What is hospice Care?
When our medical goals transition away from curing disease and instead focus solely on the pet’s comfort and quality of life, we consider that pet to be “in hospice care.” An example is a patient who has received cancer treatments in the past and will now receive only palliative care (such as pain management medications) until their passing. Or perhaps a large breed dog with advanced arthritis, whose family is planning for an end-of-life service when the pet’s mobility problems and pain become too difficult to manage. Many pet owners have heard or said “we’re just keeping him comfortable” — this is considered hospice care.
How do i know if it's time for hospice Care?
Ideal hospice care involves a close partnership with your veterinarian, starting with a consultation where you and your family can openly discuss your view of your pet’s health and well-being, as well as challenges you’re facing. It’s important to discuss your goals — and boundaries.
For instance, some pet owners would say that if a pet required pain medication every 4 hours, they would consider the pet’s quality of life to be poor and would plan for euthanasia. Alternatively, another family might feel they can maintain such a rigorous medication schedule, and that wouldn’t be a boundary (or threshold) for making the difficult decision of euthanasia. These matters are very personal and individual and it’s vital to have clear and consistent communication between you and your veterinarian.
What else should I consider?
In addition to discussing goals and boundaries, a medical care plan should be devised that will address pain and hygiene management and the control or prevention of infections, in addition to considering specifics that pertain to an individual case. As your pet’s needs change, you and your veterinarian will remain in contact and adjust the medical care plan.
How long should my pet remain in hospice?
Depending on your pet’s health when they begin their hospice journey, this phase may be very brief or last many months. In some cases, pets decline gradually and other times there can be a rapid change in their quality of life. The hospice journey ends with a pet’s passing, either through natural death or euthanasia.
We're here for your journey
Regardless of the path your pet’s hospice journey takes, our veterinarians are prepared to partner with you and your family in making the last phase of your pet’s life dignified, comfortable and meaningful.
We want you to have the information you need to make informed choices for your pet. Please see our End-of-Life Care page and Pet Loss Support page. Our House Call Department can provide hospice care and end-of-life care in the comfort of your home - visit our At Home Euthanasia page for more information. Please call us to get personal assistance with your questions.