KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Animal lovers know nobody loves you as your pet does. When their health starts to go downhill, it’s hard to watch. You agonize over what you can do to help.
Just like hospice provides end of life care for people, hospice care also exists for pets, helping owners manage their furry friend’s pain and anxiety and know when the time is right to let them go.
Mary Rooney and her husband adopted their dog, Nelson, from the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City.
“We went to visit him, and we just fell in love,” Rooney said. “He was great.”
For years, Nelson was part of their family, enjoying life with his humans. But then he developed degenerative myelopathy, gradually losing the use of his back legs, and the Rooneys needed help navigating the last months of his life.
“I’m sure the neighbors who would see us around the neighborhood walking him in his cart thought we were crazy, but he loved going on walks,” she said. “And that was our way of helping him with his mobility, to keep him happy and keep him alive longer.”
They got guidance from their veterinarian and Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice.
“The objective of hospice care is to give every pet the best possibly quality of life at the end of their life,” said Dr. Suzzane Cosentino, who used to work at Lap of Love.
That means managing your pet’s pain and anxiety and teaching you the signs to watch for: How’s your pet’s mobility? Are they playing, eating and drinking?
It can help you monitor how your pet’s coping and make a plan for a peaceful end when it’s time. It can also help you deal with your grief and move forward.
“I’m glad we did it,” Rooney said. “It helped. It’s not going to replace Nelson. He’ll always be part of our family.”
Cosentino said it’s best to start with your regular veterinarian. If they’re not comfortable providing hospice care, there are mobile veterinarians who come to your home. Lap of Love vets can even be called in on holidays and weekends.
Different veterinarians and companies have different fees for hospice visits, euthanasia and cremation services. You can face extra fees for large pets or visits on holidays, but starting the process in advance can help you know what to expect and plan for the expense.
“To be able to guide them through that last portion of their lives in the kindest and gentlest manner we can, I just feel like that is a gift that we can give not just them but ourselves as well,” Cosentine said.