The Veterinary Team in End-of-Life Care

The veterinary team can guide clients to decisions by advocating for both the senior pet and client. The veterinary team includes the veterinarian, credentialed technicians, veterinary assistants, and client service representatives. Additional team members that may help with end-of-life care can include mental health professionals and grief counselors, pharmacies, compounding pharmacies, groomers, pet sitters, respite workers, spiritual leaders, and end-of-life care specialists. Although the client is generally the best advocate for the pet, veterinary teams may help guide them toward the best decision for both the pet and family. Making a decision for a beloved pet is complex, and empathy and understanding on the part of the veterinary team to support the client’s psychological, spiritual, and emotional beliefs is optimal.

Veterinarians and other clinical staff may experience physical or compassion fatigue when dealing with patients with multiple medical concerns or undiagnosed diseases. Maintaining a positive outlook, such as a combination of celebrating senior pets and sharing successes with clients and team members, may help boost morale for everyone involved in the care of the pet.

Clients can also experience fatigue, which can be minimized or prevented with activities such as creating a joy-of-living list, creating a bucket list, setting up pet dates, and maintaining the sacred human-animal bond that emphasizes QOL for the pet and their families.

The 2023 AAHA Senior Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats are generously supported by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, CareCredit, IDEXX, and Zoetis.

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