Dr. Margaret Saiki offers pet hospice care (pawspice) as part of her mobile veterinary service in San Jose. House call hospice veterinary services offered include quality of life evaluation, treatment options based on the QOL evaluation, pain medication administration and loving in home pet euthanasia.
Pet hospice care is defined as the system which provides compassionate comfort care to patients at the end of their lives usually at home. It usually takes place with patients whose life expectancy is less than 6 months.
Palliative care is defined as the administration of care to patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatments or when owners have elected not to pursue aggressive diagnostics or surgery. Treatment is aimed at the signs of disease without the intention of curing it. Therefore the goal of palliative care is to sustain quality of life by alleviating disease symptoms. It is about care when cure is not attainable.
When discussing the topic of pet hospice care, one needs to start first with the Human animal bond. Many owners of companion animals have a deep loving relationship and refer to them as family members. Pets offer people many emotional and health benefits and can be as important to someone as any other member of the family. Dr. Saiki is a member of the Am. Ass. Of Human Animal Bond Veterinarians and understands the deep attachments we form to our companion pets and how emotionally taxing a terminal diagnosis can be. It should be noted that as many as 30% of pet owners, see their grief over the loss of a pet as severe.
There is evidence that in ancient Egypt family members shaved their eyebrows as a memorial for a beloved family cat.
Example of patients requiring hospice care
Chronic Renal Failure
Chronic Liver Disease
Untreated/ Incurable Cancer
Undiagnosed Patients who need quality of life care at the end of their lives.
Pets are said to enter hospice or palliative care when a decision has been made not to pursue curative treatment or a diagnosis of a terminal illness. Many advancement is medical technology has become available for companion animals but that does not mean that it is in the best interest of the pet. Prolonging life is not the sole measure of successful treatment.
When entering pet hospice care with Dr. Saiki, there are certain basic covenants or mutual understandings.
1. Preservation of quality of life (QOL) takes precedence over just prolonging life.
2. Measuring QOL is primarily the responsibility of the family in consultation with Dr. Saiki. It is the family, especially the member closest to the pet who is the best person to evaluate the affect (feelings and mood) of the pet and therefore is the best person to judge quality of life.
3. Judging affect is based on the behavior of the pet.
4. There is an understanding that end of life care requires monumental decision making based on limited information.
Series: Controling Chronic Arthritic Pain in Dogs