When is it time to consider euthanasia? (putting a pet ‘to sleep’)

Deciding when to say goodbye to a beloved pet is a tremendous responsibility, and it is understandably one of the hardest decisions you will make. If you are struggling with the choice, know that you aren’t alone.
Often the only advice you are given is that when it’s time, “you’ll just know.” Sometimes this is true, but other times it is not. Quality of life encompasses many things: pain, appetite, interaction, impact on your life, financial constraints. The biggest regret we hear after a pet’s passing is concern that the owner waited too long.

We can help. A Quality of Life consultation is designed to give you clear and specific benchmarks based on your family’s individual situation, so you can make this important decision with clarity, not confusion. Peace of mind is vital to the healing process after a loss.

The quality of life scale is one resource that may help with your decision.

Why in-home euthanasia?

No struggling to get into the car. No sitting in the waiting room. No fear. As far as your pet is concerned, our veterinarians are just a houseguest. In surveys, the overwhelming majority of people with end-of-life disease express a preference for dying at home in comfortable surrounding. We extend the same opportunity to your beloved pet.

Paws into Grace also offers appointments after most offices are closed, including evenings and weekends. If your pet’s health deteriorates rapidly when your veterinary office is closed you may still help ease your pet’s suffering with a home appointment.

What is pet hospice, also know as comfort care?

Comfort Care is a specialized service for terminally ill pets that focuses on comfort, not a cure. Our goal for comfort care patients is to prolong a pet’s quality of life as much as is possible while providing emotional support for the entire family. For more information about comfort care services, please see our free downloadable guide to pet comfort care.

Where is your service area?

Paws into Grace provides in-home pet end-of-life appointments for dogs and cats in San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange Counties. We offer quality of life, comfort care and euthanasia appointments in this areas, as well as cremation.

How far in advance do I need to call? Can you come today?

Paws into Grace offers in-home end-of-life appointments seven days a week including evenings. We encourage 24 hours’ notice, if possible, but we are often available for same day appointments and do not charge additional fees for last minute appointments. You can call us at (619) 977-6698 any time to discuss availability.

How much does it cost?

Fees for our various comfort care, end-of-life and cremation services can be found on our Services page. Aftercare/cremation fees vary depending on the services selected and the weight of the pet. Please call us at (619) 977-6698 for more information.

Will you sedate my pet before administering the euthanasia injection?

Your pet will receive a sedative and pain medication before we administer the euthanasia solution. After your dog or cat is resting comfortably, we administer the euthanasia solution, which is an overdose of an anesthetic agent. Our goal is to keep your pet, and you, as comfortable as possible during the entire process. For more information, see our section about the euthanasia process.

Can my kids be there? How about my neighbors?

It’s hard to overestimate the impact pets have on our lives. We encourage families to celebrate the life of a pet during his or her passage, and it’s not uncommon for us to arrive in the middle of a heartfelt slideshow, share in a neighborhood toast, and listen to a child read a poem.

We can help you figure out how to talk to your children based on their age and experience. Our support staff is there for you and your family so you can bring your children into the experience while allowing yourself your own grief.

We believe that saying goodbye is sad, but can also be beautiful. A loving, peaceful transition can be a lifelong lesson for children about death, ease the pain of previous losses for an adult, and provide peace that you have given your pet the ideal gift for a life of love.

What if I need to cancel an appointment?

If you must cancel your appointment with us, we ask that you please give us at least 2 hours notice. For both consultation and pet euthanasia appointments, there will be a $100 fee or more (depending on the location of the appointment) for a cancellation made within 1 hour of the appointment.

Our doctors often travel up to 60 minutes or more for an appointment. If you cancel close to your appointment, the doctor is already be well on the way to your home for your booked appointment.

A short-notice cancellation also limits our ability to help another family that may have also needed help during your appointment time.

If we arrive at the house and the pet has passed and we have not received a call the full appointment fee is charged.

What if my pet is anxious/not friendly/aggressive?

We frequently see older pets who are uncomfortable because of pain and have grown increasingly “grumpy” in their old age. At the same time, we often have families call about pets who have shown aggression or anxiety in the past. Our goal is to make your pet’s euthanasia appointment peaceful and our helpful reception team can walk you through our various options depending on your pet’s temperament and diagnosis.

What is Aquamation?

Aquamation (also known as Alkaline Hydrolysis) is a peaceful water cremation that uses temperature, gentle water flow, and alkalinity to break down organic material, leaving only the calcium phosphate remains of the bones and teeth.
The ash received back in this process is similar to traditional cremation, but aquamation returns 20% more ash, which is lighter in color.

It is an environmentally friendly process that is an acceleration of natural decomposition.

Our pets leave paw prints on our hearts, not our environment.

How is Aquamation environmentally friendly?

  • Aquamation is a flameless process that uses water instead of fire.
  • Aquamation saves more than 90% energy compared to flame based cremation.
  • There are no direct emissions of harmful Greenhouse gases or mercury.
  • There is no burning of fossil fuels.
  • 20% more ash remains are returned and cremains are a desirable white/tan color.

How can I be sure that I am receiving my pet’s ashes?

In addition to our foolproof tracking system, we also assign each pet their own metal tag that will stay with them throughout the entire process. The tag is attached to the pet and verified at every stage of the process. The tag number is verified when taking paw prints, fur clipping, being placed into the machine, and then again when removed, and all the way until your pet’s cremains are packaged.

If I elected for Individual Cremation, when will my pet be ready to come home?

Your pet will be ready for pickup about two to three weeks after your initial appointment. After your pet is finished with our cremation process and protocols, you will be contacted on a weekly basis via phone and text to schedule an appointment to pick up your pets cremains and/or memorial items.

Why does cremation take so long?

We maintain strict tracking protocols during our cremation process to ensure you are only receiving your pet. When your pet enters our care, they are added to our tracking system and assigned a stainless steel disc with a unique number that will remain with them throughout the entire cremation process. The tag number is verified when taking paw prints, fur clipping, being placed into the machine, and then again when removed, and all the way until your pet’s cremains are packaged. Once cremation and packaging is complete, your pet’s cremation package is put through our quality control system, to ensure everything you ordered is being returned to you. Once we have ensured everything is completed, we will call you to schedule a pickup at our Escondido office.

How long do I have to pick up my pet’s ashes from your office?

After your pet is finished with our process, you will be contacted on a weekly basis via phone and text to pick up your pets cremains and/or memorial items. 
If you do not respond to any of our communications within 60 days, we will send out one last text and call to the phone number provided by you on our Appointment Consent Form. We will also attempt to reach you via the email address you provided. 
If we do not receive a response via email, we will send a letter via USPS with a few weeks lead time for respectfully disposing of the cremains. 
The day that your pet’s cremains will be considered abandoned, we will try to give you one last courtesy call. 

Your pet’s cremains will then be respectfully spread at sea. Any memorial items (IE: clay paw print or fur clipping) will be also be disposed of.

What if I am traveling and not able to pick up my pet’s ashes within the 60 day time frame?

Please communicate to our team when you will be available to make arrangements to pick up. We will hold on to your beloved pet as long as needed, as long as it is communicated to do so.

What if I am unable to make it to your office to pick up my pet’s ashes?

If you are not able to make it to our office in Escondido for pickup, we do have hand delivery or shipping options available for an additional fee.

Is someone other than myself able to pick up my pet’s ashes for me?

Yes, with your consent and authorization, we are able to release your pet’s ashes to any family member or friend you designate to pick up in your absence.