Pet Hospice Movement: At-Home End-Of-Life Dignity For Pets

Pet Hospice Movement: At-Home End-Of-Life Dignity For Pets

Pet hospice providers believe a loved pet deserves the same care at the end of its life as it did in its prime.

Euthanasia has become the responsible pet owner’s first last resort when faced with a terminally sick, suffering or simply aged pet with a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. But when that first diagnosis is made, it may well be that such a step is not immediately necessary.

Also, many owners are shocked when they first receive the news that their pet has a life-limiting condition. They’re often not ready to ask their veterinary surgeon for euthanasia of their companion animal, but neither do they want their pet to suffer the stress of repeated visits to the vet.

Outside help and expert palliative animal care

Add to that an understanding that some owners won’t have the time and resources to make their home into the place of refuge their pet needs, and it’s easier to appreciate the growing interest in calling in outside help and expert palliative animal care.

In the past, a pet owner’s regular veterinary professional has been the main provider of palliative care and medication. Monitoring the animal through home visits and preparing owners to make the difficult decisions at the right time, the regular vet has also been the one who will carry out the euthanasia.

More recently, vets with a particular interest in the lifelong animal-human bond have begun to offer pet owners specialised end-of-life care for their animal companions. The package of care provision can be tailored to the individual needs of a pet and their owners. This might include home visits from representatives of pet cremation or burial services, pet sitters for work days or holidays, animal psychologists, grief support counsellors and faith-based chaplaincy services.

Avoiding the unnecessary suffering of pets and the emotional distress of their owners

Critics of the pet hospice movement accuse owners of selfishness and providers of exploitation. In truth, the motivation of professionals and providers is almost always to avoid the unnecessary suffering of pets and the emotional distress of their owners.

Sensitively informed and advised by the veterinary practice that provided preventative, laboratory diagnostic and medical care for the pet and its owner throughout their lifelong bond, a pet owner will be able to make a considered decision on what kind of care is required and affordable.

Most of all, a pet owner will be able to look back on these last days of their time together with affection, and in the knowledge that they honoured their bond with their pet right to the end.