What is end of life care for pets?
End-of-life care “focuses on providing the best quality of life possible for a pet with a terminal disease or condition until the pet dies or is euthanized. End-of-life care also helps you as a pet owner by providing you time to make decisions and adjust to the coming loss of your companion”, according to the AVMA.
What is end-of-life care provided by a veterinarian?
This service “typically includes [an on-call veterinarian providing urgent care]; extended appointments including counseling and support for decision-making; in-home care; medications and other therapies [to relieve] discomfort, stress and pain; euthanasia options tailored to you and your pet’s needs (which may include in-home euthanasia); and pet loss support/grief counseling”. If your veterinarian does not offer this service, ask for any recommendations. With this option, you as the owner will provide hospice care, or special attention, to your pet in home.
What is hospice care?
If you choose to care for your animal at home as instructed by a veterinarian, you will need to provide hospice care for your pet. Your constant monitoring and a strong commitment as a pet owner are essential to ensure a good quality of life. Regular and frequent veterinary visits are important to remain diligent on the condition of your pet, in case he is in pain or declining to a point where euthanasia should at least be discussed. To note, “withholding palliative sedation or euthanasia is considered unethical and inhumane...if suffering [can’t] be relieved” any other way, according to the American Animal Hospital Association.
When should euthanasia be considered?
Parameters to assess quality of life include “harm, hunger, hydration, hygiene, happiness, mobility, and more good days than bad days”, according to veterinarian Robin Downing. If your pet is in pain that can’t be alleviated or cured, or if you are not able to provide hospice care, it is a good idea to discuss the possibility of euthanasia with your vet. Your veterinarian will be able to give a professional, unbiased opinion on your pet’s suffering and discomfort.
How can I make a decision to euthanize a beloved pet?
Sometimes, it is clear to owners when it is time to euthanize, but, in other situations, the decision might be less clear and more difficult to make. It’s important to consider that pets might display pain and discomfort differently that you might expect. It’s also important to be aware of your own emotions and how they might be factoring into the decision. It is best to have a discussion with your veterinarian and truly make an effort to weigh their professional opinion in the decision.
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