Hospice for Pets

The following post is from guest blogger Dr. Mary Gardner, one of the founders of  Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice.

Hospice care is aimed at helping dogs in the geriatric life stage or younger pets with terminal illnesses. Did you know that there is such a thing as Hospice for pets? Veterinary hospice care is a philosophy that aims to allow the pet to spend as much quality time at home as possible before euthanasia or natural death occurs.

There are 4 life stages in pets (puppy, adult, senior & geriatric); hospice care is targeted to the pets in the geriatric stage, as well as younger pets with terminal illnesses when curative measures are no longer available or have been declined.  Many pet owners caring for geriatric pets do not want to resort to extreme measures to diagnose and treat their pets, but would certainly like more quality time before euthanasia or natural death.

Some treatment options for pets in Hospice care are:

  • Pain or anxiety management – a veterinarian can teach owners how to look for signs of pain and anxiety and prescribe medications like Rimadyl, Previcox, or joint enhancing supplements to help relieve pain in certain diseases.
  • Appetite – maintaining good feeding habits is imperative to keeping a pet healthy, happy and energized. Appetite stimulants can be prescribed to help encourage eating.
  • Hydration – many pets will start to reduce water intake as they decline from certain diseases, such as kidney failure. Adding chicken broth or tuna juice to the water may help stimulate the thirst buds! Fluids under the skin (sub-q) can be easily administered at home, and your veterinarian can teach you how to do this.
  • Mobility – medications, massage therapy, heating beds/pads, orthopedic dog beds and some simple changes in the home can help a pet with mobility issues get around better.
  • Hygiene – maintaining proper hygiene is important to prevent scalding, sores, mats and infections. Having wee-wee pads available for all size pets can help them relieve themselves in a sanitary way if they cannot make it outside in time.
  • Quality of Life Scale – a Quality of Life scale can help you determine when the right time is to discuss euthanasia with your veterinarian.  http://www.lapoflove.com/Pet_Quality_of_Life_Scale.pdf

There are many veterinarians that specialize in hospice care. Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice is an organization that has 18 veterinarians in multiple states that go to homes to help pets maintain a comfortable life and assist owners with determining quality of life. For more information on Veterinary Hospice visit their website at www.lapoflove.com

Although there may not be a cure for aging or certain diseases, this does not mean we cannot CARE for our pets and maintain a good quality of life before having to say goodbye.

Posted by:

Dr. Mary Gardner

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