What Is Animal Hospice and Palliative Care? – Part I

“Why animal hospice? My beloved animal friend is not ready to die yet.”


[Andy and his friend, "Armin", share a tender moment during hospice care. Credit: Michelle Nichols]

Consider what hospice and palliative care is about. If you’re like us, you’ll begin to ask, “Why NOT animal hospice and palliative care?”

To answer that question, you’ll first consider the concept of palliative care. Palliative care is best described as comfort care that’s focused on relief of emotional, spiritual, and physical symptoms in our animals, ourselves as their caregivers, and our families. Hospice is not a place to go at end of life, it is a philosophy that is applied as the focus of care has shifted from cure to comfort, and is rooted in palliative care. In other words, the patient, (the animal, in this case), has a terminal condition and is not expected to recover. Family members can request a palliative care or hospice approach to care as soon as a life-limiting diagnosis is made, and at any point in the journey they share with their friend. With a history of 50 years young, we can look to human healthcare for guideposts on hospice and palliative care for our companion animals.

With an emphasis on excellent pain management and good quality of life, more and more guardians are looking to the quickly developing field of animal hospice. They want the same care for their furry, feathered or scaled family members as benefitted their human loved ones. Animal lovers like you want to do more to allow your companion to live each day fully until they die. The growing field of animal hospice and palliative care provides them with the means to do just that.

In our next blog, you’ll discover what you can do next to support your furry, feathered or scaled family member by applying hospice principles. Feel free to contact Michelle if you have any questions, [email protected].


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  • Michelle Nichols
    Thank you for reading our blog! We’d love to hear your comments and have you participate as a valued AHELP community member on our blog. What is your experience and musings on living with and loving animal friends with chronic illness, special needs, and in end-of-life?
    Please contact me for more information on how to get involved.