Lori Landis Blog

What do you say to someone who has just lost a beloved pet? (or friend or other family member)

We all have been in situations where we are confronted with a person suffering a loss. This can be tough – for everyone. What do you say? You want to say something that will make them feel better but if you say the wrong thing it can make them feel much worse. So, what to do in this situation?

Say nothing.

Just listen.

Acknowledge their pain.

Clicking the image below will take you to a very good (and short) article about how we tend to try to make it better by showing that it could be worse. It’s called “conversational narcissism” and unless we are self-aware in the moment I think we all are prone. So, take a moment to read this. You will improve your conversational skills and be more prepared the next time a grieving friend needs support.

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The End of a Dog’s Life

This article was in the New Your Times recently and talks about several things that are relevant in making the decision to choose hospice or palliative care for your pet. Just as with other forms of treatment, cost is a factor that must be considered.  The writer of this articleAna Homayoun, had pet insurance which covered a lot of her hospice expenses.  Insurance can be very helpful but not all insurance policies cover hospice care so it is important to ask about this when choosing a policy.

Ana also talked about reading a book by Atul Gawande called “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.” While this book is about human patients the message can apply to any living being.  What really is most important –  the quantity, or the quality of the life (QOL) you have left?  The book helped Ana make choices for her dog Masonthat improved her life as well as his. (By the way, if you haven’t read the book I highly recommend it!)

While we do have more advanced treatment options for our pets than ever before (including specialty surgeries or chemotherapy and radiation) we need to balance the potential risks and benefits of those choices with the potential benefits and outcome with palliative treatment options. In some cases palliative care can deliver the same life expectancy as with conventional therapies and with better comfortand QOL.

And finally, when the end came the author received excellent care and guidance for both herself and her dog.  Caring is what we do best.

Article: NY Times Article

 

Grieving?

dog on path
 
 
“Grieving an animal member of the family is likely to have many of the same features as grieving for a human member of the family,” says Jeannine Moga, a veterinary social worker specializing in human-animal relationships and grief counseling at the NC State Veterinary Hospital (VH). “We grieve deeply loving relationships, no matter what the species.”
 
Looking for more information? Click Here

Don’t be afraid -We’re here to make it easier

I get a lot of calls from pet parents who share their pet’s condition and are looking for more information about in-home euthanasia for “when the time comes”. When I talk to them about considering hospice and palliative care options for their pet in the meantime, they frequently respond with something like “Oh no, doctor! He’s not ready for that yet!”   Often the truth is that the pet is very uncomfortable has been ready for this care for quite some time.

There seems to be an inherent feeling of fear and dread at the mention of the word “hospice”. This usually is because in human medicine hospice is indicated when it is believed that the patient has 6 months or less to live and is quite sick. If this is your understanding of hospice then having someone suggest this option for your beloved pet would certainly send your emotions soaring.

Animal hospice, while very similar to human hospice, is not held to the same time limitations. I have had many a patient that we jokingly say has “failed” hospice since they responded so well to the treatment plan and are well into their second year (or more) since the initial visit. Even for those pets who are not as lucky, hospice and palliative care can still help them to live life as comfortably and fully as possible for the time they have left with their families.

Animal hospice is not about curing diseases or prolonging suffering. It is about palliating symptoms and caring - caring for the patient and caring for the families. It is what we do best.