What happens when your dog is diagnosed with incurable cancer, but you’re not ready to let go? You may think that euthanasia is the only answer, but your pet may be able to be kept comfortable in his or her final days through veterinary hospice care. Hospice care means end-of-life support. It is common for terminally ill humans to seek out hospice care, but it is rare to find veterinary hospice care and some pet parents don’t even realize palliative care is an option.
Palliative care means to treat the symptoms of a disease, rather than the cause. This specialty area is growing in the pet care field to allow pets facing a terminal illness and their owners to enjoy the time they have left together.
Hospice is not necessarily a place you go to, but instead refers to a philosophy of care. Through hospice care, the goal is to make your pet as comfortable as possible and enhance his or her quality of life for as long as possible.
Dr. Dana Lewis is a veterinarian with Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice in North Carolina. “If the pet can be kept comfortable and his or her quality of life maintained through nursing care and pain management, then pet owners may be able to extend the quality time they have with their cherished companions,” says Dr. Lewis. “So often a pet owner who has just heard that their pet has a terminal illness needs time. Time to think, time to adjust and time to make decisions. Veterinary hospice care supports both pet and family during this time.”
Once treatment options have been exhausted, there is still much that can be done to provide comfort and pain relief as the end of life draws near. Hospice care is appropriate when the pet’s condition is terminal and the focus of care becomes quality of life. It can include pain management, supplementary nutrition, palliative medical care and in-home euthanasia services. Hospice care may also include education and support for families dealing with a terminally ill pet.
For more information on veterinary hospice care, visit www.lapoflove.com.