End of Life Care for Pets FAQ
How Can I Find a Veterinarian Who Practices Hospice Care?
First consult with your primary veterinarian and see if she recommends hospice care for your pet based on his specific needs. She may already practice some form of hospice care or may refer you to another vet who will guide you through a hospice program.
What Do I Need to Know in Order to Provide Home Hospice Care for My Terminally Ill Pet?
Pet parents who opt for home hospice care will be taught how to administer pain medication, change bandages, provide fluid therapy and perform general nursing duties, including keeping their pets comfortable and clean.
One of the most important tasks as caretaker is to observe and report any changes in your pet’s behavior, weight, temperature, eating habits, mobility and overall well-being. If you notice any changes, immediately contact your veterinarian, who will adjust your pet’s medication and treatment accordingly. It’s also important to remember that euthanasia may still be necessary with hospice care. If a peaceful, natural end is unlikely or your pet is in pain, you may decide to end his suffering with euthanasia.
Will My Pet Show Signs that He Is Ready to Pass Away?
To be as aware as possible of your pet’s condition, you should:
- Be able to recognize signs of physical suffering typical of your pet’s age and/or illness. Your veterinarian is the best source of this information.
- Prevent unnecessary suffering in your terminally ill, injured or aged animal by finding ways to assess your pet’s quality of life. With your vet’s help, figure out the signs of a good day compared to a bad day and keep a record of how often the signs of pain appear.
- Be as informed as you can about your pet’s behavior. Being unaware or unable to assess signs and symptoms will exhaust family members and put your pet at risk of lingering longer than is comfortable.
What Is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia provides a painless, peaceful end for a pet who would otherwise continue to suffer. Your veterinarian has special training to provide your pet with a humane and gentle death. During the procedure, your vet will inject your pet with a sedative followed by a special medication. The animal experiences no awareness of the end of life-the process is akin to undergoing general anesthesia for a surgical procedure and takes about 10 to 20 seconds.