What are hospice and palliative care and how does it look for a pet?

The goal of animal hospice and palliative care is to provide comfort and support to companion animals, as well as their families, as the pets approach the end of life or struggle with a chronic condition. We hope to bring as much quality to the days our pets have left while providing medical and practical treatments and modifications. Services may include hospice treatment, pain/anxiety management, holistic healing, and in-home euthanasia.

Journey Home Vet can help those pet parents that choose an individualized hospice care plan in order to participate in decision making about their pet’s needs and hope to provide the time to say goodbye to their companions and to plan for their death.

How do I best know when “it’s time”?

The choice to euthanize is such a difficult decision and it can be very difficult to know how to time such a choice. There are tools that can be helpful such as a quality of life assessment (click here for one that is easy to use and encompasses many of the concerns we have about our pets). It is important to think about those day to day activities that seem to make your pet happy, as well as those things that make it difficult for them to enjoy life. It is important to monitor for changes in normal activity, signs of pain, hygiene, and even how these challenges impact you and your family.

Please feel free to call or email to discuss your pet’s quality of life or set up an in-person quality of life assessment. There are many factors involved in making such a big decision, and we at Journey Home want to make this difficult decision as smooth as possible for your family.

What can I expect during the home euthanasia visit?

Though every pet is different and Journey Home Vet strives to provide an individualized, tailored plan, depending upon your pet’s condition, here is a summary of a typical appointment:

During a typical visit, there will be a small amount of paperwork and payment, if not prepaid before the appointment. The doctor will discuss all the steps and provide you with the time and space to be with your pet. An injectable sedative is given to ease pain, decrease anxiety, and put your pet in a restful state. This is a great time to give an extra yummy treat such as cheese or peanut butter, or even a treat they normally would not be allowed to have, to distract from the quick injection.

The doctor will touch base that your pet is in a restful, sedated state and can proceed with the final injection. All considerations will be given to allow you the time you need and deserve with your precious pet during this difficult time. The final injection of euthanasia solution, essentially an overdose of anesthesia, acts by putting your pet into such a deep sleep that breathing and then the heart stops. This is a painless process that causes your pet to relax further, gently fall asleep, until they pass.

How far in advance should I make an appointment?

Ideally, most appointments are made 24 hours in advance, but we understand many aspects of ill and aging pets is unpredictable. We are better able to suit your needs with more notice, but that is not always possible as we know your pet’s condition and needs may urgently change.

If your pet is experiencing a slow decline, it is fine to schedule even a couple of weeks ahead of your preferred time. We will make every effort to provide same day service and if we are unable to fulfill your request, we will refer you to another mobile service for your needs.

My pet does not like when strangers come to my home–can I still have an in home euthanasia?

Yes. As long as we know ahead of time, we can create a low stress, safe plan for your pet’s individual needs. This may include giving an oral sedative in a treat from your regular vet or discussing a plan for entering the home safely.

What are my options for regarding my pet’s remains?

Options include burial at your home (please check with local ordinances regarding specific regulations) or in a cemetery, communal cremation with no ashes returned, or private cremation with only your own pet’s ashes returned. We work with two providers to allow you to choose between traditional flame-based cremation or eco-friendly water-based aquamation. See Aftercare for further information.

Should my kids attend the euthanasia?

You know your children best and there are a few important considerations when facing the loss of a beloved pet: allow your children to say goodbye in a way they are comfortable and, particularly for kids over the age of 6, ask if they would like to be present and/or involved in the pet’s passing. All kids, just like adults, may have strong feelings and it is important to give them choice. As the process is very peaceful, children of many different ages have been involved and present for home euthanasias. Dr. Stephanie is open to whoever would like to be present and can accommodate your family’s specific needs and concerns. If your kids do not want to be present or if you elect not to have them present, a memorial is always a nice touch. Feel free to ask about ideas for memorializing your pet.