The cost to put a dog down goes much deeper than just the amount of money that comes out of your wallet.
The emotional toll may outweigh the financial burden for many dog owners. But, even though ending the life of a treasured canine companion is very difficult, it is helpful to be aware of the costs and the options you have. This awareness can help you plan for both the financial and emotional impacts.
Understanding the process of euthanizing a dog is part of a strategy for doing what’s right for both your pet and you and your family.
What is Pet Euthanasia?
Pet euthanasia is the term given to the process of putting an animal to sleep humanely. Most often, this is done when a dog has a medical condition that severely reduces its quality of life or leaves them in constant or incurable pain.
When a dog is suffering, they are not enjoying their life. And that’s not right for them or you.
It can be hard to realize when you’re living in the moment and constantly providing care and support for your dog, but there is never a need to prolong your dog’s suffering.
Putting your dog down won’t be easy, but it is preferable to watching them limp around or cry out in pain with no relief.
Who Provides Pet Euthanasia Services?
A veterinarian, or a veterinarian technician licensed to do so, usually performs euthanasia of dogs. Trained to administer medications that end a dog’s life peacefully and without pain, they may hold certifications or permits from the state where they practice. The last thing you want to do is make a dog suffer more during the process of putting them down.
How Much Does it Cost to Put a Dog Down?
Putting down a dog can be expensive, and the cost to put a dog to sleep can differ greatly depending on where the procedure is performed and what other services are included. It is easy to spend $400 or more on all aspects of care, including sedation, humane euthanization, and the burial or cremation of your dog.
There are a few basic businesses that provide dog euthanasia services, and each has their own price structure:
Veterinarian Clinics Euthanasia Services
Most all veterinarian clinics perform euthanasia services for dogs. This could be your dog’s regular veterinarian’s clinic, or one more convenient depending on your specific circumstances.
While prices vary by city, state and individual facility, the general range to euthanize a dog is $75 to $200.
Larger dogs generally cost more to euthanize than smaller dogs as they require a greater amount of the medication necessary to put them to sleep. This medication is the primary cost of the euthanasia procedure.
Cremation costs are often in addition, and depend on the weight of the dog and whether or not you wish your dog to be cremated individually (and provided ashes) or as part of a group cremation.
Veterinarian In-Home Euthanasia Services
Many dog owners opt to have a veterinarian or licensed veterinarian tech come to the home to perform a euthanasia procedure. This can be because they don’t want to make their pets nervous or upset by bringing them to a vet and subjecting them to further distress. It can also be more comfortable for the owner to undergo this experience in familiar surroundings rather than a vet’s examination room.
Your vet may offer this service but if not, there are vets who specialize in this. In addition to the technical aspects they perform, their experience with this process also often makes them better at helping you with the immediate emotional burdens involved.
In-home euthanasia services usually cost more than those provided in the vet’s facility because they require additional time and travel. But there are also many accounts of a pet’s longtime vet who performs euthanasia services for only their own costs involved. This depends on the relationship you have with your vet, of course.
Animal Charitable Organizations
Some charitable foundations and organizations help offset the costs of euthanasia services, and some non-profits offer discounted euthanasia services. The availability of these services depends on where you live. Some also are provide support or services for low-income pet owners. You can search locally for such organizations.
PetSmart Euthanasia Services (and Other Chain Pet Store Hospitals)
PetSmart is a national franchise chain of pet stores with affiliated animal hospitals under the Banfield name. The cost to euthanize your dog at PetSmart may be cheaper than your local vet since they are a national franchise. You could save some money if they offer the service in your area.
How Much Does it Cost to Put a Dog to Sleep at PetSmart?
The cost will vary depending on the location, but a recent large city (Los Angeles) PetSmart quote for a dog was $132 for their euthanasia package.
What is the Cheapest Way to Put a Dog Down?
Shop Around for Prices
It’s entirely possible that you will find different rates available in your area if you call around to a few veterinarians, organizations, and chain pet store hospitals. More than ever before, veterinarian costs range widely from vet to vet for the same exact services, and dog euthanasia is no exception.
The least expensive way to put a dog down is by approaching veterinary service companies, charities, and local veterinarians to see if they can provide euthanasia at a discount or even for free. If you are in a particularly difficult financial situation, make that clear to the provider. It never can hurt to ask.
Can I Put My Dog Down Myself?
While it may be very tempting to try to take matters into your own hands, it is not generally a recommended or acceptable practice. It is quite often illegal. Some pet owners use combinations of sedatives and other drugs like sleeping pills and Benadryl to put their dogs down themselves.
This certainly costs less than having a professional perform the procedure, but it also introduces a number of other complications and factors to consider.
In addition to being illegal in most areas, it is also unfortunately likely to cause your dog to suffer more. Inexpert administration of medicines can cause tremendous pain for your dog, so it is much more advisable to work with local and regional veterinarians to obtain the resources you need at a price point that is manageable for you.
Opting to try and euthanize your dog yourself may also leave you in a bit of a predicament when you are trying to dispose of your dog’s remains. Instead of handling the euthanasia process in a controlled and planned manner, you may end up having to handle, package, and transport your dog to a facility for cremation or burial, and that can become an added emotional burden.
What Will Happen During the Euthanasia Procedure?
During the procedure, a veterinarian will carefully explain what will happen. Owners and families typically have an opportunity to ask questions so the vet can put them at ease. You should be sure to discuss ahead of time whether you can stay with your dog during the procedure and if you can have time alone with them after it is over.
Those details are essential to ensure that you and your dog are as comfortable as possible in the moments leading up to the procedure, during it, and afterward.
When it is time, your vet will typically perform an intramuscular injection of a sedative that rapidly puts them to sleep, losing consciousness. Then, while your dog is resting comfortably and unaware of its surroundings, the veterinarian will administer sodium pentobarbital intravenously.
Sodium pentobarbital is a fast-acting, highly toxic drug designed for performing euthanasia on large animals. Your veterinarian or another qualified provider will administer a dose calibrated to the weight of your dog, ensuring that it takes effect quickly, stopping their heart with no pain.
A typical fatal dose will put your pet to sleep in less than thirty seconds. Keep in mind that laws vary from state to state, so there is some variation in who is authorized to euthanize dogs and the methods they may legally use. So it’s a good idea to ask questions in advance to make sure you understand the process.
What Happens Next?
Your dog will need to be either buried or cremated after euthanization.
If you elected to euthanize your pet at home, there might be an ancillary charge for your veterinarian to remove their remains from your home. Although possible in some areas of the country, it is generally not feasible to bury a pet at home.
Cremating your dog’s remains can be done in one of two ways. They can be cremated as part of a group of pets, and then their ashes are typically scattered in a communal remembrance area, like a garden or memorial site.
The other option you may elect is to have your dog cremated individually. That will cost more than a communal cremation. But, if you go with an individualized option, you can bring the ashes of your dog home in an urn for burial or to keep as a memorial.
Some veterinarians offer a complete package that includes putting your dog to sleep as well as their cremation, memorial, and burial.
Burial after the cremation is quite common for dogs. In some areas, you may also be able to bury your dog without cremation or on your personal property. Many pets have a final resting place in pet cemeteries, but there is usually a charge for a plot. You may also opt to place a grave marker. Grave markers can be very simple and inexpensive, or they can cost considerable sums of money for elaborate displays.
How Do I Know If My Dog Should Be Euthanized?
Any signs that your dog is suffering from poor quality of life merit discussion with your veterinarian. You may be able to treat some conditions. Others may require that putting your dog down.
Some conditions that may require euthanasia of your dog include:
- Severe incontinence
- Persistent dehydration due to frequent diarrhea or vomiting
- Uncontrolled weight loss
- Respiratory distress
- Loss of appetite
- Heart failure
- Untreatable cancer
- Other diseases
How to Make The Process Easier
The process of euthanizing a pet is never easy. But, sometimes, it is necessary. So to make the process as easy as possible, you should discuss it carefully with a professional.
Your local veterinarian or even other pet owners can be a great resource. As fellow dog owners, we are well aware that our pets can pick up on the signs of our feelings. If you are an emotional train wreck, your dog will also be skittish and nervous.
So, the more you can understand the process and prepare yourself for it, the better it will be for you and your pet. That attitude will also help you appreciate and enjoy the last moments with your dog, which will be good for them and you.
Finally, in the aftermath of putting your dog down, it is essential to express your feelings. Consider holding a memorial service, sharing photos and mementos of your dog, and talking about how you feel. This process will be cathartic for you and help you process the grief of your loss in a healthy way.
Unfortunately, putting a dog down is often a necessary part of the deal we make when we take on the responsibility of pet ownership. In the big picture, the financial cost of putting a dog down is relatively low. While everybody operates on a different budget, how much it costs to put a dog down is similar to the cost of common medical issues that require X-rays or bloodwork.
Find a provider that perform the service for you at a reasonable price and then focus on coping with the emotional burden that usually comes with the loss of a pet. Your memories of your final time with your dog will have a much more lasting impact on you than the cost of euthanasia.