“I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?”

Sir Walter Scott understood how heartbreaking it is to lose a beloved pet, no matter how much time you have with them, which, unfortunately, is never long enough. The only action we can take is to help our furry best friends pass comfortably and peacefully. A hospice program that provides palliative care for your pet can help you manage your furry pal’s disease signs, alleviate pain and discomfort, improve quality of life, and meet the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of your family.

What are palliative care and hospice for pets?

Palliative care is used when pets are diagnosed with a life-limiting illness that will not respond to curative treatment. The goal is to control the pain, nausea, and other uncomfortable signs associated with the disease, while boosting the pet’s quality of life. Palliative care can continue for as long as needed—sometimes years.

Pet hospice is a family-centered service that is dedicated to maintaining your pet’s comfort and quality of life in the face of a terminal illness, or advanced age. Often, hospice is chosen when a pet is nearing the end of their life, and steps can be taken to keep them comfortable and content until they naturally pass, or the family elects euthanasia. Pet hospice care is a unique approach to your pet’s end-of-life needs that focuses on managing signs, and maintaining happiness, for as long as possible. 

With hospice care, you and your family will receive vital information on how to best keep your cherished companion content and comfortable, while maintaining a good quality of life. Elements of hospice care may include any combination of the following treatments:

  • Education about the end-stage disease process
  • Pain recognition and treatment
  • Subcutaneous fluid administration
  • Nutritional support
  • Incontinence management
  • Bandage and wound care
  • Promotion of cleanliness and good grooming
  • Mental enrichment
  • Mobility support
  • Social activity

The goal of hospice care is to ensure your pet maintains a good quality of life for as long as possible, while understanding valleys and peaks will occur along the way. You will need to regularly monitor your pet’s appetite, water intake, urination, defecation, and joy in life, to evaluate their quality of life, and to make changes as needed. 

When should I consider palliative care and hospice for my pet?

If your pet has been diagnosed with a serious disease condition that can only be managed, not treated, palliative care is an ideal option, to keep your furry pal comfortable and happy for as long as possible. If your pet is faced with a poor prognosis or advanced age, and you want to maximize the time they have left, hospice care is an excellent choice, because it’s focused more on life’s final stages, when no medical options are left. 

The key difference between regular veterinary care and hospice care is that the goal shifts from directly treating the pet’s condition, to keeping them comfortable. With hospice, you avoid any treatment that could reasonably be expected to significantly and adversely affect your pet’s quality of life. Hospice care is generally considered appropriate when a pet has been diagnosed with a terminal disease, has a prognosis of a few days to a few months, and the owner does not yet wish to euthanize.

Palliative and hospice care are ideal for the following conditions:

  • Organ dysfunction
  • Terminal illness
  • Cancer
  • Degenerative disease
  • Advanced age

Who offers hospice and palliative care services for pets?

While Loving Family Animal Hospital is always here to care for your cherished companion, we team up with Caring Pathways to offer in-home palliative and hospice care. By working with a company that provides in-home care, we can ensure your best friend remains happy and comfortable, with as few potentially stressful visits outside the home as possible.

As you struggle to cope with the heartbreaking realization that your beloved companion won’t live forever, turn to the compassionate Loving Family Animal Hospital team. We can help ease your pet’s discomfort, encourage appetite, battle nausea, and boost mobility, thereby prolonging a good quality of life. Contact us for an appointment, to discuss how we can keep your furry loved one comfortable for as long as possible.