Nine years ago, a mere 30 veterinarians gathered to discuss ways to help bring comfort to aging pets and help pet parents know when it’s time to say goodbye. That was the dawning of the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC). Earlier this month, ten times that number gathered in Chicago to learn about trends in the emerging field.
“Research shows that more and more Americans are opting for pet hospice,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice and early graduate of the IAAHPC’s new certification program.
“I got involved in home hospice in the early days because I firmly believe in pro-active comfort management and helping pet parents make small changes that can greatly improve a pet’s comfort.”
To celebrate the upcoming National Animal Hospice awareness day November 2nd, we’re sharing some of the elements involved in “Animal Hospice.”
It’s More Than Home Euthanasia Services
Animal hospice and palliative care provide comfort to companion animals as they approach the end of life. Services from the veterinarian team may include treatment for pain and anxiety management plus nutritional management specific to the pet’s condition. The primary goal is to relieve – or avoid – suffering.
The veterinarian team can also help pet parents assess the pet’s quality of life and teach pet parents ways to improve end-of-life care. Good pet hospice care is a team effort.
Things to Consider in Pet Hospice
Pet parents can manage many aspects of pet hospice themselves, while they will need veterinarian assistance with other aspects. These are the key areas to consider:
- Environmental Assessment: Review mobilizing, feeding area, litter box, bedding, and enrichment.
- Mobility Support: Consider non-slip mats, carpeted stairs, ramps, slings, harnesses, wheel carts.
- Toileting Solutions: Use incontinence pads, diapers/belly bands, and consult vet for stool softener, catheterization.
- Pain management – Monitor pain signals and medication together with vet; use multi-modal approach (alternative therapies & environmental supports.)
- Nutrition: Devise superior diets specific to illness with vet, ask for appetite stimulants if needed.
- Behavior Modification: Discuss medication and strategies for managing anxiety, restlessness, vocalization, sleep disturbance, and cognitive dysfunction.
Together, pet parents and hospice veterinarians can dramatically increase the quality of end-of-life care a pet receives.
Heaven at Home Pet Hospice offers private hospice consultation, but also periodically hosts group workshops and webinars. Contact us for more information.