Hospice Care: What You Should Know
Veterinary hospice care is defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as "care that will allow a terminally ill animal (with a short life expectancy) to live comfortably at home or in a facility." Hospice care is typically sought when nothing else can be done and will end with either a natural death or humane euthanasia. The care is centered around keeping your pet comfortable and sanitary during his or her final days, rather than on treatment, diagnosis, or cure. More specifically, it will address your pet's appetite, happiness, hydration, hygiene, mobility, and pain.
The hospice team will consist of your veterinarian, his or her trained staff, and you. Although you will have the guidance and expertise of professionals, much of the care for your pet will often be provided by you and your family. It is important to consider your comfort level with this and discuss your role with your veterinarian ahead of time.
Veterinary hospice care typically includes:
• Implementation of a hospice care plan
• Education about the end-stage disease/illness process
• Pain identification and treatment
• Supplementary nutrition and fluids
• Management of incontinence
• Bandage and wound care