At Astoria Animal Hospital we provide end of life services. We provide euthanasia primarily for aged, ill, or dangerous animals, but occasionally others too. After euthanasia is performed, our hospital has an onsite crematorium for body disposal. This page explains what happens and how our clinic provides both services. It does not give financial information, but that is available upon request as it is case- and animal-weight-dependent. Thank you for considering Astoria Animal Hospital for your pet’s end-of-life needs.
All life ends in death, but it can be a kind and respectful death. We are able to prevent our beloved pets from suffering through terminal diseases or injuries at the end of their natural life. At Astoria Animal Hospital, our goal in this life-ending procedure is to make it kind, respectful, and pain-free for the animal. We also try to make it less scary for the owners of the animal. We all know that it is a stressful situation, and often there has been a lot of thought and debate surrounding this decision. We try to turn an unpleasant situation into a tolerable one by walking the owner through the process from start to finish. Here is what generally occurs.
Initially, the animal is brought into the clinic and we check him/her in and get a weight. At that time you will be taken to one of the exam rooms for privacy. The veterinarian will come into the room and conduct a brief exam, as required by state law. Generally this takes only a couple of minutes. The next thing to occur is sedation. At Astoria Animal Hospital, all animals are sedated prior to euthanasia unless they are already too weak, debilitated, or are passing on their own. In a typical situation, it takes about 15 minutes for sedation to take effect—sometimes longer and sometimes shorter.
For the final injection, the medication used is a controlled substance, and we simply give too much. The medication is given intravenously, and often acts very rapidly and the animal is dead by the end of the injection. Once the animal is pronounced dead, the breathing and heart have stopped, which has led to dilation of the pupils and mucosal color change. You will be told of this. After all of this has occurred, we try to give owners some time to process that the animal is gone and let initial grieving occur. Body disposal is in the next section.
In Clatsop County, we have two options for body disposal of dead animals: home burial or cremation. Home burial is not recommended by this clinic, as there are medications in the animal that can be dangerous in the environment, especially if the animal is dug up after burial or if it isn’t buried immediately and someone or something starts at it. It is not legal or advisable to put dead animals, body parts, or tissue into the garbage. For these reasons, we recommend cremation for all animals. Cremation is the process of turning a body into ashes. At Astoria Animal Hospital, we can cremate animals up to 350 pounds.
The process of cremation is a little complex. After the body is placed into the crematorium and it is turned on, it will fire up to about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit over 4-6 hours. After this, it takes another 24 hours to cool before we can open the door. Once we open the door and remove the ashes, they are ground to provide the owner with mostly uniform ashes. Since we are dealing with a fine dust, we must allow it to settle for one to three hours before we can place it into the bag that we present to you. We will call the owner for collection of ashes when they are ready to be picked up. As you can see it is a lengthy and time-consuming process.
At Astoria Animal Hospital, we do only individual cremations. We do not do any group cremations. We offer two choices regarding the ashes: “no-save” means you don’t get any ashes back and generally we spread them on our farm property. “Cremate – save” means you get your animal’s ashes back. There is no price difference between the two options. We guarantee you get your animal’s ashes back, and all of them, if you want them. This process typically takes about seven to 10 days. It can take longer if the weather is very bad or if there are any equipment problems.
We accept bodies Monday through Friday, 8am to 5:30pm, and Saturday, 8am to 12:30pm.