This article explains the difference between “end of life care” that has been available through traditional medicine forever and “pet hospice” which when done properly is very different and a brand new service.
Hospice recognizes that a terminal diagnosis not only impacts the pet with the life limiting disease, but also the human family members who are the pets primary caregivers. As a result, the patient is defined, bigger, as the “unit of care” and includes the pet as well as the people. An interdisciplinary team provides the treatment. The medical director is the Veterinarian who is responsible for designing the treatment plan for the pet. The Registered Veterinary Technician, provides hands on nursing care as well as expert coaching to the family as they engage in caregiving activities that may be new to them. A licensed human therapist or Social Worker, rounds out the interdisciplinary team and supports the human with issues of anticipatory grief, aftercare and more.
With hospice there is a shift from “cure to comfort measures.” Pain management and symptom control become the focus of the team to enhance quality of life.
In hospice care, instead of the pet traveling to the treatment, the treatment team travels to the pet, 24/7, providing medication visits and when necessary an in home euthanasia. Allowing a pet to stay home, around the clock, where they are most comfortable and experience the least amount of stress is a hallmark of a true hospice program.
Tammy Wynn is owner of Angel’s Paws