Being the caregiver of a geriatric pet, or one who has received a life-limiting diagnosis can be difficult and scary. Challenges associated with caring for your special family member, adapting schedules to meet their needs, and fear of the unknown can all lead to feelings of uncertainty and fear. But this is not a journey that any pet parent has to face alone. Not only is your primary veterinary team there to support you, but there are specialized services who have dedicated their entire practice to walking with families during their pet’s end of life journey. In-home end-of-life care services, like Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice, offer an array of services to support you and your pet’s unique needs and can help navigate this often challenging life stage.
Here are some common services that you may find offered by your local in-home end-of-life care veterinary practice:
For pet parents who are feeling unsure of their pet’s end-of-life care options, scheduling a virtual appointment with an end-of-life care expert may be helpful. These providers have unique training and experience to provide tailored recommendations on appropriate next steps based on the condition of your pet and goals of your family.
Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice offers a national TeleAdvice service and can help families regardless of where they live; self-scheduling is available at https://caringconversations.pet/.
In-home Hospice and Palliative Care:
When the focus of care for a family pet shifts from treatment to comfort care, they may be a good candidate for in-home hospice and palliative care. The specialized training and unique perspective that in-home end-of-life care veterinary providers can bring to these cases can often improve the quality of both the pet’s and their caregivers’ lives. End-of-life care providers will often take an integrative approach to the pet’s care, leveraging both traditional western medicine, as well as alternative therapies such as: food and herbal therapies, acupuncture, massage techniques, and environmental modifications that can have a huge impact for improving your pet’s quality of life.
In Home Euthanasia
There are countless benefits to families and pets during an at-home goodbye experience. Many owners appreciate the added privacy, a slower timeline, increased comfort for both the pet and the family, the option to memorialize their pet through ceremony, and so much more. In-home euthanasia is an opportunity to create a beautiful last memory with our beloved pets, and one that many pet parents say they will treasure forever.
After Crossing Body Care
When a pet passes at home, oftentimes a family is unsure of how to proceed. It may be difficult to transport your pet due to their size or the emotional distress of the task. Many end-of-life care veterinary practices can facilitate pick-up, transport, and aftercare as part of their services. End-of-life care specialty practices are prepared with the equipment and support for families experiencing the loss of a pet at home, whether naturally or unexpectedly.
Many end-of-life care specialty practices offer materials, additional grief support staff, and resources to help families who are dealing with either anticipatory grief or who have lost a pet. This service is something that most traditional practices do not offer, but that can be incredibly valuable for families either anticipating, or dealing with a recent loss.
If you are considering in-home end-of-life care for your aging pet, you may want to look into what services may be available in your area. Not all end-of-life care practices offer all of the above services, so doing research ahead of time to learn what options are available to you and your family can greatly reduce stress when the time comes to have to make difficult decisions regarding your pet’s end-of-life care.
Written by: Dr. Chelsea McGivney, Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice General Manager
Dr. Chelsea grew up in Albuquerque, NM and completed her undergraduate studies at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Upon graduation, she was commissioned as an Air Force officer and stationed at Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy. After an honorable discharge from the Air Force, Dr. Chelsea pursued her veterinary degree at Colorado State University. She then moved to Maryland to complete a small animal rotating internship and continued working in Maryland as a small animal, general practitioner. Missing Colorado, Dr. Chelsea accepted a position as a veterinary associate at an at-home, end-of-life veterinary practice in Northern Colorado. Her career then took a turn when she was offered a position with Nestlé Purina and she pursued an opportunity in industry, while continuing regular work as a relief veterinarian.
This unique work history and experience prepared Dr. Chelsea to assume the role of General Manager at Caring Pathways, where she leads a team of at-home, end-of-life specialists. Her passion for facilitating the human-animal bond allows her to bring her professional experience and love of veterinary care together.