Veterinary Hospice is buzzing around in conversations more and more of late. The more we hear these words the better we can recognize and define them... and the sooner families in need will be able to implement this kind of care! It is also a chance to separate hospice from euthanasia- veterinary hospice may end with compassionate euthanasia, often at home, but there is far more to hospice than the very end of life!
Often, families will call me and share that they are not sure it is time to start into hospice care- my response is that likely, if they are considering this and reaching out, their animal is ready and so are they. It has also come to my attention through varied discussions that hospice can be a scary word- it makes people think of death. Hospice does precede death... so does birth. Truly, hospice is a way to transition from good living to better dying, both for the beloved animals we are caring for as well as for those dedicated and loving families. It is a support system to ensure comfort for our pets and guidance for their caregivers. It may be hours, days or months... in some cases even into years (this is true for both human and animal hospice) but I never have heard someone express that they started too early. In fact, most often I hear that families wished they had called earlier.
If your animal has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, you don't have to wait until they are no longer eating and you are distraught with decisions on what to do. Seeking support from a veterinarian for individualized hospice centered care does not mean you are giving up, quite frankly it is more of the opposite. You are speaking up! You are asking for help to guide you as you care for a friend through the toughest part of your relationship.
So if you or someone you know is trying to cope with a bad diagnosis or struggling with age-related decline with their animal- reach out and find the support you need and help the end of life be as good as it can be.