By Dr. Monica Tarantino DVM
One of the greatest gifts we can choose to make for our older pets who are suffering with terminal illness or have poor quality of life is humane euthanasia. Traditionally, this can be done either at the vet clinic or at home.
In this article, we take you through 3 important questions when deciding whether to pursue euthanasia at home with a veterinarian or at your pet's animal hospital.
There are many misconceptions and questions around the difficult topic of humane euthanasia for our pets. Most of us agree that we do not want our older pets to suffer from pain, terminal illness or poor quality of life.
Today we are showing you how to navigate the tough dilemma of picking where to euthanize your beloved pet when that all important decision comes.
There are two main places we can have our pets humanely euthanized:
1) At an animal hospital with a veterinarian
2) At home with a travelling veterinarian
As a veterinarian, I have performed euthanasia's many times for the pets of my beloved clients both at home and at the animal hospital. I have also experienced each location as a pet parent as well. In this article, we will go through 3 things to consider for at home euthanasia.
In addition, in my opinion- I find that BOTH in clinic human euthanasia's and at home ones tend to be very peaceful for our pets.
Below I'll share 3 things to consider when deciding WHERE to euthanize a pet (at home or at the animal hospital).
1. Is my pet unstable, having breathing difficulty or already in a state of suffering?
This is a very important question to ask yourself when figuring out if it's appropriate to schedule an at home euthanasia or go to the clinic.
How will you know? It's simple- ask your veterinarian or veterinary office.
How will you know if your pet is suffering? It's simple- ask your veterinarian or veterinary office. For a pet that is already suffering or unstable, it may be best to proceed with humane euthanasia at a local animal hospital where often they can get you in quicker and same day. At animal hospitals, they are able to move a little faster because they do not have to arrange for travel to you.
Even making a pet that is suffering wait a few hours can be an awful long time for that pet.
Even making a pet that is suffering wait a few hours can be an awful long time for that pet. This can be difficult for some owners to determine on their own, and so my suggestion to help you is to call your animal hospital and ask. They are well versed in examples of animals suffering and can guide you. If your pet's regular hospital is not open, and you are fearful your pet is suffering, call the closest 24 Hour Emergency hospital. In my experience, at home euthanasia will need to be set up 1-3 days in advance (you can always call and see if they'll set it up sooner).
2. Does my veterinarian think either option (at home euthanasia vs at the vet clinic) is a good one for my pet? Again, allowing your animal clinic to help you figure out if either is a viable option can be really helpful especially if trying to determine the answer to question number one. When an owner has informed us they are considering this, we can guide them to the best decision. If the pet has not been into the animal hospital for awhile, your veterinarian may need to see them first in order to help guide you best.
3. Does my pet get very stressed at the vet? If your pet gets very stressed at the animal hospital (and your veterinarian thinks they are stable) then at home euthanasia may be the better option for them. One of the things I love about at home euthanasia is that the pet is not out of it's normal and relaxing environment and this can make a big difference for a pet that is stressed or anxious outside of their home. If at home euthanasia is not an option and you feel like your pet gets stressed at the vet, you can always ask your vet for 'chill pills' to give them prior to their trip to the vet to help them be relaxed at the vet.
I hope the above questions help you in your difficult decision and remember, always involve your veterinary clinic in the decision if at all possible. Your veterinarian will be the best resource (better then any online guide) on guiding you on what would be best for your pet given medical status and quality of life.