Frequently Asked Questions
+ What are the advantages of veterinary homecare for my pet?
+ What are the advantages of veterinary homecare for me?
+ I am concerned that my pet’s quality of life is decreasing. What should I do?
In situations where there are feasible options to support the pet in its end-of-life care, owners and their pets may be referred back to their regular veterinarian for further diagnostic evaluation and treatments that cannot be provided in the home setting. If pet owners do not have a current veterinarian or prefer to have veterinary care for their pet at home, limited diagnostics to support their health may be offered, as will recommendations for supportive treatments, medications and palliative care.
+ When should I seek end-of-life consultation and support for my pet?
+ When is euthanasia appropriate?
The following questions may help you to decide whether humane euthanasia for your pet is an appropriate option. You may wish to further discuss these questions with your veterinarian, friends or family.
- Is your pet suffering from a terminal illness or debilitating disease and what is the estimated prognosis? What is the realistic ability of your family to provide the supportive care and time needed to maintain your pet’s comfort and hygiene?
- Has the normal aging process progressed to a stage where it is so painful for your pet to move that they are no longer able to enjoy life? Are pain medications no longer helpful or are their side effects undesirable?
- Is your pet still eating enough to maintain strength, energy and normal body condition or have they lost their appetite? Are they very thin or in poor body condition? Is their appetite dramatically less than what it used to be?
- Are there more “good days” than “bad days”? Ideally, it is advised to start a daily journal when you begin having concerns about your pet’s quality of life. Be sure to highlight “good days” versus “bad days” as this will help you observe trends in how your pet is feeling and guide you in the decision making process. When there are consistently more bad days than good days, or more than three consecutive bad days in a row, you should contact your veterinarian or Dr. Berkshire to discuss this with them.
- Is your pet telling you they are ready by no longer doing the things they used to love to do? It is advised to make a list of the things that your pet historically loved to do, and take note if they are no longer able to do them. Dr. Berkshire is happy to speak with you about your pet’s condition, and help you to come to a decision about the best course of action for you and your pet.
If you are still uncertain, Dr. Alice Villalobos, a well-known veterinary oncologist, published a scoring system for life quality. Having a semi-objective scale can be helpful when your pet is ill and you may be too emotional to think rationally. Please click to view the Quality of Life Scale
+ What is the humane euthanasia process like and how can I prepare?
If humane euthanasia is elected, Dr. Berkshire will discuss all the steps involved in the process. There will be time for questions should you have any to address. Dr. Berkshire’s main goal is for the entire process to be calm and relaxed, for both you and for your pet.
- If your pet is a dog, please take them for a short walk if possible before the doctor arrives so they can eliminate if needed. If your pet is a cat, please keep them in a confined room where it is easy to find them and pick them up as needed.
- Once the decision is made to proceed with humane euthanasia and there are no further questions for Dr. Berkshire to address, there will be some paperwork and consent forms to sign. In addition, you will need to decide on the type of aftercare that you would prefer (please see the Aftercare Services page of this website). Options for various keepsake memorabilia will be discussed at this time.
- Once paperwork is completed and memorabilia decided upon, payment will be finalized. Payment can be made using credit card (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover) or cash. If paying by cash, exact change is required. Unfortunately, debit cards or personal cheques are not accepted.
- It is a good idea to have your pet in a favorite location, perhaps on a comfortable and familiar bed or blanket. You are welcome (but certainly not obligated) to light a candle, play relaxing music, read a poem, say a prayer, or share some fond memories you have with your pet. Consider turning off cell phones or unplugging landlines for added privacy and to minimize disruption.
- The euthanasia process itself is performed in two steps. First, your pet will be given a combined sedative and pain injection with a small needle, so that they enter a state of deep sleep and relaxation. This typically takes about 5-20 minutes. The second step is administration of the euthanasia solution. The final injection is usually administered into a vein, so Dr. Berkshire will place a catheter to do this. In some circumstances placement of an intravenous catheter may not be possible, so an alternative method would be used. Dr. Berkshire will review any details that may be relevant to your pet’s unique condition.
- Once your pet is confirmed deceased, Dr. Berkshire will allow you to have some private time with your pet for your final goodbyes. In most cases he will step out of the home and return in approximately 10 minutes to see how everyone is doing. If more or less time is required, please discuss this with Dr. Berkshire as needed.
- Arrangements for transporting your pet to a local crematory service will be coordinated by Dr. Berkshire in advance. In most cases Dr. Berkshire will take your pet along with him after the appointment. For medium to larger sized dogs, Dr. Berkshire will require assistance to move your pet to his vehicle.
- If you elect “Private Cremation” for your pet, the ashes will usually be available for you to pick up in 3-5 business days. If you elect “Communal Cremation”, the ashes are not returned to you and are spread in a field in the Fraser Valley.
- Dr. Berkshire will notify your veterinarian of your pet’s passing.
- Grief support material will be offered to you for review. Please visit the Grief Resources page of this website for links to online resources for pet loss and grief management.
- You can phone Dr. Berkshire if you are not able to find the support you are looking for and he will do his best to help.
+ How and when can I book an appointment?
Hours of Operation:
Monday to Thrusday -- 9 am to 5 pm
Friday and Saturday -- 9 am to 3 pm
Sunday and Statutory Holidays -- Closed
After Hours Appointments -- call or text to inquire for availability (additional fees apply)
*Please Note: All inquiries will be replied to as soon as possible, however, this may take as long as 1-2 days during regular working hours and pending current work demands. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
+ Do you offer cremation services and what are my options?
If you choose cremation, you have the option of a private or general one for your pet. A general cremation means your pet will be cremated with other deceased pets and you won't be able to keep your pet's ashes. The ashes will be spread in a field in the Fraser Valley.
With a private cremation, your pet will be cremated alone and your pet’s ashes will be available for pick up after 3-5 days. If you wish, you may choose to have a special item (e.g., a blanket or a favorite toy) cremated alongside your pet. The private cremation fee includes a standard ceramic urn (available in white, pearl or black), a cedar box, or an Organza cloth pouch.
General cremations cost less than private cremations, which vary in price, depending on the weight of the pet and the type of urn selected (for further details please visit the Aftercare Services page of this website). Many people opt for a small memorial clay paw print of their pet. Ask to have these, and all memorabilia items, outlined for you.
Please note that burial of your pet in the majority of the Greater Vancouver area is not advised. As municipal bylaws can change, please contact your municipal authorities should you wish to receive up-to-date information regarding the option of pet burial.