FAQsFrequently Asked Questions
Is home euthanasia an option for my pet and what does it entail?
At home euthanasia is available for both cats and dogs approaching the end of their life and experiencing significant quality of life problems. In my experience, pet euthanasia is typically more peaceful and less stressful at home than when done in the hospital. It is always a difficult experience, but when done in the familiar environment, it can be a little more comforting. The use of strong sedation helps minimize stress and improves comfort prior to completing the euthanasia. For anxious pets, arranging for sedation prior to my arrival may help reduce some anxiety for your pet. Please ask about this if you have concerns. It is helpful to have some recent medical records from your regular veterinarian available prior to the appointment to better understand the health concerns and reason for euthanasia. Sometimes, euthanasia can be delayed if there are options for palliation that are appropriate for the pet and possible for the family. There are a few situations where home euthanasia might be inappropriate. For example, a home euthanasia for very aggressive pets may not be appropriate. Pets with severe respiratory distress need rapid attention and your family veterinarian or an emergency hospital is more appropriate for the rapid care they will require.
Home euthanasia avoids the bustle and noise found at many hospitals and there is no need to travel. I strive to make sure everything is explained and that we minimize stress for both pet and family. I will discuss the current health issues and can offer other options to euthanasia if it seems reasonable and appropriate.
What happens to my pet after the euthanasia?
I can provide help in arranging for care of your pet after euthanasia. A discussion of euthanasia after care is one that ideally has been undertaken some time before euthanasia is performed. If it has not been discussed before, it will be discussed at that time. Cremations are generally performed at Until We Meet Again in North Vancouver.
Until We Meet Again offers a variety of services and options that some people might be interested in. I encourage those interested to look at their website prior to the visit. In addition to cremation services, they offer a viewing service and number of related products, such as specialty urns and other memorials or keepsakes. They also provide information that may help those grieving the loss of pets on their website. Once monthly, they host a Grief Support Group meeting at their office in North Vancouver; a Certified Grief Counselor is present. I recommend contacting Until We Meet Again that day, to ensure that it was not cancelled on short notice.
What is the focus of this practice?
Quality of life is the focus of this practice. How it is attained varies with each pet as it relates to their specific medical issues and history as well as their personality and behaviour. We will discuss and address the family’s needs, abilities and desires to provide care for their pet. There are often many options that can be discussed once we review the available information.
When a reasonable quality of life cannot be managed, euthanasia is an appropriate consideration to avoid ongoing distress and discomfort. It is a difficult decision to make, but I believe it to be a very reasonable choice.
Are there options for Palliative and Hospice care?
As pets approach the end of their lives, they often have many of the same infirmities that people have. Palliative and hospice care is appropriate for some pets when they have health issues that affect their day to day living. They are often associated with age but not necessarily so. In palliative care, our goal is not to cure but to support the pet and family to help maintain an acceptable quality of life. There may be a number of options that can be offered in palliative care. Some problems are treated easily and some require more support over time to maintain comfort. Comfort is very important. Diagnostic testing is still available as needed, but we can be more selective about how we choose to pursue testing in that it needs to have a reasonable chance of creating a positive benefit for the pet. I generally rely on your family veterinarian for blood-work as additional assistance is almost always needed. Palliative care can be rather simple for some pets and more complicated for others. There may be a number of options on how we can support your friend. Regular ongoing visits are a necessary part of palliation to help maintain a good QOL (quality of life) and to adjust care over time. Optimal care may still require some visits to a hospital.
What should I do while I am waiting for the appointment?
It can be very helpful to arrange access to relevant medical records. Whenever possible, please speak with your family veterinarian (or Emergency veterinarian) and request that a copy of recent and pertinent medical records of your pet is emailed to us for review in advance of the appointment. Also, let us know if there is a significant change in your pet’s condition, particularly if there is a significant degree of deterioration.
How do I prepare for the appointment?
Make sure your pet is confined to an area where there is no chance of being able to hide in an area that you can’t access. Please have your pet’s medications available for review, with the last times they were given. A list of allergies to food and medications is also helpful for examination appointments.
What are the hours of operation?
As a mobile service, appointment times are “approximate” as each appointment may be longer or shorter than the next and traffic can significantly impact on travel time, especially during “rush-hour”. However, I do my best to make myself available. General hours of availability are Monday to Friday from 10 AM to 6 PM. I often can provide some evening and weekend hours depending on work and personal obligations.
Do you provide Emergency Services?
I do not provide general emergency services, though I would always do my best to respond to urgent calls for end of life care patients. As a solo practitioner, I do not have assistants generally and the limited materials I carry are appropriate to the nature of my practice. I do not provide regular veterinary services. I will respond to urgent calls involving palliative or hospice patients to the best of my ability. However, if it is truly an emergency and I cannot respond in a timely way, please have your pet seen by your regular veterinarian or an animal emergency facility. It is important and could be very helpful for you to have nearby ER clinic phone numbers and addresses close at hand. Preparing for a future emergency will make it less stressful and ensure that your pet is taken care of.
Important information to have in an emergency includes having a list of all medications, the dosages and times. A list of food and medication allergies is also advised for all pet owners.
How long can I wait for an appointment?
Appointments are often available within 2-3 days (and sometimes sooner), depending on the time of the week and patient load. When travelling and at appointments, I do not answer the phone. I will respond to calls as soon as I am able to. If you feel that your pet is in distress and I do not respond quickly, see your family veterinarian or an animal emergency service as quickly as possible.
Are there situations when I need to seek emergency care?
Breathing difficulty: An issue that cannot wait is difficulty breathing (also called “dyspnea”). If your pet is breathing with difficulty, it can be very distressed and frightened. Excess restraint can lead to evasive behaviour as well as defensive biting or scratching. Be careful with handling.
Dogs with a persistent respiratory rates over 40 breaths per minute with increased effort to breathe is not safely sustainable if it persists. Note that a dog’s panting is a normal thing for them. However, panting with marked anxiety may also suggest distress. When you are in doubt, it is important to check it out.
Cats breathing with a rate over 30-40 breaths per minute is also elevated. As in dogs, an important feature is whether they are also breathing with increased effort. They will often adopt a crouching posture with their head out straight and their elbows out somewhat when they are working harder to breathe. They may breathe with an open mouth and they may also flare nostrils when they inhale. They will often fight if they are restrained and can bite or scratch.
Respiratory distress in cats and dogs can be life threatening and needs immediate assistance at an Emergency Clinic; it is not typically a disorder easily treated at home.
Whenever there are significant breathing difficulty issues present, have your pet seen at an emergency hospital as soon as possible.
Home euthanasia is appropriate for many pets but when a dog or cat is in respiratory distress, the option of a “calm home euthanasia” may be very unlikely to impossible. Take your pet to your regular veterinarian or to an emergency hospital as soon as possible. Take great care with handling for their safety as well as yourselves.
Physical wounds or fractures: These injuries require immediate assistance as well. I am not equipped or staffed for these types of injuries and for the care they will need.
Whenever you are in any doubt about whether you need to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, it is time to see the veterinarian.
What are the fees?
Fees vary according to the services provided. General fees are as follow, but may be adjusted in some circumstances:
Travel and After-hour Fees: Travel costs are generally included in the costs of the services for the greater Vancouver area. Included areas include Vancouver, the North Shore, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Richmond, Langley and Surrey. Visits outside of these areas may incur additional charges. An after-hour fee is uncommonly charged, but for notably out-of-hour visits, a fee of $ 160.00 will be charged.
Quality of Life Consultation fee: Initial assessment – $ 250.00. Consultations usually last about an hour but are often a little longer. This includes a review of past medical records, preferably before the home visit. You and your regular family veterinarian will receive a copy of the report. Fees for follow up visits will vary according to length and needs (typically $ 140.00 to $ 200.00).
Euthanasia fees: These fees vary from $ 240 to $ 330, dependent on size and includes the assessment and travel. GST is additional.
After care: After the euthanasia is completed, I will usually take your pet to Until We Meet Again (in North Vancouver) for cremation. Families wishing return of their pet’s ashes receive a private cremation (costs vary from $ 260 to $480, also based on size). Communal cremations are for families that do not wish return of their pet’s ashes (costs vary from $ 120 to 275.00, again based on size). GST is added to all fees.
Other fees: Fees for other services or products would be discussed as appropriate.
Some families are interested in some form of memorial products or services. You can visit the Until We Meet Again website for information on what they offer.
GST and PST will be charged on all services as appropriate.
Medications and products: I carry a limited pharmacy and supply inventory. I can write prescriptions for pets under my regular care to a pharmacy or your regular family veterinarian for needed medications and supplies. I may be able to provide a limited number of items that are used frequently and can do special orders.
Meet Dr. Mark Lang, DVM
Mark graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in 1983. His primary focus has been in small animal practice and he brings his expertise developed from a decade of working as an emergency veterinarian at Canada West Veterinary Specialists. He is a licensed veterinarian registered with the College of Veterinarians of BC. He is also a member of the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care.
Mark founded Pacific Comfort Home Veterinary Care because he believes that there is a growing need to offer home-based veterinary care to pets with significant health issues. This would include hospice and later stage palliative style care for pets, sometimes known as “Pawspice”. Mark will work together with you to help your pet live well at home.
Primary service area:
- New Westminster
- Port Coquitlam
- Port Moody
- North & West Vancouver
He believes that finding the right balance of care to provide both comfort and quality of life is immensely important. The time may come when euthanasia will be discussed as a way to end the pain or suffering. When this decision is made, he will do his best to make saying goodbye to your pet as calm and dignified as possible.
Service to Surrey, Langley, Delta, Tsawwassen and Maple Ridge is possible when available.
Clients in more distant areas may be helped if time is available; additional costs may apply.