We know that choosing to help your companion animal die can be an extremely difficult decision--it is possibly the hardest decision you will ever make. We have created this page to help you with the decision making process and to answer questions that can be hard to ask on the phone or in person. As always, if you have questions that are not addressed by this content, please give us a call and we will do our best to help you.
When you know that you are going to euthanize your pet, it is helpful to be as prepared as possible. At Care Animal Hospital, you have several options for euthanasia that we want you to know about. Knowing your thoughts on these important issues can help us provide the best care to you and your animal companion.
1. Where do you want your pet to be euthanized?
If your beloved pet has been examined by us and together we decide that euthanasia is the best decision for your furry friend, Care Animal Hospital offers many choices. Some owners prefer for their pets to be euthanized at our hospital, while others want this to be done in a familiar setting, such as a favorite park or in the home. In either scenario, we will usually schedule time for the euthanasia at the end of your doctor's work day so that there are no interruptions from future appointments. If you are coming into the hospital, we will give you a scheduled appointment time to arrive. If your pet's doctor is traveling to your home, he or she will call you at the end of the work day with an estimated time of arrival.
2. Who do you want to be present for the euthanasia?
Some owners want the support of several family members while others would prefer to be alone or to not be present at all during euthanasia. Regardless of which option you prefer, telling us your preference ahead of time will help us to be more prepared and will help to make sure the appointment runs as smoothly as possible.
3. What would you like to have to remember your pet following euthanasia?
We make complimentary baked clay paw prints following most euthanasias. You can elect to have none, one or several of these made--just let us know what you prefer and we will be sure to have supplies on hand. We also have small stone boxes that we call "fur keepers" to keep some of your pet's fur. There are a variety of other pet memorial options available; please ask us for more details.
4. What can I expect if I am present for my pet's euthanasia?
Your pet's doctor will meet with you to address any concerns and to explain the procedure. Typically, animals are given a sedative to decrease anxiety. The doctor will then give you time alone with your pet. When you are ready, the doctor will administer the euthanasia solution (an overdose of a powerful injectable anesthetic). Following injection, the medication takes effect rapidly and gently; your pet will quite literally go to sleep. The doctor will let you know when your pet is gone and then give you as much time as you need with your pet. If you have questions or concerns at any point during the procedure, please let us know.
5. Can I take my loved one home with me?
We understand that different people grieve in different ways. You can certainly take your pet home with you to bury in your yard; however, you need to make sure that the burial is deep enough to avoid scavenging by other animals (typically 3 feet or more) and that you avoid any utility lines that may be buried underground. We also offer individual cremation (where your pet's ashes are returned to you in about a week) or group cremation (where your pet's ashes are not returned to you). Your doctor can help you decide which option will be best for you if you are unsure.
6. Can I donate my pet's remains to help veterinarians and veterinary students learn from them?
Yes. In 2009, Care Animal Hospital established its Educational Memorial program. We use euthanized pets to practice advanced surgical skills and to learn about disease processes to improve our care. Pet owners who elect this option can still choose to bury their pet at home or have their pet cremated. We know that this program is not for everyone; please let us know if you are interested in participating.