Did you know that the field of human palliative and hospice care has grown to encompass the support that we can provide to our beloved animal friends? In recent years, the field of animal hospice and palliative care has grown, as an increasing number of people seek to provide comfort options and a peaceful end-of-life experience for their animals.
November is National Hospice and Palliative Care Month. In honor of National Animal Hospice Day, I would like to help you learn more about hospice and palliative care options for your beloved animal family members. Having an understanding and knowledge-base about the resources available to you during your animal’s life-limiting illness or end-of-life journey provides you with better preparation and ultimately, a greater sense of peace.
Much like in human medicine, the animal hospice and palliative care process provides support for both the patient (our animals) and their caregivers (us). It is important to note that there is a clear distinction between palliation (alleviation of symptoms) and hospice (end-of-life care). Palliative care can be integrated at any phase of an animal’s life during a disease process – for chronic, life-limiting or terminal illnesses. It can be provided separately or in addition to hospice care. During the palliative and hospice care process, families work closely with an integrated team (general practice veterinarians; veterinarians with varying specialties such as oncology, internal medicine, neurology, cardiology, hospice and holistic care; and social workers or other mental health professionals). This team helps to guide decision-making about treatment options, pain management, mobility, nutritional needs, medication and care planning while also offering support and counseling to cope with the “roller-coaster ride” of caregiving and waves of the grief process.
As a veterinary social worker and member of the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC), I have supported many families on this very special journey. I have also personally navigated the palliative and hospice care process with my own beloved animal family members. If you are interested in learning more about animal hospice and palliative care for your pet, please visit:
If you are interested in accessing Summit Veterinary Referral Center’s social work services for consultation or support, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 253.983.1114. I also facilitate a free monthly Animal Caregiver Support Group, which is open to all pet owners who are caring for a pet who is aging, has a chronic medical condition, or life-threatening illness.
Take Good Care ~
Rachel Wright, MSW, LSWAIC
Veterinary Social Worker
Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®