Animal Hospice: An important part of your pet’s lifeplan

While folks make light about Twitter (you can see my Tweets here), it is amazing the folks you can meet and the information that you can learn there. It was actually Twitter that allowed me to meet Dr. Jaime Glasser Merrifield and learn about the emerging and incredibly important veterinary field of animal hospice.

Dr. Jaime Glasser Merrifield DVM MS, of hospice4animals, is quite passionate about end of life care for our companion animals.

I practiced Veterinary Medicine for a long time before I knew about Animal Hospice. I struggled years with trying to find the most gentle ways of touching and treating older animals that were in pain. I spent many years trying to read and communicate with others about euthanasia and it is a sacred and heavy responsibility to decide on and to assist. I spent many of my working hours counseling pet parents  about their choices and options. I had a comfort room like a living room where I could talk quietly and let parents and kids spend the night with the ill animal members of their family. I began to understand that some folks just did not feel it was their right to euthanize their pet, and I helped those animals be as comfortable as possible until their time came to leave our world. I had practiced Animal Hospice for many years without knowing it existed. No matter what your beliefs are it is wrong for each Vet, each pet owner and each animal to go through this re-inventing the wheel. It is wrong we are left feeling alone with these wonderful/terrible questions. Animal Hospice needs to be as much a part of your pet’s lifeplan as good preventative care and good nutrition. Hospice needs to be a part of every veterinary practice or Veterinary Hospice Practitioners be available everywhere.

And, she would like her new hospice4animals blog to be a “a comfy place to discuss end-of-life issues about animals, remember your pets, learn about and discuss palliative and hospice care for animals, and keep in touch with the veterinary movement for hospice for animals”. Check out her newest posting: “Why is it so hard when a pet dies?

Dr. Jaime is very excited about an upcoming event that she believes is as important for the general public as it is for care-giving professionals. The Second International Symposium on Veterinary Hospice Care at U of California at Davis, is being held on September 5-7, 2009 (Pre-Symposium Field Trip on Sept 4th to BrightHaven, an holistic animal sanctuary and pet hospice). The symposium is being hosted by the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine—home to the largest public veterinary program in the country.

Based on human hospice models, veterinary hospice addresses the needs of people who wish to care for their dying animals in the comfort of their own homes—under the guidance and assistance of veterinarians and a professional, qualified staff. By training caregivers to provide comforting palliation for their pets and by offering extensive support services as well as effective pain management, veterinary hospice gives dying animals and their people the opportunity to spend meaningful, quality time together before the pet’s final journey. By compassionately closing the “circle of care,” veterinary hospice honors the human-animal bond, never losing sight of either the companion animal or its caregiver in the total equation—and ultimately serving both in the best possible manner.

A partial list of topics that will be covered by the symposium’s speakers includes:

  • How human hospice is now embracing veterinary hospice care
  • The value of homeopathy in veterinary hospice care
  • Animal hospice and traditional Chinese medicine
  • Veterinary technicians and veterinary hospice care
  • The role of the professional pet-sitter in veterinary hospice care
  • Pet death care and caring for the grieving pet parent
  • Operating an animal sanctuary and pet hospice
  • The “sacredness of dying” in veterinary hospice care

It is definitely not too late to sign up, so go check it out and pass on this message to your friends and the companion animal loving community. Just click here.


3 thoughts on “Animal Hospice: An important part of your pet’s lifeplan

  1. Dear Rochelle,
    I am humbled that you would devote an article about the important and immediate work advocating for Animal Hospice is. I urge anyone involved with Veterinary Medicine, End of Life issues, or Pet Lovers to begin to learn about Hospice care. Thank you for highlighting the Second International Symposium on Veterinary Hospice and Palliative Care at UC Davis over Labor Day weekend. I found out about the first meeting only 2 weeks before and it has changed my life. I urge anyone with the burning desire to learn more to come. The amazing and unique aspect of this meeting is all are invited and Animal Communicators, Veterinary Medicine Researchers, and Hospice workers all give important talks. This is the beginning of this field, it is time to spread the word so EVERY pet and owner can have the advantage of Hospice care. Thank you so much, I am truly grateful.
    G-d Bless you

  2. Great article, thank you for touching on a subject none of us like to think about, but which many of us will have to eventually.

    Our members at Tripawds will find Dr. Jaime’s information very useful, as many of us are dealing with terminal cancer. Thank you so much, we’ll be sure to tell everyone about her blog.

  3. I have found out today that my 13 year old huskie/dalmation mix has cancer. There is fluid around his lungs making it harder to breathe… he is drinking water(not eating) and keeping a low profile. He doesn’t seem to be suffering “yet.” I feel it is too soon to put him to sleep. I may be living in denial…but it seems premature to consider putting him to sleep when he is able to walk around, and just being the adorable dog that he is. What to do? suggestions?

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