Euthanasia and Care of Pet Remains

When it is time, we provide humane euthanasia in a quiet and compassionate place. The information below is to guide you through what happens during a euthanasia visit. We hope this information makes this hard task a little easier for you.

What to expect during the visit

The first part of a euthanasia visit is a consultation with a Veterinarian to answer any questions you have and to discuss treatment options, if any. If we have not seen your pet recently, a physical examination will be performed. When the decision has been made to end a pet’s life, the owner will sign a consent form. If the legal owner of the pet is not available, or if the pet has bitten anyone in the past 14 days, please let us know.

For most pets, euthanasia is usually performed with a series of two injections. The first injection is a sedative; it helps the pet become relaxed and sleepy over a period of one to ten minutes. The injection is given into the leg or rump muscle and may sting a little bit very briefly. The second injection is an anesthetic drug that will stop the heart, and is given into a vein. The anesthetic works quickly, and most pets stop breathing within a minute.

Most pets relax and go to sleep just as they do for anesthesia. Just like when they undergo anesthesia, the eyes remain open. As they relax, a pet may urinate or defecate. Rarely, a pet will take a large gasp for his or her final breath, or may have muscle tremors. These reactions are rare, and the brain is already at rest when they occur – the pet is not aware of them.

For tiny pets like hamsters or small birds, anesthetic gas may be used instead of a sedation injection. The second shot may be given into the chest if the veins are too small to accommodate a needle.

Questions You’ll Be Asked

For a euthanasia, you will be asked to make some decisions for your pet and your family. If there is anything we can do to help you through this sad time, please let us know.

You’ll need to decide if you are going to be present during the euthanasia. This is a very personal decision and there is no right or wrong answer – it is just a matter of whether you prefer to be present during these last moments. Family members and friends are of course welcome. For more information and helping Children cope with pet loss, please click here.

You’ll also need to let us know how you would like your pet’s remains to be cared for. If you wish to have your pet’s remains cremated, we provide this service through Bubbling Well in Napa. If you wish your pet’s ashes to be returned to you, the pet will be privately cremated and the ashes will be returned to our hospital in a wooden urn in 2-3 weeks. If you do not wish the ashes to be returned, they will be scattered at the Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park in Napa. If you wish your pet to be buried in your own yard, you can take the remains home with you.

You’ll also be asked if you’d like a Clay Paw. Each pet is memorialized with an imprint of the paw made here in clay. We inscribe the pet’s name, bake the clay here and the paw is baked and mailed to you in 2-3 weeks. There is no fee for the Clay Paw. Please make sure we have the correct spelling of your pet’s name.


We know that pet loss is hard. Please let us know if there is anything we can do to make this sad time any easier.