It’s a tough subject, but our companion animals age faster than we do. It’s hard to see them suffer, and even harder to imagine life without them. What if in their final chapter you could reduce their pain? What if, when the time was right, they could end their life story in the comfort of their favorite place, with the people they love?
“Those are the questions that fueled the rise of the home hospice movement not all that long ago,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.
“Answering those questions became the mission of the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, and my team’s mission as well.”
IAAHPC celebrates its 10th anniversary this October at its annual conference, where specialized veterinarians like Dr. Brush join together to learn new ways to bring comfort to aging pets and give them compassionate and increasingly sophisticated home care.
“By integrating palliative services early in the management of chronic or life-limiting disease, we can now ameliorate needless suffering and even extend a pet’s life in some cases,” Dr. Brush said.
For example, finding ways to support or improve mobility through cold laser therapy, supplements, management of pain medication and environmental accommodations can make a world of difference to an arthritic pet. Early intervention and management of diseases such as diabetes can also give Fido or Felix a new lease – or leash – on life.
In addition to raising awareness of options, the IAAHPC has also founded a hospice and palliative care certification program for licensed veterinarians and veterinarian technicians. Dr. Brush was among the program’s first 100 graduates worldwide. The 100-hour AHPC Certification establishes a standard of care that reflects excellence. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) now advises pet parents to work with AHPC-certified providers for hospice and palliative care.
Dr. Brush points out that AHPC veterinarians don’t seek to replace a pet’s routine care veterinarian, but to work with them for continuity of care.
“We’re trained specifically to provide both the technical and emotional support required to give the human-animal bond the dignity it deserves during a pet’s sunset years and final farewell. Every pet deserves a compassionate and peaceful, pain-free passing.”