Frequently asked questions

What Is Animal Hospice?
Animal hospice is a philosophy or program of care that addresses the physical, emotional, and social needs of animals in the advanced stages of a progressive, life-limiting illness or disability. Care is provided to the patient from the time of a terminal diagnosis through the death of the animal, inclusive of death by euthanasia or by hospice-supported natural death. Animal hospice addresses the emotional, social, and spiritual needs of the human caregivers in preparation for the death of the animal and the grief experience. This program is enhanced when provided by an interdisciplinary team approach.

What Is NOT Animal Hospice?
Animal hospice principles do not accept a pet owner’s decision to allow a pet to die without effective palliative measures while under the care of a licensed veterinarian. If pain and suffering cannot be relieved by other means, withholding palliative sedation or euthanasia is considered unethical and inhumane.

What Is Hospice-Supported Natural Death?
Hospice-supported natural death uses palliative care measures during a patient’s terminal life stage, including the treatment of pain and other signs of discomfort under veterinary supervision until the natural, unassisted death of the individual.

What Is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is treatment that supports or improves the quality of life for patients and caregivers by relieving suffering; applies to treating curable or chronic conditions as well as EOL care.

To Whom Can I Refer a Client and Pet for Hospice Care Services?
There are veterinarians with advanced skills and an interest in providing animal hospice and palliative care in a growing number of communities. The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC) has a Providers Directory on their website. Additional providers can be found in the Resources section of these guidelines.