Compassionate End of Life Care - Pet Hospice Care and At-Home Euthanasia for Dogs and Cats

There comes a time in every pet parent’s life when they have to face the hardest decision they’ll ever have to make. As they watch their dog or cat’s health decline because of a terminal illness or the effects of aging, they’re left to choose between the heartbreak of euthanasia and their pet’s quality of life.

However, over the past few years, pet hospice care has helped families better navigate this difficult time in their lives. Based on the concepts of end-of-life care in the human medical world, veterinary-based palliative and hospice services focus on enhancing the pet’s quality of life while giving them more time to spend with the family they love. Hawthorne Animal Hospital’s pet hospice team, led by Dr. Ellen Helmers, is dedicated to easing your pet’s physical pain and discomfort and providing you with the emotional support you need.

What is the difference between pet hospice care and pet palliative care?

While Hawthorne offers both hospice and palliative care to enhance a pet’s comfort, the treatments vary depending on the pet’s diagnosis.

  • Palliative care is performed when a pet has a life-altering illness or injury that, at the moment, is not life-ending. In most cases, pain and symptom management is delivered in combination with treatment and therapies with the end goal of a cure. For instance, a dog that is suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy to treat a non-terminal cancer may be recommended palliative care to reduce their physical stress.
  • Hospice care focuses on a patient’s quality of life when a cure is no longer a possibility and treatment would only aggravate or prolong a pet’s suffering. Your family and veterinarian will look at a variety of options to keep your pet comfortable until it’s decided euthanasia is the best option.

Both palliative and hospice care can be delivered by Hawthorne at our vet clinic or in your home.

Caring for Terminally Ill Pets - What does pet hospice care include?

Because every pet and family are different, your cat or dog hospice care plan is tailored specifically for you. Dr. Helmers and our technicians will meet with you to understand your pet’s needs, your family’s schedule, and your own comfort level with providing care at home. With regular check-ins and monitoring, we can help you determine if there are still happy days ahead and when it’s finally time to say good-bye.

Pet hospice care may involve a combination of:

  • Family counseling regarding your pet’s care
  • Medications to ease discomfort and pain
  • Therapies to reduce your pet’s stress levels
  • Symptom management
  • Nutritional support
  • Recommendations for helping your pet move, eat or go to the bathroom
  • Pet loss support
hospice-care-for-dogs

Depending on the level of care you choose, you can also receive unlimited phone consulting with Dr. Helmers in your pet’s final days to help you make informed, up-to-the-minute decisions about their care.

At-Home Euthanasia in St. Louis and the Metro East

As a 24-hour pet hospital, Hawthorne offers euthanasia for cats and dogs at our clinic anytime, including in emergencies. But for families seeking a more private experience, we provide end-of-life care in the comfort of your home. When the time comes, simply schedule an appointment that’s best for your family, and our hospice care team will come directly to you.

Without the stress and noise of a clinic, your pet can pass peacefully and painlessly in the home they know surrounded by the people they love most.

To learn more about our full range of end-of-life services, please contact our hospice care team at 618-288-3971.