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What Happens During House-Call Pet Euthanasia?

June 23, 2013

Last week, VirtuaVet discussed 5 Pros and 5 Cons of hospital pet euthanasia. This week is part two of a three-part weekly series on pet euthanasia options. Let’s examine 5 pros and 5 cons of house call euthanasia,

5 Advantages of House Call Pet Euthanasia

1) Decreased anxiety in your pet’s natural setting. You choose the location, the bedding, who is present, mood music.

2) No transport to the hospital. Especially for immobile or large pets (like a horse) this becomes a huge plus!

3) No emotion-laden driving home for you.

4) Easier for other pets and children to say goodbye while in their own home setting. They don’t have to focus as much on what’s actually happening.

5) Private.

5 Disadvantages of House Call Euthanasia

1) Scheduling. You may have to wait until the end of a day or another day for your veterinarian or a house-call veterinarian to be able to get to your house. Or the service just might not be available in your area. And it will cost more at home because of the time the doctor and nurse are away form the office (seeing one patient, instead of 3-4 during the same time, means you must pay for 4 visits usually, instead of one.)

2) Sadness and emotional event happening in your house or on your property means you may always associate that spot with what happened there. This may be a plus or a minus, depending on how you take things.

3) You need to arrange electricity (for a shaver so the vet can see the vein), lighting (which is waaay brighter than normal house lighting), clean up hair and urine and feces after, and maybe have a spot where the vet can get up and down off the floor (at least offer to help an older vet up –the knees ain’t what they used to be, especially after floor procedures!)

4) Payment over the phone, or a portable credit card device (if your vet is modern), or come to the office.

5) Body care. Your vet may be able to put the remains of your pet in their vehicle. But you may need to call a pet cremation service and arrange for pick-up

Help Your Veterinarian Have a Smooth House Call

Help your veterinarian by providing payment in advance. Make your decisions in advance about body care after.

1) Choose a spot near electricity or provide a long extension cord.

2) Your normal house lamps or a flashlight will make the job MUCH more difficult. Provide bright lighting if you can (I bring a surgical battery-operated head lamp. You can get them online for under $20 these days.)

3) Choose a location with access to a wide walkway or doorway so your pet’s remains with or without a stretcher will fit to be carried to the vet’s vehicle. If you have a family member with a good back, the help would be much appreciated!

4) Keep children and other pets from getting in the way.

5) While it is wonderful for the vet to be a “Part of your family,” they have other pets to help. Please don’t have your vet stay for a prayer service or a memorial or a wake without first asking them if they want to participate. (Doc Truli once spent 4 hours at a lady’s house after her Himalayan cat passed away for a Buddhist spirit-release ceremony. Beautiful, but Doc’s own cats sat at home alone waiting for her to return!)

***Almost forgot the most important thing!!!!  Do not smoke during your house call. While it’s your house, you are poisoning your doctor. Doc Truli, personally, gets sick for days just walking into a house where people have smoked. It’s the #1 reason she does not prefer house calls!

For more help on decisions regarding pet end-of-life, please read VirtuaVet’s Pet Quality of Life.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 24, 2013 12:09 am

    Wow, this so interesting. I had my pet cat euthanized at home by one vet and my service dog, Gadget, euthanized at home by another vet. Neither of them did any shaving and the light was sufficient as far as I know. (Gadget was outside on a sunny day.) But we also have two traveling vets in this area, where most or all of their practice is on the road so I guess that’s pretty different from what you’re talking about. They also both accepted personal checks, although they also both offered to just send me a bill in case I didn’t want to deal with the money right then (but I did just want to get it over with; I couldn’t stand the idea of getting a bill in the mail a week or two after Gadget’s death). I also had someone on hand to help carry Gadget but the vet offered to do it anyway.

    I definitely recommend having a towel or blanket that you don’t expect to use again on hand because like you said it doesn’t take long before bodily fluids start to leak, and you can wrap them in it to be buried or cremated anyway. And if you live in a cold climate and you think your animal might die when the ground is frozen, and you want to do a home burial, it’s a good idea to dig a hole ahead of time.

    • June 24, 2013 10:19 pm

      Good suggestions, Sharon. I find people don’t want to be billed, either, for something that emotional. I feel it’s better to get it over with and then get on with the grieving and healing process.

      -Doc Truli

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