Is it time to put my pet to sleep?


Is my cat, dog, or rabbit in pain? If my dog’s tail keeps wagging, and my cat keeps purring, can it really be time?

No one really knows the right moment to decide on euthanasia. It is a very personal and difficult decision many pet owners face, unfortunately, multiple times in a lifetime. The answer is different for each person and each pet.

My name is Dr. Goldie Rosen and I am the owner of a mobile veterinary practice that offers a home pet euthanasia service. Euthanasia becomes an option to consider based on the quality of life and evidence of progression of a disease. However, the pet owner must find peace in the decision and be ready to say that the time has come to say goodbye. Many conflicting emotions factor into the decision, including guilt, indecision, and grief. Furthermore, financial concerns may also need to be considered. For most pet owners, it is overwhelming.

How can a pet owner prepare for a pet’s euthanasia? Having a strong client/veterinarian relationship is critical. As soon as your pet is diagnosed with a terminal disease, that is the time to begin the conversation about medical options, prognosis, costs, and the signs to watch for that signal a decline in your pet’s quality of life. Many pets facing a terminal disease have good days and bad days. When the bad days begin to outnumber the good ones, the answer may become more evident. Additional clinical signs may include a pet sleeping most of the day, lack of control of bodily functions, vomiting, and/or inability to eat or drink.

I can advise you on the progression of the disease and what to expect over time. The entire family can then discuss the options available and be better prepared for the final day, and more confident about the decision.

Home euthanasia for pets is an alternative to the traditional animal hospital procedure. It allows the pet to stay at home, perhaps on a favourite blanket, an owner’s bed, or in a special shady spot in the backyard. This avoids the added stress of traveling to a busy clinic under already difficult circumstances for both the pet owner and pet.

I begin with a telephone consultation to discuss your pet's situation and explain the home pet euthanasia procedure in detail. Aftercare options are also discussed prior to the appointment. It is recommended that owners visit the website at www.petsabove.com so they have an opportunity to view the full collection of aftercare products. Clients may choose between a regular, communal cremation (no ashes returned), or private cremation (ashes returned in a burial/scattering urn). Alternatively, clients may choose to purchase an upgraded urn which includes a free engraving with your pet's name. At this time, the client and I discuss the exact charge, as prices vary depending on the location of euthanasia, the weight of the pet, and choice of aftercare. Acceptable methods of payment include Cash, E-Transfer, Visa or MasterCard.

Once I arrive at your home on the day of the pet euthanasia, I will talk to your pet and offer a chewy or treat. A sedative is then given to relax your pet. This can then take 5-15 minutes to take effect. After your pet is heavily sedated, usually unable to lift her head, I will proceed with the intravenous injection of the euthanizing agent. This will act as an anesthetic overdose and quickly stop the heart from beating. The process usually takes less than thirty seconds. I will then use my stethoscope to check the heart and confirm the euthanasia is complete.

As an optional service, I will provide a paw print free of charge. I do this immediately following the euthanasia using a quick dry plasticine, and leave decorative beads if children wish to personalize the paw print. After the family spends a few private moments with their pet, I will transport the pet to my car, and arrange the aftercare service through www.petsabove.com. In approximately two weeks time, I will personally call the owner to let them know their pet's ashes and products have arrived so that we can organize a mutually convenient time and day in which they can be picked up from my home.  This gives me a second opportunity to connect with the owner and provide additional emotional support.

Overall, pets are living longer. Owners are more educated through online information, and they are taking better care of their pets. They take them for annual examinations and preventative blood testing to diagnose and treat diseases in the early stages. Medications are improving, as are diagnostic procedures.

Old age and terminal disease, unfortunately, are a natural part of a pet’s life. It is never easy to face the decline in health of a beloved pet. The loss can be equivalent to losing a family member. I understand this pain and can help you through the experience, offering as much support as is needed to you and your family. Your pet deserves the best life possible, including a humane and stress-free ending. Let me help you along the journey.