Palliative care for pets is a specialised approach to veterinary care that focuses on improving the quality of life for senior pets or those with serious illnesses or conditions. It aims to provide relief from pain, discomfort, and other symptoms while addressing the emotional and social needs of the pet and their human family.
One of the most challenging parts of owning a pet is caring for them when they’re older and have illnesses affecting them daily. Modern veterinary medicine has many different treatment options available, but that does not mean that pursuing more and more treatments is always the right decision for our pets. At Rest Your Paws, we’re here to help with in-home palliative care for your pet’s final days, weeks, and months – however long that might be. So what is hospice care – and is it the right decision for my pet?
When our pets reach a certain age or have a serious illness, there may come a point where we must stop trying to cure their condition (that is, to get rid of it entirely) and instead look to manage their symptoms and focus on comfort. This allows them to live a good-quality life for as long as possible.
“Palliative care” is the name for treatment that focuses on keeping the patient as comfortable and stress-free as possible for as long as possible. It focuses on the quality of your pet’s life rather than the quantity, making it less intense than standard medical treatment. This care optimises comfort and allows you to enjoy time with your pet without regular diagnostics and vet visits.
Treatment away from home is usually more stressful for our pets, so we offer pet hospice care at home, where your pet is comfortable and stress-free. In humans, palliative care is usually given at home or in a hospice facility rather than a hospital, and we want to give our pets the same high standard of end-of-life care.
The decision to move from standard medical treatment to palliative care is always challenging. At Rest Your Paws, we’re here to help you make these difficult decisions. There are a few reasons why you might choose palliative care for your pet:
There are many understandable reasons why it might not be in a pet’s best interests to proceed with treatment, even if it is available. These include:
Your regular vet may have already suggested that you consider palliative care. However, suggesting it to them is also okay if you feel the time is right. You will be more aware of how well your pet is coping with their illness at home and how they feel about coming into the clinic for treatment, so it’s essential to listen to your instincts about what’s best for them. At Rest Your Paws, we are happy to discuss the transition to palliative care if you’re undecided about the right course of action.
Palliative care focuses on relieving the symptoms of your pet’s illness to keep their physical and emotional well-being as good as possible for as long as possible.
In the early stages of many illnesses, your pet may experience few symptoms. At this stage, you can focus on helping them to enjoy their life as much as possible and make some good memories with them. You should also try to encourage them to eat regular meals. Many illnesses will lead to weight loss, so helping them to maintain their weight will keep them strong for as long as possible.
As your pet’s illness progresses, there are many different types of treatments to help with their symptoms. These might include:
In the more advanced stages, your beloved pet may benefit from more intensive treatment, such as more potent painkillers or fluids given under the skin or into the vein (“intravenously”). Feeding tubes can also be placed to help your pet take in food, even if their appetite is poor. We will support you with deciding whether to undertake any of these with your pet and help you to manage them at home. We will visit as often as necessary to ensure your pet receives the required medications and care.