sim-paw-tico animal hospice of santa cruz county
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what is animal hospice?

Animal hospice means
"I will be there for you when the time comes,
and I will dance with you until the end of the song."*

The short answerEdgar the dog

The goal of animal hospice is to provide companion animals with the best possible care to make them comfortable during their last days and to provide support to their human families. Hospice cannot change the outcome for a dying or terminally ill pet, but can improve the quality of life and time for the animal and its caregiver.

A bit of history

Not long ago, if your veterinarian told you that your pet had a condition that limited them physically, or a terminal illness, it usually meant immediate euthanasia - or sometimes it meant drugs that would damage their organs, causing death. Regardless, it was a death sentence. Times have changed, including the attitude that pets are family members. In just the last decade, veterinary medicine has started finding ways to alleviate/control pain, to provide and explore alternative therapies. As our knowledge has expanded, euthanasia has become the last resort and more people are allowing their pet to have a natural death.

Simpawtico Animal Hospice of Santa Cruz County was created in memory of Edgar, one of my favorite Woofers, who was diagnosed with cancer. Edgar was such a sweet old gentleman and I just wanted him to have the best life in the time he had left ~ Whitney

what is palliative care?

Palliative care (pronounced pal-lee-uh-tiv)... specialized medical care for those with serious illnesses that
focuses on providing patients with relief from the
symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis.

The point of palliative care is to relieve suffering and provide the best possible quality of life for both the patient and their family. Palliative care is a partnership of patient, medical specialists and family. Massage, acupuncture, supplements, physical therapy and medications are just some of the methods used to relieve pain and other symptoms. dog head


What is the difference between
palliative care and hospice?

Palliative care is used to relieve discomfort of an injury or illness that is not necessarily life threatening. Palliative care can be used during curative treatments. Hospice can include palliative care, but the hospice patients have a terminal illness or degenerative condition and includes end-of-life issues.

What is animal hospice - The long answer

Hospice does not mean postponing death to appease the caregiver. Animal hospice does not mean allowing the animal to die a painful death with no intervention. Pet parents who opt for in-home hospice care may be taught by their veterinarian how to administer pain medication, change bandages, provide fluid therapy and perform general nursing duties, including keeping their pets comfortable and clean.

Hospice care may include any of the following: nutritional therapy, accupuncture, accupressure, massage, physical therapy, animal Reiki, aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Bowen therapy, or craniosacral therapy. It all depends on the advice of your vet. Simpawtico Animal Hospice does not prescribe medications or therapy - we just follow the treatment prescribed by your veterinarian.

One of the most important tasks as caretaker is to observe and report any changes in your pet’s behavior, weight, temperature, eating habits, mobility and overall well-being. If you notice any changes, immediately contact your veterinarian, who will adjust your pet’s medication and treatment accordingly.

It’s important to remember that euthanasia may still be necessary with hospice care. Your companion can have a natural death, taking into account your animal's comfort and quality of life. Simpawtico Animal Hospice honors the animal's will to live and we understand it will transition in its own time, at its own pace. If a peaceful, natural end is unlikely or your pet is in pain, you may decide to end his suffering with euthanasia.

Is animal hospice right for you and your companion animal?

Assess your companion animal’s physical condition in order to determine if your companion should be a hospice patient, based on the following criteria: old dog at beach

a) your companion animal has a limited prognosis by a veterinarian and a progressive disease with quality of life issues to consider;

b) your companion animal has evidence of clinical decline such as multiple visits to the veterinarian, multiple or extended hospitalizations, a decline in multiple functions such as: self-grooming, feeding, ability to control urine or stool, ability to ambulate, impaired nutritional status, fluid retention or dehydration, weight loss, anemia, symptoms of pain, has shortness of breath at rest, is unable to vocalize or vocalizes abnormally, or has lost the ability to smile or greet the caregiver or other family members.

What is your pet's quality of life?

Check out this DAILY DIARY that can help you track your pet's comfort, activity, and more.

Simpawtico Animal Hospice

Simpawtico Animal Hospice wants to partner with you and your veterinarian to provide the best Buster the catcomfort and care possible for your terminally ill companion animal. Simpawtico Animal Hospice is available for in-home care during those times you can't be there or times you need respite, and we will leave you a detailed report on the condition of your pet and the treatment given. We want to help you be aware of every option available to achieve proper pain management (if needed) and to seek a level of comfort that allows the animal to live the remainder of its life as comfortable as possible.

Simpawtico Animal Hospice is here to help you... to understand your pet's health situation, raise your awareness of the possibilities and alternatives, help you prepare for the challenges ahead, support you during tough decisions, help you with final arrangements, and help you find a supportive environment during your grief proccess.

Simpawtico Animal Hospice understands the significance of the human/animal bond and supports quality, meaningful time between you and your pet.


Animal hospice in the news

Foundation supports hospice for pets

Pet Hospice Care Helps Pet Owners Cope With Death

Hospice for Animals from Integrative Veterinary Medicine



* Quote by Tom Wilson, PhD in a presentation to the 2nd International Symposium on Veterinary Hospice Care.


Simpawtico Animal Hospice of Santa Cruz County
is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation
All donations are tax-deductible