End of life care for pets
It is a very sad fact of pet ownership that most of our pets will eventually succumb to chronic disease, cancer or advanced age and all the associated disabilities that may accompany a declining physical self.
Owners have multiple things to consider when confronted with a life threatening illness or a chronic debilitating condition. We will try to outline those choices so you can make the right decision for you, your family and your pet.
An ill pet generally will present with various signs of the disease or condition. To the extent possible, we encourage getting an actual diagnosis of that problem. This generally entails testing in the form of blood and urine laboratory tests, x-rays, and occasionally advanced imaging or consultation with specialists. Once a diagnosis is reached, treatment options can be discussed and choices made toward attempting either cure or control of the disease process. This is not always possible but is something to try to achieve if feasible. If a curative or controllable treatment does not exist, or the choice is made to NOT pursue treatment, then we move on to consider other options.
If the pet is in uncontrollable pain, has an unacceptable quality of life and no possibility exists to improve its condition, euthanasia remains a viable, humane and acceptable choice to limit that pet’s suffering. We can discuss this in-depth if this choice is being considered. Euthanasia can be performed here at our clinic in our comfort room or can be done at home through several at-home euthanasia service providers in this area.
If your pet’s quality of life is still acceptable to you and your pet is able to be made comfortable, then palliative or hospice care can be chosen to maintain that quality of life for as long as possible. This involves many adjustments in the approach to the pet’s care, such as environmental modifications, pain control and attention to the pet’s social and emotion well being. There are at-home hospice services available in our community as well as outpatient palliative care through our hospital.