When Elliott, a Jack Russell/Poodle mix, was 12 year old, he was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Disease. His owner was devastated by the diagnosis, but wanted to do whatever was necessary to give him the best quality of life and make sure he was healthy and happy for as long as possible. This type of heart disease meant he was coughing, had deceased energy and was breathing rapidly, sometimes panting while sleeping or just laying down. Elliott’s owner was very worried and because he was her first senior pet and she had lots of questions about what to expect and how to handle his diagnosis. Her veterinary clinic and their staff made sure she knew that they were available to answer all the questions and concerns she had about how to continue taking care of Elliott.
After having an echocardiogram, the cardiologist gave Elliott a prognosis of 7-months to 2-years of life remaining. He sent Elliott’s records to his regular veterinary clinic and with the staff’s attention and frequent communication with Elliott’s owner, he was placed on a combination of drugs for the rest of his life. Three times a day he received medication for his heart, a diuretic to decrease the fluid in his lungs, a pill for his blood pressure and eventually one for pain management. Giving Elliott his medication three times a day became part of his owner’s routine, but she was still very concerned about the effect they would have on his overall health, so the veterinary clinic made sure they contacted his owner frequently for updates on his progress and was always available to take calls from her about any concerns she had. The owner felt comfortable calling her clinic to discuss changes in Elliott’s health, and she always received compassion and felt supported, no matter how big or small the issue.
Working Together to Ensure Elliot’s Best Life
His medication dosages were adjusted based on how he was doing, and with the attention and care from the vet staff, Elliott settled into a comfortable new routine and was thriving. When she picked up his prescription refills, the staff would ask for updates about Elliott and she was able to keep them up-to-date on his disease progression. This made the owner feel like Elliott was important to the clinic and that they were just as concerned about his health as she was. With the veterinarian’s careful recommendations, during the remaining years of his life he had regular blood work to monitor how the drugs were affecting his organs, especially his kidneys. Elliott loved being outdoors and although he could no longer go on extended hikes with his owners, with advice from the vet, his owners continued to bring him out for hikes, but ones tailored for his energy level and age.
In the last year of his life, Elliott developed gastrointestinal upset and at the vet’s recommendation, had an abdominal ultrasound and chest x-rays. These revealed a mass on his heart, nodules on his liver and a cyst on his kidney. His medications were adjusted and with the support of his veterinarian, he was able to continue life comfortably until it was time for him to be euthanized. Elliott was euthanized at home in peace, surrounded by his owners who were confident they had made the right decision. They were pleased with the relationship that had developed with Elliott’s veterinary clinic and felt that by having open communication with their veterinarian, this absolutely helped to extend Elliott’s life from his initial prognosis to living almost 3 years longer.
Building a Relationship with your Veterinary Team is Beneficial for You and Your Pet
Elliott’s story is an example of how despite an illness and eventual euthanasia, the relationship between owner and veterinarian is very important and can help maintain a pet’s health status by also supporting the owner. Building that relationship is one of the main focuses of Caledon Vaughan Veterinary House Call Services. We want owners to be able to provide the best care within their limits to maximize their pet’s quality of life. It’s challenging to have a senior pet or when your pet experiences an illness, and we’re here to help and support both you and your pet. Although we’re trained in medical lingo and have experience with pet illnesses and expectations from difficult diagnoses, it can be tough as an owner to be presented with a lot of new information about your pet’s health status. You’re worried about your pet’s health, what the diagnosis means, and you might not understand what the vet and staff are saying and may feel foolish to ask questions. This is very common and is why we’re happy to make sure you feel comfortable asking those questions, no matter what they are. If the owner understands what is being presented to them, then they can focus on their pet’s care and not worry about what they may have missed.
Owners may not need to speak with their veterinarian to have their questions answered. The Registered Veterinary Technician may be able to help assist with an owner’s concerns. The team of support staff are on hand to help with whatever the owner needs. The relationship between a pet owner and clinic is like a partnership and Caledon Vaughan Veterinary House Call Services is happy to be the team that you’ve chosen to help care for your pet’s wellbeing. Whether you’re homebound and unable to physically take your pet to a clinic, your pet is anxious and doesn’t thrive in a clinic environment or is a senior and you’d like to discuss hospice and palliative care, contact us today to book an appointment for your pet and begin a relationship that will last your pet’s lifetime.
Author: Meaghan Michaud, RVT