Pet Euthanasia

End-of-Life Pet Services: Understanding Your Options

End-of-life pet services include hospice care, pet euthanasia, and aftercare. In this article, we break down all the options for your pet.

February 15, 2021
End-of-Life Pet Services: Understanding Your Options

Coping with the loss of a beloved pet is one of the hardest experiences for any pet parent to face. No matter how long you've been with your pet, you know they're more than just an animal companion — they're family. So when it comes time to say goodbye, there are a lot of difficult decisions to make. 

Whether your best friend has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or is reaching the end of their golden years, you can guide them through their final stages calmly, minimizing any discomfort and ensuring their last days are as peaceful and dignified as possible. 

What Is End-of-Life Pet Care?

When a pet's health declines, consider how you can help them be as happy and comfortable as possible for the time left. Pet hospice care, also known as palliative care, is one of the options a vet will suggest to make the final days or weeks of your pet more pleasant. 

There are times when the quality of life is compromised, or other factors impact the ability of your pet to recover. In those cases, pet euthanasia is often a compassionate option to be considered.

End-of-life care also includes aftercare, which refers to how you want to handle your pet's remains and honor your companion. 

There's no question that these emotional decisions aren't easy to make. But taking the steps to plan for end-of-life care can relieve a lot of anxiety, allowing you to live in the moment and enjoy the time you have left with your furry friend. 

What End-of-Life Services Look Like for Pets

Things will change through the last months, weeks, and days of your pet's life. That uncertainty can be frightening for any pet parent, especially when your pet's well-being is on the line.

That's why it helps to know what end-of-life pet services actually look like. Knowing what you might need — and how to decide what's right for your pet — can make things easier.

1. Pet Hospice Care

If your pet's health is suffering, whether from a terminal illness, accident, or advanced age, your veterinarian may recommend hospice care. The goal of hospice care for pets is to make their transition comfortable, allowing them to spend the remainder of their lives with as little pain and discomfort as possible. 

Hospice care includes pain relief, nursing care, and other caregiving options to keep pets comfortable and happy in their final days. This can be done in a dedicated veterinary facility if the pet has more complex medical needs. But many opt to have hospice care done at home, under the guidance of a veterinarian. 

2. Pet Euthanasia Services

Some pets will pass away naturally during hospice care. But other pets may decline to the point where euthanasia is the kindest choice. 

Choosing pet euthanasia can be a difficult decision to make — one your veterinarian can help you navigate. The euthanasia process is designed to be a gentle and humane choice when advanced age, terminal illness, or untreatable traumatic injury compromises your pet's quality of life. 

Euthanasia appointments can be made to take place at a veterinary office, a pet hospital, or the pet parent's home. The fees vary depending on who performs the procedure, where you live and what's included in the process.

Many pet parents choose at-home euthanasia services to allow their pet to stay somewhere familiar during the procedure or when moving to a veterinary hospital can be painful and stressful. Most cats and dogs are terrified of vet clinics and that environment can, at times, feel too sterile. At home, however, pets feel most comfortable and at ease. They can sit in a familiar spot, like a pet bed or your own bed, with blankets, toys, or other items that comfort them. 

In-home pet euthanasia also allows the whole family and other pets to be present, which can benefit both the pet and those surrounding them. 

When you've exhausted all other means of compassionate care — and your pet is in pain or suffering — letting them go can be the best decision for both of you. The greatest gift you can give your pet at the end of its life is a comfortable and peaceful passing. 

3. Aftercare: Burial and Cremation Services

Finally, it's time to discuss the last step in end-of-life care: aftercare services. Here are some options to consider:


Some pet parents opt for burial on private property when allowed by city/county regulations. Make sure to check local laws to determine what options are legal and available in your area. 

There are also pet cemeteries where you can bury your cat or dog and mark the grave.


A popular option among pet owners is cremation. Depending on the budget and personal preferences of the pet parent, most cremation services offer two options:

Private cremation services: Pets are cremated individually, and the ashes are returned to the family.

Communal cremation services: This option is more economical as the pet is cremated with others. Their ashes are ceremoniously scattered on the crematorium grounds or another location. 

If you arrange for private cremation, you can pick up your pet's remains and decide how to best honor your pet. You can store the ashes in a decorative urn, bury them on your property, scatter them in a meaningful place, or even turn them into a keepsake like jewelry to remember your friend. 

Related content: What to expect from pet euthanasia

Quality of Life and Its Impact on Pet Parent Decision-Making

Understandably, one question causes many pet parents a lot of stress: When is it time to say goodbye? End-of-life care, including euthanasia, is about relieving suffering while allowing your pet to live happily as long as possible. 

There's never going to be a "perfect" time, but understanding your pet's quality of life can help make that decision easier. A tool that can help you make this difficult choice is a quality of life assessment scale. Based on factors like appetite, anxiety levels, pain control, and enjoyment of life, you can proceed with confidence that you're making the right decision for your pet. 

Turn to an In-home Euthanasia and Pet Aftercare Team You Can Trust

Naturally, many pet parents share powerful bonds with their beloved pets. When your pet is reaching the end of its life, it's expected to feel a range of emotions — denial, frustration, anger, and grief. From hospice care to at-home euthanasia, building a plan for pet end-of-life care can smooth this transition and help you make the most of the time you have left with your best friend. 

If you've decided at-home euthanasia is the right choice, we are here to help you navigate through this difficult moment. Whenever you're ready, you can schedule an appointment

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Here are our frequently asked questions to help you feel fully informed and at ease.