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What is pet hospice?

Learn about end-of-life issues for our pets and surviving pet loss grief


Jaime Glasser DVM - Forum Host for Veterinary Medicine at About.com

Jaime Glasser DVM - Forum Host for Veterinary Medicine at About.com

© Jaime Glasser DVM

Hospice care for pets is modeled after human hospice: hospice care seeks to provide medical and palliative (pain relieving or comfort giving) care for animals, mostly pets near the end of their lives. It also includes holistic care for owners struggling with care decisions, euthanasia decisions, and strives to help pets and their owners to say goodbye.

Pet hospice helps people come to terms with their pets' illnesses and decide their comfort level with treatment versus making their pet comfortable. Hospice care also involves counseling to reach good decisions as well as help through the grieving process. Hospice care really is based on accepting death as a part of life; making good plans and decisions, and offering compassionate care and ensuring the comfort of the pet. say goodbye.

Where can I get hospice care for my pet?
In time, I hope that most veterinarians provide hospice care for pets. In fact, many veterinarians provide hospice care, at some level without even knowing it. Good pain control, and finding different ways to make a pet comfortable are examples of things veterinarians generally strive to do that are integral parts of hospice care.

In the near future, the new organization promoting hospice care for pets, International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC), should have a directory of hospice veterinarians. Ask your veterinarian if she or he is providing hospice care. You may help introduce the concept to your vet so she or he will learn about it and offer it in the future.

Do I have to want to put my animal to sleep to use hospice care?
No, hospice care is what you are comfortable with. Many belief systems are present in hospice care for pets, just as in human hospice care. Euthanasia is by definition emotionally charged and controversial. One extreme is viewing euthanasia as the ultimate treatment as it does relieve suffering when death is the last resort. The other extreme is that death should occur naturally.

There is room in this debate for everyone, and hospice must be aligned with your beliefs. I will talk more in detail about these viewpoints in a future article, but I believe you and your veterinarian should come to a conclusion and plan for your pet based on your spiritual beliefs as well as the special circumstances surrounding your pets' condition.

How can I learn more about hospice care for pets?
Stay tuned! Check out my blog where you can read more detailed guidelines for hospice care and it's definition from Dr. Amir Ahanan the founder of iaahpc.org as well as my general article, "Why is it so bad when a pet dies?"

Also, in the next three days I will be reporting in the VetMed Forum on exciting developments from the second annual International Symposium on Veterinary Hospice Care from UC Davis.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the VetMed Forum and I will answer or find out for you.

please let me know.

Dr. Jaime

Jaime Glasser DVM bio page

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