Learn more about our most common questions below.
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At Dawn Veterinary Care no question is too big or too small. We have provided some answers to our most common questions.

Before & During the Home Euthanasia Visit

What animals can be cared for by home euthanasia?
Dr. Dawn provides euthanasia for nearly all pets. Cats, dogs, and small farm or pocket pets such as guinea pigs, ferrets, hamsters, mini pigs, sheep, and goats. When you call or text Dr. Dawn we will discuss your pet’s needs and how best to serve you and your pet.
Why should I choose home euthanasia?

The end of a pet’s life is a very emotional and difficult time for us pet parents and our pet. Many pets become stressed from car rides, the veterinary clinic itself, or the pain or discomfort of physical movement. Euthanasia in your home provides you and your pet with a familiar and comfortable surrounding. You can have as few or as many people with you as you wish. Your pet can also be in your lap, in their favorite bed, or in their favorite place elsewhere in or around your home. You will be able to experience your pet’s loss in the way that honors your needs in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

How do I know when it's time to consider euthanasia?
This is a difficult decision that should consider your pet’s needs and those of your family. When your pet is having more bad days than good ones, he or she may be nearing the end of a good quality of life. When an animal is in constant pain or distress and there is little to no hope that better days will come, euthanasia can be the most loving decision. Our pets don’t always show us how they’re feeling and there are complicated medical conditions where knowing when it’s time can be confusing and distressing to pet parents. Your primary care veterinarian can help guide you and you may also find that a trusted friend or family member who hasn’t seen your pet for a while may provide helpful advice upon seeing your pet. Do text or phone Dr. Dawn if you’d like to discuss more. Please also see our Resources Page for more information.
What happens when the doctor arrives?

Dr. Dawn will arrive to your home in plain clothes (no white coat) with a stethoscope and necessary items. She will greet you and your pet and if you’re willing, she welcomes stories that you may wish to share about your pet’s life. Dr. Dawn will answer any questions you have and we will complete a form that authorizes her to provide euthanasia. She will provide a sedative to your pet using a very small needle. This will help your pet to be relaxed and as comfortable as possible, feeling no pain. Some pets may snore loudly after receiving the sedative. Some may change postures and get very comfortable by stretching out or snuggling up. If it’s necessary, this injection may be repeated to ensure your pet is comfortable and relaxed. Depending on your pet’s health, this sedative can take less than 5 minutes to 20 or so minutes to help your pet achieve deep sleep, a deep level of anesthesia. If any family members do not wish to be present for euthanasia, they may wish to step away once your pet is deeply asleep. . If you’d like to hold your pet for any and all of the process and/or talk to him or her throughout the visit, please know you are welcome and encouraged to do what makes you and your pet most at ease.

When you and your pet are ready, Dr. Dawn will administer the euthanasia medication. Depending on their health, some pets pass as the euthanasia medication is administered, other pets may take more time or additional doses of the euthanasia medication. Dr. Dawn will examine your pet and will tell you when he or she has passed.

When your pet has passed, Dr. Dawn will offer to leave your home to provide you with some time to say goodbye in private to your pet. If your pet will be cared for by Dr. Dawn, she will return when you’re ready to prepare your pet for movement to her vehicle. Families are welcome to help carry their pet to the vehicle. Some find this helpful to help carry their pet on their final trip from their home. For others, they want their last memory of seeing their pet quiet in their favorite place.

If your pet is more than 50 pounds, Dr. Dawn may need your assistance in respectfully moving your pet to her car. If you are unable to assist, please let Dr. Dawn know so that she can have another member of her family come to your home to assist. She may also have a stretcher that can be brought into your home. For animals who cannot be safely transported by Dr. Dawn, the crematorium will be called to respectfully transport your pet.

Is there anything else I should know about my pet's euthanasia?
Dr. Dawn will ensure that the medications used for your pet will make them feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible. The euthanasia medication can be described as an overdose of anesthetic. Anesthetics are what are used for surgery so that no pain is felt. Sometimes, animals will seem to take a deep exhale after they have passed away or have other changes to their breathing. Sometimes eyes may not close even when they’ve passed. It is also possible that an animal may empty their bowels or bladder. This happens as the muscles in the body relax. If your pet stays with you after they’ve passed, you may notice muscle twitching. This can happen with changes to the muscles and nerves that occur shortly after death.
What about having children or other pets present during home euthanasia?
If you and your family would like your children to be present, Dr. Dawn respects the decision you make as parents. Her own daughter was 10 and present for the euthanasia of the family’s beloved Cavalier. The older daughters were 13 and 16 and neither wanted to be present. If your children won’t be present, do consider talking with them ahead of time. When Dr. Dawn’s daughters were ages 3-9, the family’s chocolate lab was euthanized while they were at school. All of the girls now say they wished they’d known to say goodbye. It’s very much an individual decision based on your family’s wishes. Whatever your choice is regarding children, Dr. Dawn will respect and honor your choice.

Other pets are welcome to remain in your home and to stay as close as they choose throughout Dr. Dawn’s visit. For families with multiple pets, this can be helpful for other pets to then understand what’s happened. If you have other pets who are aggressive to strangers, do place them in another area for Dr. Dawn’s time in your home. You may wish to later bring them into your home while you are saying your final goodbyes and Dr. Dawn is not in your home.

Before & During the Home Euthanasia Visit

What happens to my pet after euthanasia?
You have the choice of how you would like to honor your pet’s memory. Options include caring for your deceased pet on your own. Be mindful that burying of animals may be prohibited depending on where you live. Additionally, the medications used can make the deceased pet hazardous to other animals or to the environment.

You may also choose to have Dr. Dawn care for your deceased pet. Both private and group cremations are available. The crematorium uses very modern methods to ensure that, if you choose private cremation, you can have every confidence that the cremains (commonly referred to as ashes) you receive will be your pet’s.

You may also wish to consider the burial of your pet in a pet cemetery. If you wish to arrange for burial, we recommend that you coordinate directly with the selected pet cemetery and inform Dr. Dawn of your choice. Some cemeteries will only permit cremains, others will bury your deceased pet. It’s important to know this information to ensure you can choose to honor your pet in the way that you choose.

Are there resources for someone grieving their pet?
There are professional resources available and informal ones as well. Please see the Resources page for more.

After your pet passes, it may be helpful to write out an obituary that captures the fond memories and joy that your pet brought to your life. Writing about or telling stories about your best times with your pet, what foods they loved, any charming or unique traits they had–all of this can bring some comfort.

Some families place notes or drawings alongside their pet for cremation. You may find it comforting for your pet to receive his or her aftercare with a special toy, blanket, or bed.

How is payment managed?
When you have confirmed an appointment with Dawn Veterinary Care, you will receive an invoice to either your phone or to your email. Please prepare a check or cash to provide doting your visit or pay the invoice by credit card prior to your appointment. Note that there is a small fee (2.9%) for a credit card.
How is my pet returned to me?
Depending on the distance, Dr. Dawn will either return your pet’s ashes directly to your home or they will be mailed to you. You can expect this to occur in less than 3 weeks’ time. Your pet will be returned in a standard urn (wooden box) with their name engraved. If you’d like more than your pet’s name, that can be done. An additional fee may apply.
Are there other special options I can choose?
Some pet families may wish to have a clay paw print from their pet. This can be a very special way of remembering them.

The urn that your pet will be returned in will have an engraved plaque. You may have up to 3 lines of text, 25 characters per line. Dr. Dawn will ask for your choice of words when she’s there with you. If you’ve not decided yet, that be managed later.