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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Euthanasia: at home or at the vet hospital?

If I were not a vet, I would only trust a veterinarian I know well to euthanize my pet. I would not call upon somebody I didn't know to perform such an intimate, solemn, and heart-wrenching procedure. Where would you have this done? What if you didn't know a veterinarian very well?


Maggie said...

I think at home would be better, as it would save my old gal the scary trip to the hospital. However, it may be harder for the vet if the owner doesn't have an adequate place to perform the procedure (which could also make it harder on the animal).

If we had the time, and I didn't know the vet well, I would want to simply meet and talk first without my pet present. You're right--it's a terribly personal thing, and the worst day of your life with your pet. I'd want to be CERTAIN the vet knew precisely what he or she was doing, and would treat my girl with the same care I would.

Mel said...

Seeing as this is a significant part of what I do, often under very stressful circumstances, it's something that I've spent a good bit of time thinking about. I have done home euthanasias for friends on occasion, and it has generally gone okay. I do worry, however, about the difficulties in finding a vein, restrain the animal adequately, etc.

In the clinic setting, we usually have the luxury of being able to place an IV catheter, but I certainly understand the reluctance of some people to have euthanasia performed by a stranger - I don't trust anyone else with my own pets - so I always try to make sure that the owner is involved in the process, knows what's going to happen and what to expect, and that attention is paid to the pet's and the owner's comfort and emotional state. I see it as part of my professional ethic.

Catherine said...

I think at home would be so much easier on the pet, although possibly harder on the owner.
A vet that I didn't know/hadn't met before? I'd definitely want to meet him or her beforehand and make sure I was comfortable with the vet and confident in how they would handle things.

Y.L.G. said...

I thought you might have brought this topic up
because of the article in
The Toronto Star February 6.

It made me ill reading it. 

I Thank God that I was lucky to have had a wonderful vet that came to the house. We knew each other professionally for about a year; sometimes I think some people come into your life for a specific purpose and then they ...leave.

In hindsight I think she was the "angel of death" but I didn't know it then.

Euthanasia of my beloved Golden Retriever was my first experience and although I had been in denial of her illness; I finally came to terms of acceptance. The problem now was me. How was I going to live through this; I was literally shaking; I was terrified.

I don't know how anyone can be prepared for this - the emotions of 14 years flashing through my mind were unbearable.

I thought I could get support from my husband and my two close friends (they loved my dog as much as me) but that was not going to happen. They started the grieving process already.

"Angel Vet" compassionately hugged me and cried with me. She explained step by step what was going to happen as well as to my older children who were on speaker phone, 3,000 miles away. It was after all...their dog when they were growing up.

My dog knew our vet very well and came for a cookie. She was deaf so she did not react to her arm being shaved. She was happily eating her cookie.

I don't understand but what was so frightening became a "beautiful experience." My vet specifically wanted my other dog in the room with us; she believed that dogs grieve for each other. My dog didn't whimper, didn't thrash around, just peacefully and beautifully gradually went to sleep in my arms.

I didn't realize that not all euthanasia happens this way; I am glad I found this out later. My vet stayed with us for a couple of hours making sure everyone was "ok." She made sure there was so much love in the room and encouraged us to talk.

When she left and took our dog with her, (I kissed "Chelsey" one more time) - I realized how lucky I was and how relieved I was that everything went so well.

I don't know how "death" could possibly be a good experience, but I remember falling asleep on the couch, holding my other dog and I knew that tomorrow would be just fine.

P.S. My dog "Chelsey" was a pet therapy dog for several years. As a "tribute" to her memory, (money was donated by the community) to plant a tree with a plaque in her favourite park. Amazing:)

TorontoVet said...

Dear YLG,

Thank you for sharing your personal story here.
Indeed this topic was breached after reading about this story. I think the Toronto Star has taken a certain sensationalist angle on the story (as they almost always do), precluding any objectivity by turning it into a sob story. As a vet and a pet owner, I empathize with the owner in this case, but this doesn't mean I have taken sides.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

I prefer in home euthanasia. I have found that for a price, most vets will come out. If you know them well, they just don't charge you as much (if at all) for the home visit.


Gaya said...

I thought about this long and hard before taking Shandy in to be euthanized. She was on fluids at the VEC for 3 days before I took her in to her regular clinic to be euthanized.

She made my decision incredibly easy. Every time she heard my voice, she wagged her little tail, no matter how much pain she was in. It made no difference to her where she was as long as I was there, because I was her comfort.

So when I took her in to the clinic, she just stared in the direction of my voice, wagged her tail a tiny bit...and then she was gone. I was able to be there for her and be strong till she was gone because I was comfortable with the vet who performed the euthanasia. I would never have taken any sort of risk with a vet I wasn't familiar with because it was important to me that she went peacefully...and she did.

All of this happened 6 months ago and it's still hard talking about it. I can't imagine Shandy suffering any more than her kidney failure made her suffer just because someone didn't perform the euthanasia properly.

Vee said...

I've had several of my own pets euthanized over the years, and many more as a rescue volunteer. I've never had it done in my home, but have had it done by vets I've known well, not-so-well, and not at all. The best experienced was my most recent one where I had to say good-bye to my mom's cat. I had met the vet a couple times through the rescue I work with, but wouldn't say I know her. She had a wonderful manner and made it feel very calm and peaceful. They put a nice thick blanket on the examining table for the cat to lie on, and pulled up a chair so I could sit beside the cat near her head. Usually I ask to hold the animal but this was much nicer. I was able to put one arm around her in a big hug, and pat her with the other arm, whisper to her, as the vet and her assistant worked further down her body. I wasn't really paying attention to what they were doing and was able to comfort the cat and say all the things I wanted to say, without actually watching the procedure and I have usually done. Even though I've been through maybe 20 or so euthanasias, I have to say this one left me feeling the most peaceful. For me it wasn't so much about knowing the vet as about her technique - she had developed such a great one. She spoke from the heart, comforted me, and made it as gentle as could be. I have attended euthanasias with my own vet, and I suspect in the future I'll be going to her instead. Making it so easy and comfortable for me to focus on the pet made a huge difference IMO.

musterz said...

When I chose to euthanize my elderly cat (22 years old) I chose at the vet. I didn't know that he had hired a new vet tech who was working the computer that day. Had I known that I would have asked for an in-home visit since the tech treated me without compassion on the worst day of my life with my beloved pet. (She all but said "cat killer" to me). However other than that bother my vet was very kind and professional (as usual, I've known him for over a decade and worked for him before). The process was quick and pleasant, my cat who woke up that morning screaming in pain completely relaxed and licked my hand before he slipped away. I took him home to bury. (Of course I noticed a few months later when I took my other cat *now 17* for his annual check up that tech was no longer employed by him). Although I would have preferred to avoid the stress to my cat from the car ride, I do feel safer at the vet for those what-ifs in life.

Anonymous said...

The nice thing about having our cat euthanized at the vet clinic was that we had the professional and emotional support of all of the vet's staff. They knew our cat very well from the years we had gone there. From the moment we arrived until we left, we were comforted by the receptionist, the vet, and all of the vet assistants. They were professional and expressed kind words and memories about our cat. I always told myself that when the time came I would have my cat euthanized in the comfort of our home, but under the stress of the moment, it seemed like going to the clinic was the right thing to do. It was a good experience to have the support of everyone there. Very professional and compassionate service. I think our cat would have approved.

Jennifer said...

When I was raising a litter of FELV positive cats many years ago, I had the mobile vet come out to my house and euthanize my cats when they each became symptomatic. He was great, he would come into the house and sedate them there and then we would walk outside in front of my house where he had his mobile hospital parked. It was perfect, he really helped me so much in dealing with these terminally ill cats. They all died around the age of two but it was the best two years ever and I would go back and endure it all again if I had the chance, it was an experience I will carry with me forever and having a mobile vet was a big part of that.