This is the second in our four-part series with Dr. Halle on pet hospice care and the end of life journey.
As stated by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, hospice is “[c]onsidered to be the model for quality, compassionate care for people facing a life-limiting illness or injury, hospice care involves a team-oriented approach to expert medical care, pain management, and emotional and spiritual support expressly tailored to the patient’s needs and wishes. Support is provided to the patient’s loved ones as well. At the center of hospice and palliative care is the belief that each of us has the right to die pain-free and with dignity, and that our families will receive the necessary support to allow us to do so.”
One of the major benefits of hospice care is that it generally includes you and the rest of your family as well as the fur baby you are focused on. I understand how it feels to walk through the end of life journey with a beloved furry family member, and in addition to having experience with it personally, I have held the hands of many human family members as they approach this transition. Hospice care professionals understand that not only the dying fur baby needs care, but that the journey is also difficult for other family members who need attention as well.
Benefits of working with a hospice care veterinarian
Certainly a big benefit of working with a hospice care veterinarian is our experience with the medical conditions afflicting your fur baby. We are able to help you make your fur baby as comfortable as possible from a medical standpoint, using whatever tools we have available. In my practice this includes pharmaceuticals, helping manage the patient’s environment, acupuncture and herbs, homeopathics, essential oils, and many other things. These tools help alleviate physical suffering as well as addressing the emotional and psychological needs of the patient at this point of her life.
Another benefit is having someone to talk to who intimately understands your fur baby’s situation. I can help explain the processes that you’re seeing and give you some concept of what the future is likely to look like as we progress down the path. Sometimes when dealing with the emotionally difficult process of providing nursing care for a beloved pet all you want is someone to listen without judgement. While I am not a therapist, listening to the challenges and joys of the path and providing reassurances is definitely something I do for my clients, and certainly, if the challenges exceed my ability to help, I work with local animal communicators and pet grief counselors who can provide additional support.
Essential Oils and Homeopathics
In addition to supporting the human family members and the patient, I can also use essential oils and homeopathics to help the other furry family members with their own grief. Yes, pets grieve too, especially when they have been closely bonded with the patient.
For many years we have turned to euthanasia very quickly in the veterinary field because we had limited means to eliminate suffering in out patients. Times have changed, and now approaching or even passing completely through the natural death process can be eased for pets as well as for humans. Even so, many still find the idea of the dying process to be frightening and most of us poorly understand the process which contributes to fear and resistance as we approach it. Hopefully, this information will help you go through the process with your fur baby the same way she is: in the moment and trusting in her human to do right by her.
©Onpets, LLC 2017. All rights reserved.
Dr. Erika Halle (previously Raines) obtained her D.V.M. degree from Oregon State University. She was certified in veterinary acupuncture, traditional Chinese veterinary food medicine, and Tui-na (Chinese medical massage) by the Chi Institute in Florida and certified in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy (veterinary chiropractics) by the Healing Oasis in Wisconsin. She is happy to be practicing veterinary medicine back in her childhood home of the Willamette Valley.