10 Reasons I Chose Pet Hospice Care For My Dog With Cancer

Ozzy in Galveston. Photo by Kristen Smith. http://shaggychichouston.com/

Ozzy in Galveston. Photo by Kristen Smith. http://shaggychichouston.com/

Pet hospice care is different from human hospice care in that it provides the option for euthanasia. The intention of pet hospice is not to cure your pet’s illness, but rather to ensure a peaceful end of life experience in your home.

Every end of life is different. My pets’ conditions in the past didn’t leave me much choice about making the decision to euthanize. One was almost 17 years old and her liver was failing, one was young but had dangerous behavioral problems, and the other had severe swelling of the brain. Making the decision to know when it’s time if your dog has cancer or another terminal illness can be much trickier.

Most vets do not offer this type of in home care. In fact, our vet sent us home with a terminal diagnosis, stool softener, no pain meds, and not much of a plan. I'm guessing that is how it's normally done but I just needed more support than they were able to provide.

I have known about Last Wishes In-Home Pet Hospice and Palliative Care in Houston for a while and decided to use their services with Ozzy. It’s perfectly ok to work with a new vet in this instance and you can have a copy of your vet records sent over to them. Dr. Cornelius and her staff were a godsend in our lives. They visited with Ozzy in our home every few days and were available daily for consultation as his needs changed.

Ozzy’s quality of life was my main priority. There was a lot of discussion about weighing risks throughout the entire process. When it was clear that the tumor under his pelvis was growing larger and preventing him from being able to poop, Dr. Cornelius reviewed her Quality of Life Journal with me. It really put things into perspective nicely and I figured if it helped me then it could help many of you in similar situations.

Here are the reasons I chose pet hospice care for my Ozzy:

1.  Kept us out of the Pet ER.

They taught me how to give an injection for severe pain and fluids for dehydration in case of emergency and provided us with all medications just in case.

2.  Gave me time to get used to the idea of his passing.

A diagnosis of 2-6 weeks to live is shocking so that extra support really meant a lot. In our case, there wasn’t going to be surgery or other medical treatment for his cancer.

3.  Daily support.

You never know what the next day will bring. Pets with terminal illnesses have good days and bad days. I enjoyed celebrating the good ones with our hospice peeps. They were so patient and loving.

4.  Comfort care.

Ozzy being blind added more of a challenge to it. A dog’s eyes are very telling about how they're feeling, their needs, etc. and I didn’t have that benefit.

5.  Pain management.

This was everything. Liver flavored treat-like pain pills 3X/day.

6.  Be in the Now.

Last Wishes was really rooting for Ozzy and did everything they possibly could to prolong his life. They helped me stay in the moment with him.

7.  Know when the time is right.

It’s such a slippery slope and can be very scary trying to seemingly play God all on your own.

8.  Gave me overall peace of mind.

It’s been 2 days since we said goodbye. I miss Ozzy so much but I know we did the right thing.

9.  Euthanize in a comfortable place where he was less stressed.

He was well enough to play with toys an hour before the end of his life. He went to sleep happy and relaxed. We didn’t have to let things get ugly. I chose to not have my other dogs present, but that is an option with Last Wishes if you prefer it.

10. Grieve in the privacy of my own home.

I tried to be strong for Ozzy up until his last breath. But my emotional outbursts afterwards would have really disturbed business at a vet clinic.


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robyn arouty