Many people are aware of human hospice services but may not realize that hospice care is also available for pets. Pet hospice is a new and growing field in veterinary medicine and also includes the concept of palliative care. Hospice and palliative care differ in the level and intensity of care, but the ultimate goal for both is to maintain a pain free qualityof life for as long as possible. Hospice care can also provide pet parents time to make decisions regarding a pet with a terminal illness or prepare for impending death.
Hospice care may be initiated after a terminal diagnosis has been made if the owner opts not to pursue aggressive treatment or therapies or if curative treatments have failed. Hospice care requires a considerable commitment on the part of the pet parents and so may not be a good option for all families. When it is chosen, hospice provides a caring, intimate end of life experience in a familiar environment for your pet.
Palliative care, on the other hand, may be initiated anytime a condition is present that negatively affects a pet’s comfort or well-being, whether life threatening or not. It focuses on comfort and incorporates attention to pain management, environmental adaptations, nutrition and cognitive changes. Palliative care is always part of a hospice plan, but can also be initiated alone. It may be especially helpful for geriatric pets as they lose mobility, develop cognitive changes and need help negotiating their environment.
Our approach to hospice and palliative care begins with a consultation where we will meet you, discuss your goals and wishes for your pet, review the medical history, conduct a thorough examination and assess your pet’s environment. This appointment usually lasts at least an hour. A plan will be formulated that takes into account the unique needs of your pet and your family.
When pets are nearing the end of their life or are experiencing a terminal illness they deserve the highest quality of care to keep them comfortable, pain free and happy. Hospice and palliative care can provide this care for your pet and peace of mind for pet parents.