Making the decision to euthanize or relieve a beloved pet of their suffering is one of the most difficult decisions a pet owner will have to make. Euthanasia literally means 'Good Death' and we believe that this process should be as peaceful, dignified and as pain-free as possible. It is considered a Final Gift that we can give to our beloved friend.
Pet euthanasia is a procedure to facilitate the painless passing of an animal in order to end suffering. It is an incredibly difficult choice for a pet parent to make, but when advanced age, terminal illness, or traumatic injury destroy the quality of a treasured pet’s life, euthanasia can be an act of sacrificial kindness. Many see it as the final gift that a pet parent can offer: an end to their beloved companion’s suffering.
For many years, the common term for euthanasia was “put to sleep.” While euthanasia is the correct clinical term, (and literally means “good death”) “putting my pet to sleep” is an apt description of what actually happens. Your veterinarian will perform the same procedure as your dog or cat would receive at a veterinary hospital or clinic, except in the comfort of your home.
The veterinarian makes sure that your pet is calm and relaxed by administering a sedative. The shot will feel similar to receiving a vaccine.
Within 5 to 15 minutes the sedative will be in full effect and your pet will be in a deep sleep, and released from all suffering.
The veterinarian will do a quick assessment to make sure your pet is fully sedated.
The actual euthanasia occurs after sedation, when the veterinarian will give a shot of anesthesia that will quickly slow down your pet’s respiratory system until it stops, and the heart ceases beating. In most cases it takes less than a minute for this to occur.
Death, whether natural or assisted, may result in the following signs:
Sometimes twitching of the legs or ears may occur as if dreaming.
Some medications may cause your pet to be nauseated which may result in vomiting.
Deep reflexive breathing or gasping may occasionally occur (depending on your pet’s condition), as your pet proceeds through the process of transitioning.
Your pet is unconscious and no longer in pain and not aware of its body’s movements.
As the body relaxes, the muscles relax too. This includes those in the bladder and bowels which can lead to urination and/or defecation.
Another effect of a completely relaxed body is the loss of muscle tone in the eyelids which results in the pet’s eyes remaining partially open.
Your veterinarian will arrive wearing regular clothes, since we believe that the sterile look and feel of scrubs is not necessary or helpful for in-home euthanasia. They will have a stethoscope and other “tools of the trade.”
Your veterinarian will spend about 15 - 45 minutes in your home according to your needs and preferences. Our goal is to provide the compassion, patience, and understanding needed to make your final moments with your pet as peaceful as possible for you both. The actual procedure is usually done within 15 minutes, giving you a window of time to be with your pet before and after if you wish. If you feel it’s best to have the procedure done without much by way of preliminaries, just let your veterinarian know. They will not rush you, but will respect your wishes if you prefer to keep the time as brief as possible
You’ll show your veterinarian what area in your home you’ve chosen for the pet euthanasia procedure. If you prefer not to be present, that is also an option.
Before the procedure, you might want to have some of your pet’s very favorite treats on hand for them to enjoy.
Your veterinarian will explain as much or as little of what they are about to do depending on how much information you are comfortable with knowing. Feel free to ask questions along the way.
You might want to welcome other family members—human and four legged— to gather close to your pet. As long as your veterinarian has the space needed, and all present can remain reasonably calm before and during the process, having them present can be a good way to provide closure.
When you are ready, your veterinarian will begin the actual procedure.
After the procedure, your veterinarian will ask if you need more time before the visit is concluded. When you are ready, they will confirm whether you plan to handle the aftercare of your pet's body, or whether you prefer that they arrange for cremation.
If you choose to entrust your pet’s body to our care, your veterinarian will handle them with great gentleness, respect, and dignity.
After the euthanasia, you may take as much time as you need with your pet after they have passed. You’ll have the opportunity to be with your dog or cat throughout this entire process to help him or her to be calm and comforted. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you and your pet through this very difficult time.
We will then take care of all aftercare arrangements for you per your request such as cremation services. This allows you to focus on taking care of yourself and your loved ones after you say goodbye.
Your pet’s remains will then be handled in accordance with your request. If at any point throughout the procedure you would like additional time or have any special requests we will do our best to help and give you the time you need. Our goal is to help your pet’s passing be as dignified and peaceful as possible.
Most people find it’s best to consider how they will want this handled before the day of their pet’s euthanasia. Decision-making on the day your pet has been put to sleep can be rough. CodaPet offers you several after care options, listed here. You are free to change your mind the day of the procedure, but it can alleviate stress to think about what you want beforehand.
We are flexible and supportive of your desires. We are flexible about the location of your pet’s transition. Is your dog most comfortable in the backyard? That’s OK. We will help your pet wherever he or she is the most comfortable. Do you wish to have a special ceremony or say a special prayer? We support your desire to have end-of-life rituals and ceremonies. Furthermore, we support your wish to enhance your pet’s experience by creating a calm, relaxing environment through the use of candles, soft blankets and music.
1. If your pet is still eating, save some of his/her favorite treats for hand feeding during the sedation. You can give small pieces of chocolate, tuna or any of his/her favorite treats. There are no restrictions.
2. Consider lighting candles, soft music or having a prayer or poem to read.
3. Any special location can be chosen as long as it's accessible for the veterinarian and is comfortable for you and your pet including the couch, grassy area in the yard or a meaningful spot in the house.
4. Will your friends or family want to be present? Either physically or via skype/facetime?
5. Will you want a paw print, imprint or clip of fur as a memorial?
6. Would you like a special item such as a drawing, letter, flowers or blanket sent with the pet if you wish to have cremation services performed?
7. Consider whether you would like transportation services for burial at the pet cemetery, or at home? Or whether you would prefer cremation services with return of cremains in special urn?
We understand that considering pet euthanasia is not a fun undertaking but the fact that you have chosen to educate yourself about this difficult topic shows just how deeply you care about your pet. Much respect to pet parents like you who are ready to consider difficult decisions that your dog or cat might need from you, be it sooner or later. If you think it might be sooner and are wondering how to know when the time is right, read more here.
Remember that in addition to caring for your pet, (and who knows how many friends and family members, human or four-legged), self-care is very important for you. It’s hard to take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself, and part of taking care of yourself involves that grief does not begin when the loss of a loved one is final. It begins when loss looms large on the horizon and you find that things you used to do together are no longer possible. The thing about grief is, we need to do it, not only to honor those we’ve lost, but to find healing in their absence. Read more about grief.
"She made a horrible experience a little more bearable. I’m so glad that I opted to do this at home."
It was a really nice experience and the vet was very professional and caring. He helped make the process much more comfortable for not just our family, but for our pet as well.
"Dr. Hsia was very generous with his time and took the time to carefully explain the process and did not rush our goodbye with our pet. He was compassionate and caring. He treated our girl as if she were his own pet."
"The experience was so much better than going to the vet. Dr Whala was very respectful and kind and we didn't feel rushed"
"The service provided is one that every pet owner should consider when that time comes. Dr Hsia gave compassionate and personal care to my dog in the quiet privacy of our home. To end the life of our dog whom we considered a member of our family, painlessly in our arms was the best we could do for our lil girl. Thanks to Dr Hsia and Codapet for helping us in such a timely manner."
"Dr. Whala was very compassionate and sensitive to the process and took extra care to make sure our pup was completely relaxed and comfortable through the process. Appreciate what you did for our family so we could say goodbye at home instead of a potentially stressful trip to the vet."
"Dr. Gary did such an amazing job in making my pet feel as comfortable as possible with so much love during her final moments."
Here are our frequently asked questions to help you feel fully informed and at ease.