Animal Hospice is a relatively new concept that has come on board in recent years. Taking a model from human hospice care and adapting the same principles it is an approach to end- of -life care. The main focus and attention is on ensuring to the best of your ability that your pet is as comfortable as it possibly can be during its remaining days in this world.
When your pet becomes sick especially with a disease that may be considered terminal you are faced with difficult decisions. You may have an animal that is entering an advanced age and is no longer capable of doing the things it once did. .Hospice care in its essence means that you as a pet parent are moving from a remedy or cure for your pet to provide relief and comfort for it before it passes on.
Medical conditions that prompt or justify the need for hospice in the first place, cognitive dysfunction, dementia, cancer, organ failure,[heart,liver,kidney] osteoarthritis, any complex life-limiting condition which is contributing to excessive demands on a care giving family member, or treatments and or surgeries which are unacceptable or deemed ineffective to your pet.
Your Veterinarian’s Advice, Why Not Take It
You have exhausted all reasonable possibilities of a cure or fix for your companion animal, medications, invasive surgery, holistic treatments, specialists and your veterinarian has uttered the words “there isin’t much or anything else I can do”
Your pet is unwell and really the last thing it needs is the extra stress of being repeatedly bundling into a car and driving it to the veterinary surgeon. They like to be in the familiar surrounds of home with its family at such times.
Has the time arrived where your pets quality of life is compromised due to a severe bodily injury, disability, or any one of the above mentioned diseases? If you feel you have a moral duty to do the best you can or a feeling of guilt in taking the step to euthanize your pet then it may be time to seek out help from professional hospice veterinarians, nurses and caregivers.About 5% of veterinary centers can facilitate end-of-life care inside their own practice.
On a broader scale there are a few organizations that cater to this namely the – International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, Lap Of Love Veterinary Hospice and some smaller independent groups. Although there are a few actual animal Hospice centers springing up practically all hospice takes place in the family home.
They provide in-home consultation and discuss things like, symptoms management, explain the condition and possible progression of a disease, prescribe and advise on medications to help in pain reduction. Other forms of therapy can also be considered in alleviating tension, and discomforts like – acupuncture, chiropractic, massage.
You will be educated and you will learn all about the health or medical condition that your pet suffers from. This may include recognizing pain and how to treat it, supplementary nutrition, change of diet, the management of incontinence, administering subcutaneous fluids, gaining knowledge on the end-stage disease process.
The ultimate objective is to minimise the pain, discomfort, and suffering and provide support, compassion, and comfort to it in its final days, weeks, or months.
Natural Death or Euthanasia
There will come a time when your pet’s quality of life may be dramatically reduced, example – breathing problems, trouble in defecating or urinating, vomiting or diarrhea, difficulty in walking or standing. Your consulting team of hospice care workers can now advise you on the next best step to take.They are there to guide you along and are open to and will encourage the option of euthanasia if and when the time is right.
Do you continue with the caring process and allow the life of your pet to terminate in a natural way or do you let the veterinarian intervene and euthanize it. This is the dilemma you now find yourself in. Only you can make that personal decision.
In deciding to go ahead with pet hospice care, these are some of the question you should ask yourself
- Are you willing to deal with the emotional, spiritual and physical strains that will now be posed on you?.
- Are you prolonging its life just for the sake of having it around to look at?
- Is it based more on selfish needs like being unable to face up to letting it go?
- Could it possibly be motivated by ethical or religious beliefs?
Its among one of the most difficult aspects of owning a companion pet that knowing one day you could be confronted with a situation like this. Its heartbreaking to see and deal with what was a glowing ball of life and boundless energy now reduced to lethargic, helpless state.We don’t want them to die and it kills us to see them unwell and suffering. Our pets and animals in general don’t exhibit pain and anxiety in the same way as humans do thus we need to pay special heed to their reactions and behaviour.From our own sphere of thinking its comforting to know we have done a noble thing and contributed our utmost to help it live as long as it can. We can be blinded by a wave of different emotions and clear thinking is required. There are no rights or wrongs on this but don’t look back with any regrets.
It may sound a little simplistic but our final decision on what course of action to take must be based on what is best at that time for our beloved pet.
What are your thoughts on Animal Hospice care?