Hospice care provides support in multiple areas for pets that have been diagnosed with a terminal or life limiting illness, such as cancer, kidney disease, late stage osteoarthritis or advanced cognitive dysfunction. I address symptoms that the pet is experiencing, including pain, nausea/vomiting, dehydration, cough or breathing problems, night waking, restlessness, and the anxiety that any of these conditions can cause. But in contrast to what is most common in the veterinary profession, I also offer support to the family, who is bearing the burden of caring for their pet, as well as anticipating the loss of their fur baby. I can provide guidance in the nursing care they perform at home, assess the home environment for ways to help provide for the comfort, safety and management of the pet, and help families wade through the many options and questions that they will face during their pet's last days, weeks or months. When the time comes, I am there to facilitate a hospice assisted natural passing, or to provide euthanasia, as the family prefers. I can help obtain grief counseling and support for the family when needed.
Palliative care can include many of the same symptom management strategies as hospice care, but in this case, it is for a pet with a longer life expectancy. They may suffer from a curable or non curable illness or condition, but for a variety of possible reasons, aggressive treatment is not appropriate or desired for the pet. Perhaps a pet is suffering from multiple conditions and does not tolerate aggressive treatment. In some cases, a pet is truly stressed and miserable at the vet's office, and would not do well with the frequent visits that aggressive treatment would involve, but can be quite content with veterinary assessment and symptom management at home. Sometimes, a pet has an incurable, but long duration process. I often think of the older dogs with ever worsening arthritis, having more difficulty getting up or down, slipping or melting of slick floors, no longer able to manage stairs or even squat fully outside to go to the bathroom. These guys can't be cured, but many need not just pain relief, but even small changes in their environment to make their lives easier and more comfortable.
Whether you know your pet has a diagnosis, or you have concerns about their quality of life and would like to discuss what can be done to best care for your pet, please consider scheduling a consultation with me. If diagnostics and treatments are appropriate, I will let you know this, and refer you back to your regular veterinarian, with a better understanding of what to expect. If hospice or palliative care are in order, we can begin our journey together.