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?
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 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.
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?
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?
How far in advance do I need to make an appointment?
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?
Why is this so hard?
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?
Does my pet insurance cover this?
Can you still provide fire cremation?
Do pets understand death? Should my other pets be present for euthanasia?
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?