Making a euthanasia appointment: considerations

If you are reading this, you are thinking about the time you need to say good-bye to your beloved pet. We know that the loss of your pet is a heart-breaking time for you and anyone involved with your pet. Arranging an appointment for euthanasia can be extremely difficult emotionally, and for some leads to feelings of guilt. These feelings are quite normal and are a reflection of the very deep bond and love that you feel for your pet. You can read more about the feelings associated with end of life, and grief here. There follows on this page advice for making a euthanasia appointment to help you through this difficult step. 

When you're not sure if it is the right time

Making a euthanasia appointment can be made more difficult if you are not sure that this is the right time to say goodbye to your pet. Perhaps your pet has been ill, and you think the end is near, but still hope that something might be able to be done for them. If you are unsure about euthanasia, but wish to discuss it with your vet to help you make a decision, it is a good idea to tell the person you speak to on the phone when you’re making the appointment to come in. This will enable the practice to offer you an appropriate time for your appointment as well as give you enough space and time to talk through everything. You will not be forced into making a decision earlier than you feel comfortable with, but telling the practice about your uncertainty will help highlight to the vet that you would like to discuss all options. 

When you're sure it is the right time

If you know it is the right time to say goodbye to your pet, there are some things it can be helpful for you to consider before you make the call:

  • Will you be taking your pet to the veterinary practice or would you like a home visit?
  • Is there a particular vet or nurse that you would like to carry out the euthanasia or be there with you?
  • Do you know yet what you will want to do with your pet’s body?
  • Will your children accompany you to the appointment?
  • Is a friend or relative available to come with you?
  • Would you prefer to wait in the car until the vet calls you in?
  • How and when will you want to settle your vet bill for the euthanasia or any afterlife care such as cremation? Some practices will allow you to pay in advance so that you do not have to deal with payment when you’re upset. 

The appointment time

If you will be taking your pet to the veterinary practice for euthanasia, consider the time of the appointment. If you can, try to arrange the appointment for a time when the clinic is less busy; if you’re not sure of when this might be, don’t be afraid to ask. Most veterinary practices will already be mindful that pet owners will want to come at a quiet time, and when there are fewer people about. Some will offer to schedule your appointment either early on in a consultation session, so that there is no waiting time and you can go straight in; or you may prefer to come in for the last appointment of a particular session, so there are no other pet owners around when you come out, and you don’t feel rushed. Consider what’s best for you, and don’t be afraid to ask for the time that you want.  

Coming in and going out

Does the vet clinic have a separate entrance whereby you can come into the practice but avoid having to walk through a busy waiting room full of people and pets? Is there a place where you can sit quietly with your pet away from other owners while you’re waiting to be called? Some practices might allow you to wait in a spare consulting room or in the practice office. When you leave after your pet is euthanized, is there an alternative way out other than through the main reception and waiting area? Finding out this information before you go in for your appointment can help make things easier for you emotionally.  

Arranging a home visit

Most practices will give you the option of arranging a home visit for euthanasia. You can read more on considerations for home euthanasia here.

Your pet's body

Quite often you will be asked on the phone when you are making the euthanasia appointment whether you know what you wish to do with your pet’s body once they are at rest. It’s important to not feel under pressure to make a hasty decision on this if you haven’t given it consideration at this point. Most practices will be happy to give you advice on the phone, or notify the vet that you wish to discuss the various options open to you. If your vet practice offers a pre-euthanasia appointment this can be a good time to chat through aftercare. You can read more on aftercare here.

Considerations around children

It can be difficult to know whether your child should be present during the euthanasia appointment or not. The decision will vary depending on the age and maturity of the child, as well as their relationship with the pet. Ultimately, as a parent, it is your decision. If you will be taking any children to the appointment with you, it is helpful to let the veterinary team know in advance. You can read more about this subject on our Preparing for Euthanasia page.

Payment

We suggest that you find out in advance of the appointment what the practice’s terms are with regards to payment for euthanasia or aftercare such as cremation: 

  • Some vets will send an invoice a few days later which can be helpful at the time of euthanasia but is then upsetting to receive the reminder. 
  • Some vets ask for payment on the day which can also be upsetting but avoids further reminders of your loss. 
  • Some vets will take payment in advance, either on the day but before your pet is at rest, or afterwards out in the reception area or in the consultation room.  

Whichever option your practice offers and you decide, knowing in advance means that you are aware of the financial aspects and are not surprised or upset further by receiving the request for payment in a way that you wouldn’t have chosen.