Because euthanasia is an option when it comes to our dogs, chances are high that euthanasia is in your dog’s future. Very few dogs succumb painlessly in their sleep, and most people actively choose to take a dog out of her suffering rather than wait for a painful death to come naturally. But where will the euthanasia occur?
If you decide on hospice for your dog’s end of life, you can certainly bring her to the veterinarian’s office to have her put down when she makes it clear that she’s done living, perhaps by no longer eating or no longer lifting her head when you come into the room or stroke her. But many, if not most, pet owners who opt for hospice choose to have their dogs undergo euthanasia at home. The whole point of hospice is to keep a dog — and her family — in familiar, comfortable surroundings as she approaches the end of her life rather than drag her to doctor’s appointments in clinical settings. After all, dogs don’t generally like going to the doctor, and most families would rather not be “on view” as they prepare emotionally for the inevitable. Why shouldn’t a dog’s last moments be in the similarly well-worn surroundings of home?
That allows her to “go to sleep” right in one of her usual spots, perhaps in the doggie bed by the fireplace, in the bedroom, or wherever else she and her human guardians would feel most comfortable. The intimacy of the setting, even though it requires a house visit by the vet to administer the injection that allows a dog to leave this world painlessly and therefore costs more than euthanasia in the doctor’s office, is much easier on the dog than having to make a last car trip when she may be in unremitting pain, as well as much easier on her loved ones. At home, they can react in whatever way they need to — perhaps crying with abandon — rather than exhibiting a stiff upper lip in front of other clients under the fluorescent glare of the waiting room lights.
Furthermore, if euthanasia takes place at home as the last step in hospice care, perhaps even in the middle of the night if that’s what’s called for, chances are the dog owners will have already discussed with their pet’s professional caregivers such issues as what to do with the body. They may even opt to pay beforehand so a moment that is so emotionally fraught will not become “cluttered” with having to tend to business matters.