The price of pet euthanasia
The price of in home pet euthanasia is dependent upon a number of factors. These include:
- the distance your home is from the veterinary practice
- the size of your dog or cat
- crematory fees (if you wish to have the vet take your pet for cremation)
At the time of writing this article, Journeys Home Pet Euthanasia charges $170-$320 for in home euthanasia in our home county (Dane County, WI), and $295-445 out of Dane County depending on the weight of the pet. These charges are for the housecall euthanasia and do not include cremation. We are a truly mobile practice in that we do not operate out of a regular brick-and-mortar clinic. Our doctors travel up to an hour radius of Madison, WI, so we may be located anywhere in that perimeter when you call. The price of our service reflects the many miles our doctors drive every day to bring you and your cat or dog a peaceful experience.
Size of pet regarding medications:
The price of in home pet euthanasia also reflects the medications we use in the two-step process. We use a combination of a sedative (to help your dog or cat relax), a pain reliever (to help your pet be pain free), and an anesthetic (to help your pet fall asleep) before the euthanasia agent is administered. The larger a pet, the more of these medications we use, and so our prices reflect that difference. The medications we use are not cheap, and the addition of the anesthetic agent into the combination increases the price; but the pet is peacefully asleep before the euthanasia and does not feel any pain or stress.
Cremation Fees (also affected by size of pet):
The price of in home pet euthanasia is also dependent upon crematory fees if you choose to have your pet cremated. You may choose to keep your pet at home for burial without any additional fee. Many people choose to have their pet cremated, and crematory fees vary depending upon the option chosen. The facility we choose to work with is Memorial Pet Services, and they offer several options for cremation. Crematory fees will depend upon the size of your pet, and if you wish to have your pet’s ashes returned. Memorial Pet Services offers a communal cremation (the most economical option) where your pet will be cremated with other pets, and the ashes are respectfully scattered over farm fields. They also offer private cremation packages if you wish to have your pet’s ashes returned. There are several urn choices and memorial products they offer, so if you choose to commemorate your pet with these items, that will be included in the price. Our fees also reflect our travel to Memorial Pet Services which is located in Madison on Todd Drive. We take each pet directly to Memorial Pet Services so you will know they are being respectfully cared for after they leave your home. This direct transport also shortens the time for you to get your pet’s ashes returned (usually 1-3 business days).
The price of in home dog or cat euthanasia is the amount of money you can expect to spend to have a veterinarian come to your home for a peaceful passing for your pet.
The cost of waiting
Although the discussion of the price of euthanasia is straightforward, the cost of waiting when a pet has a progressive, irreversible, life-ending condition is much less so. There are many considerations when it comes to deciding on the right time to say goodbye to our beloved pet, and the costs of waiting are always more than just monetary including:
- physical costs
- time costs
- emotional costs
- the cost of an unexpected end-of-life crisis
There is a physical component to the cost of waiting, both for you and for your pet. The cost of waiting can be measured in the good days and bad days your pet experiences through their illness. You may measure it in tears shed, treats eaten, snuggles enjoyed. Your pet may pay the price with respiratory distress, pain, nausea. How do you put a price on one more day with your pet? Carefully consider your pet’s best interests first. If it is possible your pet will be in respiratory distress within a day, the cost of waiting is very high for them. If they are in pain, vomiting, dehydrated or unable to move, the cost of waiting is very high for them. The “cost”, so to speak, for your pet is closely tied to his or her quality of life. The physical costs for you may be high if your pet needs assistance moving, getting up from a sitting or laying position, and help laying down slowly and gently. This may not be so difficult if your pet is small; however, larger pets take more physical strength. You may need to use a sling or harness on walks, or lift a pet into the car for transport for medical care or emergencies. Repetitive bending and lifting can be difficult if you have any back trouble or arthritis.
In addition to the physical costs that are involved in waiting, there is also a significant cost in your own time. Of course we are all willing to take the time out of our lives to care for those we love who need care. Eventually, however, the amount of time that is required reaches a point where we may not be able to function normally. Dogs and cats may need to go out to the bathroom multiple times a day or night, causing us to need to leave/miss work, lose sleep, or try to find friends or neighbors to assist us in caring for our pet. Pets may need frequent trips to see their veterinarian for treatment and monitoring. Again, this involves a significant amount of time for transport and appointments. We may end up postponing trips for fun in order to stay home and care for our pet. Caring for a sick and deteriorating pet takes time away from caring for others that may need our help-other pets, children, elderly or disabled family members. And of course, although it’s always hard to admit, we need time to care for ourselves as well so we have the energy and health to continue to care for others. If we reach a point where the time it takes to care for an elderly pet is too consuming for us to sleep, work, and care for ourselves and others then it may be best to say goodbye to them.
We must take into account the emotional cost of waiting to say goodbye to your pet. It is extremely difficult to watch a pet’s condition deteriorate, either gradually over weeks to months, or quickly in the case of an acute disease process. We often feel helpless to relieve a pet of their suffering despite seeking medical assistance and providing around-the-clock supportive care. The idea of not knowing “when” a pet will pass can cause extreme stress whenever we have to leave the house, or even a fear they will pass away while we are sleeping. We may have a fear they will have a crisis event-falling and hurting themselves, have a seizure, or have a tumor rupture-without enough time to get help for them.
The cost of waiting too long may be that your pet has an unnecessary, uncomfortable, unhappy, and miserable end-of-life experience. The cost of waiting may end up being a sleepless night spent watching your pet suffer, or having your pet experience an acute emergency knowing you should have let them go before they had to suffer. The cost may include you foregoing one good day so your pet has NO bad days. The cost will include your grief at the loss, and may include your guilt. The cost may include waiting at the ER while your cat or dog is being seen and evaluated, and the expense of the ER visit. The cost may include your pet’s anxiety at the ER or vet clinic. It may include extra medications or procedures to stabilize your pet until you are ready to let go.
In closing …
As much as we may want to ignore or minimize the costs associated with waiting to say goodbye to a pet, it is truly a disservice to do so. Our goal for any dog or cat going through a chronic progressive, non-reversible disease process is to maximize their quality of life and to maintain that quality for as long as reasonably possible. A huge part of a pet’s quality of life comes down to the human-animal bond that they share with us! They enjoy being a part of our lives and sharing experiences with us, no matter how simple those activities may be. Pets often have a whole community of humans and other animals outside their primary caregiver that know and love them. Making sure these loved ones have a chance to be present to say their goodbyes can sometimes necessitate “planning ahead” for a euthanasia, before a crisis has occurred.
All of the costs discussed above (physical, time, and emotional) eventually become so significant and overwhelming that they reach a threshold: breaking down that bond which results in both the pet and their family suffering. The key to this decision-making process is in balancing these various costs as best as we are able to and saying goodbye to our cat or dog before any one of them becomes too significant. This allows a pet to pass away surrounded by love, and allows the family to be left with happy, joyful memories at the end in addition to the sadness and grief that always accompanies a pet dying.
The veterinarians at Journeys Home are dedicated to helping you navigate this process, discussing the various costs associated with all the choices at the end of a pet’s life. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to discuss your concerns and start a conversation about your pet’s quality of life.