Even when the end is imminent and your pet's quality of life is so poor, the decision to end your furry companion's life is never an easy one - we know this only too well because we love - and have lost - our own pets too. As animal lovers ourselves, we know the thought of making this decision is often accompanied by much grief, anxiety and even guilt at the thought of having to decide to say goodbye to a very special and often long-term companion.
We know too well that life threatening - or critical - situations don't always happen within "office hours" so rest assured we are here around the clock to help you at a difficult time - and for as long as you need us to but out-of-hours/urgency/late fees apply for this premium service as we have a specially trained vet on call at all times (24/7 on 365 days a year) always ready to come out to assist you and your pet at home.
However we promise you, from years of experience, that with our special home service your pet will pass ever so peacefully in his or her sleep - when it's time... (tailored to your pet's circumstances, illnesses and ailments).
As fully qualified professionals with years of experience in helping families and their special companions, we will assist and support you by coming out to see you at home - or by phone - to help you know when is the right time to intervene, what feels the right for you and your companion and how to best support your pet through the journey at the end of a good life together. It is our special job to help and guide you, as well as your pet, through this challenging journey to make it as gentle and peaceful as possible.
We truly want to help you make this time as beautiful and worry-free as possible - for you, your pet and your family, both before, during and afterwards - and we will always go the extra mile to give you and your pet a dignified and calm experience.
So when there is absolutely no more quality of life and joy left, we are available 24/7 to let your pet go in his or her sleep at home - always with a pain-free sedation given first. More in-depth information about this final procedure, what to expect and how peaceful it is with us, is given below.
How is euthanasia actually carried out - and what happens? A very peaceful, beautiful and pain-free ending.
Once euthanasia has been decided as the best way to help your pet not suffer, and before we carry this out, you will always be asked to sign a consent form, as this allows us time to explain the procedure. We will talk to you about issues such as whether - or how - you would like to be present during the euthanasia, where you'd like it to take place, and what to expect from the actual procedure - but only if you would like this in-depth information.
We will also discuss (and recommend) which method may suit your special pet and your wishes best, as there are several ways this can be carried out. It all depends on what you want, your pet's personality and his or her illness and condition. We will, of course, advise you - drawing on years of experience - as to what will be the most peaceful and gentle way, for both your pet and for you.
Almost every one of the many hundreds of cases of home euthanasia we have conducted over the years has been extremely gentle, as quick or slow as suited and without stress to all parties involved. We are proud to say that many of our pet owners seem surprised as to just how almost beautiful the whole experience is, despite the sadness of the circumstances.
The examples below are of how euthanasia happens most often, but we will always individually tailor our approach to your pet's circumstances and personality
Cats are very individual and very special creatures and as such the circumstances surrounding their needs at the time of euthanasia are always taken into consideration when deciding how to put them to sleep in the very gentlest of ways. Often that is without moving them from the position they are most comfortable in - on a bed, on your lap, in their basket or on the sofa - and in their safe, familiar surroundings at home. Many times our cat patients have just purred themselves to sleep, not even noticing they have had an injection - this is a true gift and acknowledgement to us a hospice vets to witness.
We usually give two injections: a pain-free sedation and a final injection - and we never need to shave the fur - and you can hold and stroke your cat throughout.
The first injection is quick and painless - a sedative given under the skin where your cat hardly notices it - if at all. Usually the sedative starts working almost immediately but sometimes with a very ill, dehydrated or strong-willed animal it will work more slowly and just gradually make your cat sleepy.
The second - euthanising - final injection containing a large dose of anaesthetic is also completely pain-free and usually - depending on your cat's resting position - given in the side or abdomen when your cat is deeply asleep.
As you may have experienced at a vets before, the euthanasia injection can also be given as a quick intravenous injection in the front leg. We never recommend this method for cats as it is usually quite stressful for them, involving noisy shaving and firm restraint for it to be effective. We would never use this method.
The single most important aspect is to give the injection so your cat hardly notices it is being given. This is a very special art and skill and something we are extremely experienced in hereby allowing you to sit holding your cat throughout the procedure.
Dogs are trusting, loyal and people-loving companions and we want them to be as comfortable as possible before we start our procedure, so if your dog isn't too ill, tasty treats, cuddles and extra attention are important ingredients as well as being in a favourite location such as a bed, sofa, or in your arms.
Very nervous, grumpy - or even aggressive,"vet-hating" - dogs are our specialty after years of helping these more special companions - so do not worry. We do have muzzles but rarely - if ever - need these. Treats and cuddles are much better at this one time!
We usually give two injections: a heavy sedation and a final injection.
For a peaceful and slow induction very much resembling natural sleep, a sedative injection is painlessly given in the back of the neck - very much like a vaccination - which we recommend for most, if not all, dogs but particularly for nervous, anxious or aggressive animals or those in too much pain. This is simply a gentler, "nicer" experience for your pet - and for you.
The sedation will gradually make your dog very sleepy - usually within 5 to 15 minutes - during which time you can sit holding and stroking your dog. After it has become clear that your pet is in a deep, deep sleep, we give the actual euthanising injection - usually intravenously. This works immediately, over 1-2 minutes, and is usually given in the front leg after shaving a patch free of fur or it can be given in the back leg through an I/V catheter, which is put in place once your dog is fully asleep. Either way, you can sit gently stroking your pet's head while he or she peacefully drifts off not feeling a thing - other than your gentle touch.
Without sedation - the quick and final I/V injection
As you may have experienced at the vets, the euthanasia injection can also be given as a quick intravenous injection in the front leg - without the sedation first.
We at Vets2Home hardly ever use this method without a sedation as it is usually quite abrupt and insensitive because your dog needs to be clipped and restrained so the delicate last injection can be given properly. It is, however, an extremely quick, instant method and can be quite an easy way to end your pet's struggles when speediness is important due to intense suffering, distress or pain such as with seizuring, fractures or severe strokes.
When given the I/V injection the breathing pattern changes and the heartbeat gently stops almost immediately and it is natural for your pet to unconsciously perhaps take a few deep or quick breaths before relaxing completely.
Occasionally a brief twitch or small muscle spasm can occur for up to 20 minutes after death as the remaining energy in the cells is used up. This is perfectly normal and should not be taken as a sign of life. As the body and mind relaxes, so does the bladder (and sometimes the bowel), which we are fully prepared for and will take care of so you can fully concentrate on saying goodbye gently to your companion.
AFTER your pet has passed away
When our vet has ensured that your pet has definitely passed away - by checking vital signs such as heart and reflexes - we make arrangements for the body that you are comfortable with. We can respectfully take your deceased pet with us to our affiliated, highly accredited pet crematorium (where he or she will be cremated either 100% alone or with other deceased pets), or maybe leave him or her for you to find a favourite spot in the garden. We can make private arrangements with the crematorium for returning the ashes in a personal keepsake of your choice, in a simple scatter box, or even for burial - whichever suits your last wishes for your pet's earthly remains the best.
In short, we give advice so you can select what suits your wishes and situation the best. We make sure it is all taken off your shoulders at this difficult time, so you can make the most of these last dear moments with your pet with as few practical worries as possible.
If need be we can arrange - and have done a number of times - a referral to a professional bereavement counsellor. Through our personal experiences as animal lovers we know so well that parting with a truly loved one - human or non-human - is a time of severe distress and heart-wrenching trauma for many people for a very, very long time after. Sadly, it's the unavoidable trade-off and price we "pay" for a long, happy life with such a special bond to a special animal.
For our 24/7 help line, to have an informal chat about your worries about your pet with our caring staff or to make a final arrangement please