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Dog Euthanasia at Home: A Complete Guide | Pupford

July 31st, 2023

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This is truly the last topic I want to write about, but I know how important it is and hopefully, it can help at least one person in this painful process. I want to provide my complete experience and answer common questions/concerns about dog euthanasia at home.

The passing of a dog is extremely painful. I’d argue it’s personally one of the most challenging experiences of my life.

In this article, I want to dive into all things in-home euthanasia because choosing this route for the passing of my dog, Buddy, was the best choice I could have made. I hope that if you’re nearing this part of your dog’s life you can find solace, comfort, and a small sense of hope by understanding what in-home euthanasia entails.

This will be a long article because there are SO many questions and concerns around this topic and I want to help you make an informed decision for your dog.

Here’s what we will cover in this article:

  • What is at-home euthanasia
  • How do you know if it’s time to put your dog to sleep
  • At-home euthanasia pros & cons (there are many)
  • How does in-home euthanasia work, what is the process like
  • Ways to memorialize a dog

I’ll also let you know about one of the most challenging parts of the experience that NO one told me about beforehand.

So, grab your tissue box (I’ve already needed mine writing this article), and let’s get right into it. 👇


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at home euthanasia is when a vet comes to your home to help put your dog to sleep

Euthanasia derives from greek and almost literally translates to “easy death”. Whenever you hear someone talking about putting a dog to sleep or putting their dog down, they are typically referring to euthanasia.

Euthanasia is seen as a humane way to help your dog experience a death that is as minimally painful as possible.

At-home euthanasia (or in-home euthanasia) is the process of euthanizing your dog inside your own home. I am NOT referring to doing this on your own… That is a bad (and likely illegal) choice.

I am referring to a licensed professional, typically a veterinarian, coming into your home and performing the euthanasia process for your dog.

While putting your dog to sleep at the vet's office is 100% an option, I want to make more people aware of this alternative. And it’s an alternative that I believe is miles better than doing it at the vet office.

Note: I recognize that at-home euthanasia isn’t an option for everyone. That can be for financial reasons, lack of vets in your area who do at-home euthanasia, or a host of other reasons. At the end of the day, do what works best for your situation and your dog.


I can say this was one of the most painful and difficult decisions my wife and I have ever been forced to make. Even to this day, we struggle with the pain of thinking “could he have lived longer?” and “did we make the right choice?”.

A super quick back story on our situation with Buddy, just so you can understand the context for the rest of this article and this section specifically.

it was hard to know when it was the right time to put our dog buddy down

Buddy, a food-loving Puggle, lived a long and generally healthy life. My wife got Buddy when she was 10 years old and they were instantly lifelong best friends, truly. Buddy was in my life since about 2017 and I also loved him so much.

In July of 2021, while we were on a vacation across the country with our 3 dogs, Buddy (about 15.5 years old) started having health concerns. At first, it was just some vomiting, confusion, and general lethargy.

Within a few days, he started to show drastic signs of decline. After multiple vet visits, a specialist ran blood tests (amongst other tests) and we received some terrifying results. His bilirubin levels were off the charts which led to serious and chronic liver issues.

After discussing it with our vet and an extremely helpful neighbor in the medical field, we knew that his quality of life wasn’t going to improve. We ultimately made the decision that euthanasia was the best choice to help him avoid extended pain.

With that context in mind, I want to discuss some important things to consider when deciding if it’s time to put your dog down:

  • Is your dog in pain? (Related Reading: 10 Signs a Dog Is In Pain)
  • Is your dog able to enjoy the things they typically enjoy (walks, food, play, etc.)?
  • Can your dog control their bowel movements?
  • Can your dog walk and stand up?
  • Are you/your family capable of providing the medical care your dog needs (financially, time, knowledge, etc.)?
  • Does your dog still have an appetite?

These are just some things to seriously consider as you make this difficult decision.

My #1 recommendation would be to fill out a Quality of Life scoring/scale for your dog and your situation. Here are 2 resources:

  1. “Interactive” Quality of Life scoring
  2. PDF with Quality of Life scale with self-scoring

Those are great resources that can help you make an objective and informed decision, as much as possible at least.

At the end of the day, it can be extremely difficult to know when the time is right. It’s a decision filled with sadness, anxiety, and downright fear.

Generally speaking, there isn’t a single day that’s the “right time”... It’s usually a window of timing that lets your dog keep their dignity, avoid a massive amount of vet visits and pain, and overall enjoy the end of their life.

I genuinely hope this can help you find clarity as you are forced to grapple with this decision.

Now that we’ve covered this important section, let’s dive into at-home euthanasia. ⬇️


a dog parent learning about the pros and cons of at home euthanasia

While I will only choose at-home euthanasia in the future, I want to dive into the pros and cons of in-home euthanasia for your dog.

Before we dive into each benefit or drawback, a quick overview.

Here are some pros & benefits of at-home euthanasia:

  • Around your other dogs for closure
  • Familiar & comfortable environment, just like someone coming over
  • NOT the vet office, some dogs have real fears
  • Feels more like a beautiful send-off
  • You have control over the situation

And of course, here are some cons and disadvantages of at-home euthanasia:

  • Cost
  • A lasting memory/visual reminder of where your dog passed away
  • It can be painful to be in the room as it happens

Alright, now let’s look more in-depth. ⏬


I personally believe that at-home euthanasia is the best way to put your dog to sleep. It provides an experience you just can’t replicate at a vet’s office.

Here are the benefits of choosing at-home euthanasia for your dog:

  • Around your other dogs for closure
  • Familiar & comfortable environment, just like someone coming over
  • NOT the vet office, some dogs have real fears
    • Avoiding car rides if that’s problematic for your dog
  • Feels more like a beautiful send-off
  • You have control over the situation
    • The smells
    • If there is music on
    • Where it happens
    • It is YOUR home

Again, let’s go into detail on each one. 👇


at home euthanasia allows your other dogs to get closure

In our home, we have multiple dogs. The thought of having to take Buddy to the vet and then him just not returning seemed unfair to our other dogs.

By doing at-home euthanasia, our dogs were able to be in the room during the experience. I believe (and many other anecdotal experiences agree) that my other pups being able to sniff Buddy after he had passed gave them clarity around the situation.

While every dog grieves in different ways, our dogs gave a couple of strong barks once Buddy completely passed away. It’s hard to put into words, but it seemed like they were literally saying their verbal goodbyes.

Dogs, and most animals, seem to understand death in a general sense. By allowing them to see Buddy in his final state it allowed my other dogs to have closure.


One of the main goals of euthanasia is to help a dog feel comfortable and at peace at their passing. By having the procedure take place in your home, you can provide more comfort to your aging dog than you ever could at a vet’s office.

You can place your pup in their favorite bed, in their favorite part of the house, with their favorite toy right next to them.

When you try to put yourself in your dog’s frame of mind, the peace of being in a comfortable place during their last moments has to be priceless.


many dogs don’t like the vet and get scared

Similar to the point above, many dogs really do not like the vet’s office.

It can have bad associations, scary experiences, and is often generally not an enjoyable place for some dogs. Many dogs are truly scared of the vet!

Plus, some dogs don’t enjoy car rides, and going to the vet’s office would require that. Especially with senior dogs, going to unfamiliar places can be overwhelming and make them uneasy.

Not forcing your dog to have their final moments in a less familiar environment is a huge advantage of at-home euthanasia.


Looking back on our experience with Buddy, his euthanasia was remembered more as a beautiful send-off and not a scary experience.

Being comfortable in our own home and knowing he was with his favorite people in a peaceful place can’t be understated. I personally love to think about how beautiful it is (in its own sad way) that Buddy got to slip into a “state of sleep” in a place he’d done that many times before.

Buddy loved everyone he came in contact with. And when the vet came into our home, he was happy to slowly greet her and invite her into our home.


in home euthanasia allows your dog to be more comfortable in their home environment

Above all, choosing in-home euthanasia for your dog gives you much greater control over the situation than if done at a vet’s office.

If you want to play some peaceful music, you can.

If you want to light a calming candle, you can.

If you want to darken the room, you can.

If you want to lay on the ground and hold your dog’s paw, you can. (You could do that at a vet’s office, but it isn’t quite the same experience.)

If you want to have close friends and family over, you can.

Choosing to have your dog euthanized at home gives you greater control over the experience. And that truly is one of the biggest benefits of choosing this path for your dog’s end-of-life care.

But, like all things, there are some drawbacks. 👇


While I’m clearly in favor of the at-home route, I do understand that there are some drawbacks. Here are some disadvantages of at-home euthanasia:

  • Cost
  • A lasting memory/visual reminder of where your dog passed away
  • It can be painful to be in the room as it happens

Let’s look at each one below.


at home euthanasia costs are sometimes high

At-home euthanasia is almost always more expensive than doing this process at your vet’s office. There are some vets who will do it for the same cost, but it’s not the norm.

While it of course depends on where you live and the options available, at-home euthanasia can cost anywhere from $200 on the low end to $1,000 on the high end. There are a variety of factors that influence the cost of at-home euthanasia for your pet.

One factor that raises the cost is what option you choose in regard to burial vs cremation. And if you choose cremation, it is often more expensive to do an individual cremation vs a group cremation.

The best route is to use a tool to help find groups/vets that offer this service. Check reviews, ask for price quotes, and find an option that best suits your needs if you decide to go this route. A quick Google search is also a powerful tool for finding the best euthanasia vet in your area.

If you happen to be in the NYC area I can’t recommend Pet Requiem highly enough. Their staff was professional, empathetic, and kind throughout the entire experience.


When your dog’s euthanasia takes place in your home you will have to continue to live in the room/area where it occurred. While some people may consider this an advantage, having a visual reminder of where your dog took his/her final breaths can be tough.

I’ve read online conversations where people commented about having to get rid of the dog bed, blanket, or even couch where their dog passed away.

On the flip side, I’ve read of others who cherish the area where the last breaths were taken. Some even choose to turn that area into a memorial space for their dog.


a dog passing away is a very painful and sad experience

While I wouldn’t have done it any other way, being in the room as Buddy passed away was one of the most excruciating moments of my life.

Of course, that challenge isn’t unique to at-home euthanasia. Most people who do it at a vet’s office are still in the room as it occurs.

Opinion Warning: I feel strongly that we should all be with our pets as they pass on. Thinking of a dog being alone (only with a vet) during their last moments truly breaks my heart. While it can be painful, please try to be there for your dog in their final moments. Your presence can provide comfort and peace for your dog that no one else can.

Now that we’ve covered the pros and cons, I want to walk through the at-home euthanasia process from start to finish. ⬇️


The process of at-home euthanasia for your dog is one that can feel overwhelming and unknown, especially during such a difficult time. My hope in this section (and this article generally) is to help you feel as confident and assured in this process as possible.

If you use a service/group that isn’t your normal vet, the first thing they’ll want to do when you contact them is to verify the need for euthanasia. They will often ask for recent medical records, perform a Quality of Life assessment, and/or try to get your primary veterinarian’s sign-off.

Once you set a time for the appointment, it’s important to prep yourself, your dog, and your home accordingly.


before your dog passes you can let them do their favorite things

You’ve likely seen the tear-jerking videos on social media of pup parents giving their pup a final hurrah before passing away.

Think about all the things your dog loves and try to provide those opportunities in the day(s) leading up to the procedure. Here are some ideas:

  • Walk with your dog (if they’re able) on their favorite route
  • Give your dog their ultimate favorite snack or treat
  • Let them play with their favorite toy
  • Give as many snuggles as physically possible (this is truly #1)
  • If you desire, give friends and family the opportunity to say their goodbyes to your dog
  • Slow down and soak in the moments as much as you can

There isn’t a list of things you must do for your pup on their last day(s), but you can likely think for yourself what your four-legged friend would truly enjoy. Just do your best to give them as many happy and joyful final moments as possible!


This whole experience can feel like a whirlwind, so take this next section with a grain of salt. For some, doing this type of prep isn’t physically or mentally possible, and that’s completely okay.

Prep Your Home

If you can, tidy your home. Specifically, clean the area/room where you will choose to have the euthanasia done. If you’re unable to, ask a friend or family member if possible.

There is something (at least in my opinion) calming about having a somewhat tidy and clean area for experiences like this. The point is to make your home as peaceful and calming as possible for you and your dog.

Prep Your Dog

We also chose to give Buddy a bath the night before putting him to sleep. Senior dogs can often, of no fault of their own, get an extra stink and odor as part of their declining health.

Giving them a nice bath so they’re smelling fresh can help make the process feel a bit more dignified for your dog.

an old dog getting a bath

Prep Yourself and Your Family/Friends

There isn’t a way to truly prepare yourself for the experience of putting your dog to sleep. It’s just hell.

But, it can be helpful to try and get yourself in the best mindset possible. Try to get a good night’s rest, shower and put on some comfortable clothes, and have a solid meal before the experience.

And above all, invite whoever you want and need in your corner. My wife and I were lucky enough to have each other for this experience. Plan ahead and invite a best friend, a family member, or someone who can help you during this challenging time.

While you probably don’t want to invite too many people, being with others after your dog passes can help you as you grieve. Having a literal shoulder to cry on can be everything in these moments.

If you do have others joining, try to give them as much context and information as to how the upcoming experience will unfold. The vet will help with this, too!


When the vet arrives they will typically greet your dog and take a few moments to get to know you and your dog (if it’s your normal vet, this isn’t applicable). They won’t get right to the procedure but likely will take time to get comfortable in your home and with you and your dog.

Once settled in, our vet took time to thoroughly explain the process from start to finish. She explained the process, gave recommendations on how to handle each step, and answered the questions that we had at the moment.

Our vet was extremely knowledgeable, gracious, and calm throughout the entire process. Again, the vet’s goal in this situation is to make the process as calm, pain-free, and tranquil as possible for you and your dog.


the vet will explain to you the whole process of the at home euthanasia

Once we gave the okay (permission is explicitly asked for) and Buddy was situated where we had chosen, the vet started the process. We were able to sit next to Buddy the entire time, giving him pets, love, and affection.

The vet will administer a pain, numbing, and sedation drug cocktail. Most vets will use a few different drugs together to enhance sedation while reducing doses for each drug, thus reducing potential individual side effects. This is typically done via a quick shot under your dog’s skin that is minimally painful (or even noticeable) by your dog.

This sedating agent is meant to help your dog fall into a state of calmness and almost a dream-like state, before fully falling asleep. The drugs take a few moments to kick in. During this time, our vet instructed us to reduce quick movements so as to not startle Buddy (especially since the drugs can make dogs a little bit loopy).

As this was occurring we also placed some potty pads underneath Buddy. This process sometimes can involve your dog losing control of their bowel movements so it’s easier to be prepared if that does occur.

After a few minutes, the vet performed a sedation assessment to verify that he was deeply sleeping and was no longer responding to any stimulus.

Once that assessment was completed, our vet left the room and gave us one final opportunity to say our final goodbyes. Being able to say your last goodbyes while your pup is still alive is desirable (compared to after they’ve passed). I won’t go into details about this intimate moment, but it was full of peace, pain, and pure love for our best friend.

Once we had finished our goodbyes, the vet returned and administered a drug (usually pentobarbital) to stop his heartbeat. This drug is administered via an IV.

The drug works very quickly, and the vet will verify that your dog’s heartbeat has stopped. Truthfully, the process is relatively quick and extremely comforting knowing that your dog is not in pain during the process.

If you have arranged a burial in your home, your vet will leave that process to you. But if you are going the cremation route, your dog will need to be taken by the vet to a crematorium.

And that’s the piece that I didn’t anticipate that ended up being heartwrenching. 👇


Just when I thought the process was over, the vet asked for help lifting Buddy into the wagon-type carrier. I had no forethought that this would be necessary, and it was truly one of the most painful parts of the entire process.

So, if you have a dog that is larger than probably about 20 lbs, know that you will need to help transport your dog from where they are laying into either a carrier or another mode of transportation your vet will use.

Again, I won’t overshare, but this specific moment hit differently for me. In the worst way possible.

Hopefully being aware and being able to anticipate that as part of the process can make that a little bit easier for you. 🙂


grief is normal when a dog passes away

Losing a dog is nearly impossible to describe or put into words. You’ll only know once you’ve experienced it.

Every person grieves in different ways. I highly recommend learning about the stages of grief as part of your preparation for this experience. It can help you make some sense of this tragic time in your life.

I can’t tell you how to grieve or how you will feel, but I hope you can find people around you to support you. That can, and often should, involve mental health professionals as well as family and friends.


Nothing will replace your dog, it’s that simple. But, there are some creative ways you can choose to memorialize your four-legged friend.

Here are some dog memorial ideas:

  • Keeping ashes to spread at favorite places and keep in a decorative urn
  • Shadow box with a paw print, fur clipping, picture, etc.
  • Artwork, mugs, clothes, etc.
  • Tattoo
  • Photo album
  • Necklace or other jewelry

Let’s look at each idea below. ⬇️


I’m grateful we chose to cremate Buddy. It has allowed us to do two things:

  1. Keep his ashes in a decorative urn on our mantle
  2. Spread some of his ashes around some of his favorite places in the world

Many at-home euthanasia services will provide you with an urn for your dog’s ashes when they are returned to you. You can also explore places like Etsy for custom urns and display options.

a memorial urn with a dogs ashes and their name

This is the one our vet provided for us. It’s simple but stylish.


Similar to a decorative urn, you can either make (shoutout to the DIYers out there) or order a shadow box to memorialize your dog. These will often include a picture, your dog’s tags, a quote, and sometimes your dog’s paw or nose print.

Again, I love Etsy for these types of purchases. You’ll find some really unique and thoughtful designs that can become beautiful memorial pieces in your home.


Nowadays you can get a custom painting or print for reasonably fair prices. While I think it’s better to find a local artist and pay them to create a piece memorializing your dog, you can also find artists/companies on places like Etsy, Instagram, or other online channels.

You can also put your dog’s face on just about anything! A t-shirt, a mug, socks… you name it and your pup’s face can be memorialized on something you wear or use on a daily basis.

You can also find nice home decor options that memorialize your dog. We received this nice dog statue as a gift from my mom and ended up wrapping Buddy’s collar around it once he passed away. It’s always on display in our living room.

a decorative dog with a collar around its neck as a memorial to a dog that passed away


If you’re not into tattoos, skip over this section.

If you have or want to get tattoos, I think a pet tattoo is one of the best ways to memorialize your dog (living or dead). I love using Pinterest for design inspiration!

Here are some dog tattoo ideas:

  • Your dog’s actual paw print
  • Your dog’s name and/or birthday/passing day
  • A portrait of your dog
  • Another visual representation of your dog and what they loved

I got a tattoo of Buddy on my forearm and now I get to see him at every moment of every day. 😀

PS- If you like this style and are in the NYC area, I loved my artist for this piece.

a tattoo can be a great memorial for a deceased dog


I can somewhat safely assume about 80% of your photos are of your dog. 😉 Taking some of your favorite photos and turning them into a photo album is a great way to memorialize your dog.

Again, there are plenty of services out there to help you do this! I personally used Chatbooks and had friends and family provide their favorite stories about Buddy which I added to the photo album.

photo albums are a great way to memorialize a dog

It doubles as decor and a precious keepsake for our family. When we miss Buddy, it’s nice to be able to open up his photo album and remember all the things everyone else loved about him!


Similar to custom clothes or prints, there are some beautiful jewelry pieces you can get to memorialize your dog.

There are even brands that will make custom urn necklaces that can hold some of your dog’s ashes.

Again, Etsy, Instagram, and other social media channels are great for finding unique custom jewelry to memorialize your pup.

a memorial necklace pet urn for ashes


The passing of a dog is a terribly challenging and painful experience. I hope that this article gave you some insight as to why choosing in-home euthanasia can be a great option for your dog’s end-of-life care.

While the cost can be higher than euthanasia at a vet’s office, the peace of having your pup’s final moments take place in the comfort of your home is priceless.

Whatever decision you make, do your best to build a support system around you during a challenging time like this. Losing a pet is a dark time and having friends and family (and mental health professionals) in your corner can give you light and hope on the dimmest days.

Time makes the pain more manageable, but our dogs stay forever in our hearts.

Have questions about dog euthanasia at home? Please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help!


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