Below you’ll find answers to our most frequently asked questions about palliative care and euthanasia for your pet.
Please contact us if you have a question that is not addressed.
Frequently Asked Questions
+ Are you open for business during the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, can I be with my pet?
We are open for business and here to help you and your beloved pet as best and as safely as possible. Please refer to the Lifting Stars Pet Homecare COVID-19 Pre-Consultation Letter for more information.
Yes, you can be with your pet for the appointment. We ask all who are present for the appointment to wear facial masks. If desired, a maximum of two family members can be within six feet of the veterinarian and during the euthanasia. If additional family members or friends are present, we ask that they adhere to requirements outlined in the Lifting Stars Pet Homecare COVID-19 Pre-consultation Letter and that they remain at least six feet away from the veterinarian at all times.
We thank you for your understanding and cooperation with these precautionary measures.
+ What are your COVID-19 restrictions?
+ What are the advantages of veterinary home care for my pet?
There are many! At-home visits allow pets to avoid a stressful trip to the hospital. These journeys can be difficult for timid cats, nervous dogs, or pets with underlying health conditions that can be exacerbated by stress. Veterinary home care is less taxing than in-hospital care for pets that are in pain, or for those having laboured breathing or difficulty walking.
Hospitals do their best to make visits as comfortable as possible. However, unusual sounds, clinical smells, and memories of previous visits nonetheless contribute to our pets’ anxieties, despite our best intentions. In the home environment, pets are relaxed and comfortable. Because of this, a home visit allows for a more accurate assessment of your pet’s condition.
+ What are the advantages of veterinary homecare for me?
Pet homecare alleviates stress for you just as much as it does for your pet. It isn’t always easy to put your cat in a carrier or to move a large and potentially immobile dog. Home visits eliminate the stress associated with the journey and the anxiety of waiting in a busy veterinary hospital for your appointment to begin.
At end-of-life, you can rest assured that your pet is incompetent and compassionate hands in the privacy and comforts of home. Homecare simplifies the complex end-of-life process and allows you to focus on being with your loved ones until the very end.
+ What is veterinary palliative care?
If you schedule a Quality of Life Consultation appointment, we will help you to better understand your pet’s condition, discuss how the illness is expected to progress, guide you in end-of-life decision making, and prepare the optimal palliative care plan for you and your beloved companion.
+ When is it time to consider euthanasia (“putting my pet to sleep”)?
Many factors affect your pet’s quality of life and the bond you share with them. Is your pet’s pain adequately controlled? Can they breathe normally? Are they still enjoying interactions with you, with other animals, and with their environment? Are they tolerant of supportive care? Are you equipped with the financial and physical resources to provide them with an easeful quality of life?
We are here to help you answer these questions. In a Quality of Life Consultation appointment, we will thoroughly and compassionately assess all of the options available to you and your pet. If necessary, we will walk you through every step of the euthanasia process and leave the ultimate decision in your hands.
+ How can I accurately assess my pet’s quality of life?
Here are two tools that you can use to assess your pet’s quality of life:
- Start a daily journal of good and bad days when you begin having concerns about your pet’s quality of life. Highlight how your pet is feeling over time. When there are three or more bad days in a row or consistently more bad days than good, contact your veterinarian to discuss this with them.
- Make a list of three to five of your pet’s favourite activities. For example, cats could enjoy being groomed, laying in their favourite sunny spot, eating meals and treats, or chasing a laser pointer. Dogs could enjoy playing with their ball, attention from family members or friends, eating meals and treats, going for walks, or playing with other animals. When advanced illness begins to impede these enjoyments, it is time to think about your pet’s quality of life. Ideally, we do not want to wait until our pets’ favourite things cease to offer any pleasure for them.
We also have adopted an interactive survey that will help you assess your pet’s quality of life. That survey can be found here.
Dr. Alice Villalobos, DVM, has published a scoring system for the quality of life called “The HHHHHMM Scale”. According to this scale, a pet’s quality of life can be assessed in seven categories: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility, and More good days than bad. Our survey is an adaptation of this scale and addresses these by asking guiding questions.
Below you will find additional guiding questions that may be helpful in assessing your pet’s quality of life.
- Is your pet suffering from a terminal illness or a debilitating disease?
- What is the realistic ability of your family to provide the supportive care necessary to maintain your pet’s comfort and hygiene?
- Has the normal aging process progressed to a stage where the pain is interfering with your pet’s ability to enjoy life?
- Are pain medications no longer helpful, or are their side effects outweighing the benefits?
- Is your pet still eating enough to maintain their strength and energy?
- Can your pet still walk with a reasonable degree of comfort and eliminate inappropriate areas?
- If incontinence or inappropriate elimination is an issue, are you able to maintain the hygiene of your pet and home while still preserving your pet’s dignity?
- Have they lost their appetite?
- Are they very thin, or in poor body condition?
- Are there more good days than bad days?
- Is your pet no longer doing the things they used to love to do?
+ What is the humane euthanasia process like and how can I prepare?
The first step in an at-home Humane Euthanasia appointment is a consultation in which our mobile veterinarian will review your pet’s health condition, discuss considerations for palliative care, and the appropriateness of humane euthanasia. If you decide that humane euthanasia is the best course of action, the veterinarian will review all the steps involved in the process with you. There will be time for any questions you would like to address. Our main goal is to make the entire process calm, comfortable, and relaxed for you and your pet.
If your pet is a dog, please take them for a short walk before the doctor arrives so they can eliminate if needed. We understand that this may not be possible if your dog has severe mobility concerns. If your pet is a cat, please keep them in an area where it is easy to find them when we arrive. Some cats have a tendency to hide when visitors arrive, so please close doors to areas where it could be difficult to find and gain access to them (for example, close doors to bedrooms so your cat cannot hide under the bed).
Next, there will be some paperwork and consent forms to sign. This will also be the point at which payment is taken. You will need to decide on the type of cremation that you would prefer (please see Crematory Services for more information). Options for keepsake memorabilia including clay or ceramic paw prints and fur-trimming will also be discussed at this time.
It is a good idea to have your pet in a favourite location near the main entryway to your home. For example, in 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. Please review the COVID-19 restrictions prior to the appointment and notify us if there are any concerns.
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 three to ten minutes.
The second step is the administration of the euthanasia solution. This injection is usually administered into a vein and is facilitated by the placement of an intravenous butterfly catheter. The final euthanasia injection typically takes approximately five to twenty seconds to take effect, depending on the size of your pet.
Once your pet is confirmed deceased, we will leave you to some private time with your pet for your final goodbyes. In most cases, we will return in approximately ten minutes. If more or less time is required, please discuss this with us before the procedure.
We will make arrangements to transport your pet for cremation at Until We Meet Again Pet Memorial Centre in North Vancouver. In most cases, we will take your pet with us directly after the euthanasia. For medium to larger sized dogs, we will require assistance to move your pet into the vehicle.
If you select “Private Cremation” for your pet, the ashes will be available for you to pick up in approximately five to ten business days. There are three options for picking up your pet's ashes. First, the ashes can be delivered to your regular veterinarian as a courtesy service. Second, you can pick them up at Until We Meet Again Pet Memorial Center in North Vancouver, or third, you can pay an additional fee for home delivery.
If you elect “Communal Cremation," the ashes are not returned to you and are spread on a permanently designated meadow in the Fraser Valley.
We will notify your veterinarian of your pet’s passing. We also have grief support material available upon request. Please visit the Grief Resources page of this website for links to online resources for pet loss and grief management.
+ Will you sedate my pet before administering the euthanasia injection?
+ Can my children be present for my pet’s euthanasia? How about my friends?
Yes. Friends and family members, including children can attend the euthanasia appointment.
Being present at the procedure can be an important emotional experience for some children. However, it can be traumatizing to others. The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement provides a succinct guide which outlines key considerations for helping children through the loss of a beloved pet:
Additionally, please review our Grief Support resources for further guidance on the subject. These guides can help you decide whether your children are ready to attend the euthanasia appointment and to help you prepare them if they are.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a maximum of two family members will be allowed within six feet of the euthanasia, and all observers will be required to wear masks for the duration of the procedure. Please consider that children present will be asked to adhere to these guidelines as well.
+ How and when can I book an appointment?
The most efficient way to book your appointment is by filling out our online Request An Appointment form. We will follow up with you as soon as possible - usually between one to three business days*. Our online form is our preferred method of contact, but if desired, you may call or email as well. Please be advised calling or emailing will likely result in a slower response time.
If possible, please provide us as much notice as possible before your desired appointment date. We understand that advance notice is not always possible and will try our best to accommodate you.
Lifting Stars Pet Homecare is not an emergency service. If your pet is in a state of emergency, please contact your regular veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency clinic.
* Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in demand for our services. We will do our best to contact you in our intended time frame, but inquiries will be addressed in the order they are received. Thank you for your understanding.
Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday: 9 am to 5 pm
Weekends and Statutory Holidays: Closed
+ Do you offer cremation services and what are my options?
+ I would like to arrange for the burial of my pet. Is this possible?
If you wish to bury your pet, it is your responsibility to check with your local municipality for up-to-date regulations on burial for euthanized pets. Please ensure that you follow these regulations. Pets can only be buried on private property that you own or have permission to use. If you are interested in arranging for the burial of your pet, please let us know in advance.
+ Where is your service area?
Lifting Stars Pet Homecare is based in Vancouver, BC, and serves clients in Greater Vancouver. Service areas include North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Delta, Surrey, Langley, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge.
Humane Euthanasia appointments are offered in all areas listed above.
Due to travel time constraints, at-home Quality of Life Consultation appointments are only offered in Vancouver. Online Quality of Life Consultation appointments are offered in all areas listed above.
+ How much does it cost and how do I pay?
All of our updated costs of services can be found on our Services and Fees page.
Contactless payment by e-transfer is preferred and can be emailed to email@example.com. If needed, we can also accept cash (exact change required) or credit card (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover accepted; credit card processing fee will be applied).
Quality of Life Consultation appointments includes a house call and a one-hour consultation with the veterinarian.
Humane Euthanasia appointments include a house call, a consultation with the veterinarian, the humane euthanasia procedure, and the cremation fee. The cost for this service is dependent on the weight of your pet, and on the selected cremation service.
Additional Travel Fees apply for clients living outside of central Vancouver.