What is Pet Hospice?

Pet hospice works to minimize the suffering of both animals and their human caregivers/owners as the animals near the end of their lives. This includes providing compassionate comfort care for the pet, guidance and support for caregivers as they face difficult decisions, and support in the bereavement process, making the loss and grief as meaningful and positive parts of the pet ownership experience as possible.

Hospice care strives to allow the pet to enjoy the last days of life in familiar surroundings and in the company of loved ones. This goal is accomplished by controlling specific symptoms, making sure the animal’s environment is as comfortable as it could be, and providing as much interaction with the family as the pet can enjoy. Hospice care provides more time for the family with their ill pet and helps the family adjust to the pet’s approaching death. It strengthens the bond between owner and pet and helps prepare the owner for the loss of a beloved friend.

The pet hospice team and the pet’s family begin hospice care when the pet is terminally ill and palliative care appears to be a better choice than further attempts to cure the illness. Some pet caregivers/owners welcome hospice care and embrace it as it relieves them of the burden of coping with reality in isolation. Others have greater difficulty accepting the new reality of the terminal nature of their pet’s illness, and may see hospice as “giving up hope”. However, pet hospice does NOT mean attempts to cure the illness must be stopped!

A pet hospice team consists of a veterinarian, a veterinary nurse/technician, and a social worker, all of whom have specialized training in Animal Hospice. The pet hospice team is an extension of the family’s primary veterinary care team and support network, working closely with all the pet’s care providers to design the best plan of care for keeping the beloved pet comfortable.

Hospice may not be the right choice for all pet owners. It requires time and commitment from everyone involved and it can be expensive. However, our experiences support that if you choose hospice care as an option for your pet, you may find it to be profoundly rewarding and a special time for both you and your beloved pet.