
Our doctors are comfortable working in any room or space where you and your pet feel comfortable. Our doctors bring everything needed to keep the area clean and dry; there is no need to prepare anything special in your home. A favorite bed or blanket can be a nice option to provide a cozy environment. It is wonderful to be outside when the weather cooperates. If the doctor will be transporting your pet for cremation, consider having the visit in a location that will allow for an easier and unobstructed exit to ensure that your pet can be carried out of your home safely and peacefully. If there are questions about location, you and the doctor can assess the space together.
Eating and Medication
Your pet can follow a regular routine for eating and drinking on the day of the appointment, as well as any medications. Most typically prescribed medications will not interfere with the medication used during the visit.
On occasion and depending on the disease process present, a pet may experience nausea after the sedative, and this can look different between pets. Your doctor will discuss this with you if needed. Some families choose to decrease food intake prior to the appointment to decrease nausea and increase the excitement about treats (a great distraction) when the doctor arrives. It is not necessary to withhold food prior to the visit, as we want the pet to feel comfortable, happy, and connected to their family. Your doctor is happy to answer any questions about nausea before or during the visit.
Weather & Travel
In the case of inclement weather (such as a severe winter storm), our support team will be in contact with you as soon as possible to update you on the doctor’s arrival window and any necessary schedule adjustments. Based on the weather situation, we will ask for your flexibility and understanding in scheduling to keep our doctor safe. This may mean having your appointment earlier or later than expected. We routinely track recommendations from MNDOT, the National Weather Service, and employees on the road in real-time to guide our decisions on safe travel. We know how hard it was to make the decision to schedule a visit and our goal is to be as respectful of this as we can while keeping our staff safe.
DURING THE VISIT
After arriving at your home, our veterinarian will meet your pet and spend a few minutes getting to know them. We will administer a sedative injection to make them comfortable and ease them into a deep sleep. Depending on the known or unknown medical conditions of your pet, the sedative typically takes somewhere around 5-15 minutes to take effect. All pets are different; some pets go to sleep quickly, some pets take longer, and some may require some additional sedative. Throughout the process, your veterinarian will assess how your pet is responding to the sedative and guide everyone through the process.
The sedation is administered via an injection either under the skin or into the muscle based on the doctor’s discretion. In general, most pets tolerate this poke well. Some pets may feel startled by the unexpected poke, or they may be sensitive due to ongoing health conditions. Our doctors do their best to make this process as stress-free as possible. Once the sedative starts to take effect your pet will experience comfort, pain relief, and relaxation.
Once your pet is resting comfortably and all those present are ready to proceed, the doctor will administer the second injection to help your pet pass peacefully. Often this medication is administered into a vein, however, there are many reasons that an alternative route may be used (like dehydration). The veterinarian will discuss this as needed and will always choose the method that is most compatible with your pet’s condition. The medication first deepens unconsciousness, then the heart will slow and stop. This usually occurs within a few minutes. Your pet is comfortable throughout this process; this medication does not cause any discomfort or distress. Following this medication, our doctor will very carefully listen for heart sounds with a stethoscope to confirm that your pet has passed away.
During the appointment, the doctor would be honored to make a paw print impression in clay if wish to have one. Altogether, we plan 30-60 minutes for the appointment. The doctor will work at whatever pace is feeling right for you and those present.
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. Just like with any medical intervention, the doctors may occasionally need 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 help 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 additional questions. Our goal is to keep everyone informed as much as they would like to be throughout the visit.
We welcome special arrangements such as prayer, silence, music, poetry or anything that brings you comfort. Being at home allows your family to celebrate your pet’s life in the way that is most meaningful to you
MN Pets does not allow video or audio recordings of home euthanasia visits, and we request that photos are not taken of our doctors. We value the privacy of our veterinarians and the assurance that photo and video content from pet euthanasia will not appear online due to its sensitive nature. Video-calling with friends or family members is permitted and welcomed. Photographs of your pet and your family are welcomed, with the request to avoid including the veterinarian in any images. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
AFTER THE VISIT
We take great care in making sure your pet is handled gently and with dignity after death. If our doctor is arranging cremation services, your pet will be comfortably transported and safely arranged in the vehicle. Small pets are typically carried out in a wicker basket or a blanket-lined carrier. Larger pets are carried out on a soft or hard stretcher. All pets are placed on a soft fleece blanket and covered with the blanket with their head exposed (if you wish) as if they are tucked in and sleeping. You are welcome to come out to the vehicle and say any last goodbyes. For pets over 30 pounds, our doctor will need assistance from one other person to help carry your pet to their vehicle. Please consider the path the doctor will use to take your pet to their vehicle. We ask that the path is clear of obstructions, as well as snow and ice in the winter.
Aftercare: Cremation & Home Burial
If you choose for your pet to be cremated, after the appointment the doctor will place your pet in secure cool storage until the crematory is able to receive them. Even before the crematory receives your pet, they know who they are and will assign an identifier that stays with them with every step of the process. If requested, your pet’s ashes can be returned in a wooden urn with a certificate verifying that the ashes returned are your pet’s.
If you chose home burial, please visit this resource for more information: Considering Burial
Pet Loss Support
Losing a pet is a heartbreaking experience, and it is natural to grieve deeply. Grief looks different for each person, and there are many resources available for a variety of bereavement needs. We will follow up with you via email after your visit and will include a printable resource list including support groups, websites, books, and local resources. You can also visit the resource page on our website.
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.