As our pets age, we often reach a point where we are managing multiple disease processes simultaneously, or simply trying to maximize the quality of life and the time that we have left with them.
Palliative care encompasses the idea that we are not attempting to “cure” a disease, we are focused on the management of the symptoms of the disease and prioritizing the comfort of our furry loved ones.
It often involves multiple healing modalities, as well as the tools to assess the quality of life so that we are always putting what is best for our pets at the forefront of our decision-making.
These appointments can also help families assess when the right “time” is to consider the gift of a peaceful transition for their furry companions.
It allows an in-depth evaluation with ample time to ask questions and discuss all treatment options (and even have them performed at the time of the appointment).
Having open and honest communication allows for us to put the needs of your dog or cat first, and helps provide all the support that you need when having to make heavy decisions such as these.
Many of the families we assist opt to continue care with concierge services to allow the ultimate support during this critical and challenging stage of life.
Objective quality of life assessments are instrumental in determining not only the current quality of life but in many cases helping to track the progression of our beloved pet's conditions over time.
Dr. Lindsey recommends starting assessments like this as our pets become seniors or are diagnosed with a terminal illness. Every few weeks or months consider repeating the assessment and tracking any changes.
This can help identify issues that should be addressed with your trusted veterinarian, and can also give a better interpretation of the rate of decline in situations where we are focusing on comfort rather than curing a disease.
Most importantly, have a clear line of communication with the veterinarian that is helping to support you so that you are able to determine when you may have to elect to intervene to allow for a peaceful end-of-life transition.
As a pet parent, it is very challenging to try and make this decision because we have to use objective information to create an action that has a strong emotional involvement.
Surround your pet with their favorite things and people, if possible take them to their favorite place (the park, beach, etc) and make sure you are keeping them as comfortable as possible.
A temperature-controlled, soft padded area can provide essential support for an older arthritic pet as they are prone to developing sores as they lose weight and aren’t as mobile.
The key is to make their final days as pleasant and enjoyable as possible, and also make sure that as their caregivers you are taking care of yourself.