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Life is a journey. The companionship provided by our pets as we journey through life is priceless. How many times have they greeted us with pure joy even though we're late returning home. How many times have they made our lives better by listening to us, playing with us, or simply being there.

Providing hospice care for these beloved pets is a continuation of this journey. And so, care at Gentle Journey Veterinary Hospice is thought of as a series of steps.

Step 1:  Recognition

Although old age is not a disease, Gentle Journey consults frequently with pet owners concerned about physical and behavioral changes in their older pets. Gentle Journey helps to interpret changes in activity, appetite, and appearance, so that informed decisions are possible. All options, ranging from referral to veterinary specialists to proceeding with hospice or euthanasia, are presented and discussed. The goal is to give your pet a contented and graceful aging experience.

Realization that your pet has a condition that cannot be cured, but only cared for can be daunting. Frequent veterinary visits may be needed to provide the best care possible, but these trips can be physically demanding on your pet and emotionally painful for you. You may elect to begin hospice while your pet is undergoing treatment by your regular veterinarian or a veterinary specialist for a chronic illness or cancer. Gentle Journey addresses your pet's quality of life and assists you with your feelings of anticipatory grief. Collaborative veterinary care may also mean fewer car rides and office visits for you and your pet.

You may also consult Gentle Journey when palliative care is the only option. Palliative care means that the focus has shifted from extending your pet's life to maximizing the quality of life. Gentle Journey considers all aspects of your pet's life - pain, eating, drinking, sleeping, breathing, mobility, voiding, favorite activities, and whatever else is essential for the comfort of you and your pet.

Step 2:  Initial Visit

All visits with Gentle Journey staff will take place in the privacy of your own home. Plan for the initial visit to take 1-2 hours as a great deal of information is shared, including:

Step 3:  Customized Care Plan

Within 3 days of the initial visit, you will be presented with written care recommendations that fulfill the medical, physical, and emotional needs of your pet within the framework established by you during the initial visit. All plans include guidelines for emergency care. After discussing and finalizing the plan, hospice training and supplies will be provided. An emergency care kit is also discussed and provided upon request.

Step 4:  Providing Care

Gentle Journey emphasizes what really matters: comfort, quality of life, and togetherness. Successful hospice care addresses the needs of you and your pet, but also maintains the love and trust that you share with one another.

Caring for Your Pet

  • comprehensive medical care, including in-home and laboratory diagnostic testing, EKG, blood pressure, and pulse oximetry
  • pain recognition and management
  • nutritional counseling, including dietary adjustments and supplements chosen to maintain healthy body weight and strength as well as optimize organ function and fight disease
  • fluid therapy
  • feeding tubes
  • oxygen support
  • mobility aids, such as ramps, slings, and carts to permit freedom of motion
  • comfort measures, such as bedding, hygiene aids, and preventive techniques
  • advice on how favorite activities may be modified to accommodate physical limitations
  • emergency decision-making guide and care kit

Caring for You

  • extensive hands-on training and written instructions
  • telephone access 24/7 to Gentle Journey staff
  • frequent recheck visits to assist you in assessing your pet's response to therapy and to provide emotional support
  • planning for your pet's death, aftercare, and memorialization

Maintaining the Bond

  • modern technology to ease care; for example, administering medications by alternative routes
  • regular updates to the hospice plan based on the changing needs of you and your pet
  • daily assistance in providing care by Gentle Journey staff if requested
Step 5:  End-of-life

For most pets in hospice, the decline in quality of life is gradual. Beginning with the initial visit, you will be asked to reflect under what circumstances you consider euthanasia to be the best and only option. Discussing your fears and concerns with family and your veterinary team is recommended to guide your thoughts during this difficult time. The care plan includes possible worst-case scenarios which could result in uncontrollable pain, unsatisfactory quality of life, or sudden death of your pet, even if heroic measures are taken. Gentle Journey will support you and your pet whether you choose in-home euthanasia or natural death.

After your pet's death, when home burial is not an option, Gentle Journey will transport your pet's body to North Boros Veterinary Hospital for cremation. You may choose either a private or a communal cremation. For private cremations, personal home delivery of your pet's ashes is standard and you may choose from a variety of cremation urns and vessels. With prior arrangement, your pet's body will be transported to a local pet cemetery if preferred.

Gentle Journey welcomes participation in memorial services celebrating the life of your pet and encourages follow-up telephone calls and home visits.

Customized home care for the pet you love