Determining when it’s time to end the life of your dearest nonhuman friend is always excruciatingly painful, so for some people, providing hospice care/pain management to a terminally ill pet is a viable alternative. Obviously, hospice may not be appropriate or even possible in every instance, but for those with the capacity and courage to let nature run its course while mitigating any pain or discomfort being experienced by their pet, it may provide a unique and powerful bonding experience.

Note, I am not advocating hospice in cases wherein the animal’s suffering is being prolonged simply because the human being, due to fear of loss or sheer selfishness, demands that the pet stay around just for them. A fine line separates the two circumstances, and it is important for people to have a strong support system to turn to for validation and support for a difficult but loving decision to supply hospice care for their companion or, alternately, to provide them with  a stern shaking to wake them to the truth of what they’re doing when that decision becomes detrimental to both human and animal.

A case in point for the latter is found in the client of a friend of mine. This lady has spent $80,000+ and extended the suffering of her paralyzed 125-pound German shepherd for more than a year, although he continually urinates blood clots and has to be carried to the car (by people hired to do this task) to go to the vet two to three times per week.

There is absolutely no quality of life there for this poor dog, but she is keeping him alive as long as medical science (and her bank balance) exists to allow it. This is NOT what is intended by hospice care! This is animal cruelty from a woman whose denial is so profound she refuses to acknowledge that her pet deserves a peaceful release. My friend and her staff have repeatedly tried to make this woman aware of the error of her ways, but so far it has been to no avail. I believe that deeper underlying psychological issues are plaguing this woman and she could benefit from professional counseling, but as we all know, we cannot help those who refuse to accept their need for it.

Albeit an extreme case, I think it illustrates an important point about how easily a well-intentioned act can become terribly wrong.

The following ezine article “Grieving the Loss of a Pet – 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Hospice Care For Your Pet” by Deborah A. was what spurred my discussion of hospice in the first place:

Most pet owners develop a special bond with their pet, and if they learn that their pet has a terminal illness, they may not be ready to think about euthanasia. Providing hospice care until an animal dies, can be an alternative to euthanasia. Hospice means to give pain control and physical and emotional comfort care, rather than to provide a cure. Hospice care also gives the owner more time in grieving the pet loss.

Hospice care is provided by the pet owner and any available family, in the familiar surroundings the pet is used to. The idea is to minimize visits to the veterinarian, thus lessening feelings of anxiety in the pet. Not too many pets enjoy visits to their doctors’ office! By continuing to care for your pet in his/her final days, you will have more time to come to terms with the continual deterioration and say good-bye in your own manner.

Your veterinarian and other office staff will provide the training necessary to have hospice care in the home. Regularly scheduled phone conversations should be arranged so that your pet’s condition can be evaluated and revisions made as needed. When considering if hospice care is the correct choice, it may help to ask the following five questions:

1) do you have the capacity, support, and time needed to care for a pet that may need to be cleaned up, turned, given medicine, unable to stand, or has stopped eating and drinking?

2) is it possible to control your pet’s pain?

3) are you going to feel secure in learning to give your pet a shot?

4) are all family members unanimous in their decision to provide hospice care?

5) did you decide on hospice because of ambivalence about euthanasia, or does your pet show signs of still getting pleasure out of life?

Grieving a pet loss is not an experience anyone wants to go through. However, providing hospice care to a your pet – a valued member of the family – can allow your pet’s death to be a more gentle and loving process.

Deborah A. is an animal lover with a special interest in helping others cope after the loss of a pet. Are you trying to move past the grief of your pet’s death? CLICK HERE or go to: to get more tips and relief in coping with your pet loss.

Article Source: