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What is Pet Hospice?

Updated on September 12, 2014

Caring for Aging Dogs

Elder Dog
Elder Dog | Source

End of Life Care Options for Your Pet

Pet Hospice or veterinary hospice is an alternative care plan for animals nearing the end of life. Hospice does not work on curing disease, instead the focus is on improving the quality of life at the end of the pet's life.

As with hospice for people, hospice for pets focuses on alleviating physical and emotional discomfort, providing pain control to diminish the emotional stresses of dying for pets. Pet hospices also provide comfort for pet owners.

With pets under the care of a pet hospice, according to the American Animal Hospital Association, "Pet owners have the option of stopping aggressive treatment and letting their pets end their life comfortably in the intimate, caring surroundings of their own home through hospice care."

Thus pets under pet hospice and their pet owners can experience a more intimate experience of the pet's final journey.

Read on to learn more about Pet Hospice.

I Died Today - The Last Day of a Beloved Pet

One recent hospice adventure about Dukey's last day went viral in the photography and diary post, "I Died Today."

This photographic narrative is a stunning example of how a family can care for a pet in their final days and final moments. It is also an amazing tribute to the final day of a beloved pet.

Dukey's Last Day - Video

A Dog Deserves a Dignified Death

Duke’s life can teach us how to be better people for our dogs.

Because a dog deserves a kind and dignified death, just as much as they deserve every chance at life that we can give them.

Only this way can we even begin to be worthy of such canine loyalty, devotion, and love.

Robyn Arouty

Paw in Hand

Paw in Hand by Marianneperdomo
Paw in Hand by Marianneperdomo | Source

Pet Hospice Defined

The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care are working to come up with guidelines, protocols and definitions that will be recognized by all of the various groups and organizations providing end of life care for pets.

The American Animal Hospital Association provides the following information about Pet Hospice on their website:

  • Hospice is focused on giving pets a safe, caring, intimate end-of-life experience in their familiar environment. As such, it is not geared toward curing a pet's disease, but rather toward keeping the disease from causing the pet any discomfort....
  • To prevent the anxiety of hospital visits and to allow pets and owners the maximum amount of time together, pet owners provide as much care as possible at home.

In addition pet owners are trained to care for their pets physical and emotional needs at home, keeping the pet out of the clinic or pet hospital setting.

The primary goal of pet hospice is to improve quality of life for the pet, at home.

Pet Hospice - Video Lecture

Pet Hospice Talk

Jennifer Lavender, DVM discussing details of hospice care for pets at a Pet Hospice Workshop in April 21, 2007 in this two video clips on the talk.

Facing Farewell - A Guide for Making End of Life Decisions for Your Pet

Facing Farewell - A Guide for Making End of Life Decisions for Your Pet
Facing Farewell - A Guide for Making End of Life Decisions for Your Pet

Facing Farewell - A Guide for Making End of Life Decisions for Your Pet was written by veterinarian Dr. Julie Reck, who created a mobile practice entirely devoted to compassionate home euthanasia of pets.

In Facing Farewell she answers many of the common questions surrounding end of life care for pets and helps pet owners time end of life decisions based specifically on your pet's medical condition.


Pet Hospice Care at Home

Pet Hospice Care at Home: Loving your pet through the end
Pet Hospice Care at Home: Loving your pet through the end

Pet-Mom, Louise Stepherson offers pet hospice care training to others. In Pet Hospice Care at Home she shows how pet parents can travel the spiritual journey toward end of their pet's life with unconditional love and acceptance.


Saying Good Bye to a Beloved Pet

Holding a Pet's Hand
Holding a Pet's Hand | Source

Five Step Pet Hospice Plan

Dr. Tami Shearer, a veterinarian with over 25 years of pet hospice experience has developed hospice care protocols to help guide veterinarians through the care of terminally ill pets.

The five-step pet hospice plan from the American Veterinary Medical Association includes the following steps:

  1. Evaluation of the pet owners' needs, beliefs and goals for the pet.
  2. Education about the disease process.
  3. Development of a personalized plan for the pet and pet owner.
  4. Application of hospice or palliative care techniques.
  5. Emotional support during the care process and after the death of the pet.

Dr. Nancy Kay on Being a Medical Advocates for Your Pet

Dr. Nancy Kay, author of Speaking for Spot, encourages pet owners to be medical advocates. A veterinary specialist, Dr. Kay talks about "reasonable expectations" for veterinary care and covers hot topics such as vaccinations, complementary care, euthanasia options, hospice care and more.

Speaking for Spot

Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

Dr. Nancy Kay authored, "Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life" as a guide to help pet owners be health advocates for their pets throughout their lives.


Saying Goodbye to Buddy - Video

A short video clip on the children's book by Jennifer Walz and Jinna Russell.

Saying Goodbye to Buddy: When a Pet Dies

Saying Goodbye to Buddy: When a Pet Dies
Saying Goodbye to Buddy: When a Pet Dies

In Saying Goodbye to Buddy: When a Pet Dies was written by authors Jennifer Walz and Jinna Russell to assist parents and other caregivers to in helping children understand the loss of a beloved pet.

The story follows one family through the process of realizing their pet is ill and must be euthanized.


Is pet hospice something you might consider for your family pet?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

© 2011 Kirsti A. Dyer

Comment on Pet Hospice

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    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @Pam Irie: I think so too. Pet Hospice can be very helpful for pets at the end of life.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      What a wonderful service for pet parents! Losing a pet is losing a family member. :(

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @Virginia Allain: It really is a wonderful service for pets at the end of life.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Although I no longer have pets, I'm glad to hear there is something like this. So sad when someone loses a pet.

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @getstuffed: Thank you

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @AmandaTWaH: Thank you for visiting. I am sadden to read that you have had to experience it personally.

    • getstuffed profile image


      6 years ago

      very special lens

    • AmandaTWaH profile image


      6 years ago

      This is such an important topic. Saying goodbye to my little kitten Itchy was so tough. He got sick and his organs were failing. It was sad to see him go but I'm glad he isn't suffering anymore. It took all I had to nod my head when they asked if I was ready. :(

    • Frischy profile image


      7 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I am fostering a senior dog and providing this kind of care for him. I never thought of it as hospice care, but I am trying to give him a good, quiet and comfortable life with plenty of love for whatever time he has left here with us. I have written a couple of lenses about Tito. He is a wonderful little buddy who spends most of his time sleeping these days. Someone dumped him in the middle of a busy street, but that was his way home to us. Thanks for this terrific lens with so many helpful links!

    • JoleneBelmain profile image


      7 years ago

      Must have been fate for me to stumble upon this lens... I had to put our cat "Spatz" down this morning, she was 18 years old. It has been a rough day, and we will miss her dearly.

    • SylviaRolfe profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful, touching lens. My animals are much like my children, so to lose one is heartbreaking. Thank you for the lens. Blessed.

    • norma-holt profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens with sad connotations for all pet lovers. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Angel Blessings for Dogs on Squidoo.

    • LissaKlar LM profile image

      LissaKlar LM 

      8 years ago

      Yes, I wish I would've done it with my cat. Is it expensive? I am going to check out the websites. Thanks for the resources and bringing this to the forefront.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 

      8 years ago

      Excellent lens on animal hospice- it was a privilege to read it. Angel blessed and listed on blessed pets.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      8 years ago

      Extremely honored by your lead in. Beautiful lens and this will go to featured and lensrolled over there.

      I love your work.


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