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Monday, December 02, 2013

Hospice Care For Dogs And Cats

Photo of veterinarian and co-founder of Lap of Love, Dr. Mary Gardner, courtesy of J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Like humans whose medical treatment options have ended, our companion animals now have the option to have a dignified, end-of-life experience. This beautiful article, that graced the front page of yesterday's New York Times, declares that there is a "formal end-of-life movement, a formal hospice movement," for pets that has grown exponentially in the last several years. Dr. Gardner, pictured above, founded an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia service called Lap of Love in 2010. Her business started with two providers and now has more than 68 vet partners in 18 states.

The idea is to make everyone more comfortable throughout the process, and as we all know, dying can many times be a process. According to the veterinarians who have jumped on board, a big part of the job is "...relieving pet owner guilt, giving them an emotional bridge to a pet's death, and letting them grieve at home—rather than in a clinic or animal shelter."

But as with all new ideas, there's some controversy, too. Some vet schools are just now starting to get on board with the hospice/at home euthanasia idea, so it's clearly not yet mainstream. And "there are no formal standards for this hospice care," said one of the veterinarians interviewed for this article, and that is part of the current debate.

Most interesting to Parental Unit and me is that some hospice supporters are against the euthanasia part of this end-of-life equation, preferring instead to provide palliative care for the pet until they die naturally, like a hospice setting for humans. As the bond between humans and other animals continues to deepen, scientific evidence continues to demonstrate the advanced cognitive abilities of our pets and the laws regarding animals catch up to that science, we can't help but believe that home hospice and a natural death will become the norm.

Let us know what you think on this very important  issue.


Unknown said...

A tough one as each situation varies and people act in different ways. However we say if it works for some why not?
Have marvellous Monday.
Best wishes Molly

Cowspotdog said...

So long as the pets are not left to suffer in pain for the sake of the peeps who simply don't want to let them go....then yes, it could be a good idea.

Two French Bulldogs said...

This is wonderful. Agree, no one should suffer. I recently had to let my brother Benny go after 13 successful chemo treatments

Bocci said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Parental Unit regrets how she handled loosing her dear Carson. It was his time and she didn't want him to suffer, but she should have insisted that the vet come to our home-he basically talked her out of it, saying that some dogs have reactions to the shots.

Sheltie Times said...

Having been through human hospice with dying family members at home and in institutional settings I can testify to the great benefits not only for the patient, but the families. I can imagine if it is a service you can afford for your pet, then it is one people might opt for to providing an alternate way of managing death.

I did have to take one of my parent's dogs in and it was terrifying for both dog and human. I would be open to finding a more compassionate and dignified approach.

Bocci said...

Thanks to all of you for your insightful comments on this sensitive subject.

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