End of life housecalls

When medications and even alternative treatments may not ease your pet’s suffering, you may need to make a decision to end your pet’s pain or compromised quality of life. If there is uncertainty regarding timing, Dr. Angel can provide an overall assessment of the pet first before a final decision is made.

There are a few things to consider:  Ask yourself if you and/or other family members want to be present for the euthanasia.  While most people will be present throughout, some others feel more comfortable seeing their pet only sedated.  Very young children may not understand what is happening and may be upset or confused by the pet’s passing away in their presence; older children may have some comfort in being with the pet during its final moments.  But depending on each child’s personality and maturity level, a parent must determine what is best for their child.  Knowing that your decision is guided by love and respect for your animal, you and your family will know you’ve done what is best for you and your cherished companion.

When euthanasia is chosen, the goal is to allow the pet to go peacefully and with minimal discomfort or anxiety.


A sedative, an injection given under the skin, allows the pet to relax.  Most pets are okay with this although a few may object or react briefly to the needle as it injects the solution.  If the pet is still willing to eat, a special treat such as ice cream, cheese, peanut butter or even, steak can be given while the sedative takes effect. This may take 5-10 minutes, although occasionally, it can take longer.  Depending on how the pet reacts to the initial dose, additional sedative can be given if needed.  The usual progression is if the pet is standing, they will sit, then lie down their bodies and then rest their heads.  Rarely, a pet will continue to move with a subtle head bobbing or with slight jerking motions.  This can be a transitory phase until the pet relaxes more. However, there are some pets who will be mostly, but not completely sedated even when more sedative is given.  Lying down, the pet will still be breathing and may still have his eyes partially open.  Some pets become so relaxed that their tongue droops out of their mouth.  At this point, they are in a deep sleep and only vaguely aware of their surroundings.  The sedative also has some anti-pain effects.


When the actual euthanasia solution is given intravenously, it takes 1-2 minutes to fully take effect.  Sometimes, the biggest challenge is finding a vein on an older pet, especially on one that is dehydrated so sometimes, it can take more than one attempt to find a vein.  Because the pet is sedated, he/she is only minimally aware.  To facilitate finding the vein, Dr. Angel may need to clip some fur and/or apply a tourniquet to the leg.  As the euthanasia solution is given, the breathing, then the heart and brain activity will slow and then stop.  Rarely, some brief twitching from nerve activity can occur, even after the pet has passed.  Very rarely, the pet can take a “sigh” or deep breathe as the diaphragm spasms, even after the pet is gone.  By listening to the heart, Dr. Angel confirms that the pet’s heart has stopped beating and the pet has passed.

Dr. Angel then will give you some personal time with your pet before taking him/her for either an individual or communal cremation.  For cats and small dogs, she will wrap them in a towel; for larger dogs, she will bring in a stretcher, onto which the pet is placed for easier displacement to the car.  Dr. Angel will require the assistance of one other person to facilitate this process.


Arrangements can be made for a cremation, and this is coordinated through Dr. Angel.  Animal Memorial Service (AMS), located in Gilroy, will pick up the pet for an individual cremation or communal cremation.

Individual cremation – When an individual cremation is desired, then the pet’s body is cremated alone and those pet’s ashes are placed in an urn.   This process typically takes 1-2 weeks and Dr. Angel will contact you when the urn is available for pick up.  Also included along with the urn is an individualized laser scanned image of your pet’s paw print that is put on paper with a poem.

Urn selection- A choice of 6 complimentary urns including 3 different wood finishes, granite vase urn, a scatter tin and a biodegradable urn is available and are included with the individual cremation.

At an additional charge, customization of standard urns and orders for special urns can be obtained including urns with photographs, laser engraving, other vase urns, rock urns and paw prints.   Please note that custom orders can take longer, up to 3-4 weeks.  Also, AMS takes a digital print of the pet’s paws which is stored in their database so that additional memorial products can be ordered through their product catalog. For specific details and costs, please review their product catalog. Such requests are directly submitted to Animal Memorial Service and paid for through their website.  For additional information, please visit www.animalmemorialservice.com, email them at info@animalmemorialservice.com or call them at (888) 255-1002 or (408) 847-1002.


Communal cremation– If the owner does not wish to have the ashes back, then, a communal cremation is performed at Animal Memorial Service.


Witness cremation- for those owners wishing to view the cremation and obtain their pet’s ashes within 1-2 days, separate arrangements can be made by the owner by directly contacting the following cemeteries to inquiry about their services, availability and costs and making arrangements directly with them.  In these cases, the owner will need to provide transportation of the pet to their facility.

Pet’s Rest Cemetery- located in Colma, CA (San Mateo County)- www.petsrest.com Telephone- 650-755-2201

Monterey Bay Loved Pet- located in Royal Oaks, CA (Monterey County)- www.lovedpets.com Telephone- 831-722-8722