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.