In humans, palliative care is provided to patients to help relieve symptoms of chronic or serious illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease or cancer. This type of treatment includes pain relief but also stress relief to enhance quality of life.
Palliative care is also available for dogs and is a viable alternative to immediate euthanasia when the vet and the family feel that the dog still has quality of life and any pain can be managed.
As a canine massage and rehab practitioner, I get involved in palliative care cases. Some dogs are at the palliative care phase when I am called in. Others have been my clients for a while and their life situation has changed. Using acupressure, massage and/or low level laser, I’m able to help with pain management and give the dog a bit of TLC. I often play relaxing music for the dog to make the time even more special.
In my experience, palliative care can be a very positive, transitional phase for the family. It’s a time to say goodbye. If there are children in the household, parents are able to explain what will happen when a dog is put to sleep and the children learn to understand the vulnerabilities of a dog who is old or who is ill.
It will never be easy to say goodbye, but thanks to quality veterinary care and a greater understanding of pain management, more owners can opt for a palliative care phase for their dog – so they can enjoy as much time together as possible.