End of Life Care for Pets FAQ (cont.)

What Is Pet Hospice Care and What Are Its Benefits? What Are the Goals of Pet Hospice Care?

Hospice care-also called palliative care-is an option for pet parents who want to engage in an extended good-bye or are opposed to euthanasia. Pet hospice is an option if your pet is suffering from a terminal illness and a cure is not possible. The focus is to make a pet's final days or weeks more pleasant with the proper use of pain medications, dietary strategies and human interaction. Pet hospice is not a place, but a personal choice and philosophy based on the principle that death is a part of life and can be dignified. The goal of pet hospice is not to cure your pet's illness but rather to ensure a peaceful end-of-life experience.

A participating veterinarian will teach pet parents how to provide intensive home care to keep an ill pet as comfortable as possible. Every pet parent should also have a back-up plan, which may include euthanasia, in case the animal's suffering gets out of control.

Is Hospice Care the Right Course for My Pet?

Although hospice care is a growing area of veterinary medicine, we need to be very careful not to prolong the suffering of pets who are in pain or experiencing poor quality of life. It is very difficult to face losing a pet, but our choices must not be clouded by fear of the grief we will experience.

If you are considering hospice care, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I have a local veterinarian whose expertise includes the most advanced techniques in pain management, alternative treatments, oxygen and hydration?
  • Do I have a veterinarian available 24 hours a day to provide emergency euthanasia if my pet's suffering gets out of control, such as the sudden onset of seizures?
  • Do I have adequate resources to provide constant care for my pet, even when I am out of the house?
  • Will hospice home care for my pet seriously disrupt my regular family and work obligations?