Questions & Answers

What is animal companion Euthanasia?

We always fear losing our pets that mean so much to us. Nevertheless, that time inevitably does come. Euthanasia is a personal option that pet owners choose as a means to allow their pets to transition in a way that is gentle and peaceful.

What can I expect?

The procedure is a series of two injections. First will be an injectable sedative, that will allow your companion to drift into a calm, relaxed, pain-free anesthetic plane. The desired effect can take several minutes to occur. Once your pet is in the desired state of sleep, the second medication is then administered intravenously. There are several veins that are best used, because of their size and location. We tend to use the vessel in the back leg so that we are not in your way of being with your companion. Sometimes however, we may need to make another choice as some veins may no longer usable because of damage that may have been caused by chemotherapy, multiple catheter placements or poor blood pressure. This second injection takes effect very quickly, and will cause breathing to cease and the heart to stop naturally. During this that time your companion is asleep, there can be involuntary movements or noises, they may snore, or paddle like they are dreaming.It is very common for eyes to remain open.Sometimes a final sound is made, they may take a final deep breath, and they may lose urine or bowel.This is only a potential list; therefore, some, all or none of these can occur. Because each euthanasia is unique, we cannot predict everything that may happen. The service we offer attempts to provide you and your companion as much peace and comfort during this time of transition.

Does it hurt my companion?

The euthanasia does not hurt. If you have ever been anesthetized for surgery, it is very similar. Prior to the euthanasia, we give an injectable sedative either in the muscle or under the skin, to relieve tension, anxiety and/or pain. The sedative injection feels similar to getting a vaccine. Depending on their sensitivity, some companions feel the pinch of the initial needle, and may give us a look. Others don’t seem to notice at all. Some pets with a central nervous system disease (i.e. brain tumor, disorientation, etc) can be more vocal initially. We do our best by using small and new needles, fast acting drugs and compassion.

How will I know it's time?

One of the most common questions we get is “how do I know it is time to put my dog or cat to sleep?” We really believe in basing decisions on quality of life. Your companion’s and yours. You and your family will be the best to judge when it is time to euthanize your companion. Everyone has a different thought on quality of life. For some, it will be when their companion stops eating, wagging their tail or purring and for others it maybe as soon as a terminal diagnosis is made. Some other things to consider may be: Are they able to do the things they always enjoyed doing most? Is he/she happy to see you, and be playful? Are they able to go out and relieve themselves on their own and with dignity? While we cannot make this decision for you, we are always available by phone to discuss your questions, and listen to your concerns.

Quality of Life Scale

Pet caregivers can use this Quality of Life Scale to determine the success of Pawspice care. Score patients using a scale of: 0 to 10 (10 being ideal).
Score Criterion
0-10  HURT – Adequate pain control & breathing ability is of top concern. Trouble breathing outweighs all concerns. Is the pet’s pain well managed? Can the pet breathe properly? Is oxygen supplementation necessary?
0-10  HUNGER – Is the pet eating enough? Does hand feeding help? Does the pet need a feeding tube?
0-10  HYDRATION – Is the pet dehydrated? For patients not drinking enough water, use subcutaneous fluids daily or twice daily to supplement fluid intake.
0-10  HYGIENE – The pet should be brushed and cleaned, particularly after eliminations. Avoid pressure sores with soft bedding and keep all wounds clean.
0-10  HAPPINESS – Does the pet express joy and interest? Is the pet responsive to family, toys, etc.? Is the pet depressed, lonely, anxious, bored or afraid? Can the pet’s bed be moved to be close to family activities?
0-10  MOBILITY – Can the pet get up without assistance? Does the pet need human or mechanical help (e.g., a cart)? Does the pet feel like going for a walk? Is the pet having seizures or stumbling? (Some caregivers feel euthanasia is preferable to amputation, but an animal with limited mobility yet still alert, happy and responsive can have a good quality of life as long as caregivers are committed to helping their pet.)
0-10  MORE GOOD DAYS THAN BAD – When bad days outnumber good days, quality of life might be too compromised. When a healthy human-animal bond is no longer possible, the caregiver must be made aware that the end is near. The decision for euthanasia needs to be made if the pet is suffering. If death comes peacefully and painlessly at home, that is okay.
TOTAL  A total over 35 points represents acceptable life quality to continue with pet hospice (Pawspice).
Original concept, Oncology Outlook, by Dr. Alice Villalobos, Quality of Life Scale Helps Make Final Call, VPN, 09/2004; scale format created for author’s book, Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond, Blackwell Publishing, 2007. Revised for the International Veterinary Association of Pain Management (IVAPM) 2011 Palliative Care and Hospice Guidelines. Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alice Villalobos & Wiley-Blackwell.
Alice Villalobos, DVM, DPNAP, a renowned veterinary oncologist, introduced “Pawspice”, a quality of life program for terminally ill pets. Pawspice starts at diagnosis and includes symptom management, gentle standard care and transitions into hospice as the pet nears death. Dr. Villalobos developed this scoring system to help family members and veterinary teams assess a pet’s life quality.
Can other pets be present during the service?

This is a big transition for them too. We welcome allowing the other companions in your home to remain present during our visit. We have found that even high energy dogs who want to steal our attention, will often settle on their own after a few minutes, and give us the space we need to proceed. That being said, the decision is up to you, and if you feel that the presence of your other pets will distract you, or bring you stress, they can be kept in another space during our visit.

What is cremation?

Cremation is an age-old, traditional, clean and rapid method of reducing a loved one’s remains: The pet is gently laid on the hearth of the crematory, the door is shut until the cremation is complete and the remains are then gathered with care. Cremation of an average-sized pet takes about two hours. Remains from individual cremations are placed in an urn chosen by the owner. An official certificate of cremation is enclosed. Most importantly, we take extra care to return ashes personally and not through the mail.

What is communal versus private cremation?

Final Journey offers both communal and private cremation after-care service. We use Final Gift crematory (finalgift.com).With a communal cremation, several companions share the cremation space. This increases efficiency, and cost. Communal cremains (ashes) are NOT returned to anyone. The crematory has a beautiful “garden of memories” at their facility where the cremains are scattered. A private cremation is for families who would like their companion’s cremains(ashes) returned to them. In this case, your companion would be placed in a single chamber unit, and cremated alone. The cremains, of your companion only, will be delivered back to your home by a member of the Final Journey team.

How do I schedule?

You can schedule an appointment with us by calling our office at 203-645-5570. The time we are available varies based on our other appointments, and hospital schedules. We do offer some evening appointments. We recommend giving us 24 hours notice to be able to get out to you. We certainly understand that this is a very difficult event to schedule, and we make our best effort to serve as many families as we can. We are not designed as an emergency service, but will certainly come same-day if we are available, however we cannot guarantee our availability in that situation. There are times throughout the year that our office may close due to personal or professional obligations. We will leave notice of this on our phone message. Please contact us at 203-645-5570, or through our Contact page here: CONTACT US

Paperwork and Payment?

There are forms to fill out so this service can best fulfill your requests. You can download the form HERE, or we will bring them with us. Payment will be accepted in the form of cash, check, and credit card payments (Visa, M/C, Discover, Amex). At this time, we do not accept Care Credit. Both paperwork and payment transactions will be processed prior to the procedure.

What is your travel area?

Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Bristol, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Guilford, Hamden, Meriden, Middlebury, Middlefield, Middletown, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newtown, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Plantsville, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Shelton, Seymour, Southbury, Southington, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, Watertown, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, Wolcott, Woodbridge, Woodbury. ** towns outside of our listed service area are subject to additional fees, and limited availability.

What to do if your pet has died at home
If your pet is under the care of a veterinarian at the time of his or her passing, he or she can guide you through next steps. However, if your pet dies in your home, there are options to consider. Whether you simply want the body to be removed from your home, or you wish to permanently memorialize your pet in some special way, the choice is yours.
  • Depending on your decision, you may have to keep the body in your home for a short period of time. A well-cooled body can be held for up to 24 hours, but the sooner it can be taken somewhere else, the better.
  • Placing the wrapped animal in a refrigerator or freezer is recommended, with one exception—if you plan to have a necropsy (autopsy) performed to determine cause of death, the body should not be frozen (refrigeration is still okay). It is essential that you contact a veterinarian as soon as possible if you would like a necropsy.
  • If the animal is too big to be put into a refrigerator or freezer, the body should be placed on a cement floor or concrete slab, which is the best way to draw heat away from the carcass. Do not cover or wrap the body in this instance. Doing so will trap in heat and not allow the body temperature to cool.
  • As a last resort, you may keep the body in the coldest area of your home, out of the sun, packed with bags of ice. In this case, the body should be placed in a plastic bag to prevent it from getting wet.
  • Contact us and we can pick up your companion and take care of their after life care.

Contact Final Journey at (203) 645-5570 to talk to us about your needs.

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