As described on the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC):
“Animal hospice is care for animals, focused on the patient's and family's needs; on living life as fully as possible until the time of death [with or without intervention]; and on attaining a degree of preparation for death.”
"Palliative care is the active total care of patients with a life-limiting illness that is not responsive to curative treatment. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social and spiritual problems, is paramount. The goal of palliative care is achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families." [The World Health Organization, 1990.] Palliative care can go on as long as it is needed, for months and even for years.”
Veterinary hospice and palliative care is medical and nursing (at home) management of pets as they reach the end of their lives because of terminal illness or their natural end. Veterinary hospice understands and deals with end of life issues for the pet and the pet owner. Old age is not a disease but a stage in all lives and veterinarians are in a position to ease pets and their owners through a very difficult time while keeping the well-being of the pet uppermost in mind.
Many caregivers along with the pet owners use a Pet Quality of Life Scale to determine the status of the pet and the need for palliative care. The Pet Quality of Life Scale looks at several characteristics of the pet and assigns a numerical score. Appetite, attitude, mobility, respiration and pain levels are some of the assessments made. Abnormalities in these assessments help to guide treatment or the decision to euthanize the pet. Treatment modalities such as pain management, management of GI symptoms, physical rehabilitation and aids to movement, and acupuncture are used in palliative care.
At Fur and Feathers Veterinary Care, we strive to offer palliative care including acupuncture, medications, dietary management and physical rehabilitation for the pets in our area. Exact recommendations are customized to each individual pet’s and owner’s needs. We offer these services on a referral basis respecting the referring veterinarian's client/patient relationship.