DSC_0033Hospice

Dr. Goldberg’s interest in veterinary hospice and palliative care developed while she was working in the emergency/critical care field. She certainly thought that the most advanced, invasive options for diagnostics and treatment were indicated in many cases. However, she felt more could be done for clients in helping them cope with serious illness, terminal diagnoses, evaluating whether intensive care is in the best interests of their pet, and discussing death & the dying process.

What is hospice?

Hospice is the philosophy of care that regards death as a natural process, prioritizes comfort and quality of life over quantity of life as death draws near, and supports the cultural and spiritual aspects of dying. Hospice, simply defined, is palliative care at the end of life.

What is veterinary hospice?

There is not one single definition of veterinary hospice care; however, dealing with the end of an animal’s life is very familiar to many. Most people have experienced the loss of a pet, and have had to make difficult decisions on an animal’s behalf prior to and leading up to death – whether via euthanasia or unassisted death. Because euthanasia is deeply integrated into end of life care for animals, veterinary hospice care is often distinct from its human counterpart. Similarities exist in the overall philosophy of hospice, that is: respect for the family unit as “patient” in addition to the dying individual, acceptance that additional medical interventions are unlikely to change the outcome of a disease, desire to alleviate pain and emotional suffering, and focus on comfort and quality of life, rather than aggressive treatment to extend it.

Veterinary hospice care can include all, or some of the following:

  • Goals of care conversations,
  • Education regarding death & the dying process,
  • Individualized medical care as death draws near,
  • Regularly scheduled home visits with provision of pain medications and nursing care,
  • Provision of palliative care within a veterinary hospital,
  • Palliated but not intentionally hastened death,
  • Personalized euthanasia services (often in-home),
  • Body care & ritual,
  • Memorialization & bereavement support

Hospice care plans must include all provisions delineated by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)’s guidelines, linked here.

Whole Animal’s Approach:

Our approach is to completely evaluate each patient and discuss caregiver goals so that an individual care plan may be created. The plan will serve as a framework for care that is tailored to each animal and caregiver(s). It may be referred back to or updated at any time.

Dr. Goldberg feels strongly that good death & dying for our animals is best defined by the ones who know them best – their families. She is committed to supporting families through the path that is best for them, providing emotional support for humans and exemplary care for animals.

Hear What Clients Are Saying

Services provided by Whole Animal include:

  • Individualized hospice/palliative care evaluation, quality of life assessment & goals of care conversation
  • Consultation to help navigate treatment options
  • In home care, implementation of individual care plan
  • Referral to consulting specialists for integrative care – acupuncture, physical therapy, rehabilitation
  • In home euthanasia
  • Transport and coordination of cremation services
  • Bereavement support, referral to licensed mental health professionals

Hospice Resources:

Veterinary & Animal-Related Organizations

Veterinary Teaching Institutions with Hospice Programs

Veterinary Organizations in Support of Hospice

Human Hospice Organizations