In-home Euthanasia, Is It Right For Me And My Pets?
Euthanasia is such a scary word. To many, they immediately think of the worst.
Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering. However, rather than viewing euthanasia as something negative, try to see the positive side of such a respectful and compassionate way to help our pets cross over the Rainbow Bridge when it’s their time.
Whether in a veterinarian’s office or at home, pet parents have options to help support their beloved pets pass on with dignity.
To help better understand what in-home euthanasia is, we spoke with Dr. Sloane Robins, D.V.M., of Pinecrest Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Robins also owns Goodbye At Home, a veterinary service that offers at-home euthanasia services in Miami, Florida.
In 2008, Dr. Robins started Goodbye At Home, the only in-home euthanasia option in Miami, because she strongly believes in the human-animal bond. Striving to support that bond, Dr. Robins wanted to help people say goodbye to their beloved pets by giving them the option to do it in the comfort of their own homes.
When and why did you start “Goodbye At Home”?
I began at-home euthanasia while in veterinary school. At that time, I volunteered with an organization called P.A.W.S. (Pets Are Wonderful Support). We provided at-home veterinary services for the pets of terminally ill people. Unfortunately, at times, these services included euthanasia.
In 2008 I worked at an animal hospital and delivered some bad news to a pet owner about their beloved Rottweiler. He had bone cancer and was not a good candidate for treatment. The owner very much wanted to say goodbye at home, telling me that his dog got very nervous in the car and hard to move him (he weighed 90 pounds). I quickly learned that in-home euthanasia wasn’t a service many veterinarians offered because of the time it took them away from their practices. So I decided that day that I would start a practice offering this service, and Goodbye At Home began.
I want to give people a choice to say goodbye to their beloved pets at home. So I want to provide this gift for pets. This is a way to make a challenging experience just a little easier for the person and much easier for the pet.
I started Goodbye At Home in 2008 when I was working as a relief vet. I was working at a local practice, and one of their patients was a huge Rottweiler, and his biopsy came back as cancer. He was already in pain, and it was tough to move him at 140 pounds. The owner asked me if anyone can go to the house to help his dog pass, and I told him I would find out. After 3 hours and no luck finding any veterinarians in Miami, who offered in-home euthanasia, I decided to start my practice offering this service.
What is euthanasia?
Euthanasia is the humane purposeful ending of a life. In dogs and cats, euthanasia involves an injection, an overdose of barbiturates, which causes instant and painless death. Since this injection is given in a vein, most pets should receive an initial injection of anesthesia or sedative to make the process stress-free for the pet.
Why is it essential to offer pet parents an alternative to euthanasia at a veterinary hospital?
Many pets, especially senior pets, and almost all cats get scared when they go to the veterinary hospital. Many pets requiring euthanasia have also been sick and have been in and out of the hospital several times, leading to heightened anxiety in that environment. To spare the pet the anxiety or fear of being in a scary place to them, that is why they consider in-home euthanasia.
What should a pet parent expect during at-home euthanasia?
The in-home euthanasia process lasts approximately 30 minutes.
Once the pet is settled and relaxed, the veterinarian will give it an injection similar to its rabies vaccine. This first injection will take 5-10 minutes to take full effect. Once it does, the pet will be entirely under anesthesia, just like they would be for surgery.
At this point, the veterinarian will shave a small area on their forearm to access a vein for a second injection to be given intravenously. Within a minute, the pet has passed away.
What is the cost of at-home euthanasia?
The cost will depend on the veterinarian, the pet’s size, the choice for aftercare (will you be handling it, or will you want the pet taken for cremation with or without return of ashes). Some veterinarians have extra fees for after-hours and long distances.
Now that you understand what at-home euthanasia is and what it entails, how do you know if it’s the right choice for both you and your pet?
What’s The Right Way To Say Goodbye?
You may have had your pets since they were small and fit in the palm of your hand or saw them in the shelter and knew they were the piece of your heart that had been missing.
Having a pet join your family is an unmatched experience that comes with so many highs. They bring new responsibilities, emotions, and joys into your life that those without pets may never get to experience or even understand.
But, to the sorrow of every pet owner, there comes a time where their companion is ready to move on, and you must ask yourself, ‘what’s the right way to say goodbye”?
Choosing between bringing them to the vet hospital or keeping them at home is difficult for most pet parents.
Some pet parents find that when their fur babies are surrounded by familiar faces of those they love and their creature comforts, such as their beds, toys, and other pet companions, their transition will be more peaceful. In contrast, others couldn’t imagine having their pet pass on in their home.
Fortunately, at home-euthanasia has become a highly regarded procedure for when the time comes allowing pet owners the choice.
There are many positive reasons at-home euthanasia is the right choice for many. However, some questions to ask yourself when deciding may be:
- Is your pet generally nervous or anxious outside of their home, especially when going to their vet?
- Are there barriers such as transport, COVID-19 restrictions, or schedule restrictions preventing you from going to their veterinarian?
- Where would you want your pet’s last moments to be?
If you choose this path, preparation is vital, and if time is on your side, spend some quality time with your pet and celebrate their life by doing something they love.
Consider surrounding them with their favorite toys, take them to their favorite park, or even let them sleep in your bed one last time. There’s no shame in giving them indulgences in their final days, and it may even give you that sense of fulfillment.
It’s completely normal to be overwhelmed or emotional; they have been a member of your family and have been an essential part in making who you are, a piece in the puzzle of experiences that make up you.
During this time, it’s essential to take care of yourself and your family’s well-being too. Unfortunately, this stage in your pet’s life is inevitable for all pet owners, but it’s essential to allow yourself to feel grief.
With research showing that the loss of your pet companion can be as intense as a loss of a loved one, being racked by sadness and grief is something that you need to allow yourself to experience.
Coping After the Loss of Your Furry Companion
Whether you chose the traditional in-vet method or at-home euthanasia, it’s still important to prioritize your well-being.
The key is to remember and acknowledge that this feeling of grief or sadness may be confusing or overwhelming at first but reflects how deeply you loved and felt for your furry companion. Surrounding yourself with loved ones and talking through your emotions is a healthy outlet.
To learn more about how to aid your grief and the steps you can take to cope with losing your beloved pet, we’ve written an article to help you.
- Choose the method that is right for you and your pet.
- Prioritize your well-being during this time.
- Allow yourself to grieve.
- Reflect on the times spent with your pet and the cherished memories you created together.
If you’re at the point where you and your family are ready to make a choice, we recommend vet services such as Goodbye At Home. They offer the highest quality, respectable at-home euthanasia procedures for your furry companion.
At Miami Pet Concierge, we believe in the utmost respect for your pets at every stage of their life and believe Goodbye At Home is a reputable service that honors this to the highest value.
If you need any further support during this time or would like to be pointed in the right direction, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Nicole founded Miami Pet Concierge in May 2007, with a mission to provide Miami, Florida’s pet parents with personalized pet care plans based on their pets’ species, age, breed, health, and lifestyle. All while keeping their pets “happy at home.” In addition, offering pet care education for all pet owners to guide them to become great pet parents.