Whether you need help easing your pet's golden years, or they are ready to cross the rainbow bridge, we are here for you every step of the way. It is our mission to ensure that you and your pet have the support you need as you travel this journey.
HOSPICE AND PALLIATIVE CARE
Hospice care provides support in multiple areas for pets that have been diagnosed with a terminal or life limiting illness, such as cancer, kidney disease, late stage osteoarthritis or advanced cognitive dysfunction. I address symptoms that the pet is experiencing, including pain, nausea/vomiting, dehydration, cough or breathing problems. But in contrast to what is most common in the veterinary profession, I also offer support to the family, who is bearing the burden of caring for their pet, as well as anticipating the loss of their fur baby. I can provide guidance in the nursing care they perform at home, assess the home environment for ways to help provide for the comfort, safety and management of the pet, and help families wade through the many options and questions that they will face during their pet's last days, weeks or months. When the time comes, I am there to facilitate a hospice assisted natural passing, or to provide euthanasia, as the family prefers. I can help obtain grief counseling and support for the family when needed.
Palliative care can include many of the same symptom management strategies as hospice care, but in this case, it is for a pet with a longer life expectancy. They may suffer from a curable or non curable illness or condition, but for a variety of possible reasons, aggressive treatment is not appropriate or desired for the pet. Perhaps a pet is suffering from multiple conditions and does not tolerate aggressive treatment. In some cases, a pet is truly stressed and miserable at the vet's office, and would not do well with the frequent visits that aggressive treatment would involve, but can be quite content with veterinary assessment and symptom management at home. Sometimes, a pet has an incurable, but long duration process. I often think of the older dogs with ever worsening arthritis, having more difficulty getting up or down, slipping or melting of slick floors, no longer able to manage stairs or even squat fully outside to go to the bathroom. These guys can't be cured, but many need not just pain relief, but even small changes in their environment to make their lives easier and more comfortable.
Whether you know your pet has a diagnosis, or you have concerns about their quality of life and would like to discuss what can be done to best care for your pet, please consider scheduling a consultation with me. If diagnostics and treatments are appropriate, I will let you know this, and refer you back to your regular veterinarian, with a better understanding of what to expect. If hospice or palliative care are in order, we can begin our journey together.
IN HOME EUTHANASIA
As your pet's age or illness advance, keeping him comfortable and happy becomes of the utmost importance. With time, though, it may be difficult or impossible to do so. For many families, the best option is to prevent their pet from suffering through this last phase of life. As they see this stage approaching, they may elect a peaceful euthanasia for their pet's passing, rather than an uncertain, and possibly difficult, natural death for their beloved pet.
I can provide euthanasia for your pet, in the peace and privacy of your home, in whatever location you and your pet are most comfortable. I feel strongly that this is the most merciful and gentle way to proceed for these babies, rather than inflicting one last car trip, one last office visit, moving a tired and painful body one more time. To prevent a pet from having to move from an area they have chosen as their comfort zone, I have crawled under kitchen tables, into clothes closets, and crouched by patio furniture in the sunshine. I strive to disturb them as little as possible in their last minutes.
Every pet is given sedation prior to performing any other tasks. This medication will provide pain and anxiety relief, and allow them to gradually fall asleep in your arms or at your side, peacefully and gently, with her last conscious experiences being your voice, touch and presence. I will only proceed once they are fully sedated and unconcerned with the rest of the process.
The euthanasia visit proceeds at the speed and comfort of the family, and the pet. I will explain what to expect prior to starting, so the family will not be startled or confused. I will never rush a family through these last difficult moments, and I am always happy to pause and explain anything or answer any questions as they arise, or to just pause to give the family time if needed. After the pet has passed, I will let the family know, and give them as much time alone with their pet as the need for private good byes.
memorials and after care arrangements
There are several options for handling your pet's remains after their passing. I am able to assist with transport to a pet crematorium or cemetery.
Options available include communal cremation. In this case, your pet is cremated with other pets, and no ashes can be returned to you. If you prefer, you pet may be cremated privately, and their ashes will be returned to you. Please consider looking at the services offered by Paws Whiskers and Wags. This crematorium, with locations in Decatur and Covington, has provided compassionate care for many of my patients, and even my own pet. You can get more information at pawswhiskersandwags.com
If you would like a cemetery burial for your pet, this can also be arranged. I am happy to transport your pet for this service, but it is necessary that you contact the facility and make arrangements prior to our appointment.
Many families prefer to bury their beloved pet at home. This option is limited in some communities, so you should check with your local county and city ordinances before hand. Please keep in mind that to prevent the disturbance of your pets grave by scavengers or other pets, it is important that the depth of the grave is a minimum of 4 feet deep, with 3 feet of earth covering your pet.
There are many options for memorializing your beloved fur baby. I am happy to make a clay paw print for you, or to snip a lock of fur for you to keep. You can also get all sorts of personalized plaques, garden or grave stones, charms, cremation jewelry or urns. Searching for "pet memorials" on the internet can lead you to some really beautiful options.