Tammy Wynn, owner of Angel’s Paws in Cincinnati, worked in human hospice for three years before taking the concept to the pet world. She says the word “hospice” gets thrown around a lot, but there’s a distinct difference between vets offering in-home euthanasia and vets offering hospice care.
Animal hospices evaluate quality of life, provide supportive end-of-life care to the family and pet, and help the animal stay comfortable as long as possible, whether through pain management or lifestyle changes, until natural death or pet owners elect for euthanasia.
“Hospice care for our pets comes into thought when we’re dealing with a terminal illness or in the stages of natural death,” says Dr. Keith Tillman of highly rated Comfort at Home Mobile Pet Hospice and Euthanasia in Mooresville, North Carolina. “We’re not curing; we’re providing comfort. It’s a philosophy more than anything.”
While veterinarians have provided this type of support for a long time, it hasn’t always been so specialized and called hospice. While McVety believes her service was the first to use the words “veterinary hospice” in the company name, this section of veterinary medicine has grown in the last five years.
“Nine months after I started it, I was getting calls from all around the country,” she says. “We’ve [veterinarians] been doing it [hospice] forever. Let’s keep doing it, and do it better.”
Lap of Love customizes hospice care around the pet’s condition, personality and the family’s wishes. Charges range from $195 to $300, and an initial in-home appointment can take between 45 minutes to a couple of hours.
Tillman says his company charges $150 for an in-home consultation, which lasts one to two hours. In that meeting, he makes daily living recommendations after watching the animals in their natural environment, such as elevating the food and water bowls for easier access or covering hardwood floors with carpet so the pet won’t slip. He also talks to the family about their objectives, so he can tailor the hospice to their needs.
Angel’s Paws offers short-term hospice (a week or less) and long-term hospice. Pet owners pay a $100 flat fee for the short-term care, while the long-term services total $200.