In-home euthanasia or at the vet?

phish_gwJanuary 7, 2011

One of my kitties I fear is near the end. If he has to be put down, I don't know whether to do it at the vet or at home. I'm sure at home is pricier, but that part is not that important in the grand scheme of things.

Here is the real debate as I see it. The advantage to doing it at home is I can take my time, and feel more comfortable crying and grieving and saying goodbye in private. But the disadvantage is that for whatever spot I would pick to do it in the house, I fear I would always look at that spot and remember that pain. So if I did it at home, I'm thinking of doing it in the basement. Then there is the added debate (that I posted in a different post) about whether to let his brother either be present at the time or see him afterwards - if I were to go with letting the brother see him afterwards, I would rather do that at home. What are your thoughts?

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Well, I will weigh in FWIW. I'm so sorry you are facing this, but I think you are wise to prepare yourself in advance.

If I had the option, I would choose at home because IMO it is less traumatic for the animal- no car rides, no foreign places. It was a little rough for me to have to take my boy cat into the vet's, but I could not find someone in my area who would come to a home, so that was the only option.

My vet was top notch in their sensitivity. They set the room up very nicely, with beautiful blankets and sedated him well beforehand. They did not rush me in any way; they took their time and proceeded at my pace. It was a very peaceful transition and they treated both me and my cat with the utmost respect and dignity. I have a long relationship with them due to my other cat who requires frequent vet visits, so I knew beforehand that their office and attitude would feel as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.

When my dog passed away, she did so without assistance in our bedroom. I do not have any hard feelings about where she was when she passed. It does not bring me sadness when I look at that area, it brings me great comfort to know she was in her bed, one of the places in the world where she most belonged. I personally would not choose an "off area" like a basement, but rather an area where the pet was most at home and comfortable. Talk to the tech/vet who will be helping you beforehand- find out how they proceed, so you can be comfortable with it.

I had a dog euthanized without benefit of sedation at the vet's and it haunts me to this day- however I've spoken to many people who've had animals not sedated beforehand who did not have the traumatic experience that I did. In that case, I did not know what to expect, and the vet did not give me any information about what to expect when it was done. The vet had no bedside manner either, I saw her for all of about a minute- she walked in, did what had to be done, and walked out. When my cat came to that point, I verified with everyone involved in the process that he was to be sedated beforehand. However and whoever you have help you eventually, ask as many questions as you need to beforehand, and don't hold back any questions you might have. They should be able to help you understand what their usual method is, and what you can expect. If something doesn't sit right with you, find someone else who makes you feel comfortable with the process. My limited experience has been that the more peaceful the passing, the easier it is to get through the initial grief.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 1:45PM
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I have found only one vet who would do a small animal euthanasia at home. My current group will not do that, even though they are farm vets and will go to the farm to do it for large animals. I offered to pay them whatever they thought it was worth and they still held fast to their policy. My mother had a huge St. Bernard/Gordon setter cross and it was just completely impractical (and stressful to the dog) to contemplate hauling it in to town and then back out for burial. A dear vet friend of my daughter's agreed to come to the home for the procedure and if his practise weren't so far away, I'd be taking my animals to him still.

It was summertime and we brought the dog to the edge of the woods behind the house where the grave had been dug in anticipation and the family all surrounded her and were needed to complete the burial. Peaceful and kind are what go through my mind and I don't have problems looking at the site where she is and imagine it suited her as well.

I'm sorry to know you are going through this. I didn't post to your previous thread, but I do know animals sense the loss too. When we had to put down our dear little Duke dog, who was gentle and kind and all the other dogs got along with him.......we allowed all the other house dogs to see and smell him before we interred him (though they were not present at the euthanasia). One of them returned to his grave daily for about three days and lay on it for awhile. Then they assumed their routine once more without him.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 1:51PM
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I have already provided my opinions on these issues on your other thread, so I won't repeat them here. I will, however, add that I am far more haunted by the euthanasias performed in the vet's office than those performed at home. Usually, my animals are stressed in the vet's office, and it breaks my heart to know that their last moments were spent in a state of anxiety.

The euthanasias performed at home, OTOH, occur in a peaceful, familiar setting surrounded by loving companions. The passings here at home are as anxiety-free as possible for the animal. Like quasifish, I have home euthanasias performed where the animal is most comfortable - typically a favorite bed. I have no lingering sad memories of the spots where my animals passed. To the contrary, it comforts me to know that they were here at home, not frightened in some clinical setting.


    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 2:18PM
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I also posted on the other thread but want to add here that all my pets have a favorite bed and the last two pets I had euthanized at home were asleep in their bed when the vet arrived. Since they were so sick and weak they never knew the vet came into the house and they slept thru the whole procedure. My little gal woke briefly as she took her last breath but the vet had warned us she may do that.

I've had no problems with the areas where they each died, maybe because their beds were removed afterward (or else buried with them).

Bless you for thinking thru this ahead of time. It's always a difficult time but preparing for her passing will help you get thru the loss afterward.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 3:12PM
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I have only done this twice - I have cats. The first was at home and it was not a peaceful experience - the other was at the vet's office and it was as good as I could ever have hoped for such a situation.

After the first traumatic ordeal, I talked to my (new) vet for the second go round. He preferred to do at the office and I explained that I didn't want any traumatic experience for me or my cat including a car ride. I didn't want the last memory to be of a car ride so I asked if I could give my cat some kind of sedative. The vet gave me some acepromazine pills and I just kept them around until I needed them.

I posted here earlier about what a postive experience this ended up being. When the day came I called and confirmed with the vet that I could come in and then I gave my cat one of these pills - as instructed. He got a little sleepy but I still thought he'd get excited in the car so I gave him another one. He then got very sleepy and groggy and I just held him like a little baby and he laid peacefully on my lap in a blanket on the car ride to the vet.

My vet has a nice "living room" with a couch, rug, etc. and I could stay in there as long as I wanted before and after - and that's where the injection was given. Me on the couch holding him on my lap just like home. It was all very peaceful and as good as such a thing can be. I felt much, much better about it than I did with the at home deal.

Being able to give my cat the sedative pills before the ordeal made all the difference in the world for me. I do think there's an advantage of not having a place in your home where you can always picture that dreaded event.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 7:36PM
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I just wrestled with this. My cat died on December 20th. I let her go on her own. It went on for days.

I had the number of a vet who would come to my house if I had decided to.

My feeling is that my cat loved her home and me. I would NEVER have taken her away from either for her last breath.

Personally, I would have the vet come to your home and have it done in your cat's favorite comfortable safe place -- not in the basement. It's about your cat's last moments. Make him feel safe. Don't worry about how you'll feel about that place later. Also, I wouldn't have the other cat watch, but, maybe, see your kitty after he's gone.

Believe me, my heart goes out to you. I know the agony you're going through in trying to make the right decision.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 11:06PM
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I've done both.

My dogs have always loved going to the vets office, so taking them there for a final time was not stressful for them. They were not sedated prior to giving them the shot, why do they sedate them? They were given a shot and peacefully drifted away in my arms. My vets are wonderful and caring.

One of my cats was near the end, and hated going to the vet. I had him euthanized at home. It was also very peaceful and calm, and again not sedation prior. I never looked at the spot where we sedated him as anything other than the spot he was finally at peace. Sad he was gone, but glad he was no longer sick.

Hard decision to have to make.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 1:02PM
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I have never heard of home euthanasia but I need to check it out so if/when the time comes for our beloved lab, I would most certainly choose home euthansia. Our home is quiet and non stressful with no small children around. I would think that if a dog is in a quiet, stress free home with quiet owners who can provide the best possible situation for this sad medical procedure, I think the home would be the best possible situation especially for the dog but also for the owners of the dog and certainly what I will choose if I have that option. Because our lab is unusually large, I wonder if the price usually includes the removal of the body and cremation? I would not want my husband and myself to be left with that awful chore on our own.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 1:41PM
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I'm the one who posted this question in the first place and we ended up doing it at the vet. First of all, we needed to go to the vet anyway for them to help us decide this wasn't working and it was time to end it, and once we made this decision, we didn't want to prolong anyone's agony.

Second, Mr. Phish had a concern about doing it at home. He thought that if we brought someone to the house, we would feel totally rushed, like they had to hurry up and finish with us so they could move on to the next job, whereas doing it at the vet on a non-busy weekday did not have that pressure.

It turned out the vet was very patient and sympathetic and made the process as good as possible for all of us. So in the end it ended up being the right solution for us. I'm sure either solution works well when correctly implemented. Thanks to everyone for the advice that helped get us through it.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 2:44PM
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Our 73 lb lab was euthanized at home, by our vet. I was fortunate that our home is close to the office. I'm not sure if she is always willing to come to the home. Our dog was loved very much. Having to make the decision of "when" was difficult. I had never had to do that before. She had bone cancer. I envisioned she would be in her bed, in our bedroom. About 1 hr before the appointment she wanted to go outdoors. When the vet arrived she was on the back porch. We had a grave already dug in the yard. We had her lie on an old quilt. It was a very positive experience for us. We knew we made the right decision. I was most impressed w/ our vet and the tech that came w/ her. I would definitely opt for doing it at home. Thankfully, we were physically able to bury her ourselves and had a spot on our property. There are cremation services that pick up and deliver to vet offices, I assume they would come to a residence as well.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 2:13PM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

I had my dog euthanized at home and it was the best option for me. The vet and a tech came. They gave me as much time as I needed. Afterwards they took my dog (on a little doggie stretcher) with them. I had him cremated. It certainly made a sad, sad experience easier to bear. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2011 at 5:15PM
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