5 Questions with Kathy Cooney, DVM

The “5 Questions with…” series is meant to promote upcoming sessions at AAHA’s Nashville conference that are sure to be popular and relevant topics. Learn a little more about the sessions that will be available for you and your team members to attend. AAHA Nashville 2017 takes place from March 30 – April 2. You can register on our website.

Kathy Cooney, DVM is founder of Home to Heaven, one of the largest pet hospice services in the world, and owner of Cooney Animal Hospice Consulting. A well-known leader in the animal hospice movement, Cooney aims to help the pet and family of caregivers live each day to the fullest; to manage physical signs of discomfort, to minimize fear-based decision making through education, and remembering that death is a natural part of life. She also served on the task force for the 2016 AAHA/IAAHPC End-of-Life Care Guidelines and a CE web conference on the guidelines is currently being offered on VetFolio, presented by Cooney and Brenda Stevens, DVM.

Her sessions will focus on End-of-Life Care and will take place on Saturday, April 1. In the morning, her topics cover “Integrating Animal Hospice Into Your Practice” and “To Die Now or Not to Die Now: That is the Question.” In the afternoon, she will be speaking on “How Would You Palliate This” and “Creating Gentle Euthanasia Experiences.”

Could you give me a brief background on your expertise on this topic?

I've been blessed to have found my calling in veterinary medicine. For over 10 years now, my focus has been on helping families with all aspects of end-of-life care.  Taking what I've learned, my experience includes hospice and euthanasia book authorship, presidency of the IAAHPC, development of an animal hospice consulting firm, and I've helped create the world's first certification program in animal hospice.  All this and more has created a very personal investment for me with those who offer veterinary end-of-life services and the pets they care for.  

What is a key takeaway you hope people will get from your educational sessions?

​To give options within palliative care, death itself, and to better define who our patient is.  We provide medical care for the pet, but we also provide emotional support for caregivers.  Together, the journey towards death becomes safer and more loving.

What about the AAHA conference made you want to come back and facilitate again?

The attendees come to find 'game changers'...those things that will alter the way they practice for the better.  ​Those that attend my talks are hungry for stronger veterinary-client-patient relationships.  

What is the future of end-of-life care and where would you like to see it go?

The future holds the paradigm shift; where veterinary teams ​give due diligence to the dying pet and its family.  I see stronger communication, incredible palliative options for every patient, and more emphasis on preserving the human-animal bond right up until death.  Soon veterinary teams will be well-adapted to handle these end-of-life cases and our society will be better for it.

What’s a question you wish more people asked about your topic?

When does hospice care begin?  If more veterinarians would offer advanced end-of-life care sooner, caregivers would feel more empowered, pets would find more comfortable days, and as a whole, the hospice time would lead to greater fulfillment for all involved.