Understanding Palliative Care And How It Could Help

Navigating a chronic or terminal condition in your beloved pet can be one of the most emotionally challenging journeys a pet owner faces. It’s a time when every decision is steeped in love and compassion yet fraught with uncertainty and heartache. We understand that every moment with your furry companion is precious.

Palliative care for pets is an emerging field that takes this into account and aims to enhance the well-being of pets and their caregivers. It focuses on relieving pain, minimising disease symptoms, and preventing suffering, aiming to provide comfort and maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible. This tailored care addresses the specific physical, emotional, and social needs of the pet while taking into account the family’s wishes and preferences. It is suitable for individuals of all ages and at any stage of a serious illness, and it can be administered concurrently with potentially curative treatments. 

Veterinary palliative care is inspired by human medicine. Human patients receiving palliative care earlier in the course of their disease not only experience a better quality of life but actually live longer.

How is palliative care different from normal veterinary care? 

While traditional veterinary care focuses primarily on diagnosing and treating specific illnesses or injuries, palliative care takes an individualised approach with a focus on comfort. It also includes emotional support for caregivers, discussions about end-of-life, help with making informed decisions, and grief support. 

Because of this distinct difference in approach, we work with our trusted palliative care provider, Rest Your Paws. This compassionate team of veterinarians, nurses, grief counsellors, and support staff is focused solely on providing in-home palliative care and loving euthanasia services. Contact their team today to learn more about how they can help you and your beloved companion.

What kinds of diseases are appropriate for palliative care?

Palliative care is suitable for a wide range of chronic and terminal illnesses, including:

  • Cancer of all types
  • Degenerative conditions such as arthritis, degenerative myelopathy, or cognitive dysfunction
  • Organ dysfunction, including kidney failure, liver disease, or heart failure
  • Neurological disorders such as epilepsy, spinal cord injuries, or degenerative nerve diseases
  • Any end-stage diseases where curative treatment options have been exhausted, aren’t appropriate or are no longer effective.
  • Aging-related conditions include cognitive decline, sensory loss, or mobility issues.

When should you consider palliative care for your pet? 

  • Curative treatment is/was not successful
  • Curative treatment is not pursued because it will not improve the pet’s quality of life reliably, realistically, economically, safely, comfortably or long-term
  • The pet has a terminal or progressive illness, even if curative treatments are being pursued
  • A chronic illness significantly impacts your pet’s quality of life

What support does palliative care provide?

  • Medications, supplements, and therapies to alleviate discomfort, pain, and anxiety and manage or reduce symptoms of disease such as nausea, poor appetite, diarrhoea, and incontinence
  • Education about your pet’s condition and what to expect as their disease progresses
  • Resources and education on pain recognition and quality of life assessments
  • Support improving mobility and hygiene
  • Dietary and nutrition advice
  • A plan for mental stimulation and environmental enrichment
  • Guidance and preparation for end-of-life decision-making and grief 
  • And much more, all focussed on comfort.

How do I support my pet with palliative care?

If you think your beloved pet would benefit from palliative care, get in touch with our team or reach out to our trusted palliative care provider. Rest Your Paws is a compassionate team of veterinarians, nurses, grief counsellors and support staff focused on providing in-home palliative care and loving euthanasia services. Contact their team today to learn more about how they can help you and your beloved companion.