Considering Hospice Care for Pets

Oskee

Pictured here is Oskee, Dr. Sullivan’s dog.

The last weekend of March, I was fortunate to attend the American Animal Hospital Association annual conference in Nashville, Tenn. This conference brings together veterinarians from all over the world for continuing education.

While at this conference my eyes were opened to many areas of veterinary medicine that continue to evolve. One area in particular that I found fascinating was hospice care in the life of our terminally ill, aging, senior pets. My own dog, Oskee, is an aging senior with thyroid cancer, and it made me consider the real-life possibilities, treatments, and therapies I would want for him.

Hospice care focuses on symptomatic treatment and control of pain and symptoms while attending to our pets’ emotional and social needs. Simply treating for pain is not always the answer, and in many cases these patients need a more multi-modal approach that includes looking at their physical needs, social needs, and emotional needs. The physical needs include: addressing pain, mobility, hygiene, and appetite, among others. The social and emotional needs include: maintaining the human animal bond and dignity, adding social time, and, in some cases, behavior intervention of other pets in the house.  

I am happy to say that the doctors at the Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois already do a wonderful job caring for our elderly, ill patients, but I am very excited about the possibilities moving forward. 

Drew Sullivan, DVM, Director
Medical District Veterinary Clinic

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