In your pet's last days, you can rely on our team at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital to provide compassionate hospice and end-of-life care. We respect and comfort your dog or cat.

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What is Hospice Care for Cats & Dogs?

As pet parents, one of the most difficult choices we must make is when to let our beloved companion go. 

Whether your pet is in her golden years or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you may feel many emotions as you deal with this impending loss. 

At Mountain View Veterinary Hospital, we do everything we can to ensure your pet's final days or weeks are calm, comfortable, and pain-free, including conducting a comprehensive quality-of-life exam, prescribing medication and food for pain management, and offering humane euthanasia. 

End of Life Care in Vancouver.

Preparing for Hospice Care 

We administer hospice care as a pet approaches the end of its life. 

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions clients have had about hospice and end-of-life care. 

End-of-Life Care FAQs

  • What is pet hospice care?

    During this phase, the pet owner has chosen to withdraw or decline the pursuit of curative therapy for illnesses that limit an animal's life. 

    Our vets bring decades of skill and expertise in veterinary care to help you create a compassionate end-of-life plan geared to your pet's 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

    Keep in mind that each animal is unique, and your pet may continue to eat or drink despite disorientation or pain. They may not display outward signs usually associated with pain, such as crying or whimpering.

    Please consult your vet, as they can tell you whether these symptoms are abnormal or alarming based on your pet's medical history.

  • What is a quality of life scale?

    A quality-of-life scale is a tool for measuring and fine-tuning the success of a palliative care or hospice plan for a pet with a life-limiting disease.

    The scale looks at seven different categories and scores them between 0 and 10 (0 = Unacceptable, 10 = Excellent). A score of 35 or above is acceptable for pets, and this means it is reasonable to continue end-of-life care and support.

    The categories measured are Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility, and More good days than bad.

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

    During this time, you can make your pet more comfortable by making sure they aren't in pain or experiencing distress. 

    Have your vet perform a complete physical exam to ensure there are no underlying health issues that need to be treated. 

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

    Since your pet may spend a significant amount of time in bed, make sure this area has lots of cushions and is comfortable. 

    If your pet is incontinent (has lost control of her bladder), check their living area often to make sure it isn't wet or soiled. You may choose to use a towel or sling to help get your pet up to urinate or defecate if needed. 

  • How can I prepare for euthanasia?

    After the quality of life assessment to ensure all other alternatives have been exhausted, we may send your pet home with you with pain management medications until your appointment.

    We may be able to arrange your appointment time when it is likely to be quieter at the clinic, such as at the very beginning or end of the day. However, with unpredictable illnesses or injuries, this is not always possible.

    If you have children, it can help to provide age-appropriate explanations of what will happen in advance to prepare them for losing their furry friend.

    You may consider bringing your pet's bed, or a comfortable blanket or pillow, with you for them to rest on.

    If you have other pets, you may choose to bring them to the appointment, so they can understand the loss and sniff your pet's body following euthanasia.

    You may decide to sit with your pet, so you can comfort them while the vet provides the medicine via injection.

    You can also find more information here about preparing for euthanasia.

  • What will happen during the euthanasia process?

    You are welcome to stay with your pet for the entire process, so you will be asked if you would like to be with them. This is important to consider - some people are not emotionally capable, but whichever you choose is okay.

    Using a combination of injectable anesthetics, our veterinarians aim to make the procedure as comfortable for your pet as possible.

    The final injection is a powerful anesthetic that works quickly and painlessly to stop the function of the brain and heart. This final injection is swift and takes approximately 30 seconds for the heart to stop beating. Your vet will then confirm that your pet has passed.

    We like to allow owners as much time with their pet as they need following the procedure. We 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 euthanized pet's body, so it can be helpful to choose in advance. You may keep the body to bury personally or choose cremation.

    If you choose cremation, you can select a private cremation where your pet’s ashes are returned or a communal cremation without the ashes returned. The private cremation comes with an urn, a fur clipping, and a paw print.

    People and pets are unique, so each may react differently to the loss of a pet. Children may have questions or feel very sad for a few weeks. Adults may feel a range of emotions from heavy grief to guilt, sadness, or emptiness.

    You may also feel relief that your pet is pain-free, and their condition will no longer have to be managed. As vets, we have seen the entire range of emotions, and all are valid and normal.

    Take care of yourself afterward by talking to friends and family, and consider joining a pet loss support group. Consider mental health counseling if feelings of grief are interfering with your or a loved one's mental health.

    You can find more information here regarding pet loss and grief support.

Pet Loss & Grief Support

It's always difficult to say goodbye. Even if it's the kindest choice we can make for a pet, the process can still feel heartbreaking. 

If you're unsure about what to do before the appointment, that's okay. Our vets can guide you through the process. You can also download our recommended euthanasia pre-planning form to help get you ready for your appointment.

Download Euthanasia Pre-Planning Form

If you feel like you could benefit from grief support after euthanasia, our vets can also help you through the process. You can also download our recommended grief support form to help you find ways to grieve your beloved pet that works for you.

Download Grief Support Form

You can also call the Pet Compassion Careline at 1-855-245-8214 for 24/7 support.

Quality of Life Scales

Quality of life scales can assess the success of a palliative care or hospice plan for a pet with a terminal illness. They can help you make educated decisions about your pet's medical condition, and your own desires and expectations. Please see the Lap of Love and/or Dog Caregiver Quality of Life Scales for more information. 

Download Lap of Love Quality of Life Test

Download Dog Caregiver Quality of Life Test

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