Until Sherlock was diagnosed with cancer in May 2022, I had never heard of hospice and palliative care for animals, I thought it was only for humans! Once our vet had confirmed Sherlock's cancer, we asked about way's to remove the cancer, very sadly due to age and minimal survival rate from surgery (even young animals have a low survival rate of this surgery due to the location of the tumor) he was given 6-12 months! Our veterinary practice told us about holistic vet care, and directed us to a local vet who practiced palliative and hospice care, and in home euthanasia. At our first meeting with the vet, she went over the courses of treatment she uses, and we set up individual plans for Sherlock and Missy with acupuncture and various Chinese herbs, and also talked about realistic expectations. It's important to realize that this service is not a cure, it's there to help our animal companion's life's more comfortable. We continued with palliative and hospice care until we had in home euthanasia for Sherlock on March 10, 2022, and then continued with the service for Missy until we had in home euthanasia for her on July 17th 2022.
Here is a quote from the "International Association Animal Hospice and Palliative Care" website on their page "Faqs for Pet Parents" "What is Animal Hospice/What is Palliative Care"
Both are approaches to care for your animal friend that can be adopted when the goal shifts from cure to comfort. Both involve an interdisciplinary team of providers who offer comprehensive care on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels and include veterinarians, animal and family services providers. The term “animal hospice” is not a place; it is a philosophy of care that became popularized in the 1970s. Since the 1990s, the hospice model has been applied to also care for our pets and thus hospice and palliative care for animals is growing across the US and the world.
If you have a sick animal companion, please check out their site, they have lots of information for pet parents, I've included a link to their website at the bottom of this page.
When we are facing the end of our relationship with our animal companion, for whatever reason. It can be important to us to honor their life, just as we would our human companion. Some of you may have your animal companion in palliative or hospice care, whereas others maybe facing hours until the end of that relationship. Below are just a few ways that you can honor this time you have left with your animal companion.
If you have decided on home euthanasia with your vet, please talk with your vet about your wishes and concerns before the visit. Having this conversation early will enable you to think more clearly rather than the time of the visit…I talk from experience here!
The following are some of the questions to ask your vet.
If for whatever reason you are unable or don’t choose to have an in-home euthanasia, you can still ask any of the above information questions.
To find out more information on Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, please check out "Pet Parents" under their Resources tab https://iaahpc.org