Questions & Answers

What is companion (pet) 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 allows your companion to drift into a calm, relaxed, pain-free anesthetic state. 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 to use because of their size and location. We tend to use the vessel in the back leg so that we are not in the way of you being with your companion. Sometimes, however, we may need to make another choice as some veins may no longer be usable because of damage 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 beating. During this time that 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 their eyes to remain open. Sometimes they may take a final deep breath. They may leak urine or bowel contents.This is only a potential list; therefore, some, all or none of these may occur. Because each euthanasia is unique, we cannot predict everything that may happen. We do our best to provide you and your companion with as much peace and comfort during this time of transition as possible.

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 like getting a vaccine. Depending on their sensitivity, some companions feel the pinch of the initial needle and react to varying degrees. 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 to minimize any discomfort by using small 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).

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 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 services. We use Final Gift crematory (

Communal cremation means several companions share the same cremation space. Communal cremains (ashes) are NOT returned to the family.

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 only your companion will be delivered back to your home by a member of our Final Journey team.

Final Gift has partnered with for creating memorial reefs with your companion’s communally cremated remains. There are also options for privately cremated companions. More information can be found by visiting

How do I schedule?

You can schedule an appointment with us by calling our call center at 203-645-5570. The times we are available will vary based on our other appointments. We do offer some limited evening appointments. We recommend giving us at least 48 hours notice. We certainly understand that this can be very difficult to schedule. We make our best effort to serve as many families as possible. We are not designed as an emergency service but will certainly come same-day if we are available. Please contact us at 203-645-5570.

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?

LocationAdditional ChargeLocationAdditional ChargeLocationAdditional Charge
Beacon FallsKent$50Ridgefield
Berlin $50Killingworth$75Rocky Hill$50
Clinton$75New Britain$50Warren$50
Cromwell$50New CanaanWashington$50
DanburyNew FairfieldWaterbury
DarienNew HavenWatertown
Deep River$75New Milford$50West Hartford$75
DerbyNewington$50West Haven
EastonNorth BranfordWeston
East Hampton$50North HavenWestport
East HavenNorwalkWethersfield$50
Essex$75Old Saybrook$75Wilton

*Any towns NOT listed, please call for travel availability and pricing.

What if your pet has died at home?

If your pet dies in your home, there are options to consider. Whether you simply want your pet 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 cool floor (cement, for example). This is the best way to draw heat away from the body. Do not cover or wrap the body in this instance. Doing so will trap in heat and not allow the body 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 for either private or communal cremation.

What if my pet is anxious, protective, painful or aggressive?

If you feel your companion fits into one of these categories, you may want to reach out to your primary veterinarian for some oral medications that can help your pet feel more relaxed for the visit.

Will the Final Journey team be wearing face masks?

The Final Journey team is currently wearing face masks for everyone’s protection. We understand that some clients are immunocompromised and want to make sure they are safe. If you feel that this will upset your pet, please let us know before we enter your home and we will remove the masks outside.