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Palliative Care


Palliative care may be an option for those looking to provide comfort for their pets with a life-limiting disease.

Elderly dog with tongue out
Elderly dog with tongue out

Overview

When your pet reaches the last stages of their life, palliative care may be an option to talk about with your veterinarian. The main focus of palliative care is to relieve the pain in your pet and allow the opportunity for treatment to enhance their comfort.

Why would my pet need palliative care?

If your pet is nearing the end of their life due to natural causes or a life-limiting disease, palliative care will help to make them more comfortable and enjoy their time left. Instead of focusing on curing the illness or disease, treatment shifts to pain management, much like hospice care.

When do I know if it's time for palliative care?

You know your pet the best, and if you think that they are in pain, chances are you're right. The first step of determining if it is time for palliative care is to talk with your veterinarian. They will help with any questions, and explain the expected course of your pet's disease or lifetime, and how it will effect their day to day life. This is also a good time to explain what your pet's daily activities are like in order to properly plan ahead.

How will palliative care help with my pet's pain?

The most common method of palliative care is nutritional supplements such as medications to ease the pain, and a combination of nonpharmacologic therapies. These can include medical acupuncture, massages, therapeutic laser, chiropractic adjustments, and physical therapy. There are also many changes that you can make in your home to ensure that your pet is as comfortable as possible. Some of these changes include making non-skid surfaces on the floor so it's easier for your pet to walk on, raising food and water bowls so they don't have to bend down as far, blocking access to stairs, and creating areas where they can spend time near your or the family. A favorite toy or blanket will also make them happier. It is important to note that every pet and pet need is different, and will require different procedures and methods than others.