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Saying goodbye is one of the hardest things

As a pet owner, saying goodbye to your beloved family pet is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. Since cats and dogs age much more quickly than we do, pet euthanasia is unfortunately a decision that many of us will eventually have to face. InnaVet is here for you and your companion to ensure a pain-free and peaceful passing in the comfort of your own home.

How to decide when it's time for home pet euthanasia

Although euthanizing a much loved and faithful companion is a difficult decision, it is often the right one when a pet is suffering from a painful, debilitating, or incurable disease. Remember that each pet is a unique entity and every situation is different. There is no one right answer on when it is time to say goodbye. I can talk with you about your pet’s specific medical conditions and how they may impact their quality of life. For those who are struggling with the decision, it may help to talk with a friend or family member to gain their perspective on the situation. While we may be reflecting on the wonderful life we’ve lived with our companion, they might sadly be focused on the pain, stress and fear that they’re feeling.

If you’re struggling to make a decision about seeking pet home euthanasia options, ask yourself some of these important questions.

  • Why do I think it might be time to euthanize my pet?

  • What are my fears and concerns about euthanasia?

  • Whose interests, aside from my pet’s, am I taking into account?

  • What are the opinions of friends and family?

  • Am I making a decision based on what is best for my pet or what is best for me?

How to measure your pet’s quality of life

​When we think of a pet’s quality of life, what do we mean? By paying close attention to your pet’s behavior and routines, you can get a sense for the balance between their daily contentment weighed against their pain and anxiety.

The Good Days vs. Bad Days: As our pets age, they’ll start to have those bad days where few things seem to go right. They struggle with getting up, or they seem to be in pain. Begin keeping track of how many good days your pet has, where they seem to be enjoying life, and the bad ones.

HHHHHMM: Developed by Dr. Alice Villalobos, this method stands for: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Happiness, Hygiene, Mobility and More (more good days than bad). With this method, pet owners can rate each of these for a pet on a scale of 1 to 10. Many veterinarians will say that if your pet still scores at least a 5 on most of the categories, you can feel comfortable in your decision to put off euthanasia.

Pet Hospice Journal: If you’ve entered into a palliative care stage for your pet, it’s a good idea to keep a written record of their decline so you know when it’s time to consider at-home euthanasia.

What to expect before scheduling a home euthanasia

After receiving your contact information or voice message, I will call you on the phone to listen to your concerns, review your pet’s medical history, and answer any questions you might have. I will then explain the process, and together we will decide how to best move forward in your unique situation. At the end of the conversation, we will decide together upon a time and place for the appointment and aftercare options.

What is included in house call euthanasia
  • Telephone consultation

  • Review of your pet’s medical history

  • Home appointment

  • Minimally invasive examination

  • Sedation before euthanasia

  • Humane euthanasia

  • Aftercare coordination, if desired

  • Notification to your family veterinarian of your pet’s passing, if desired

Steps you may want to take ahead of time
  • Set aside towels or a blanket to be used during and after the euthanasia

  • If your pet is still eating, set aside some extra-tasty food to hand-feed them during sedation

  • Choose a place in your house or backyard where your pet feels most comfortable

  • Invite family members, friends or neighbors to join, if appropriate

  • Pull together special toys, blankets, a letter, photos or flowers to be included in the cremation

  • Consider whether you want aftercare

During the appointment

I’ll meet with you and your family, answer any additional questions you might have and confirm your pet’s medical history. Together, we will review your chosen aftercare options. It is understandable that in a stressful time it is easy to become confused or even reconsider the decision. You will be asked to complete a euthanasia consent form before proceeding. If your pet still has an appetite, you could offer them their favorite treat. A small bite of something tasty at the time of the sedative injection will be enough of a distraction so that your pet will not notice the little pinch.

Once your pet, you, and your family are ready, I will carry out the procedure. The sedative relaxes your pet, allowing for a very peaceful experience that is much like watching them just drift off to sleep within a few minutes. I will then slowly inject the euthanasia solution intravenously. It is mostly painless and acts very quickly. Sometimes a pet will take a few deep breaths as their heart slows down and stops.

I will then listen carefully to your pet’s heart to be sure that it has stopped completely. At this point, if you have coordinated your own aftercare, I’ll leave your family to mourn in private. If I am coordinating the aftercare, I will wait until you have said your final farewell before proceeding with the aftercare process.

After life care

You may consider home burial, arranged pet cemetery burial or transportation of your pet to your regular veterinary clinic (please contact us for more details).

For private burial in a pet memorial park, you can make arrangements ahead of time with the pet cemetery directly. Both Bubbling Well in Napa and Pet’s Rest in Colma provide this professional service. For home burial, you should check your county regulations. If animal burial is allowed, the grave should be at least 3-4 feet deep. This is for health reasons and also to safeguard against scavengers, other pets from digging up the burial area, or even rain from washing away topsoil and uncovering the grave. You also need to be cautious of water and power lines.

For private and communal cremation, InnaVet collaborates with Animal Memorial Services (AMS), a local, family owned pet cremation company located in Gilroy. Animal Memorial Services have been offering an innovative, alternative option to the traditional burning process, using water-based cremation called Alkaline Hydrolysis, a gentle, “green”, eco-friendly, method that reduces the release of large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere.

You may choose private cremation with returned ashes (unless indicated otherwise, a simple, beautiful maple urn will be included in either a natural, cherry, or mahogany finish to return your beloved pet’s remains as a standard courtesy) or elect for a group cremation where the remains are not saved.

Some people strongly desire to keep the ashes while others feel that it is not necessary. Some families feel more assured by bringing their pet’s body to a pet cremation facility themselves. If you’re unsure about getting the ashes back, I can label the remains as undecided so you can wait to see how you feel. After a few days, you can decide whether or not you would like to save the ashes.

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