Navigating the end-of-life journey with respect and compassion
Sometimes, the best decisions are the hardest ones to make. The steps you take as a family toward the end of your pet’s life embody this difficult truth. As lifelong partners with human clients and pet patients, we walk this journey alongside your family and your dogs and cats. Know that our San Marco Animal Hospital team respects these difficult and deeply personal conversations and decisions. We are privileged to be your support system and be “present” as much as you need or require.
Compassionate, caring services in Jacksonville, Florida
End-of-life care transcends “euthanasia.” Not unlike other stages in your pet’s life, from puppyhood to adulthood, these “twilight hours” are also a journey. As we navigate managing pain or other challenges, there are opportunities for you and your family to also prepare for a new normal, the transition when your beloved fur-baby is no longer physically present.
Our team will be working with you throughout this process to ensure your pet’s physical, social, and emotional needs are being met. Generally, veterinarians think of these needs as a pyramid. The base of the pyramid is concerned with physical well-being. Care that addresses physical needs includes those “traditional” services that veterinarians provide to resolve acute and chronic symptoms and conditions; for instance:
- Pain management with medications, modifications to a pet’s surroundings and nutrition, and careful handling techniques
- Identification and management of symptoms, such as shortness of breath, GI distress, pressure sores, skin infections, and cognitive decline
- Hygiene support and adjustments to account for a pet’s impaired mobility and to assure cleanliness
- Dietary interventions that support balanced nutrition and healthy hydration
- Solutions to mobility challenges, from the incorporation of nonskid flooring to assistive devices like harnesses and slings
- Minimize safety hazards while improving comfort within the home by creating a peaceful refuge for your pet
The middle part of our “needs pyramid” refers to the following social needs and approaches to care:
- Engagement with (human) family members through ongoing interactions as dictated by how your pet feels and symptoms and to avoid isolation
- Monitoring changes concerning how other pets in the household react toward the sick pet and making adjustments to interaction and socialization based on these behaviors
- Keeping your pet’s mind as sharp as possible with regular games and other interactions to enhance mental stimulation
Lastly, but certainly not least, emotional well-being resides at the top of the pyramid. Responses to caring for pets are focused on:
- Preserving dignity (i.e., with good grooming and hygiene)
- Reducing stress and stressful environmental changes
- Monitoring for behaviors such as withdrawal from social interactions
We celebrate the gift of companionship that our pets provide at every stage of life. We welcome your questions about care as your cat or dog gets older and new challenges to good health and well-being arise—Call 904-516-9767 to speak with one of our kind and knowledgeable team members in Jacksonville.