Determining when your pet is in pain or when it’s time to say good-bye can be difficult. Since animals instinctively tried to hide their pain as a survival instinct, few vocalize their pain. We often have to look for less obvious signs, such as failure to groom, restlessness, decreased appetite, less interaction with their families, and hiding. Sometimes certain conditions lead to a pet losing weight, despite continuing to eat well.

If your pet’s quality of life is declining despite appropriate diagnostics and treatments, I suggest hospice care to improve their quality of life by supporting hydration and appetite, alleviating pain and managing symptoms. Many medications can be used to keep animals more comfortable as they near the end of their lives.

When there are more bad days than good days, despite hospice management, consider euthanasia. Although most of us would prefer for our pet to die in their sleep at the point when their quality of life has severely deteriorated, natural deaths are often prolonged and painful. Dying naturally usually does not mean dying in their sleep, pain free and stress free for them and their families. Often there is severe suffering at the end…severe weakness, low blood pressure due to shock and dehydration, uncontrollable nausea, uncontrollable pain, difficulty breathing from loss of oxygen, and even seizures.

I consider euthanasia to be our final gift to our beloved pets – the final way to show them how much we love them. When they have uncontrollable pain or more bad days than good days, we can reward their loyalty and unconditional love by surrounding them with their loving family in a peaceful home environment. We can say good-bye in a gentle manner, in a place that you can grieve in privacy without having to hold back tears.

It is our last act of love to release them from the pain, especially when the condition is untreatable or when treatment options are no longer providing benefit to the pet.

Preparing for Euthanasia at home

Over the years I have found that families and pets are more comfortable and less stressed when they are able to say good-bye in the privacy and comfort of their homes. Most families choose their pet’s favorite spot, which might be their bed or their favorite spot in the yard.

Upon our arrival, we will ask that you sign the necessary paperwork and make a decision regarding your pet’s remains. Family and friends can gather to say good-bye and decide if they want to be present during all or part of the procedure. You may choose to leave the room before the sedation, after your pet relaxes into a peaceful sleep, or stay until the final passing.

The Procedure

An intravenous catheter is placed in the leg and then a heavy sedative is administered. After your pet relaxes into a very deep sleep, a second injection of a highly concentrated barbiturate solution gently eases them to final peace. Family members and other family pets can take their time saying their good-byes.

After care options

If you would like us to handle the arrangements for you, we have several options for your pet’s aftercare but are happy to assist you with any arrangements that you make. We will personally drive your pet to the aftercare facility for cremation. If you choose private cremation, we will also pick up and return their ashes to you. Clay Pawprints can be also made if you wish.

– Private Cremation/Aquamation: Your pet is individually reduced to natural elements of ash and returned to your home by us within two weeks, usually sooner.

– Communal cremation: Your pet is cremated with other animals. Their ashes are scattered and not returned to you.

– Burial in a licensed pet cemetery: We can assist with this process if desired by transporting your pet to the cemetery.

Choice Aftercare was chosen as our aftercare provider because of Aquamation (their gentler, environmentally friendly alternative to conventional cremation), how they handle pets with respect, and their willingness to allow us to personally deliver your pet’s body directly to them. Moreover, their attention to detail guarantees that we will be returning your pet’s individual ashes.
Aquamation or Bio-Cremation is the “Green” alternative for your pet’s aftercare. Unlike traditional cremation, which uses combustion to reduce the body to bone fragments (commonly ground and returned to owners as “ashes”), aquamation uses a reaction known as alkaline hydrolysis to break the organic molecules into their basic components.

A gentle warm mineral bath mimics the process that occurs naturally with burial and accelerates the natural decomposition of the body, leaving behind bone fragments, which are also returned as ashes. The carbon footprint of “Green” Cremation is 85% less than that of fire cremation, with no mercury or black smoke released into the Los Angeles air. Most importantly, you receive 20% more of your beloved pet’s remains than with fire cremation.
Although a full range of urns is available, we usually return the ashes in a beautiful environmentally friendly “Earthurn”. It is completely biodegradable if buried, but can last 100 years if left on your mantle or shelf.

Grief Counseling

UC – Davis Pet Loss Hotline 1-800-565-1526 – University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, 6:30-9:30 pm PT

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
Pet Loss Grief
Pet Loss
Colorado State University, Argus Institute 970-297-1242