Saying Goodbye is Never Easy
I have been trying to write this post for a long time but as you can imagine it is a difficult topic. It is difficult for you to think about and difficult for me to write about. Almost every pet owner will at some point be faced with decisions regarding end-of life. Now that I am certified in animal hospice and palliative care I have become even more involved in this aspect of the profession. I have always been touched deeply by the end of life of our pets. It has been an honour to help so many transition with as much dignity and comfort as possible.
Our Role as Veterinary Professionals
My goal as a palliative care veterinarian is to support you and your pet through this very important time. Emotions run high as we experience anticipatory grief at the prospect of losing our friend, followed by the grief of loss. It is important to get all of the information that you need to make the right decisions for you and your pet. There is no exact formula for this but over the years I have been honoured to assist many pets in their final days and each time has been a unique experience. Each of us need to consider what is the best thing for us and our furry friends.
Our team can help from the point of a terminal diagnosis until the end and will continue to offer or refer to needed support afterwards. We are here to offer guidance on quality of life, medical care, memorialization, grief support and decision making along the way.
Memorialization is often an important part of the grieving process and we can help to determine the way that best suits your particular family.
If your pet has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or is suffering from chronic pain or disease there are many options you can pursue. It is best to discuss these with your veterinarian. Most of our pets are part of our families and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect throughout their lives. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions.
Veterinary Hospice Care at Home
Hospice is an option that more and more people are considering. End of Life Care does not necessarily need to mean aggressive treatment or immediate euthanasia. There can be a more gentle, supportive way as well. Hospice includes support and compassionate care for pets and their families near the end of life. It may include palliative care, such as pain or anti-anxiety medication, fluid and nutritional support, hygienic and mobility support, quality of life discussions as well as mental health support. Although the decision-making process can seem overwhelming we can help by providing insight and tools to help assess your pet’s quality of life.
Many veterinarians are equipped to aid in hospice, but a house call veterinarian is especially prepared to help in this instance. The house call veterinarian is able to observe your pet in their own environment and is therefore able to get a more accurate assessment of their condition. The house call veterinarian can also help with issues that may be specific to your home. They can observe, feeding and stairs and make recommendations which make the most sense for your pet and your home. You can eliminate the stress of travel and the clinic with a house call veterinarian. Working together with your regular veterinarian provides the best possible care.
When end of life is imminent and hospice is no longer an option you still have choices. Some people still choose to take their pets to a clinic as this feels right to them but others, they want something different. Maybe something more intimate, more private or maybe a house full of friends and relatives. Some people chose to have their pet pass at home in their bed, or outside under a favourite tree, by a rambling stream, or maybe their favourite spot in the barn. Maybe they want to light candles and play music, or maybe they just want to hear the tick of the clock in the hallway, or the breeze blowing through the trees. Whatever you decide, the choice is yours and we will work with you to help ease the transition as best as we can.
At Caledon-Vaughan Veterinary House Call Services we work with Gateway Pet Memorial to assist in aftercare and Peartree Impressions to help memorialize your pet. You can visit these sites if you are interested in different options to preserve your pet’s memory.
Please feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have.
– Janet Henderson, DVM, CHPV