Most of us who have terminally ill or aged pets practice hospice care and may not even be aware that we are.
There are times when the cost of treatment can overwhelm, particularly young families and those on fixed incomes. With incurable illnesses such as cancer, treatment often causes side effects without any benefit. Pet owners must decide when it is time to halt aggressive treatment and think about quality of life rather than quantity.
Hospice care for pets is best done at home in a caring environment where a pet feels safe and loved. Both pets and owners bond very closely at this time. Hospice care lends dignity to a pet’s end of life and allows owners time to come to grips with saying goodby.
Of course you must be prepared to care for your pet’s needs. Your veterinarian can teach you how to administer any medications, IVs or injections and change bandages when necessary. Since every pet is an individual and every illness requires different care, you and your veterinarian can work out a plan of home treatment. You will learn how to keep your pet clean and comfortable as well. It’s a good idea to keep a detailed record of dates, times of medications or any changes in your pet’s physical or behavioral conditions. You and your vet can develop a plan to help keep you comfortable with the care.
It’s critical to be able to contact your vet when you need advice or help. A good rapport with your vet is very important, especially with home hospice care.
There comes that time when a final decision may have to be made. Each of us must decide when the quality of life is no longer present – when the eyes dim and the spark is gone. Your pet may suffer pain that can’t be controlled, can’t control elimination, can’t stand or walk, is not eating or drinking, cries out.
I have been told by most people that their pets have a way of letting them know when it’s time to let go. And I have experienced it myself. Something you might want to discuss with your vet is home euthanization to minimize stress to you and your pet. Administering this final gift of love can be a dignified, caring experience.
Pet owners may not always be able to give hospice care to their pets. An owner may not be physically able to give the extra care necessary. Some people have time limitations such as work schedules that don’t allow for hospice care. Before taking on the responsibility, be sure you are able to take on the care.
We have a saying on a group where I am a member, bonecancerdogs – there are no wrong decisions. Whatever your decision, hospice care is given as an option.
We all do what we are able to and we give our pets the most important things – the best quality of life and lots and lots of love.