FAQ

We know you may be struggling with some very difficult questions. If any of your questions are not answered below, please get in touch by clicking the button below or calling us at 917-694-2890. We can also provide complimentary phone consultations with you and your pet.

How will I know when it's time?

This is one of the hardest decisions you may ever have to make. While sometimes there is a terminal illness and it is clear your pet is suffering, more often it is not so clear cut. Often there is a slow decline over weeks to months. Frequently there are good days and bad days. Assessing some objective criteria can be helpful. Some of the signs that it may be time include:

Loss of appetite, especially in a pet that is normally a good eater or if it is accompanied by significant weight loss.
Difficulty walking or difficulty getting up or down, especially if there is pain or if your pet is starting to get sores from being unable to move around.
Incontinence that is leading to your pet frequently soiling themselves, in particular if your pet is starting to get painful rashes or infections from it.
Nighttime distress that is not responding to medical treatment. Like humans, pets can experience cognitive decline as they get older that can lead to anxiety and often fear, especially at nighttime. Signs of this may be nighttime crying, howling, pacing, wandering, and panting.
Chronic frequent vomiting and diarrhea that is not responding to medical treatment and is accompanied by weight loss.
Chronic pain that is not controlled with medications. Sometimes this can even manifest as inexplicable aggression towards loved ones.
Any difficulty breathing that is not responding to medical treatment.
Loss of interest in the things that used to bring joy to your pet, whether that’s playing with toys, going on walks, getting pet, seeing people or other dogs, or getting treats.
The bad days are outnumbering the good days, or the bad days are really bad.

But even knowing these things, it can be nearly impossible to objectively make decisions during this difficult time. If you are unsure if it is time for your pet, consider schedule a complementary video consultation with us.

How does the process work? What should I expect?

Every situation is different and our goal is to make this be peaceful, beautiful, and free of fear and pain. When we schedule the appointment we will discuss arriving at your home to ensure our visit causes no fear or stress for your pet. In situations where a pet is scared of strangers or the vet, you may have your regular veterinarian prescribe a sedative for you to give at home before the doctor arrives to ensure your pet is relaxed when the doctor arrives.

The procedure can be performed in a comfortable or special place of your choosing. We usually recommend wherever your pet is happiest and most relaxed. You are welcome to have as many loved ones with you as you like.

Euthanasia is usually a two-step process: first, we inject a sedative under the skin that will cause your pet to fall fast asleep over about 10 minutes. It is a tiny pinprick just like when your pet gets a vaccine. They usually don’t notice it if we distract them with pets or food (if they want to eat). In cases where pets are more scared of needles, sometimes we will start with an oral sedative that makes them feel happy and very drowsy after about 5 minutes.

Once your pet is fast asleep, we administer an anesthetic agent over 1-2 minutes that causes them to pass away peacefully in their sleep. The entire procedure takes about 10-15 minutes, and it is peaceful and comfortable every step of the way, with no fear and no pain. Through the entire procedure, you can be with your pet – hugging and kissing them, talking to them, or the entire procedure can even be performed in your lap.

Once your pet has peacefully passed, the doctor will confirm the passing. We will give you as much time as you need or want to pay your respects and say your final goodbyes. We can also make a beautiful clay pawprint and clip a lock of fur for you if you like. When you are ready, we will respectfully remove your pet from the premises and carry out your aftercare wishes.

How should I prepare for my home euthanasia appointment?

First, I’m going to ask the impossible of you: enjoy the day with your pet. As best as you can, try to give off a calm and loving energy so they can feel happy. 

This might mean going to the park or the beach. It might mean hitting up McDonalds, Taco Bell or Peter Luger’s. This might mean snuggling on the couch (or the bathroom floor) and watching movies. This might mean having human and animal friends visit. 

Sometimes they are hurting and want to be alone, in which case give them the space they need and don’t force them to do anything. Yes, it sucks. 

In addition, there are a few questions you should consider ahead of time: Where do you want it to take place? Who do you want to be present? Are there any special treats you want them to have? Are there any special ceremonies or rituals you want to perform? 

Where should it take place? 

Most families choose a spot where the pet is most comfortable. This can be a sofa, a pet bed, a human bed, the floor, or right in your arms. We are comfortable working wherever your pet is. One important consideration: we never want them to force them to be anywhere they don’t want to be. You might have visualized the perfect spot, but if that is not where they want to be that day, so be it. 

Sometimes, especially with cats, we will start the process wherever they currently are. Cats especially often find new places to spend time that make them feel safe when they are sick. Picking them up and moving them can cause stress. In these cases, we will often give the first calming medications wherever they are, and once the medications kick in and they are feeling pain-free and relaxed, we can move them to a cozy location. 

Clients occasionally ask about performing the procedure outside – in a yard, on a balcony, in the park, or on the beach. For some patients, this can be amazing. But for many, it can be overstimulating and can make them less calm and relaxed. 

Who should be present?

Anyone who loves your pet and makes your pet happy can be present. I’ve had as many as a dozen family members present. We have a separate FAQ on whether children should be present. It’s an individual decision.

Make sure everyone who wants to be present is there by the time the doctor arrives. The doctor cannot wait for people who have not yet arrived. 

What special goodies or treats should I have on hand?

Anything they want! You don’t need to fast them prior to the appointment. The only caveat: don’t overdo it before we arrive because if pets are still eating we distract them with treats when we are giving the sedative. 

Some popular treats include: ice cream (especially if they are having difficulty chewing or mouth pain), steak (raw or cooked), McNuggets, pizza, sushi, salmon, tuna. 

Many of our patients are no longer interested in food. If this is the case, don’t force them to eat. 

Do I want to have any special ceremonies or rituals? 

Some clients want to do something special during the process. Some things clients have done include: 

  • sprinkle rose petals all around, light candles, have a beautiful bed surrounded by crystals
  • pray or chant
  • have a religious leader perform a ritual or say some words
  • read stories or poetry 
  • play a special playlist
  • watch the pet’s favorite TV show

The only restriction is that it is something that makes your pet feel happy and calm and unstressed.  

And don’t worry about us. We have everything we need.

How does the cremation process work? How do I know I am getting my pet back?

We have partnered with the highest rated pet crematory in New York State, Compassionate Care Aquamation. Aquamation, or water cremation, is an environmentally-friendly alternative to flame cremation that uses water rather than fire to create the ashes. With aquamation, no fossil fuels are burned and no greenhouse gasses are released.

With Compassionate Care, you can rest assured that your pet will be treated with dignity and respect at every stage of the process. The moment your pet leaves your home they will get a unique identification tag that stays with them the whole way through the process, ensuring there can be no mix-ups. After your pet leaves your home they will be safely and respectfully transported to Compassionate Care’s facility in Oceanside, NY the very same day, so your beloved pet will never be in storage.

If you choose private cremation/aquamation, your pet will be cremated alone in a chamber without any other pets. Unlike with flame cremation, where about 25% of the ash can be lost through the chimney, with aquamation you get 100% of your pet’s ashes back. In addition, the ashes produced from aquamation are much cleaner, as they are not charred by flames. The color of the ashes can vary depending on a variety of factors, including pigmentation in the skin, pigmentation in the bones, and medications your pet may be taking. You may choose from one of several beautiful urns included in the price. The urn includes a brass plate elegantly engraved with your pet’s name.

If you choose communal cremation/aquamation, your pet will be respectfully cremated and their ashes will be scattered on a farm in beautiful upstate New York.

One really cool fact about aquamation is that a special liquid infused with nutrients from your pet’s body is produced as a byproduct of the process. This liquid is an incredible natural fertilizer. If you like, you can purchase a bottle to allow your pet to live on and give new life to plants, trees, or flowers.

To read Compassionate Care’s outstanding reviews click here.

If I am doing private cremation, how do I get my pet's ashes back?
You have three options for getting your pet’s ashes back.
 
1) You can pick up your pet’s ashes at Compassionate Care Aquamation, which is located in Oceanside, NY right outside of Queens. Compassionate Care is easily accessible by public transit and is 0.3 miles from the LIRR East Rockaway stop.
 
2) The ashes can be shipped to you via USPS. A signature is required for delivery to ensure safe delivery. Please note, while we have shipped thousands of packages via USPS and never had major issues, it is a third party delivery service and cannot be 100% guaranteed.
 
3) We offer a courier service to hand deliver the cremains to you. When your pet’s ashes are ready to come home, Compassionate Care will call you and arrange a time that is mutually convenient for hand delivery. A driver from Compassionate Care will personally drive the ashes to you and deliver them directly into your hands. They will either meet you at the front door of your home or apartment building, although in some cases if it is difficult to get to the front door, they will meet you curbside. Delivery times are 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday, although weekend deliveries can sometimes be arranged on a case-by-case basis. There is a small fee for this service.
My pet is scared of the vet and/or strangers in the house. How can we make sure this is fear free?

Fear of the vet is one of the main reasons people choose at-home euthanasia. One of the most important parts of what we do is ensuring that your pet is as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

We take various steps to minimize any stress or anxiety during the appointment. For example, we do not wear white coats, which can be scary to some pets, and we dress in colors that comfort animals. We will often start with oral medication for pets more afraid of needles.

Everyone at Paws at Peace is certified Fear-Free. This means we have advanced training to promote pets’ emotional and physical well-being. We are trained to take a compassionate and gentle approach to handling all pets to minimize fear, stress, and anxiety.

For pets afraid of strangers in the home, we may recommend having your regular veterinarian prescribe an anti-anxiety medication/sedative for you to give 2 hours before your appointment. For cats, this is typically a medication called gabapentin, and for dogs, a combination of gabapentin and trazodone. These medications can decrease anxiety and promote relaxation. Legally, unless we have evaluated your pet, we cannot prescribe these medications so it is best to contact your primary veterinarian if you need a pre-appointment sedative.

Can my pet eat the day of home euthanasia?
In most cases absolutely! We want your pet to be as happy as possible on this day. Popular choices include filet mignon, McDonalds, sushi, ice cream, and food from the top restaurants in NYC.

The caveat: don’t overdo it to the point where your pet may be sick or vomit. And there are occasional medical conditions where this may be a bad idea – if you have any specific questions about whether your pet can eat the day of home euthanasia, we recommend contacting your primary veterinarian.

What precautions are you taking to reduce and prevent the spread of COVID?
Everyone at Paws at Peace is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. We want to make sure that we keep you and your pets feel comfortable and safe with us in your homes. We keep close watch on the current CDC guidelines in this constantly evolving situation. If you prefer an outdoor location, this can also be arranged under certain circumstances.
How far in advance do I need to make an appointment?
We know there is not always much advanced warning when you need us. We do our best to accommodate same-day and next-day requests. We also have evening and weekend availability. That said, we find that usually clients and their pets have a better experience when there can be some planning ahead so that everyone in the family can be there and the process can take place in a slow, patient, and calm manner.
What types of payment do you accept and what is the cost of your services?

We accept Zelle, CareCredit, all major credit cards and cash. We do not carry change so if you pay in cash exact change is required. For pricing information, please see our pricing page.

We do not offer payment plans, but CareCredit offers financing terms that allow you to pay over 6 months. Click here to apply for CareCredit. 

What is your cancellation policy?

We understand things can change on a moment-to-moment basis. We do not have any cancellation fees. However, we ask that if you are going to cancel, you give us as much notice as possible so we can give your slot to another family in need. Cancellations made within less than 24 hours will require a deposit to rebook. 

Why is this so hard?
When I had to euthanize my dog Alice I was completely unprepared for the intensity of emotion and grief I would experience. I had never been through such intense emotional and psychological pain in my life. I thought I could not go on without her. And on top of that, I thought I was crazy for thinking these thoughts.

I felt guilty that I failed her – that somehow I should have discovered her terminal cancer sooner and have been able to fix it. And I felt anger at other pet parents for having healthy pets that were not dying. It seemed unfair that my pet should die. And on top of that I felt ashamed and guilty for experiencing these negative emotions.

People frequently remark that losing a pet was harder than losing a parent or a spouse. And then they feel guilty that they experienced more grief losing their pet than they did when they lost their spouse or parent.

I’ve since come to learn that all these thoughts and feelings are normal. Mourning is a biological process through which we heal from the loss of a deep attachment. We often spend more time with our pets than with any other living thing on the planet and are closer physically and emotionally to our pets than to any other human or animal. The body and spirit need time to heal, and it is normal to experience intense and surprising emotions during this healing period.

It may be cliché, but it does get better with time. Hang in there. It may be weeks or months, but it gets better. And eventually you will start to remember your pet with fondness, love, and joy and not despair.

You shouldn’t have to go this alone. There is nothing shameful about what you are experiencing. I encourage you to seek support from close family and friends, religious leaders, and therapists during this difficult time. We are working to partner with counselors and support groups that specialize in pet loss. Please see our resources section for more details.

What areas do you serve?

We currently serve the five boroughs of New York City.

Does my pet insurance cover this?
Most pet insurance companies cover euthanasia, and some cover the cost of cremation and travel. Please contact your pet insurance company for specific details.
I am thinking of burying my pet. What do I need to know?
The vast majority of people in the NYC metropolitan area choose to have their pet cremated or aquamated. It is respectful, dignified, and safe.

Occasionally, clients inquire about burying their pet. Burial is a beautiful and natural way to honor your pet, but there are some important things to know if you are considering burial.

First, you need a legal place to bury your pet. Check with local regulations to ensure you are following the law.

Second, the pet needs to be buried AT LEAST 3-4 feet deep so that other animals cannot access them. Patients euthanized with euthanasia solution, if ingested by wild or domestic animals, can cause toxicity and death in the ingesting animal (secondary toxicosis). Cremation/aquamation 100% prevent the possibility of secondary toxicosis. Immediate deep burial of at least 3-4 feet, when performed correctly, can also prevent access by scavenging animals.

It is also important to consider the time of year. In the winter months the ground can be frozen, preventing burial. If your pet passes away in the colder months, you will need to find a safe place to store them that prevents access by scavengers and leeching of euthanasia solution into the environment. They should be stored in a watertight container (so no euthanasia solution or fluids can seep out) and kept frozen until burial can be performed.

Another option is to have a third party pet cemetery handle the burial. The cost of burying a pet at a cemetery in the NYC area starts at several thousand dollars. Two local pet cemeteries we recommend are Bideawee Pet Memorial Parkshttps://www.bideawee.org/programs/pet-memorial-parks/) and Hartsdale Pet Cemetery (https://petcem.com/). 

A final thing to consider is what to bury your pet in. We love the beautifully handcrafted Sweet Goodbye biodegradable soft pet caskets. They come in two types: gorgeous Cocoons made from premium wool for most dogs and cats, and the cozy Cloud for cats and smaller pets. All Sweet Goodbye products are beautiful, eco-friendly, and come in a variety of sizes and a rainbow of attractice colors. To get 10% off of Sweet Goodbye products visit https://sweetgoodbyeforpets.com/ and use code PAWS10 at checkout. 

Can you still provide fire cremation?
Although we chose our cremation partner, Compassionate Care aquamation, for their incredible level of service and the fact that they are locally owned and operated right outside of Queens, we can still provide fire cremation through Final Gift if preferred for religious or personal reasons. Just ask a member of our team if you would prefer fire cremation after your pet’s home euthanasia. 
Do pets understand death? Should my other pets be present for euthanasia?
Although we have no way of knowing for sure, as far as we understand pets do not have a concept of death or mortality. That said, they are highly attuned to emotions and definitely sense when something is wrong with a housemate. They often pick up on the emotions of their owners. They seem to understand that something very significant and sad is happening.

Often when we are at a euthanasia appointment, a dog that starts off rambunctious sits down quietly or even falls asleep as the pet being euthanized falls asleep. They will often try to comfort their grieving owners by snuggling with them or licking them. Cats occasionally will act fearful, and occasionally even hiss, when they see their housemate falling asleep from the sedative or passing away.

Whether or not other household pets should be present is a highly individual decision, and depends on the temperament of the pet and whether or not the other pet is likely to be disruptive to the process. We would be happy to discuss with you whether or not it’s a good idea in your particular situation.

How do I talk to my children about the loss of a pet? Should my children be present for the euthanasia?
Whether or not your children should be present is a highly individual decision. One of the things I am most amazed by at appointments is how well children seem to deal with passing. They often seem to cope better than their parents and even comfort their grieving parents. It can be a sad but beautiful lesson for a child to learn how precious and fleeting life is, and what love really is all about. The passing of a pet can be a healthy introduction to the concept of death and caring for elderly family members, for many children. That said, every child is different. If you are unsure, I recommend discussing this matter with a therapist or pediatrician.
How do you do this kind of work when it's so sad?
It is very sad. We often cry for our patients. We hug our clients. But it is also incredibly rewarding. Death is inevitable for all of us. We can fight it to the end, or we can accept it, and make it painless and peaceful for our pets. We can surround them with love when it comes. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the love that families share with their pets over a lifetime. It is a privilege and an honor to witness this love. Every day it reminds me just how special and precious life is, and how good humans can be to their animals.
What is your inclement weather policy?
We try to be available 7 days a week regardless of the weather. We will do our absolute best to serve you even in bad weather, but in the case of extremely severe weather that makes driving unsafe, we may have to cancel, in which case we can reschedule as soon as possible or refer you to the nearest emergency room.