Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Hospice care

Synonym(s): Animal Hospice, end-of-life, palliative, support for the dying

Contributor(s): Kathleen Cooney, Susan Gregersen

Philosophies of Care

  • Animal hospice is itself, a philosophy of care. The goal is to provide physical support to the dying pet, while at the same time, offering emotional support and education to caregivers. It begins the moment a life-limiting illness (and/or terminal disease) has been identified in the pet or when age related changes are advanced enough that a natural passing is expected within a few months. Physical support comes in the form of palliative care Palliative care aimed at comfort, not cure of disease. Emotional support for caregivers is given before, during, and after death. When guided properly, the journey towards death is peaceful and enriching for both pet and caregiving family. 
  • Great attention is given to the needs and goals of the dying pet as the primary concern but also important is it to consider those of the caregivers. Before hospice care is implemented, discussions are had regarding the pet's unique needs. Caregivers are asked about their goals and possible limitations in providing care such as time constraints, limited funds, and physical limitations. When all information is gathered, a highly-personalized plan of care is designed to optimize comfort and minimize suffering by all involved.  Ongoing education and regular communication about a pet's condition helps prepare caregivers to recognize signs of discomfort and be prepared for advancing changes in health. 
  • Animal hospice focuses heavily on the Bond-Centered approach. Being Bond-Centered, hospice work prioritizes people as much as pets and attends to the bonds that people form; the family-pet bond, the family-pet-veterinary team bond, and the bonds between staff members. Managing and supporting these relationships is as much a priority as providing high quality medical treatment for animals. There is a focus on building and healing the relationships that stem from the human-companion animal bond (HCAB) and that focus becomes the heart of the caregiving mission.
Print off the owner factsheet on Palliative care and animal hospice Palliative care and animal hospice to give to your client.

The palliative approach

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Options for death

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The importance of team

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Ethical considerations

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from VetMed Resource and PubMed.
  • Bishop G et al (2016) 2016 AAHA/IAAHPC end-of-life care guidelines. JAAHA 52 (6), 341-356 PubMed.

Other sources of information


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