Heaven at Home joins hospice veterinarians across the nation Saturday in honoring National Hospice day. In America, 68% of households have companion animals, with 89.7 Million dogs, and 94.2 Million cats. It is estimated that between 44-48% of these pets are currently over the age of 7, meaning they are entering their senior years. Depending on species and breed, many will be preparing to cross the rainbow bridge. The quality of their end of life has become a focal point for geriatric specialists within the veterinarian community and the population at large.
“For too long, pet parents have not had the resources available to provide the highest quality of end-of-life and palliative care to their fur babies in their sunset years,” says Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home and Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Vet.
“The national animal hospice movement seeks to change that through its awareness campaign and the provision of resources as this type of service becomes more readily available to people.”
As part of National Animal Hospice Day, Heaven at Home is accepting donations to its benevolent fund to help those families in economic hardship provide in-home euthanasia services for their companion animals. Please consider making a donation if you’d like to help others have a peaceful pet passing in their own home.
History of National Animal Hospice Day
National Animal Hospice Day was created by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care in order to give pet caregivers an opportunity to learn more about hospice and palliative care for four-legged family members in order to better understand the options and resources available. In recent years, the field of animal hospice has grown, as an increasing number of people actively seek to provide a peaceful end-of-life experience for their companions.
However, too often, pet parents are still forced to make difficult decisions about their pets’ final days without adequate information or preparation. The animal hospice and palliative care process is unique in that it provides support for both pets and their caretakers.
Families work with a hospice team that helps to ensure that all options are explored for the comfort and care of pets who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, debilitating condition or are nearing the end of their lives. The hospice team helps to guide decision making about pain management, mobility, and nutritional needs and offers counseling to family members as they process their grief and spiritually prepare for the loss of their beloved companion.
For more information about our animal hospice services, please contact us.
For additional information about animal hospice and palliative care services, visit the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care’s website – their FAQ page is a great place to start: https://www.iaahpc.org
Highlights of Animal Home Hospice Questions:
Excerpted from IAAHPC
What is animal hospice? What is palliative care?
Both are approaches to care for your animal friend that can be adopted when the goal shifts from cure to comfort. Both involve an interdisciplinary team of providers who offer comprehensive care on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels and include veterinarians, animal and family services providers. The term “animal hospice” is not a place; it is a philosophy of care which became popularized in the 1970’s. Since the 1990’s the hospice model has been applied to also caring for our pets and thus hospice and palliative care for animals is growing across the US and the world.
Why animal hospice and palliative care for my beloved pet?
In the human hospice experience, families are well-supported and empowered to provide loving care to their loved one. As a result, they find enhanced coping along the journey and healing from their loss. Many pet parents want the same care for their furry, feathered and scaled family members as they’ve seen benefit their human loved ones, and so they turn to animal hospice. Pet parents also seek satisfaction in knowing they did all they could to support their animal companion, enhancing their bond with them during this time, and create cherishing memories.
What kind of diseases or conditions would warrant hospice and/or palliative care?
The diseases and conditions that most frequently warrant hospice or palliative care for animals are:
● organ failure [kidneys, liver and heart are common examples]
● cognitive dysfunction, or dementia
● senior pets approaching the end of life
● failure to thrive
● any life-limiting condition that is contributing to an excessive burden of caregiving for a family, or treatments/interventions that are unacceptable to the pet
As a pet parent, what are my responsibilities in providing hospice for my animal friend?
Preparing to care for your aging, ill or dying pet is similar to caring for a child or aged adult. You would take time to learn about your loved one’s condition and ways to ensure the highest degree of comfort possible. You would learn how to monitor your loved one’s quality of life and then regularly communicate with the hospice team. You would make decisions with the guidance of the care team, and then take measures to act on your decisions once the appropriate time came. Along the journey, the well-being and feelings of the human family members would be validated and supported.
How do I know if hospice care is the right decision for me and my pet?
Many pet parents choose hospice care in order to have the time to say goodbye to their companions, to plan for their death, and to ensure that all the decisions about the pet’s needs are guided by their personal view of the pet’s needs. If you have the resources to support comfort care, the time and desire to care for your pet during the last days, weeks, sometimes months of their life, and a good support team in place, then hospice care may be the right choice for you and your pet.
Why do I feel so sad already, when my animal friend was just recently diagnosed? Few people seem to understand what I’m going through.
We know that grief associated with loss begins before the actual death occurs, and the name for this is “anticipatory grief”. These emotions may sneak up on us and affect us in many aspects of our life. Grief is work! It is never easy, but it can be easier with the support of a team that values “care for the caregiver”, a cornerstone of hospice philosophy. Yes, the ability to think clearly will directly affect how effective you can be in your care for your animal companion. Respite, or some time away from caregiving, can be important to your continued well-being.