Dr. Cherie Buisson
Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian
Low-Stress Handling ™ Silver Certified
Saying goodbye to pets at home isn’t a new concept. I remember reading Dr. James Herriot’s books when I was a child and marveling at something so “old fashioned”. I never would have guessed that I’d be helping families say goodbye at home the same way he did back in 1940.
The word “euthanasia” means “good death”. I think if we asked our pets what they want in their final moments, they would respond the same as people.
Surrounded by loved ones.
As free from fear and pain as possible.
I have euthanized pets in shelters, in veterinary clinics, and at home. While I always strived to make their goodbyes peaceful no matter the environment, there was no comparison to being at home. This is where my patients were the most comfortable and the least fearful. They didn’t have to endure a painful or nauseating car ride. They had familiar smells around them and an environment built for their comfort. Their people were less fearful and stressed.
Sending clients out of the clinic door with an empty carrier or empty leash breaks my heart. I know from experience that the car ride home is miserable. Being at home means pet parents can climb right into bed for a good cry afterward if they want. They aren’t trying to control their emotions in a lobby full of people. They get the privacy and quiet that they need to get through this process as gently as possible. They can also find comfort in their other pets and their familiar belongings and surroundings.
I also love that other pets get to say goodbye when their companions pass at home. While we are only scratching the surface of understanding pet emotion and grief, we know that pets often search for each other when one suddenly disappears. While this can still happen when they pass at home, it seems to be less intense and last a shorter time.
No matter where you are or how you say goodbye to your pet, know that you are doing the best you can for them. I’m sure they would thank you for everything you’ve done to help. End of life care for pets is hard, and you don’t have to get through it alone. Reach out for help and don’t be afraid to lean on others during this difficult time.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.