The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) describes hospice, or end-of-life care, in this manner:
Hospice care focuses on providing the best quality of life possible for a pet with a terminal disease or condition until the pet dies or is euthanized. Hospice care also helps you by providing you with time to adjust to the coming loss of your companion. The care is tailored to the needs of both you and your pet.
The key difference between regular veterinary care and end-of-life care is that the goal shifts from directly treating the pet’s underlying disease through ongoing diagnostic testing and various treatments, to keeping them comfortable and content through their final moments.
The ins and outs of veterinary hospice
When the focus on your pet changes from cure to care, and more diagnostic testing and new treatment protocols can no longer help, veterinary hospice grants the best quality of life possible through nursing care. Components of veterinary end-of-life services typically include:
- On-call veterinarian availability, to provide urgent care, as needed
- Counseling and support during emotional decision-making
- In-home care
- Medications and other therapies to alleviate stress and anxiety
- Pain recognition and treatment
- Subcutaneous fluids
- Supplementary nutrition
- Incontinence management
- Bandage and wound care
- Education about the end-stage disease process
- Euthanasia options tailored to your needs and your pet’s
- Aftercare discussion
- Pet-loss support and grief counseling
Originally modeled after human hospice, this specific end-of-life care is focused on your pet’s comfort, not on finding a cure for their illness or disease, which means no blood work and diagnostic testing. Our goal with hospice is to maintain the bond between families and their pets, while focusing on comfort, support, and guidance.
How veterinary hospice can benefit pets
When you hear the dreaded phrase, “There’s nothing more we can do,” turn to veterinary hospice for your beloved companion. This end-of-life service does not jump straight to euthanasia after a terminal illness diagnosis. Instead, your pet benefits because as much of their illness and discomfort as possible is alleviated through a variety of palliative methods, and their quality of life is maintained, until they decline to an unbearable level. Hospice helps pets by:
- Reducing pain
- Easing stress and anxiety
- Providing nutrition and hydration
- Improving comfort
- Increasing mobility
- Assisting with elimination
- Maintaining hygiene
- Offering mental enrichment
Overall, hospice greatly benefits terminally ill pets, or those who are nearing the end of their natural lifespan, as this special care focuses on boosting their quality of life till the end.
How veterinary hospice can benefit pet owners
It’s heartbreaking when your beloved pet receives a terminal diagnosis, and you’ll need all the support and guidance you can get, to help you through this incredibly difficult time. Veterinary hospice is designed to care not only for the pet, but also the pet’s family or caretaker. The final days of your pet’s life are an emotional journey filled with questions and decisions, and our Cary Street Veterinary Hospital team will assist and support you through this important time. We’ll follow your beliefs, counsel you through decisions, and provide gentle guidance and emotional support where needed. By choosing hospice care for your pet, you’ll receive precious quality time with your cherished companion, and the time you need to help you cope with their decline and approaching death.
Cary Street Veterinary Hospital provides hospice care for pets
Not every veterinarian is able to offer hospice for pets and their families. Handling end-of-life care is an intensely emotional situation, and we’re proud Dr. Kuhn is such a compassionate, kind-hearted soul who can provide such services to our community. She was part of the first graduating class of veterinarians to earn their credentials in Animal Hospice and Palliative Care. Dr. Kuhn enjoys helping older pets age gracefully, while also improving their quality of life through their silver and golden years.
Our goal with hospice is to provide compassionate, comprehensive, end-of-life care to our patients affected by normal aging processes or advanced illness, while supporting your needs, beliefs, and wishes. We will help your pet live their final days in comfort and grace, and help you cope with the intensive care and eventual loss of your beloved companion.
If you believe your pet would be an ideal candidate for hospice, contact our Cary Street Veterinary Hospital team.