Mobile vets: Choosing at-home euthanasia for your pet

WASHINGTON — When pet owners are faced with the difficult decision of knowing it’s time for euthanasia, most head to their veterinarian’s office. But a local veterinarian wants you to know there is another, less stressful, option.

Katy Nelson, AKA Dr. Paws, tells WTOP that a mobile, or house-call, veterinarian’s best advantage and “greatest privilege” is being present during a pet’s last moment of need in their home.

“Being able to have that service performed in your home, with your family if that’s how you choose, can truly decrease the stress level of every single person and animal involved,” Nelson says.

Being able to euthanize a pet at home allows the animal, and owners, to be more relaxed and have their final moments together be a more positive one, Nelson says.

“When the veterinarian sees [the pet] in their own home environment, their stress levels are going to be so much lower,” Nelson says, adding the vets also can perform almost all the same tests and procedures as a doctor with an office, she adds.

Fauquier County pet owner Megan Casey says she remembers experiencing her first dog’s anxiety rising when at the vet’s office for routine visits and procedures, but especially when he was there to be euthanized.

“It’s stressful enough when you take a dog to the vet,” Casey says. “He was scared and shaking.”

She thought the vet’s office was her only option when it came time to euthanize her two 17-year-old dogs, Cleo and T-Bone.

“I think a lot of people don’t know that option is out there,” Casey says.

But then she learned of house-call veterinarians, which she now thinks offer a more humane option.

“The dog has been so loyal to you your whole life… The least you can do is be loyal to them in the end,” she says.

Casey says she could see a difference when having her dogs euthanized at home, rather than in a doctor’s office.

“The [mobile] vet gives them a very strong sedative, probably twice what you would normally give, and it kicks in fairly quickly,” she says. “So the last thing they remember is being petted in a familiar environment.”

Some vets do not allow all, or any, family members to be present when their pet is euthanized in their office, which Casey says is difficult for any pet owner to endure.

“I think it’s so much kinder to an animal that’s been part of your family to have the dignity and kindness of making their last moments not stressful, but happy and calm,” Casey says.

While having a mobile vet perform euthanasia, or any service, at home is more expensive, Casey says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I would never consider doing anything but having it done in the house,” she says.

Jake Tedaldi, a Boston-area house call vet and author of “What’s Wrong with My Dog,” agrees and says he thinks it is one of the most important things he does as a veterinarian.

“To provide a peaceful, dignified end to that life, I think, is just as important as all the rest,” he says. “If euthanasia is done in the wrong way, that bad experience will stay with the people for a long time. If it’s done right, then they can remember their pet and all the good experiences, without something dreadful at the end.”

Nelson says pet owners in the D.C. metro area looking for local, mobile vets can ask their regular doctor for recommendations when the time comes for euthanasia, or they can visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up