For years, we’ve been recommending the booklet “Into the Light.” This invaluable resource was written by Gail Pope, founder of BrightHaven. While it’s not meant to be a manual, it has proven to be an invaluable tool for families with pet’s approaching the end of their lives. “Into the Light” has helped families understand what is happening and what to expect as their pet changes. It can be comforting and helpful to have insight into the physical and behavioral changes our loved ones may experience as they move forward in life.
If you are new to the idea of animal hospice, it may be overwhelming. You might not have considered that caring for your aging pet would be considered hospice. At Animal RN, we’ve come up with a definition of what animal hospice means to us.
What is Animal Hospice?
Animal hospice is not a place, but a philosophy of care. When diagnostics have been exhausted, or further treatment seems futile, this is the narrow space where hospice lives. The focus of hospice care is absolute pain management and comfort care. Attempts to cure disease gives way to caring for the being. Another term often used during this time is palliative care. Today in the veterinary community, the terms are used interchangeably. In the human health care arena, there are differences between hospice and palliation.
This acknowledgement of the animal as a whole can often go hand in hand with holistic care. Some say the addition of holistic care near the end of life is a last-ditch effort in the fight. I believe it is the understanding that the animal’s whole being should be as comfortable as possible. In an effort to do all we can for our dear friends, we put aside our own ideas and inhibitions and will do all that we can.
Animal hospice is really what you make of it. This time can be meaningful and memorable, a chance for everyone to join together. During this special time of life, it’s more important to love your pets well and honor them the best you can. Worrying about definitions and terminology shouldn’t getting in the way of loving your pet well. Follow your heart, know there is care available and support available for you to provide loving care at home. You have at your disposal veterinarians, licensed technicians and community volunteers to serve as your hospice team. There are numerous resources available to you. You are not alone.
Into the Light can be a great first step. No matter the time, day or night, you can quickly get the information you need to help your pet and support them as they move Into the Light.
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