Senior health & Palliative Care

We are here for your pet and you

Seeing your beloved senior dog or cat enter their later stages of life can be a very difficult time. Yet, there is so much that can be done to help your pet live the happiest, most comfortable senior life they can. Sometimes it is not the senior pet, but the terminally ill pet that will need palliative care. With advancement in arthritis care, pain management and palliative or senior animal support, the team at Pet Society Vet will create an individual medical plan for your pet.

Many pet owners are unaware of the array of options available to assist our pets through each life stage, with senior care being no small exception. Unfortunately at times this can be tied to a belief that as our fur babies age that their “slowing down” process is one to be expected and accepted. We encourage you to think about it from the other angle. We can all expect that our pets will slow down at some stage, but this should be a clear prompt for you to make an appointment with us to consider the options for improved health and wellbeing.

During this appointment we start with a thorough health evaluation of your pet and address any observed changes you may have noted. This often involves a detailed account of their home life and the overall quality of life of the family. Usually there will be a multiple step approach to managing the wellbeing of your fur baby, starting with the simple and easily accessible tools. This may be in the form of diet alterations, supplements, medications or ancillary care such as acupuncture, chiropractic or naturopath referral services. We continue to finesse and add components that may be of further assistance as your pet’s needs change with time. We encourage you to ask the question “what else” when you feel there could be further improvements to your pet’s health and wellbeing. The area of senior care is advancing, and we endeavour to stay updated with new and innovative ways to provide medical care and assistance for senior and palliative care.

The goal of senior and palliative care is to improve, and often prolong a quality of life for you and your pet. We do this through a detailed look into the life of your pet and the whole household. Quality of life is often discussed and referred to as the quality of the pet’s life. We encourage our fur families to learn and understand that this s about the quality of the lives of all souls within the home. This is one reason why the senior or palliative care requirements and abilities in one home may be very different to their neighbours. Our approach to palliative care needs to be selected specifically for each individual circumstance. This involves close consultation with our vets to manage the changing needs for your pet and the family. As the months, weeks and days continue, it is normal that needs will change, and our approach will need to change with it. Therefore, regular consultation and rechecks are often an essential part of managing senior and palliative care patients.

The end result of palliative care is not to avoid humane euthanasia and provide an animal a “natural” death. In fact, only around 9% of our pets will leave us without assisted euthanasia. The reason is that no matter how great our senior and palliative care is, no matter how well we provide health and wellbeing of our pets, there comes a time when the quality of life declines to a state that can no longer be managed without suffering. This is when humane euthanasia is needed. This allows your pet to die peacefully and painlessly with loved ones around them, and cease further suffering. It can be very difficult to determine when the “right” time to say goodbye will be and is often different for each family.

It is sometimes hard to avoid entering a state of judgement and guilt when working through the options and choices we make for our pets, especially in this stage of life. We ask that you try remain kind to yourselves and each other, and reassure you that we are here to help navigate this emotionally charged time, with compassion, understanding, sound medical advice and knowledge, excellence, and reliability.

Afterlife care is subject we often want to avoid while our beloved pets are smiling at us from across the room or cuddled into our laps. Daunting as it may be, it is valuable to consider the options for afterlife care before you are grieving and saying goodbye. Your options include keeping your pet’s ashes after individual cremation and choosing not to keep their ashes, or home burial, which is becoming less available for many families. These days there are many additional services that can be considered to create memorabilia from the ashes of your pets. Speak to our team to discuss afterlife care options further and have your wishes recorded for future reference.