Just like older humans, our senior pets can start to develop health problems as they age. Sometimes these health problems accelerate and can eventually end of their life. As loving and responsible pet owners, we need to do what we can to keep our animals comfortable and calm at the end of their days.
Here's what you need to know about end-of-life care for animals, including how to choose the best end-of-life care for your pet.
Also known as hospice care or palliative care, end-of-life care is a type of veterinary medicine that focuses on providing relief for animals who are suffering from an incurable or progressively debilitating condition. It is usually recommended by veterinarians for animals who are at a stage in life where their health problems are causing a significant decline in their quality of life. For example, a pet receiving end-of-life care may have cancer but may not be a good candidate for chemotherapy or surgery, or treatment may not be feasible for financial or other reasons. In cases of incurable illness, the aim is to improve the quality of life of your pet for as long as possible.
Quality of life means that your pet:
Can still eat and enjoy their food
Can move around, get themselves outside for the toilet, go on gentle walks.
Enjoys interacting with the family and the company of humans
Isn’t living with regular or constant pain
The majority of pets receiving end-of-life care will be on regular pain medication to keep them comfortable. This may be administered via tablets crushed/hidden in their food. They may also be given other medications to help prolong their life. Your end-of-life veterinarian at Evergreen Animal Hospital will also provide important information, advice, and support on ways in which you can alter your home environment to make it better suited to your pet at this time of their life. This may mean installing aids such as non-slip mats, mobility ramps, and toe grips, or altering the position of your pet’s bed to make it easier for them to reach their food or get outside to relieve themselves.
Many senior pets require special diets, and this may change again as your pet approaches the end of their life. This is because they may need special supplements to help ease health conditions like arthritis or need to have a softer diet because of issues with their teeth or mouth. Your Evergreen veterinarian will be able to advise you which diet is best suited to your pet.
And, when the time, unfortunately, comes to say goodbye, your end-of-life veterinarian will help you to do so in a time and manner that suits you, your pet, and your family best. Choosing to end your pet’s life is always going to be incredibly hard, but it is a final act of love that ensures that they don’t suffer unnecessarily.
What happens at the end of your pet’s life will stay with you forever. Therefore, it’s essential that you choose the very best care possible. Understandably, you’ll want your pet to remain at home for as long as they can, and a great end-of-life veterinarian at Evergreen Animal Hospital will be happy to support you and your animal however they can.
Some of the things that you should consider when choosing a veterinarian to provide end of life care include:
Whether your veterinary team will customize a plan based on your pet’s specific needs.
Whether or not your veterinarian can perform home visits to see your pet once it becomes difficult or impossible to take them into the clinic, or if they can recommend a veterinary service that does.
Whether they can offer veterinary in-patient care if it is required.
What euthanasia options they offer when the time comes.
The support services that your veterinarian can offer after your pet has passed.
If you would like more information about how to choose the best end-of-life care for your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and compassionate veterinary team at our office in Evergreen, Colorado at (303) 674-4331.