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End of Life Care

With our team at Kay Animal Hospital, you can rest assured that your pet will receive the best hospice and end-of-life care. We always treat them with compassion and dignity and provide comfort when they need it most!

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What is End of Life Care?

One of the most difficult decisions we face as pet parents is deciding when to say goodbye to our beloved companion.

Whether they are in their golden years or have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you will experience a range of emotions as you deal with the impending loss of your best friend.

At Kay Animal Hospital, we do everything we can to ensure your pet's final days or weeks are calm, comfortable, dignified, and free of pain. This includes conducting a comprehensive quality of life exam, prescribing medication and food for pain management, and offering humane euthanasia. 

What is end of life care

Preparing for End of Life Care 

Hospice care is administered as a pet approaches the end of its life. 

Here are some of the questions we get asked most frequently about hospice and end-of-life care. 

End-of-Life Care FAQs

  • What is pet hospice care?

    Pet owners have chosen to withdraw or decline curative therapy for illnesses that limit an animal's life span during this phase.

    Our veterinarians have decades of experience and can help you create a compassionate end-of-life plan tailored to your pet's specific needs.

  • What are some signs my pet may be ready to pass?
    • Extreme fatigue or loss of energy
    • Loss of bowel or bladder control 
    • Change in appetite or loss of appetite
    • Erratic breathing
    • Is in pain 
    • Hides or withdraws from people 
    • Weight loss 
    • Depression

    Each animal is unique, and your pet may continue to eat or drink despite disorientation or pain. They may not display outward signs normally associated with pain, such as crying or whimpering.

    Please consult your veterinarian. Based on your pet's medical history, they will be able to tell you whether these symptoms are abnormal or alarming.

  • How can I help my pet feel healthy and comfortable at home at the end of their life?

    You can make your pet more comfortable during this time by making sure they aren't in pain or in distress.

    Request a complete physical examination from your veterinarian to ensure there are no underlying health issues that need to be addressed.

    Make sure they have their favorite items or toys close at hand.

    Because your pet will likely spend a lot of time in bed, make sure it is well-cushioned and comfortable.

    If your pet is incontinent (lost control of their bladder), make sure their living area isn't wet or soiled on a regular basis. If necessary, you can use a towel or sling to help your pet get up to urinate or defecate.

  • How can I prepare for euthanasia?

    We may send you and your pet home with pain management medications until your appointment, following your pet's quality of life assessment to ensure all other options have been exhausted.

    We may be able to schedule your appointment at a time when the clinic is likely to be quieter, such as at the start or end of the day. However, this is not always possible, due to unforeseen illnesses or injuries.

    If you have children, providing age-appropriate explanations of what will happen ahead of time can help them prepare for the loss of their furry friend.

    Consider bringing your pet's bed, as well as a soft blanket or pillow, with you so they can rest.

    If you have other pets, you may want to bring them to the appointment so that they can grieve with you and sniff your pet's body after euthanasia.

    You might want to sit with your pet so that you can console them while the vet administers the medicine.

  • What will happen during the euthanasia process?

    You will be asked if you want to stay with your pet during the euthanasia procedure. This is an important point to remember: some people aren't emotionally capable, and it's fine to make whatever decision you want.

    You have the option of staying with them while they are sedated, then leaving the area during the euthanasia. You could also ask a family member or friend who knows and likes your pet to accompany you to this final appointment or to stay with your pet while you leave the room.

    A strong sedative will be injected directly into a vein in your pet's body, causing the nerves in their body to stop sending signals (including pain signals).

    Your pet's breathing and heart rate will slow until they stop. Depending on your pet, their condition, and other factors, this could take as little as a few minutes or up to 15 to 20 minutes. Following that, the euthanasia solution will be injected. Then the brain will stop working.

    As they pass, many pets take a last, deep breath. Because they are completely relaxed, some will urinate or defecate when they are euthanized.

    Animals do not suffer when they are put to sleep. Your pet's eyes may open again afterward, and your veterinarian can close them if you wish.

    The vet will listen to your pet's heart with a stethoscope to confirm that they have passed. We like to allow owners as much time with their pet as they need following the procedure, and are committed to treating every pet owner with as much sensitivity and compassion as possible. The entire process typically takes 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  • What happens after euthanasia?

    You can decide what happens to your pet's body. You may keep it to bury it personally, have it buried in a pet cemetery, or choose cremation. It may be helpful to consider this decision well in advance.

    People and pets are unique, and their reactions to the loss may differ. For a few weeks, children may have questions or be very sad.

    Adults may experience a range of emotions, from deep grief to guilt, sadness or emptiness, or relief that their pet is no longer in pain. As veterinarians, we've seen a wide range of emotions, all of which are valid and natural.

    After that, remember to look after yourself. You can talk to friends and family about it, or you can join a pet loss support group. If you or a family member's mental health is being harmed by persistent feelings of grief, you may want to seek help from a mental health professional.

Memorializing Your Pet 

Saying goodbye is always a difficult decision. Even if it is the most compassionate decision we can make in an animal's final days, the process can be difficult and heartbreaking.

You might want to memorialize your pet in a way that keeps him or her close to your heart. You can do this by holding a memorial service and inviting friends and family to attend. Another option is to create a living memorial or headstone with a plant or tree, or another special location, where you can go whenever you miss your pet.

The option you choose can be as unique as your pet's personality and offer comfort to everyone who knew, loved, and cared for your furry friend.

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At Kay Animal Hospital, we can't wait to welcome you and your four-legged friend into our veterinary family. Learn more about the services we offer and the difference our care and compassion make by booking your first appointment today!

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