Should I consider in-home palliative/hospice care for my pet?
Both animal hospice and palliative care are in-home approaches to care for your animal friend when the goal of treatment shifts from cure to comfort. Both involve an interdisciplinary team of providers who offer comprehensive care on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels and include veterinarians, animal and family services providers. The term “animal hospice” is not a place; it is a philosophy of care which became popularized in the 1970’s. Since the 1990’s the hospice model has been applied to also caring for our pets and thus hospice and palliative care for animals is growing across the world.
Why animal hospice and palliative care for my beloved pet?
In the human hospice experience, families are well-supported and empowered to provide loving care to their loved one. As a result, they find enhanced coping along the journey and healing from their loss. Many pet parents want the same care for their furry, feathered and scaled family members as they’ve seen benefit their human loved ones, and so they turn to animal hospice. Pet parents also seek satisfaction in knowing they did all they could to support their animal companion, enhanced their bond with them during this time, and created cherished memories.
What kind of diseases or conditions would warrant hospice and/or palliative care?
Thediseases and conditionsthat most frequently warrant hospice or palliative care for animals are: ●cancer ●organ failure [kidneys, liver and heart are common examples] ●osteoarthritis ●cognitive dysfunction, or dementia ●senior pets approaching the end of life ●Failure to Thrive ●any life-limiting condition that is contributing to an excessive burden of caregiving for a family, or treatments/interventions that are unacceptable to the pet
As a pet parent, what are my responsibilities in providing hospice for my animal friend? Preparing to care for your aging, ill or dying pet is similar to caring for a child or aged adult. You would take time to learn about your loved one’s condition and ways to ensure the highest degree of comfort possible. You would learn how to monitor your loved one’s quality of life and then regularly communicate with the hospice team. You would make decisions with the guidance of the care team, and then take measures to act on your decisions once the appropriate time came. Along the journey, the well-being and feelings of the human family members would be validated and supported.