Mercy killing or euthanasia is a very sensitive topic of discussion for all animal lovers. To make such a decision is not only difficult but also emotionally taxing. No matter the reason, it’s never an easy conclusion for a pet owner. However, it might come to the point where this is inevitable. As this is a sensitive process, it’s crucial that you know how to euthanize a dog at home without a vet, and what your best options are.
Euthanasia can be an incredibly emotional and arduous process. Conventionally, this is done at a veterinary clinic, and this is the recommended option. The veterinarian can make sure that the procedure goes as planned and that your pet can pass away peacefully and painlessly. It can also be less traumatic for you and your family.
However, this isn’t necessarily the right option for everyone, and more and more people nowadays choose to do this in the comfort of their own home. In some situations, you might not even have any other option.
Table of Contents
- How to Euthanize a Dog at Home Without a Vet | What You Can Do
- Your Options
- What to Consider When Planning to Euthanize Your Dog?
- What to Expect Euthanizing a Pet at Home?
- Steps to Take to Euthanize Your Dog
- How to Euthanize Your Dog by Helium Gas (Amelia's Story Based)
How to Euthanize a Dog at Home Without a Vet | What You Can Do
Although this isn’t a decision that any owner wants to make, there are times when it could be easier for you and your pet and more merciful to let them go. Experts recommend that if your pet suffers from an untreatable condition that stops them from living their life, it is probably time to ask your vet about euthanization options. You might find yourself asking when is it time to let go?
The most significant factor to consider before making a choice is what your dog’s quality of life is. Here are some signs that you might need to consider euthanization:
At times like these, the right decision to make is often to ease their passing. Your vet will be able to advise you on when to euthanize your dog and whether that is the last resort. Before making a decision, you should take your pet to a visit to a vet for a full exam.
As has been mentioned, the conventional way to put your dog to sleep is to take them to a veterinary hospital. It’s a very safe way to approach this issue. Owners often find themselves asking will a vet euthanize a dog at home?
The following are reasons that can lead you to decide on euthanizing your dog at home:
If you decide against having the procedure performed at a veterinary clinic, there are different options for you to consider.
One option is to ask a vet to come to your home and to perform the procedure there. This way it is still done by a trained and trusted professional but in the privacy and comfort of your home. Veterinary technicians or nurses can also be able to assist you. In some areas, there are even vets who specialize in providing at-home care, including euthanization. They might even let you administer the drugs used under their medical supervision.
Are You Worried About the Cost?
The cost of this will vary depending on the vet, whether it is a large or small dog or how far they have to travel. However, it will probably not be much more expensive than going to the vet’s room.
Controversially, some people nowadays look for ways to euthanize their pets at home without a vet. The reasons why are often sentimental, because of the price or because of lack of access. Three major concerns with this method are the safety of the owner, the possibility of causing pain to your dog and difficulty in accessing suitable medication.
What to Consider When Planning to Euthanize Your Dog?
No matter how you choose to go through with this emotional procedure, the aftermath tends to be even worse. Most dog owners want to be in the same room after the dog passes away. It can make the heartbreak even worse.
If you decide to have your pet euthanized at home, it can be more challenging to treat your pet's remains respectfully. For many people, seeing the room or the place where their pet passed away on a daily basis can be too much to handle.
In a 2012 study shows that veterinary staff employs many emotion management techniques which can make the process easier for owners to handle.
As I have mentioned, some people prefer to euthanize their dogs themselves. However, this procedure can be too complicated to perform without medical assistance. A vet will be able to make sure that your pet doesn’t suffer. Your pet needs to be sedated sufficiently before the final drug is administered. Some of the possible side effects of the drugs are seizures, pain, and vomiting. To avoid your pet being harmed, it’s better to carry out the process at the clinic or with assistance.
Before even thinking about how to euthanize a dog at home without a vet, consider the laws of your state. Performing the procedure without a license or training could be illegal. It’s possible that the only way to legally put your pet to sleep is with the help of a vet or trained technician. Animal shelters often employ staff with the necessary training.
In most states, only veterinarians and certified technicians can perform the procedure. For example, in North Carolina and Maine only licensed veterinarians or certified euthanasia technicians.
Technicians can perform the procedure. It is only legal for non-veterinarians to euthanize animals in a minimal number of states. For instance, in Texas, somebody who is not certified can do this as a vet supervises them.
Here is a list of the laws in the different states.
Aside from the actual procedure, the drugs might also only be available with a prescription which is written by a healthcare professional. The majority of states authorize the injection of sodium pentobarbital or a similar agent. Just a few states permit the use of carbon monoxide gas.
In addition to this, the possession of the medication is controlled. Laws in most states outline that only licensed practitioners can keep the drug. In some cases, animal shelters can keep the drugs on their property.
The regulations regarding euthanization are so strict to protect animals. The drugs also need to be controlled as they can have sedative effects on humans and animals and can be misused or abused.
So you need to check what medication is legal to use in your area and whether you can access it and what the regulations are regarding the process itself.
You should make sure to consider all of these factors beforehand and be prepared to deal with them. The most important thing to continually ask yourself when you decide on the best way to euthanize your pet is whether what you are doing is humane.
In the helpful video below, a veterinarian discusses what euthanasia involves and what factors will influence your decision making.
Choosing to put your pet to sleep at home with the help of a vet or a vet tech is a good compromise between the different methods. This guide will now discuss what to expect from this method and how to approach it.
What to Expect Euthanizing a Pet at Home?
Before embarking on self-managed euthanazia it is important to understand that improperly performed it has the potential to cause distress and can harm the dog. If you decide to go ahead anyway you should take your dog to the vet for a last examination within a day of the event to ensure that you are making the right decision.
You will need his advice on the choice of sedative that you will require to calm your dog and bring him to a state of unconsciousness. This is because the euthanazia is a two-step process:
If decide not to take this route but would still prefer to euthanize your dog at home, many vet will make home visits to assist in putting your best friend to sleep.
2018 Oct Updated:
Recently, we received an email from Amelia, a respected reader of PetSoFun. She shared the story she had with Lily, "My beloved beautiful Golden Retriever."
Lily gets sick and becomes uncontrollable. Amelia and her husband asked for help from the vet, but they did not seem to help much. She was almost "flipping the internet" to find what could help. Finally, she and her husband decided to euthanize Lily with gas helium. The pain was over after that.
Based on her story, I have summarized the steps she has taken below. Hopefully, it can help someone here.
With the Help of the Vet
If you choose to euthanize your dog at home with the help of a vet, you will need to arrange with one who will be willing to come to your home.
The method and the drugs that the vet uses will most likely be very similar to those used in a clinical setting. There are strict guidelines that should be followed by any professional that practices veterinary medicine.
The most common method that is to administer drugs is through intravenous injections of Pentobarbitone solution which is a type of barbiturate.
Many veterinarians consider this the most humane way to euthanize your dog. It's rapid-acting, and your dog will quickly lose consciousness which will soon be followed by cardiac arrest. The drugs will inhibit voluntary motor activity, but your pet might still have involuntary spasms or show other movements.
Your vet might choose to sedate your pet first especially if he or she is in distress.
There are few things that you will want to gather in order to go through the process:
Steps to Take to Euthanize Your Dog
1. Consult With Your Vet
Before making any decision about euthanizing your dog, you should arrange a consultation with your vet first so that they can examine your dog. Your vet will be able to help you decide whether it’s the right time and will be able to talk you through the procedure.
You should ask your vet whether they will be able to come to perform the procedure at your home and how you should arrange it all.
2. Prepare Your Family
Once the decision is made, you and your family should prepare yourself emotionally for your pet’s passing. You are never really ready but talking it through and showing each other care and support will help you to deal with this process.
You should pay particular attention to your children and their feelings. Explain to them what is going to happen and why and help them to share their emotions.
You should decide beforehand who will be present for the procedure. If your children are too young or sensitive, it could be best not to let them see.
3. Arrange the Procedure
When you and your family are prepared, the next step is to arrange with your veterinarian to have the procedure performed. Feel free to ask them all the questions that you might have.
What is going to happen? How long will it take? Is there anything they want you to do to prepare?
You want to have everything ready beforehand to make it easier for you, the vet, and your pet.
4. Make Your Pet Comfortable
Your pet has given you so much love and loyalty if there is ever a moment that you should show them the same affection it is now. Try to make their last day as enjoyable as possible.
To prepare them for the procedure, make sure there is a comfortable space for them to lie down. Put extra blankets in their favorite bed or make a bed out of pillows and blankets. Give them some of their favorite treats and give them lots of hugs and kisses.
Even though it can be tough to be present during the procedure, at least one of the owners should stay with your pet so that they aren’t alone.
5. Going Through With the Procedure
The only step that remains is to go through with the actual procedure. Ask whether there is anything you need to do to assist the vet or whether there is anything you can or cannot do.
You can stroke or pet your dog throughout the procedure while you say your final farewells.
How to Euthanize Your Dog by Helium Gas (Amelia's Story Based)
What Do You Need to Prepare?
Here is a list of the items that you need to perform the procedure:
You should make sure that you choose a day where you have several hours to devote to this. Don’t plan to do anything strenuous afterward as you might feel to upset.
Steps to Take to Euthanize Your Dog With Helium Gas
1. Gather and Prepare the Supplies
Once you have made the decision, you have to prepare and gather all the necessary items. If your pet is very ill and in pain, it will be the kinder, the sooner you do it. You should make sure that you have everything on hand so that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
2. Prepare Your Family
The death of a pet is always a tragic and potentially traumatic occasion. If you have children and other family members, you will want to prepare them beforehand for what is going to happen. If some of your children are too sensitive it might be best to do it one day when they are not at home.
3. Prepare Your Dog
Make your dog’s last day one of their best days. Treat them with all the things they love the most.
To make the procedure as stress-free as possible you can attempt to make them used to the crate and the bag. You can start by putting treats in the container or some of their toys so that they associate it with positive things.
4. Put Your Dog in the Cage
Once everything is ready, and your pet is comfortable in the container you can move on to the next step. Give your pet as much love as possible and coax them into the crate. Now is your time to say your final goodbye.
Try to make them as comfortable as possible with blankets and pillows.
5. Secure the Equipment
Now it is time to put everything in place. You should close the container and put the plastic bag around it. You should put the nozzle or the pipe into an opening in the bag. Then you should try to close the bag around it with tape and cable ties. It should be as airtight as possible.
6. Open the Gas
You can then open the valve for the helium gas. You should leave it open to let it fill the bag and cage. While doing this, listen and try to check whether there are any leaks. Try to close any that you find immediately.
It works best if you cut a hole in the corner of the bag to allow the old air to escape. As the helium fills the container, you can seal this hole shut.
You should leave the gas on so that it completely inflates the bag. If the container is huge, you might need to use a second helium canister. The best way to switch the bottles is to remove the pipe and nozzle from the first bottle while leaving it in the bag. Attach the tube to the second canister.
Keep your finger on the hole in the pipe to stop gas from escaping.
After it is filled, you can close the valve on the canister and secure the bag to make sure that nothing escapes.
8. Wait and Monitor
The next step is one of the hardest. You should know that your pet will probably lose consciousness within the first few seconds. After this, they won’t feel any pain or sensations anymore. Their suffering is over. But this does not mean that they have passed away yet.
During their passing the might have involuntary muscle and bodily movements. These movements can distress you but remember that your dog isn’t feeling anything.
Now you have to wait. You might find it more comfortable to take a step back. It will take about 30 minutes for your pet to completely pass away. While you wait, check every few minutes to make sure that the bag is inflated and whether your pet is still breathing.
After this period breathing should have ceased entirely and your pet’s suffering is over. You have given them the gift of mercy.
Now that that part is over it is time to open the bag. Before you cut it open, you should open all the windows and doors in the house for ventilation. Turning on some fans can also help the process. Once you have done this, it is safe to release the gas and remove the bag.
10. Clearing Up
The next step could be very hard, so prepare yourself emotionally for it. If you need support, you can ask a partner or family member to help. When a person or animal passes away, they might defecate or urinate involuntarily. So you will want to clean this up.
It is now time to take care of your pet’s remains respectfully. Your local veterinary clinic will be able to help you, but there are also many companies that will aid you. For example, some services can cremate your beloved family member for you.
Understandably this process will be, and you can find it very upsetting. Now that everything is done you can peacefully mourn and celebrate your pet and the life that they lived. Holding some memorial service with your family can help you to deal with your pain. Share your feelings and give each other as much love and support as you can.
I found myself in this very situation this year. My beloved Lily was a beautiful Golden Retriever. I have shared my life with her from my tenth birthday. She had turned seventeen this year. You can imagine how close we were.
But the last few years have been tough on her. She began showing the usual signs of old age. The last year was particularly hard. I could see that her time was coming, but I tried to avoid it. She battled to stand up in the morning and walking was became too much for her to handle. She even struggled to eat.
It was then that I knew it would be much kinder to let her go. I knew that I had to consider euthanasia. As my last act of love, I wanted to help her drift away painlessly and smoothly surrounded by those she loved.
As her suffering became more severe, she became more and more aggressive. She was always just a loveable fluff ball, but suddenly she became unpredictable. Her fear of pain was taking over her life. She regularly snapped at our children and eventually even tried to bite my husband and me. We became terrified.
There were always children in our house. Out children and their friends loved Lily and still wanted to pet and play with her. But we no longer trust her with them.
Eventually, we went to her vet. She confirmed that the pain she was experiencing was driving her crazy. She prescribed some medicine to calm her down, but it didn’t help. After a lot of close calls and discussions, we decided that it might be time to let her go.
We tried to think of all the alternatives, but none of them would work. For example, we couldn’t find anyone that was willing to adopt Lily. We concluded that euthanization was our only option. However, all the vet’s in the area quoted us ridiculous prices because Lily was so big.
Besides that we wanted the procedure to be more personal. We didn’t want her last moments to be spent in that cold and sterile clinic room.
Therefore, we wanted to euthanize her at home. We settled on using helium gas as it was risk-free and effective.
from Amelia's Story
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We hope that this guide helps you answer the question how to euthanize a dog at home without a vet. Saying goodbye is never easy, and any owner who faces this has my sympathy. Give you and your family time to grieve and to deal with the loss. Find a way to commemorate your pet so that he or she will remain close to your heart, for example, planting a tree in their honor.
There are situations where euthanizing your pet could be the kindest road to take.
No matter what choice you make, you should always remember that it is your responsibility as an owner to make sure that this is done humanely and safely. The best way to ensure this is without a doubt to seek medical assistance from a trained veterinarian.
Hey there, I’m Ruby Smith, founder of Pet So Fun, and I’m here to provide you with useful information about your precious pet. All pets deserve the best care, don’t they? But not all pet owners have access to the right products and tips for their pets. And the central core of my work here is to change that.