Need help finding affordable vet for dog's home euthenasia
August 28, 2013 9:25 AM   Subscribe

We live in the greater Boston area. We are facing the decision to put our very elderly black lab down, probably within the next few days. He can't walk and moving him at all causes terrible pain. We live in a 2nd floor walk-up with even more stairs down to the street. He is very heavy: 95 lbs. Bringing him to the vet to be put down would cause him awful pain, so we want to find a vet who will come to our house to do it. Our regular vet won't make a house call. I actually found a place that will cremate him, if we bring his body there ourselves, for a reasonable rate. But I can't find a vet that will come to our house for less than $350. We simply cannot afford this. Any recommendations?
posted by primate moon to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry. You've probably already found this, but in case it's helpful I came across this directory of vets providing at-home euthanasia in Massachusetts (most of whom appear to be Boston-area)
posted by usonian at 9:34 AM on August 28, 2013

How much less is the rate for in-office?

If it is worth the price difference, I would say get the vet to prescribe some heavy duty doggy pain pills and/or muscle relaxants for the trip down the stairs and to the vet. That way he shouldn't be in pain for the trip.

Sorry for your loss.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:47 AM on August 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

I am so sorry for your loss. I am only asking the following question because I know in difficult times it is hard to think of things like this.

Can you ask your regular vet for a recommendation of an affordable house call vet for this time?

I ask because you presumably like your vet, and his or her bedside manner. Your vet might be able to suggest someone similar.

Big hugs to you all.
posted by bilabial at 10:01 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got some references from my vet's office, but they--and all the others I've found online--are very expensive.

Crystalinne, your suggestion is actually a good one. We already have some pain meds prescribed the other day. I'm going to call my vet to ask about this, dosage, etc. Thanks!
posted by primate moon at 10:05 AM on August 28, 2013

Five months ago we had to put down our dog, and he was large (100+ pounds) and going to the vet always made him agitated and freaked out, and when the time came to put him down, our vet office did not do house calls. Like you we were faced with the choice of getting a large dog who is already in discomfort in and out of a car. Our vet gave us a list of vets who do housecalls for euthanasia.

The vet we landed with charged something similar to what you are being quoted, and part of that charge was based on the size of the dog (larger dogs require higher dosages.) It also included cremation, which for us was a big help, and we could either elect a mass cremation with other pets or an individual cremation and have the ashes returned to us for an extra fee.

So far so good. Now I am a data point of one, but if I could do it again, we'd probably go the route Crystalinne suggests, and use our regular vet. The vet who showed up to put our dog down was barely competent. She tried and failed three times to get a line into our dog, and finally injected the fatal dose directly into his liver. Our dog was sedated and did not appear to be in any discomfort, but it was very distressing for us to realize that we had called someone in who was just not good at being a vet and so made her living putting animals down.

The next time we get a dog, we are finding a new vet who will make that house call when the time comes.

I understand that cost is a major factor, but I would urge you to make sure your dog's final moments are in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, and this may not be the best place to find the cheapest possible solution.
posted by ambrosia at 11:46 AM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Note: I don't want to suggest that all home-call vets are incompetent, but it can be hard to judge beforehand.
posted by ambrosia at 11:47 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pay the $350. Ask for a monthly payback plan from the vet. A few years down the line when you look back at this moment in time, you will be VERY glad you did, rather than dragging your dog to the vet to get it done there, and regretting your decision.

Good luck.
posted by nanook at 1:27 PM on August 28, 2013

You really really do not want to be responsible for taking your dog's body to be cremated. They start to leak fluids, are super unwieldy to carry and you will be a complete wreck. Even if you somehow got help putting his body in a box for transport, it is not an easy solution. Talk to your regular vet about the office costs for putting him to sleep, as well as doing the cremation through their office.

I'm so so sorry :-(
posted by barnone at 2:50 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dr. John H. de Jong of the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic is who I had come out so our elderly cat could die at home, rather than in a strange place. He also took the body with him for cremation, but that's a different service.

But, the price is going to be borderline -- might be within your budget, might not be, I can't be sure (a cat is not the same as a dog, and it has been a few years).

He's a nice guy.

Also, a family member of mine uses a different mobile vet he swears by in the Cambridge area, so if de Jong doesn't work out for you, PM me, and I will call him for that info to see if there is any better price to be had.
posted by instead of three wishes at 4:22 PM on August 28, 2013

Thanks, all. for your ideas.

We are going to do as Crystalline suggested: give Homer a large dose of pain meds (in consultation with our vet), and bring him to the vet's office. Their fee is half of what the others were asking and includes "dealing" with the body.

By the way, when I say we can't afford the $350, I mean we don't have the money, at all. Not just that it would be difficult to fit into our budget. This has been a very black and white issue: we plain old don't have the $350.

Anyway, we're satisfied with this plan. We should know within the next twelve hours or so if we will be going through with it.

Thanks to everyone.
posted by primate moon at 4:41 PM on August 28, 2013

Update: today we put our dear old fellow to sleep. We gave him a dosage of Benadryl prescribed by the vet in order to bring him to their office. Rather than doping him up it gave him the ease to actually walk down all the stairs and get in the car by himself. This was confusing and upsetting as he seemed so normal, wagging his tail and smiling at us. But the vet helped us come to terms with it. She gave him the drugs and he fell asleep peacefully, laying on his blankie with his little stuffed tiger and in the arms of my daugher and me.

Thank you, all, for your help.
posted by primate moon at 3:47 PM on August 30, 2013

Ohhh, tears and hugs. What a hard, brave and difficult thing you did today. I'm so so so beyond sorry for your great loss. I'm so glad you were able to get him down the stairs easily and without trauma. I'm sure it must have been quite confusing to see him like that after so many months of struggle, but nobody in this difficult situation ever thinks they made the decision too soon. Take care of each other this weekend, and in the weeks to come. You will be in all of our thoughts. ((Hugs))
posted by barnone at 5:28 PM on August 30, 2013

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