Hospice, Palliative Medicine and End of Life Care and In-Home Euthanasia for your Beloved Pet.
What is Animal Hospice and palliative care?
Animal Hospice involves a whole body approach to the end of life. Palliative medicine is concerned with comfort. Comfort for your animal, comfort for the caretaker. Hospice is about support. Hospice involves personalized support for the caretaker and the pet. It is about improving the quality of life of both the animal and the caregiver(s) for the last stage of life of the animal. There is a core team (The caregiver, the animal and the veterinarian) and our extended team (your regular veterinarian, specialists, RVT's, pet sitters, massage therapists, groomers, spiritual support, counselors, grief support) anyone who can help make the life of the caregiver and their beloved better. We may not have all of those folks working with us but we try to incorporate as many as are needed and comfortable for the family. (Note: Beloved Pet Mobile Vet does not employee extended team members at this time. It may change in the future, but we have a list of folks in the community to help.)
What is it not?
It is not necessarily about prolonging life until a natural death may occur, although, if that is the consensus of the team (the caregiver, the animal and the veterinarian), we may consider that possibility. Gentle Euthanasia is certainly part of animal hospice, but the team has to be in agreement.
What is comfort care or palliative care? How is this different from hospice?
Hospice is a general term for supporting a terminally ill patient. Hospice involves many aspects for terminally ill patients. Comfort care or palliative care is one aspect of hospice. Hospice also involves planning, mental, physical, social and spiritual support for the caregivers and the beloved pet.
Comfort care or palliative care can be for any elderly patient that is having mobility or other chronic health issues that are not falling under the terminally ill umbrella.
Why have a hospice vet? Why can't my regular vet do the same thing?
A hospice veterinarian is one that has further training in human hospice and animal hospice. They have been focusing on life limiting diseases, chronic disease and terminal illnesses. They know about disease trajectory, disease progression, palliative medicine, and how to support the family in any decision that is right for the family. The have futher training in communication, medicine, pain management and euthanasia. The first class of hospice trained veterinarians are just now finishing a certification program through the IAAHPC. Dr. Hendrix is in the first class and will likely complete the certification by the end of 2017.
We see the hospice veterinarian's role as a facilitator. We help you know what choices you have, your medical choices (which you may or may not have already discussed with your regular veterinarian), your hospice choices, and we can discuss euthanasia (please see below for further comments). We help you plan for this last stage of life. We help you know what we would expect in the progression of the disease for your animal in particular, how to plan, what to watch for in terms of distress.
End of life care is different than senior pet care. End of life care involves frequent communication, frequent changes in pain medication, arrangement of the house, making a personalized plan for end of life, nursing care, and religious/spiritual and psychological care of the family. Your regular veterinarian is an important part of our team for your pet, for the many aspects they provide.
Regardless of who you use, make sure they have further training.
How is animal hospice like human hospice?
There are many aspects of human hospice that we incorporate into our care of your animal. In human hospice, there is a diagnosis of terminal disease, the cessation of trying to cure and preparation for the decline of life. In pet hospice, we have a similar process, involving palliative care for the patient, grief counseling, spiritual care for the family. Palliative care starts with managing the animal's pain and discomfort, adjusting their nutrition, hydration, bedding, living quarters, monitoring their ability to breath, ability to get around so they can have more good days than bad, more quality time with you and your family. Palliative care is available at the end of life for our pets.
Hospice also involves discussing grief, and finding grief counseling for those who need more help to work through their grief. Veterinarians are not trained to deal with in-depth counseling and we would help you find someone trained to help through a grieving process. Spiritual support is also important and we will work with your personal beliefs and refer for spiritual counseling.
We also make an individualized plan for different aspects of your pets disease so that you will know what to do, when it may be time to consider euthanasia.
Why is palliative care and animal hospice important?
In our experience, not everyone is ready to say good bye at the moment of a terminal diagnosis. Your pet may have more quality time left to spend with you and Palliative medicine can help them spend it comfortably.
What can you expect with Animal hospice?
We will examine your pet, review the previous medical history and medications and food that your pet is currently on. We will listen to your goals, assess how the patient is currently doing, and together we will formulate an individualized plan that allows you to help your beloved pet through the last stage of life. We work through the what if's. This helps relieve some stress of the unknown which can occur during the end of life process.
We believe that there is a team during the hospice process. The beloved pet gives us clues to how they are doing, the client (you) has thoughts about how you would like things to go, and the veterinarian (us) can help achieve the goals of everyone involved. We also believe in extending the team to your current veterinarian, spiritual guide (if needed), grief counselor. Other members of our extended team can be a veterinary nurse, groomer, pet sitter, respite care. If your pet needs hospitalization, and the team deems that it is not yet time to let go, we will recommend follow up with your current veterinarian. (They are part of the team too!)
Is euthanasia the same as Hospice?
The simple answer is no.
Euthanasia is part of the end of life process. We believe it is A way to relieve distress not THE way to relieve distress. Hospice is about the quality of life care we give until it may be time to choose a euthanasia decision. Your hospice veterinarian should be able to help you know when the right time will be for your family and for your beloved pet to make that decision.
For Hospice, Palliative medicine and end of life care for your Beloved pet call us at: 530-383-2543