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The Value of Pet Hospice to be Discussed at AVMA Convention


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Most people have been to a nursing home  – you’ve seen that expressionless person being wheeled down a hall. Aside from assorted physical maladies, that person has little – if any – cognition. Then you think to yourself, “I’d never want to live like that – it’s not living, not really.”

Well, we have little control about how our ending will go – but we may have some control when it comes to our best friends with four legs. A reader recently sent me a note saying, “Ethically she couldn’t do it.” Well, I feel ethically it’s the only thing to do. ‘It’ being euthanizing the pet when the time is right.

When my father went into hospice (the very worst and still most relieving days of my life), each and every hospice nurse I spoke to had a similar story. They could no longer stand prolonging life in people when there was no longer life to prolong. Because medical science can do it – should they? Not only is this approach exceedingly costly, it creates emotional turmoil for most families and perhaps suffering in some patients – at least on some level. Most of all, most people wouldn’t vote to merely exist, and with no quality of life. For our pets, we can insure that when quality of life is no longer possible, we can provide a gentle death.

Then again, it’s easy for me to say that. It takes courage to end a life, especially the life of a loyal friend who can’t articulate his or her wishes. So how should that ending go? How do you prepare the family? Well, for many pets you may actually work with your veterinarian to plan. The concept, patterned after human hospice care, is pet hospice for Pawspice.

And how do you know when it’s time? Dr. Alice Villalobos, a pioneer in this area, created a quality of life scale.

At the American Veterinary Medical Association Convention, in St. Louis, MO, I am a panel member for these sessions (If you are unable to attend, I will around these converstions (which are open to veterinary professionals only, of course).

Practice Management/Professional Development, July 17 and 18
12:00 pm – 12:50 pm
Panel Dialogue: Are We Obligated to Offer Palliative Care and Pet Hospice? Human Animal Bond Oriented Focus on Patient Care ID#10759 CE: 1.00
Valarie Hajek Adams, Ann McCleneghan, Amir Shanin, Tina R Ellenbogen, Steve Dale, Alice E Villalobos

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Steve Dale is a certified animal behavior specialist who has been a trusted voice in the world of pet health for over 20 years. You have likely heard him on the radio, read him in print and online, and seen him speaking at events all over the world. His contributions to advancing pet wellness have earned him many an award and recognition around the globe.

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