One of the unfortunate truths about being a pet parent is that you will inevitably outlive your beloved pet. In this article, our Seattle vets talk about pet hospice and end-of-life care to help your pet feel comfortable at the end and provide you with the support you need.
Hospice Care For Your Pet: Why You Should Consider It
Cats live an average of 12-18 years, dogs live an average of 10-13 years and humans have a life expectancy of 78 years in the United States. This means you as a pet owner will likely have to face the mortality of your pet.
Hospice care is a service available to your pets in order to offer the best quality of life throughout the last of their days, much like hospice care for humans.
Hospice care is administered when the decision is made that there are either no more viable medical options or that further treatment is causing more suffering with little to no chance of recovery. From this point on the goal will be to help your pet feel as comfortable as possible.
At What Point Should You Seek End-of-Life Care?
This type of care is normally set aside for animals, those with medical conditions that are not treatable, those whose condition affects their quality in an extremely negative fashion, and those who are at the end of their lifespan.
What Is Included During Hospice and End-of-Life Care?
Hospice care involves making your pet as comfortable as possible during the last stage of their life. This can include a comprehensive quality-of-life exam, prescribing medication and food for pain management, and finally offering humane euthanasia.
Euthanasia For Your Cat or Dog
This is a hard issue to talk about due to the emotional weight of the topic. The choice is yours if you prefer to have your pet pass away naturally in the comfort of their own home or painlessly at your vet's office. Your vet team will do their best to accommodate your choice.
If you are choosing to make use of the painless method by taking your pet to your vet you will need to make some decisions. The first decision is when to have the procedure done. At Cat Clinic of Seattle in Seattle we normally try to book these appointments for times when the office isn't busy to help this event be as calm as possible.
Your next decision is who will be in office when it happens. Some people want to be with their pets until the end and some people cannot handle that type of situation. There is no judgment for your level of comfort with the concept of death.
If you have children we will leave it up to your best judgment on the emotional maturity of your kids and whether you want them present to understand what is happening to their pet.
Sometimes if there are multiple pets in the house some owners find that it helps to bring their other pets so that they can sniff and understand that their friend has passed on.
Support Once Your Pet Has Passed Away
Because this is an emotional time, we recommend planning for this step in advance. There are several options for what to do with your beloved pet's remains including burial, cremation, and aquamation. You may wish to have a memorial service for your beloved pet.
No matter what you choose to do we recommend that you have a support network to help you through the grieving process.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.