End of Life Care

End of Life Care

Although the decision to end the lives of our pets is devastating to us, it is the last and often the greatest gift we can give them.

For our pets and our patients, we prioritize quality of life. We are here for you as your pet ages, and they stop having fun. Although the decision to end the lives of our pets is devastating to us, it is the last and often the greatest gift we can give them.

There are often many ways we can support our pets and improve the quality of the time they have left with us. There are often no black & white answers, no right or wrong choices. We will help guide you through this time, deciding together, what options are the best for your pet and your family.

How do I know when the time is right?

Pets are the ones in our lives that love us unconditionally and without judgement. They love us regardless of our income, physical appearance, education, politics, religion, interests, or position in life. They are always happy to see us and are loyal and dependable. They rely on us to make decisions for their welfare- including life and death. Sometimes the final decision is obvious to everyone. Other times there can be a balancing act of managing quality of life, good days vs bad days. Every pet, every family, every situation is different with unique considerations for those involved.

Here are some resources to help you determine your pet’s quality of life. Each of these quality-of-life scales are slightly different and highlight different aspects of the pet and caregiver’s life. Even if you don’t assign specific numbers to each of the factors on the scales, the topics they bring up are important to consider and be aware of as you continue your day-to-day life.

Quality of Life Scale for Pets: We like this scale because one of the questions asks about you as the caregiver, which is important because it can be stressful to care for a sick pet and this stress can, unfortunately, impact the human/animal bond. One of the most important factors in the quality of life for pets is their relationship with their owners (and their owner's relationship with them).

Vet Social Work Quality of Life Scale: This scale has similar measures but also brings up good vs. bad days. It's okay if a pet has a bad day, but when the good days are few and far between, this could be an indication that the pet has a decreased quality of life.

Quality of Life Assessment from Ohio State University: This downloadable pdf has an assessment from The Ohio State University Veterinary School and focuses on specific behaviors/abilities of your pet. There are a lot of different factors to include when considering quality of life and determining the severity of your pet's illness.

When it is time to say goodbye our hope is to make this transition peaceful for your entire family. End of life care can take place in our hospital or at your home. Your entire family can be present if you would like them to be. If you cannot be present with your animal our staff will comfort them and make sure they know how much you loved them. Again, there are no right or wrong choices.

Our veterinarian will provide a sedative to ease any pain or stress your pet has. They will relax and get sleepy. A small butterfly catheter is then used to administer a second medication, into the vein, that will cause your pet to fall asleep and stop their heart. There is no pain for your pet during this process.

You have the choice to bury your pet at home or have them cremated. We work with a local cremation service to care for your pets remains if you choose cremation. You may choose to have your pet’s ashes returned to you or not depending on your wishes. 

Always feel free to call us to discuss your pet’s condition. We are willing to discuss your questions, concerns, or just listen!

**Note: The advice provided on this page is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your Jacksonville, FL vet - Intracoastal West Vet Hospital (904)436-PETS (7387).