General Nursing Care for the Hospice Patient
If signs of pain that are particular to the disease process your pet is suffering from are noted, please contact Northwood Animal Hospital. Some of the most common signs are heavy panting, pacing, whining, growling, lying in an abnormal posture or abnormal place, or decreased appetite.
Some medical appetite stimulants are available and may help your pet become more interested in food. During hospice care though, remember that many pets may become uninterested in food altogether; this is normal. Nutrition at this point is not about a balanced diet but rather about maintaining energy. Trying novel foods may help. Feed your pet different things in different areas of your home at different times of the day. Baby food, ground beef, Vienna sausage, and pureed meat have found some success with some patients.
Just as with food, many pets will become uninterested in drinking. You may try low-sodium chicken broth or use a syringe to gently wet the tongue; sometimes this will stimulate a few licks. You may continue to wet the mouth even in the later stages of the dying process. Hydration of the eye is something easily over-looked; eye lubricants are available through our office if dryness is noted.
There are many medications and treatment modalities that can help reduce pain and inflammation when mobility becomes an issue, please contact the hospital if you are noting signs of pain or decreased mobility. Reliable footing is probably the most important and easiest thing to change in your pet’s immediate surroundings. Non-slip carpets or yoga mats can dramatically decrease slipping. As the problems progress, you may find your pet pacing and panting, particularly at night time. Anti-anxiety and/or pain medication may help him or her sleep more soundly. At some point, medical and external modalities will cease to work and your pet will not be able to stand. This is usually a very difficult thing for pets to experience and you will see signs of anxiety (whining or heavy panting). Without intervention, animals will develop bed sores, urine scalding, infections, and eventually may have difficulty breathing.
Uncontrolled urination and defecation can be normal signs of aging as our pets advance or diseases worse. Maintaining hygiene is important to prevent sores, urine scalding, and eventually infections. Shaving the hair from these problem areas will keep the skin dry and aid in cleaning. Baby powder and diaper cream can also prevent problems from arising. Choose bedding that is easily cleaned and changed – baby stores have a large selection of mattress covers and other water-proof bedding.
As your pet’s guardian, you are the most important person to judge your pet’s happiness. You know him or her the best and know what they love to do. Think about things that make them special to you.