Hospice. This has become a buzz-word in veterinary medicine over the past year or so. Hospice has been available for people for centuries, its definition and objectives having morphed over the generations. With all of the talk in the trade publications and continuing education conferences, it would seem as though Veterinary Hospice is a new thing. The goals of veterinarians featuring and advertising hospice as part of their services include:
(a) offering palliative, supportive medical care to relieve suffering to the extent that it’s possible;
(b) mediating on behalf of the pet with the family to provide them with the education they need to handle and care for their pet at home;
(c) preparing the pet’s owner for potential outcomes.
These goals of hospice care are neither unique nor new. Each of these three objectives are priorities for us at the Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic as our patients deal with end-of-life circumstances, and they have been our priority for many years now. Death is a part of life, and one needs only be part of a veterinary practice for a short time to learn that dealing with death, both euthanasia and natural death, is a very present reality.
Even though death is a part of life, it is certainly not easy. And as hard as the decision for euthanaisa is, observing natural death is often much more difficult. Once in a while we learn of a patient that passed in her sleep, and the truth is, that’s how I’d like for it to go all of the time. But for the majority of our patients, natural death is not sudden and painless, and it usually involves suffering. That is why euthanasia is such a wonderful option for our patients. We have the ability to lovingly say to our companion, “No more suffering.”
But what about before we’re ready? And before they’re ready? Surely there must be a way to relieve suffering, to relieve pain, and to enhance quality-of-life even when there’s a poor prognosis, diagnosis or lab report. And that’s where hospice comes in. As I mentioned above, hospice is nothing new for us. When your pet’s disease is in the process of catching up with all of us, we can set up a plan to make things easier. We can take the time that you need to prepare for the possibilities. We can take the steps with you that you need to squeeze every last drop of good times and good memories with your friend.
It is not just in the happy, healthy times that we want to provide kind, compassionate and comprehensive care for our patients. The real test comes when times are not as happy and not as healthy. During this end-of-life time, as much as any other, our goal remains the same: to provide kind, compassionate and comprehensive care. If you have any questions about your pet’s end-of-life hospice care, don’t hesitate to speak with us. Call us at 330-929-3223 to set up a time to meet with one of our doctors.