How do I know when it's "time"?
This is a very important and personal question. There is a window of time in which pet euthanasia may be appropriate. In this window, a pet is stable but dealing with very serious issues that require you to be thinking about saying goodbye, but not yet in a crisis state where immediate euthanasia is the only humane option for a pet. With sudden or very serious disease or injury, that window is hours or days. Other times, such as with chronic issues like arthritis or dementia, that window is weeks to months. Within that window, consider your pet's quality of life, your own quality of life, your resources (financial, emotional, and time), and your personal philosophies to help decide if it's time to schedule a pet euthanasia appointment.
It can be helpful to use objective rubrics regularly to assess your pet's quality of life. Here is one helpful example from Ohio State.
Another, more subjective, idea is to mark a calendar with good days and bad days for your pet to help evaluate how they are doing over time.
What should I expect during an in home pet euthanasia?
Every pet is unique, and Tranquility Veterinary Services will always tailor our approach to meet your pet's individual needs. Due to the nature of your pet's infirmity, we may need to do things differently. That said, these are the typical steps:
Upon arrival, the veterinarian will answer any questions, discuss your preferences for aftercare (transport for pet cremation vs making your own arrangements), ask if there are any particular rituals or ceremonies you would like to do during the euthanasia process, complete paperwork, and collect payment.
Next, your pet will be sedated with injectable medications. Once your pet is fully sedated and you are ready, the final medications will be given as another injection. The final medications take your pet from a state of being unconscious to a very deep state of anesthesia which results in the brain function completely stopping and death.
After your pet has passed, we will give you whatever time and space you need to say your final goodbyes. When you are ready, the veterinarian will transport your pet for aftercare using a basket or stretcher. Your assistance will be needed for pets over 30lbs.
Should children be present during the pet euthanasia?
You know your child best. Most children handle seeing a pet euthanasia very well (especially a pet euthanasia at home where the child can come and go or play nearby as desired by the child), and seeing the process can actually help them to understand what has happened. It's ok to let your children see your emotions, but also important not to scare them.
Avoid saying that your pet will be/was "put to sleep" or other euphemisms, because this can confuse children and can even create fear of sleeping. Using the words "died" and "dead" is uncomfortable for us, but easier for children to understand. It is also normal for children to have lots of questions about death after their pet has passed, whether or not they are present at the time of death.
If you feel it would be best for your family to not have children present during the appointment, consider having a memorial service or even a wake afterwards. If you want to keep your pet's body at home for viewing, but do want cremation, we can arrange to have a local pet crematorium come to you (price depends on pet size and your location).
Here is a wonderful resource for parents and caregivers on dealing with pet euthanasia. It has specific information for children ranging from babies to young adults: http://www.veterinarywisdom.com/kids-and-grief
How far in advance do I need to schedule an appointment?
The further in advance you call, the better the chance we will be available when you need us. Most appointments are scheduled 12-48 hours in advance, but if your pet is declining slowly and you know it's time before there is an emergency, it's fine to schedule a week or two ahead of time as well.
Every effort is made to see same day appointment requests, but when that is not possible, we will recommend another house call vet or 24 hour pet emergency clinic.
My dog doesn't like it when strangers come in the house. Can I still have a house call appointment when it's time to say goodbye?
Yes. As long as you let us know ahead of time, we can make a safe and low stress plan to help your companion transition at home. Usually this involves feeding a medicated treat (such as peanut butter or cat food with medications mixed in) when we first arrive to help take the edge off. There is an additional fee for the oral sedation because much higher doses must be used. It is also possible to work with your regular vet to have oral medications prescribed ahead of time for you to give the night before and the morning of your appointment.
What do I need to have ready?
You should prepare a special treat for your pet, if they are still eating, to be given during the sedative injection. Peanut butter and cheese work well, but you can also be more creative with food like burgers, ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, or other foods your pet has always wanted to have but not been allowed. Other than that, we will have everything that is necessary.
What types of pets will you see?
Generally, just dogs and cats. Pocket pets may be considered on a case-by-case basis. We do not see reptiles or birds at this time.