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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know it is time?

We’ve addressed this topic in another article here.  In general, the answer will be different for everyone and it depends on a lot of factors, not just the comfort level of your pet.  

How much notice do I need to give you?

Generally we are able to offer same-day visits if we are contacted by early afternoon.  In an emergency situation after hours, it may be that the only option is to pay a visit to the emergency clinic.  Even during our normal hours, it is important to realize that Doorstep Vet is not an emergency service and it will typically take several hours for us to be able to make it to your home.  The specific timing will depend on what other families we have already committed to come help and where they are.  If you anticipate an emergency situation, it can be more peaceful for your pet and your family to plan euthanasia sooner rather than later to prevent a difficult situation.  You can read more about deciding when to euthanize in our article here.  

What is your cancellation policy?

We understand what a tumultuous time this can be for our patients and their families. There are a lot of ups and downs both with our pet’s health and our own emotional needs. For this reason we have a very liberal cancellation policy here at Doorstep Vet. While we ask that you let us know as soon as you can if you will need to reschedule or cancel so that we can offer help to another family, we only charge a cancellation fee if you cancel or reschedule within 2 hours of your scheduled arrival window.

What happens to my pet’s body?

There are several options you have with regards to disposition of your pet’s remains.  If you would like us to take care of your pet’s remains for you we are able to offer cremation services through our partner, Fond Memories.  We will take your pet from your home for you regardless of which type of cremation you choose.  

You can have your pet kept separately from other pets and cremated individually or your pet can be cremated with other pets and the ashes scattered by the crematorium.  In the event that you select private cremation, your pet’s ashes will be ready for you to pick up from Fond Memories’ northeast Austin location within two to three weeks and they will be presented to you in a wooden urn with a brass name plate.  Most of our clients are very happy with the hand carved rosewood urn that we provide by default, but if you have a specific preference, let us know and we can make sure that your pet is placed in the urn of your choice.

If you would rather not pick up your pet’s ashes, we are also able to provide to you with shipment of your pet’s privately cremated ashes back to your home if that is your wish.

There are alternatives to Doorstep Vet managing your pet’s aftercare.  We are happy to leave your pet with you after our visit if you would prefer to arrange for your own pet’s aftercare, whether that involves working with a crematory of your choosing directly or arranging for burial of your pet.

What does it cost?

To be sure, in-home euthanasia costs more than having the procedure done at your regular vet.  That is because it just takes a lot more time for our veterinarian and in the interest of maximizing patient comfort, we often use more expensive drugs if that will yield a better experience.  As a mobile practice, we have to take the time to drive to our patient’s house (which can sometimes be pretty time-consuming with Austin traffic), and then the time spent with our client and patient can sometimes be protracted.  Unlike in brick-and-mortar practice, we can’t go see another patient while you are spending a last few minutes with your pet.  We can’t move on to the next room while you are checking out with reception.  And even though visits often only take about 30-45 minutes and we can predict how long it will take to drive to the next call, we can’t schedule visits back-to-back because if our client or patient takes longer than expected, we’ll either be rushing them or late to the next visit.  Despite all these restrictions, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We want each in-home visit to be very special for our client, our patient, and for us.  We don’t want to move on to another patient or pass you on to a receptionist.  We want to be there for you from the beginning to the end.

So–to answer the actual question: The cost varies based on your desired services and your pet’s size, but you can see an exact cost for your needs by clicking here.  Our clients overwhelmingly report that they find the experience to be worth it.  Their pet is comfortable in his or her own home and you are free to grieve in private.

What kind of payment do you accept?

We accept cash, check, and all major credit cards.  We also can provide payment plans through Scratchpay.  Generally, we will take care of payment before the visit or at the very beginning of the visit.  You will always be able to know how much the total will be before you even schedule, all we will need to know is your pet’s size and your aftercare wishes.  Once you schedule, you’ll be provided with the means to pay online by credit card if that is your wish.

Can I feed my pet before our appointment?

The euthanasia process involves similar medications to those we use in anesthesia.  It is often recommended to fast before using these medications due to the risk that a pet may vomit while asleep and that could cause serious trouble in the lungs.  We don’t worry about such trouble in the case of euthanasia, however there is a risk for vomiting as your pet falls asleep or, more often, after your pet is already asleep.  We recommend that your pet be allowed tasty treats in moderation to try to reduce this risk while still providing as much joy as possible during the final hours.

How will you actually get my pet out of my house?

Many people find themselves wondering just how their vet plans to transport their 100 pound dog from their home.  Well, after the euthanasia is complete we’ll go to our vehicle and get a stretcher or a cozy pet bed (for smaller pets).  We can carry a pet out to the car by ourselves if he or she is under about 30 pounds and there are not too many steps, or we can carry your pet out on the stretcher with you carrying the other end.  We do require an able-bodied adult to help with all pets over 30 pounds and two able-bodied adults for pets over 100 pounds.  Smaller pets are placed in a nice soft pet bed and are carried out in our arms.  In general, we find the opportunity to act as a pallbearer to be cathartic for many pet owners.

I am uncomfortable crying in front of strangers, how do most people act during an in-home euthanasia?

Many people tend to treat us more as a houseguest than as ‘hired help’–though we wish they didn’t.  During this very private time between you, your family, and your pet–we encourage you to just pretty much ignore us.  We don’t need water or snacks (we have coffee, water, and food in our vehicle).  Of course we’re happy to answer questions you have or hear stories about your pet.  Don’t feel the need to hide emotions because of our presence.  We have seen people at their worst and their best.  However sloppy you think you are with your tears, we’ve seen it.  We’d leave the house if we could do so, however when your pet is being sedated it is best for your vet to be present to monitor for any unexpected or concerning reactions to the sedation and to help guide you through them should they occur.  However, we are happy to step out of the room or home for as long as needed after paperwork is done for you to perform a ceremony or say final words in privacy.

What will actually happen to my pet as he or she dies?

This is an important, if distasteful, topic.  After all, during this process death is something you will be witnessing and there are many people who have never been present for a human or pet during the death process.  Even if you have, the same things don’t always happen to every individual.

Most pets will eliminate within the first 30 minutes after passing.  This means they will both urinate and defecate.  We always bring with us puppy pads to catch such eliminations.  However, if you have a very large dog it can be helpful for that pet to have had a chance to urinate before the visit as the volume of urine can sometimes overwhelm the puppy pad.  Obviously with mobility issues, this isn’t always possible.  In these cases, we try very hard to keep a mess from occurring in your home, but some urine spillage can occur. 

Most pets who have died or are under deep sedation or anesthesia will not close their eyes.  The act of closing the eyes in sleep actually requires an active contraction of muscle that happens as part of the sleep process but not in death.

It is very normal for a pet (or a human) to have movements of the head or limbs as they pass or immediately afterwards.  In addition, some pets will take a deep breath after they pass away.  This can be disconcerting but is a very normal and natural part of the dying process.  Our sedation protocol prevents this from happening in many of our patients, but it does still occasionally occur.  It is important to understand that this is not a sign of your pet waking up, feeling pain, or suffering in any way.  It is just your pet’s nerves and muscles letting go.

Do you offer a paw impression or other keepsake?

Yes, we always offer a paw impression in a keepsake photo box if you would like one.  No, we don’t charge for it–it is our gift to you.  There is an extra charge for additional paw prints but we are happy to produce them for you if you have extra family members who may be interested.  We also have small glass vials and can provide you with a hair clipping.  You can read more about our memorial items here.

I’m going to pick my pet’s ashes up at the crematorium, isn’t that going to be creepy or weird?

Not surprisingly, most people have never been to a crematorium of any sort much less a pet crematorium.  The crematorium we partner with is called Fond Memories.  They have gone to great lengths to create a comforting and peaceful environment for pet owners.  They even have comfort rooms that can be used for euthanasia procedures, viewings, or funerals.  It is a similar setting to a funeral home.

What do I do if my pet passes away at home?

If your pet passes away in your home, we will put you in touch directly with our partners, Fond Memories.  They have a caring and compassionate team who will be able to arrange to pick up your pet for you and handle all of your needs.

In the event that your pet passes away when we are on the way to your home for your visit, we will be able to take your pet for you to the crematorium just as we would if it were a full euthanasia visit.

Can I humanely euthanize my pet on my own without a vet?

We often hear people express a desire to comfortably allow their pet to pass without the assistance of a veterinarian.  We understand the desire to be able to go through this experience in private without inviting a relative stranger into the home.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a safe or humane option to perform this task for your own pet that is reasonably accessible to the average pet owner.  Oral medications do not absorb dependably which is why anesthetic level sedatives are rarely if ever given orally.  The risk for side effects is extremely high and the chances of providing a less-than-lethal dose is equally high.  The last thing we want for our beloved pet is to cause them to become intensely ill when our goal was to bring them peace.

We follow the AVMA Humane Euthanasia Guidelines as our bare minimum standard to ensure a peaceful and painless passing.  The only acceptable method of euthanasia contained in the guideline that is reasonably accessible to the average pet owner is gunshot.  We strongly recommend against this technique in most companion animals because if the technique used is not correct it can lead to extensive suffering.  Even when properly performed, it can be traumatic for the family.

Is euthanasia allowed for my pet's condition?

Many people wonder if they are allowed to euthanize their pet for a given medical or behavioral situation or condition.  In many cases, there are treatments or diagnostics available that you may not want to pursue for one of many very valid reasons.

There is no law dictating what is an acceptable reason to euthanize a pet in Texas.  Certain circumstances may be ethically challenging for the veterinarian performing the service, however, and they may decline to perform a euthanasia.  We at Doorstep Vet have seen a lot of heartbreaking situations and we know that each situation is unique and there are always factors we are not privy to.  We rarely decline to euthanize a pet, and we never do if we can’t offer an acceptable alternative to euthanasia.  And no, we don’t think an acceptable alternative is a $2000 surgery or chemotherapy that may or may not work.  We even understand that older pets, cats in particular, can’t just trivially be “rehomed” if they can no longer stay with their family.

One of our core values is not to pass judgment–not on our clients and not on each other.  If you aren’t sure whether it is time for your pet, look at our article on that topic, here.  If you are concerned about behavioral issues or other so-called “non-medical” reasons for considering euthanasia, contact us and we will help guide you.