Palliative Medicine and Hospice

You don’t have to do this alone.

 

Mia in Hospice

Dr. Naun put together a pain management plan for Trinity and also recommended pet sitters for those times when we had to be away from her for longer than desired periods of time. It's very comforting to know that there is such a thing as pet hospice and I totally recommend Arms of Aloha and Dr. Naun to anyone out there whose beloved pet may need extra special care.

This was probably the hardest decision I have ever made in my life and you made it 100% better. I don't know if I could have done this without you. I definitely would not have had the peace and closure that I have.

[Dr Naun] gave sound recommendation and was sensitive to our situation. Professional as she was, she sent a report to my dog's regular vet to keep everyone in the loop that same day. I recommend Dr Naun to anyone going through what I'm experiencing as it will come to that sooner than later.

You have been a godsend, and I cannot tell you enough how much your visit and counsel and help have been exactly what has been needed. I know that we have the right person with us for the rest of this journey. As you can tell -- she is our child, means the world to us -- and we want to do the right thing by her. Thanks for being our partner in that.

Love "Arms of Aloha" the support, information and overall caring they have for your situation with your pet is such a comfort and warmth of the heart . They have helped me to enjoy all the good days I still can embrace with my furry friend.

 

Palliative Care or Hospice?

Palliative medicine, or “comfort care,” is a comprehensive approach that supports your pet’s physical, emotional, and social needs during a chronic or serious illness. Many people refer to this as “hospice” when the patient is at end-of-life. Palliative medicine also addresses your emotional and spiritual needs. You’ll participate in creating a care plan that suits your lifestyle and priorities and your pet’s preferences. Incorporating comfort care does not mean you must “give up” on life-extending measures: you can choose palliation and still have all your other treatment options.

Who can benefit from palliative care?

  • Families needing help caring for a pet after a major hospitalization or surgery
  • Pets that have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, regardless of whether curative treatment is being pursued
  • Patients for whom curative treatment is no longer possible or is not affordable
  • Pets with chronic illness experiencing symptoms that interfere with their normal routine or quality of life
  • Families worried about when it is the “right time” to choose humane euthanasia for their pet

Get the time and attention you deserve.

You’ll consult with our doctor where you and your pet are most relaxed and comfortable – in your home. A comfort care consultation lasts 2-3 hours, allowing plenty of time for you to share your concerns, get your questions answered, and create a treatment plan that makes sense for both you and your pet.

You can follow up as much as you need by phone or email. Whichever method you prefer, we protect your personal information with secure communication channels. In-person rechecks can be scheduled at an affordable price if needed.

 

What you can expect

At your appointment, we will discuss everything that may influence your pet’s comfort and happiness, including their daily routines, favorite things and people, environment, known medical conditions and other symptoms. You will have the chance to share what the family wants and needs. It helps if everyone important to your pet is at the appointment – we’ve even had family participate by Skype. This initial interview takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

After the interview, the doctor observes and examines your pet wherever he or she is most comfortable. You’ll then learn about the expected course of the disease(s), what signs and symptoms to expect, what to do about them, and when you should call for help. You’ll hear about available treatment options and what they might cost.

We then help you create a realistic care plan that works with your budget, priorities, and schedule. Some common recommendations include home nursing care by a Registered Veterinary Technician, physical therapy, pain medications, nutritional therapy, and acupuncture. We will also help you develop a contingency plan for emergencies so that you’re never stuck wondering what to do in the middle of the night.

 

What happens next

You can still pursue life-extending diagnosis and treatment with your regular veterinarian if you wish. Comfort care can complement or take the place of traditional medical care. Your primary veterinarian will be invited to collaborate as appropriate.

We’ll help you get the ball rolling and are here to hold your hand as much or as little as you want. We will make arrangements with other professionals, dispense medications, and even order supplies for home delivery.

You and your regular veterinarian will receive a full report and a set of written instructions/recommendations within 1-2 business days. If appropriate, we’ll also provide you with a written end-of-life care plan outlining your wishes which you can present to emergency clinic staff or temporary caregivers if needed.

Don’t wait for Monday morning

If you have questions or something changes, you can call or email us anytime to leave a message and we’ll respond when we can.

Take comfort in the knowledge that you have done everything possible for your companion’s comfort and happiness.

What do palliative care and hospice cost?

For patients who are at the end-of-life stage, we recommend the hospice package as an affordable way to get comprehensive support through your final journey together. As a hospice client, you’ll get these benefits, which are good for the life of the pet enrolled with us:

  • A comprehensive quality of life consultation
  • Up to four weekly nursing visits during the first month
  • A Medication Survival Pack
  • Comfort Kit (medications for “emergency symptom relief”)
  • After hours phone support (as available)
  • Direct messaging with our doctor
  • 10% discount on many retail items and services
  • Access to our online library of client resources

 

Regular service area: $450
Extended service area*: $550

 

Medication Survival Pack

End-of-life treatments shouldn’t be stressful for the pet OR the caregivers. Inspired by Dr. Naun’s own hassles with tracking medications for her terminally ill dog, the medication survival pack is customized to your needs. Items might include labels, charts, pill organizers, and pill crushers. We can also have many medications compounded in alternative formulations for easier, stress-free administration.

Comfort Kits

Having a comfort kit on hand can prevent unnecessary emergency room visits, or help your pet be peaceful and comfortable as loved ones gather for a planned euthanasia. A comfort kit is a small supply of medications that alleviate serious pain, anxiety, or other distressing symptoms. Detailed instructions and emergency contact numbers are included.

Quality-of-Life Consults

If you are looking for advice, a second opinion, or help with pain management, we can work with you to create a palliative care plan tailored to your specific needs. We offer quality-of-life consults on an hourly basis and ongoing support services a la carte. Please call us to discuss your needs and to get an estimate.

Mobility Assessment

Many pet parents want to know how they can help their dog with mobility problems. Our Nursing Technician can do a full home assessment and suggest changes to enhance comfort and function. We carry assistive devices for rent and sale. Learn more here.

 

*Extended service area includes zip codes 96706, 96707, 96712, 96731, 96759, 96876, 96789, 96791, 96792, 96797, and 96857

 

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Some Definitions

Quality of life

 The health, comfort, and happiness experienced by the patient. We have identified several indicators of quality of life in companion animals, including appetite, hydration, happiness, pain control, hygiene, and mobility.

Palliative care

Pronounced pal-ee-uh-tiv, palliative care focuses on improving the patient’s quality of life, reduction and prevention of suffering, and relief of the symptoms and distress associated with a serious illness. While palliative care itself is not aimed at extending life or curing disease, it can either replace or complement such measures. Examples might include anti-nausea medication for patients undergoing chemotherapy, acupuncture to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis or surgical removal or reduction of a cancerous mass that cannot be cured but is painful.

Comfort care

This is simply a lay term for palliative care.

Hospice

A sub-category of palliative care, a patient is considered in “hospice” if they have a terminal diagnosis. The objective of hospice is to preserve the patient’s quality of life as much as possible, while neither delaying nor hastening death.

Euthanasia

Actively ending the life of a sick or injured animal to prevent or relieve suffering.

Hospice-assisted death

Allowing death to occur without euthanasia. The dying process can be very difficult for pets and families. With proactive management of distressing symptoms such as labored breathing, pain, and anxiety, it is possible in many cases to support a patient through death without undue suffering.

At Arms of Aloha, we feel that neither euthanasia nor hospice-assisted death is morally or ethically superior, so long as the patient is protected from undue pain and distress.