What Is Palliative Medicine?
Veterinary Palliative Medicine is specialized medical care for pets with serious illnesses. Veterinary palliative care aims to treat symptoms of a serious illness without using curative treatments. Palliative care is implemented when an owner decides to stop or has exhausted their curative treatment plans.
Examples of palliative care
- Prescribing a cancer patient pain and anti-nausea medication but not treating it with chemotherapy.
- Treating a pet with arthritis and cognitive dysfunction with anti-inflammatory and anxiety medication improves mobility and reduces distress.
Veterinary palliative medicine engages in symptom management to improve a pet's quality of life. It is important to note that palliative care is different from hospice care. Veterinary hospice care refers to the final days of a pet's life and includes plans for humane euthanasia.
As palliative care providers, our goals are to use palliative medicine to -
- Educate and empower owners. We look to sit down with a pet's family and educate them about their pet's illness. We then like to listen to the owner about their goals for their pet's care.
- Thoroughly evaluate a pet. After taking a history and reviewing previous medical records, we will sit with a pet and do a thorough physical exam. Performing a physical exam allows a veterinarian to see, touch, and listen to a pet before developing a care plan.
- Create a care plan. We partner with the owners to become the pet's "care team". Through this partnership, we can create a palliative care plan specific to the pet's illness and the owner's care goals.
- Improve the quality of life for a pet. Finally, we aim to use this care plan to improve the quality of life for the pet. We want to improve the pet's day-to-day life by reducing pain, relieving nausea, soothing anxiety, improving appetite, and easing daily activities.
Benefits of pursuing palliative care.
- Improved Quality of Life - The most significant benefit to using palliative care is improving the pet's quality of life. Pet's who receive palliative care score higher on quality-of-life evaluations than those who do not.
- Longer Survival Times - In human medicine, research has found that those who seek palliative care have longer survival times.
- Support in Making Decisions - Using a palliative care team for your pet will help you make decisions about care and treatment of illness. It will also help you emotionally cope with your pet's diagnosis.
At San Diego NeighborhoodVet we know every pet and its family is unique. We aim to work with you to develop the best palliative care plan possible.