All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice.

Written by: Phil Monahan

Dr. Mary Gardner, a veterinarian, co-founded an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia service called Lap of Love.
Photo by J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Over the weekend, The New York Times ran a fascinating story about end-of-life care for dogs. Although it’s a sad subject, it’s something all dog owners will have to face eventually. These days, dogs receive a lot of the same kind of care that people do—from dog spas to pet therapy—and now many veterinarians are offering hospice care to make a dog’s passing as comfortable as possible:

The approach, in the spirit of the human variety, entails ceasing aggressive medical treatment and giving pain and even anti-anxiety drugs. Unlike in hospice care for humans, euthanasia is an option — and in fact, is a big part of this end-of-life turn. When it’s time, the vet performs it in the living room, bedroom or wherever the family feels comfortable.

The whole article makes for a fascinating read, and it raises lots of questions about aggressive care vs palliative measures, how the death of a beloved animal should be handled within the family, and more.

What do you think?

Click here for the full story.

One thought on “All Dogs May Go to Heaven. These Days, Some Go to Hospice.

  1. Mary Gardner, DVM

    Orvis – thank you so much for posting this blog. It is encouraging to see that treatment of our pets at end of life is being taken more seriously.

    Veterinary hospice is a family-centered service dedicated to maintaining comfort and quality of life for the terminally ill pet until a natural death occurs or the family elects euthanasia. It is not about prolonging suffering or adding on exorbitant expenses; it’s actually quite the opposite. What we mostly do in this unique service is consult with families about their pet’s quality of life and how to evaluate ‘when is time.’ Many of our families contact us because they do not want to continue paying for (or putting their pet though) more and more tests that will not increase his/her quality of life.

    Being in the home helps us assess the pet in their regular environment and we can make medical and environmental suggestions based off our evaluations. It is important that families are aware of options during the terminal stages of their pet and feel empowered to make the right decisions. Too many pet owners feel that there is ‘nothing more we can do’ when there truly may be some basic things we can add or change to what is currently being done that can bring much needed comfort to all those involved.

    We are thankful for the New York Times in recognizing the importance of this field of veterinary medicine and hope it enlightens people to ask questions to their regular veterinarian when their pets are facing a terminal disease or the geriatric age.

    Mary Gardner, DVM
    Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice


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