Perhaps the worst aspect of pet ownership is knowing that their lives are so much shorter than ours. As their end of life approaches, it can be extremely difficult to contemplate the pros and cons of humane euthanasia. 

A grey-haired woman hugs the head of a grey-muzzled black dog. Both of them have closed their eyes; the dog looks serene, the woman looks sad.Although putting your pet to sleep is never easy, one practice that grew during the Covid era — at-home euthanasia performed by a veterinarian — is helping make the process slightly less anxiety-provoking. In the past, in order to say goodbye to your family pet the only option was taking them to the veterinarian’s office or a local shelter. This trip is not only awful for the people involved, but it can be incredibly stressful for the animal. At-home euthanasia provides a way to say goodbye to your pet in a comfortable and private setting. It also allows family members and any other pets to say goodbye in their own time and space.

There are several options in the Capital Region area, so if you have an aging furbaby, here are some of the things to consider before deciding if this is the right approach for you and your animal.

What to Expect 

It is helpful to have an idea of how you would like the process to go ahead of time. Think about the ideal place where your pet will be most comfortable, and gather items that will help them relax such as cozy warm towels or blankets, their favorite toys, or even a tasty treat that maybe they weren’t allowed to have all that often. Talk with family members about what role they may or may not want to play: Do they want to be present, or would they prefer to say goodbye beforehand. Hashing these things out and being able to relay your needs to the veterinarian will help make the process less painful.

An older tabby cat sleeps happily in a sunny spot on a pink cushionThe veterinarian will arrive at your home and examine your pet in order to assess the best medications and process to perform the euthanasia. Usually they will then talk you through the plan and give you the time that you need to ask any questions and get prepared.

Euthanasia is usually a two-step process that involves two injections to make it painless and stress-free for your pet. The first injection is a sedative, which will cause your pet to become relaxed and gradually fall asleep. [As someone who has been through this, I must warn you — sometimes the pet doesn’t close their eyes as they lose consciousness. This can be alarming to anyone unprepared, but it is normal for sedation.]

Once your pet is resting comfortably (and when you are ready), a second injection is administered to stop their heart. This can take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to work. The veterinarian will listen with a stethoscope, and tell you when everything is over.

What Happens to the Remains?

What happens to your pet’s remains after at-home euthanasia is best discussed ahead of time when you’re not emotionally fragile. You have a few options: you can take care of arrangements yourself, or your vet can assist. The two most common choices are a home burial of your pet, or a private cremation so that ashes can be returned to you.


The difference in cost for at-home humane euthanasia versus one performed at the veterinarian office is negligible. Euthanasia typically costs between $200 and $300, with additional fees for cremation or burial. Many places that specialize in the practice have also started offering mementos or keepsakes, such as paw or nose prints in ink or plaster, jewelry containing a lock of hair, or decorative displays for your pets’ ashes, for an additional fee.

Options in Your Area

An old hound dog looks balefully at the camera while laying on a pile of blanketsMany veterinarians have responded to the demand for at-home euthanasia and will offer their services, so we recommend you check with the family vet first. (This is especially important if you have a good relationship with your vet — they will know your pet and be able to best assess their condition.)

There are also organizations that provide at-home euthanasia as their primary service. Here are just a few examples:

    • In The Comfort of Home: a group of four veterinarians who feel called to provide the most peaceful and stress-free option for end of life care. “No carriers. No Cars. No Fears. Just Love.”
    • Capital District Mobile Veterinary Services:  Dr. Sarah Nolan, a Saratoga Springs native, provides veterinary services of all kinds at home where the pet is most comfortable. She hopes to make saying goodbye to your beloved pet as smooth and peaceful as possible. 
    • Wellness Mobile Veterinary Care:  Dr. Nancy Ying provides at-home veterinary care and considers at-home humane euthanasia one of the last loving gifts you could give your pet.

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