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Putting a dog down is an incredibly difficult decision to make. Whether your pup is facing injury, illness, or old age, it can be hard to know when it’s the right time to opt for euthanasia. When you’re most concerned about your dog’s care and comfort in their final days, the cost of care is one of the last things you want to think about. In short, the price varies depending on your location, the size of your dog, and whether you opt for euthanasia in the home or at a vet’s office.

Learn more about the cost of euthanasia, when it’s necessary, and what the process looks like to best prepare for the situation if and when it arises.

When Is Euthanasia Necessary?

It’s important to always consult with your vet to help you decide the course of action for your dog’s end-of-life care and if humane euthanasia is the best option. Oftentimes, it’s recommended to euthanize your pet when their quality of life inhibits them from performing daily activities such as eating, drinking, walking, and relieving themselves.

Coping with the loss of a pet is never easy, which is why it’s especially important to keep in mind your dog’s quality of life versus your own desire to have them stay as long as possible. Here are a few questions to consider when it comes to a dog’s deteriorating health:3

●      Is your dog in pain?

●      Is your dog facing an incurable illness?

●      Is your dog unable to receive treatment for their injury or illness?

●      Has your dog stopped eating or drinking?

●      Does your dog struggle to urinate or defecate without assistance?

●      Does your vet recommend euthanasia?

These questions alone may not determine whether or not you should humanely euthanize your pet, but asking yourself these questions can assist you in your decision. If you choose to move forward with euthanasia, you’ll likely want to better understand the process to give you peace of mind that you’re doing the right thing for your dog.

How Does Euthanasia Work?

Euthanasia is a humane IV injection to help your dog pass peacefully and relieve them of pain. While this process may look a little different for each dog — as circumstances for euthanasia vary — owners commonly like to celebrate their dog’s life before preparing for their vet appointment.

Your dog’s final day

Before their dog’s vet appointment, many pet owners will plan activities their dog loves, whether that be a car ride, a trip to the dog park, or allowing them to indulge in their favorite human food. This often happens when the dog is older, and some owners may not have the luxury of time to do this with their pet due to illness or injury. Regardless of your circumstances, showing your pet love prior to the procedure will help them feel more comfortable before they pass.

Prior to this, you will want to discuss with your vet any memorabilia or keepsakes you’d like to have of your dog, such as an engraving of their pawprint, or an urn with their ashes if you opt for a private cremation. If you decide to do an at-home burial for your dog, arranging that with your vet prior to euthanasia will help the process go more smoothly.

What to expect in the vet’s office

Most often, euthanasia happens in a veterinary office, but some vets will do house calls. Check with your vet to see what your options are. In either case, your dog will be given a tranquilizer to relax. At this time, you’ll be able to spend some private time with your dog as they’re relaxing. It’s not required that you stay with your pet, but some owners prefer to be with their dogs in their final moments.

For the euthanasia procedure itself, your dog will be injected via IV with a variation of the medication pentobarbital that will painlessly stop brain and heart functions.4 Your vet may use an alternative to the medication, as there has been a shortage of pentobarbital in recent years.5 Alternatives include potassium chloride, which induces cardiac arrest in dogs under anesthesia. Upon administering the medication, your dog will peacefully pass on in moments.

How Much Does It Cost To Put a Dog Down?

The cost for euthanizing a dog varies depending on the size of the dog, where you live, and the facility you choose to go through for the procedure. When paying out-of-pocket, veterinary clinics may cost more, whereas groups like the Humane Society typically offer less expensive options. For example, Animal Humane Society offers end-of-life euthanasia for dogs for $90, and additional fees for cremation, depending on whether you opt for a private cremation or a communal cremation with other pets in the facility.6  Overall, the average cost of dog euthanasia can range from $50 to upwards of $1,000 if you opt for private home care.7

Does pet insurance cover euthanasia?

Each pet insurance provider operates differently, meaning they may offer varying coverage for end-of-life expenses from euthanasia to cremation or burial. Many insurance companies do cover the costs of pet euthanasia. At MetLife1, our dog insurance plans may offer end-of-life care benefits like euthanasia, cremation, and burial benefits that could help offset the costs of your companion’s death.2

Preparing for End-of-Life Expenses

While no one wants to think about the loss of a pet, planning for when that time comes can help to ensure you and your pet are both comfortable and prepared. Feelings of guilt are completely normal, but it’s important to remember the love you have for your dog and the quality of life you gave them in their years here.

Pet insurance plans like those offered by MetLife can help offset costs and leave you financially prepared for end-of-life expenses for your dog, so you have one less thing to think about when it comes to your four-legged friend.

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “How Do I Know When it’s Time?,” Ohio State University

4 “Easing a Dog’s Passing,” American Kennel Club

5 “The pentobarbital shortage you might not have known about,” American Animal Hospital Association

6 “End-of-life services,” Animal Humane Society

7 “How Do You Know When to Put a Pet Down?,” PetMD