Pet Hospice 101: What is a Custom Hospice Plan?

Pet hospice care is a three-prong approach:

  • listening to clients’ concerns and fears
  • educating clients on quality of life
  • helping clients plan for euthanasia or natural death.

Because each client presents a unique set of needs and challenges, there is no “prescribed” or “standard” pet hospice treatment.

Our Customized Pet Hospice Plan

Pet hospice is a service that must be customized in each circumstance to be effective, and plans are always tailored to each pet’s specific needs. This takes a considerable amount of time and specialized knowledge. To ensure quality, it is best to refer clients to a separate pet hospice service.

The first step in creating a custom pet hospice plan is to assess the pet’s pain and educate the client about their pet’s condition. The goal is to make sure that the pet is as comfortable and pain-free as possible. This begins with an initial consultation by a Board Certified Dr. of Veterinary Medicine, during which a pain assessment is conducted. Many pet owners cannot recognize signs that their pet is suffering because animals do not display outward signs of pain the way humans do. A pet hospice service provider will conduct the pain assessment in the client’s home and then educate the client on the results.

With information gathered from an in-home pain assessment, the next step is to coordinate with the client and their veterinarian on a treatment program. This program involves what the client will do at home with aid from the pet hospice service, and what treatment will be done in the veterinary clinic. The pet hospice servicers can even train clients to administer medications and fluids at home as part of their custom hospice plan. All data from assessments, progress, and changes in condition, will be reported by the pet hospice servicer to the client and their veterinarian for continuity of care.

A custom hospice plan works effectively when all three parties (pet hospice servicer, client and veterinarian) are on board. The pet hospice servicer acts as team leader to keep all parties on track with the goal of the custom hospice plan and to maximize the benefits for the client and their pet.

Our Mission

The goal of pet hospice is to make sure that the pet is as pain-free and comfortable as possible. This goal is best achieved when veterinary clinics and pet hospice providers work as a team to provide a high-quality care and services for clients.


Pet Hospice 101: What is Pet Hospice?

For many people, the word ‘hospice’ is associated with a special medical center where terminally ill patients go for end-of-life care. Hospice, however, is a philosophy, not a place. The hospice philosophy is best described as- ending aggressive treatment for a cure. The focus shifts from actively treating to find a cure, to providing the best quality of life, and minimizing pain and suffering.

The 3 Prong Approach

Pet hospice care is a three-prong approach: listening to clients’ concerns and fears, educating clients on quality of life, and helping clients plan for euthanasia or natural death.

When a pet owner is in the heartbreaking position of caring for an ailing pet, it can be difficult for them to have a proper perspective on when to consider a hospice approach. As the veterinary provider, you can refer a client for a hospice consultation under several circumstances:

  • When you must deliver bad news 
  • When you see a client in denial
  • When you are concerned a client may be naively putting their pet at risk of suffering
  • When a client is highly emotional
  • When a client is struggling with the decision of what to do

An objective, professional hospice consultation is the first step to helping a client understand pet hospice. A consultation can take place at a clinic or in the client’s home, and generally lasts 45-60 minutes. By listening to the client’s concerns and fears, and talking the client through the hospice philosophy and practice, a consultation helps a client become educated and empowered.

Benefits Of Our Hospice Service

There are several benefits of referring clients to a Gentle Journey hospice service:

  • Clients feel free to be honest when receiving unbiased support
  • Clients have increased levels of trust in a separate agency specializing pet hospice services 
  • As a separate pet hospice service, we can dedicate more energy and resources to a needy client and still communicate feedback directly with your clinic

Our commitment to you, as the treating veterinarian, is what sets Gentle Journey apart.

Our Mission

The goal of pet hospice is to make sure that the pet is as pain-free and comfortable as possible. This goal is best achieved when veterinary clinics and pet hospice providers work as a team to provide a high-quality care and services for clients. 


Learning About Canine Lymphoma

Learning that you beloved pet has canine lymphoma can be scary. You are probably filled with many questions about what exactly canine lymphoma is, what the treatment is and of course, the prognosis for your dog. Dr. Christina Nutter outlines Canine Lymphoma in this short informational guide.

If you feel that your dog is exhibiting many signs that may suggest canine lymphoma (or a number of non-lymphoma problems) please consult with your vet for a thorough exam to determine the cause.



Knowing When to Euthanize a Pet with Cancer

when to euthanize pet with cancer Gentle Journey AZ

Discovering that your pet has been diagnosed with cancer can be devastating. As a loving pet parent, you want hold on to that special relationship as long as possible. However, it’s also important to consider the comfort level and quality of life of your pet with cancer when wrestling with such a difficult decision.

Cancer in pets comes in many different forms and impacts different systems of the body in different ways. Some can metastasize in the body quickly, while other forms may remain local. If you are considering whether or not euthanasia is the right choice for your pet with cancer, you will want to answer the following questions:

  • Where is the cancer located?
  • Has the cancer spread?
  • What are the available treatment options for this type of cancer?
  • What is the cost of treatment?
  • What’s the long-term prognosis for my pet?
  • What is the quality of life associated with the disease?

Answering these questions will help you make a better-informed decision on what is the best option for your pet. If your pet is older, expensive surgeries or invasive treatments may be less appealing, especially if the long-term prognosis is not good. Whatever the facts, deciding whether or not to euthanize a pet is a highly personal decision so you want to be sure you are at peace with whatever you decide.

While euthanasia is a decision many pet parents face, pet hospice is an option that is has become popular among those caring for a pet with cancer. These palliative treatments aim to make a suffering pet as comfortable as possible. Dr. Christina and Gentle Journey have compassionately been helping manage pain for pets with cancer in the Greater Phoenix area for years. If you would like to learn more about this service, please give us a call at 602-332-7757.

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signs of heatstroke by Gentle Journey

We are in the thick of the notorious Arizona summer and for local pet parents who haven’t migrated, the sweltering heat can pose serious problems for dogs. With their thick coats of fur, dogs are particularly susceptible to heat so it’s important to be aware of the signs of heatstroke. In extreme cases, recognizing the signs and knowing what to do could save your pooch’s life.

A Brief Overview
Unlike humans, dogs do not primarily use their sweat gland to keep cool. This means they rely heavily on their respiratory system to regulate body temperature. When a dog’s respiratory tract is unable to get rid of heat quickly enough, it can often result in heatstroke.

Commons Signs of Heatstroke
• Hyperventilation
• Excessive Panting
• Dry, Pale Gums
• Increased Salivation
• Confusion
• Weakness
• Diarrhea
• Vomiting

When a dog experiences heatstroke and it goes untreated, it can result in seizure, coma or even death.

Treatment Guidelines for Overheated Dogs

1.) Monitor your pooch for signs of overheating Dogs in danger of heatstroke typically exhibit a combination of the symptoms mentioned above. The moment you notice any of these signs, move your pet to a cooler area with a fan.
2.) Provide your dog cool, fresh water. Be sure plenty of cool drinking water is available, but avoiding forcing your dog to drink. Never offer ice to a dog experiencing heatstroke as it can cool body temperature too quickly shocking the system.
3.) Take your pet’s temperature. A dog’s normal body temperature is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Moderate heating usually happens at around 103 to 106 degrees, while severe heating typically occurs beyond 106 degrees. Contact your vet or the nearest emergency center and then report your dog’s temperature along with the symptoms he is exhibiting.
4.) Cool your dog with wet to towels. Soaking towels in cool water and placing them on your docks neck, armpits and hind legs can reduce body temperature. If outdoors, a pond or stream can help cool your pooch.
5.) Take your dog to your vet. If your dog seems to be suffering, call your vet. Alert them ahead of time to his condition so they can prepare for treatment. Your pet may have to receive oxygen, some fluids, and other treatments.

Preventing heatstroke is all about common sense. When your dog is outside, make sure he has a shaded place to rest out of direct sunlight. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh, cool drinking water and avoid playing too hard.


25 Signs Your Cat is In Pain

cat pain Gentle Journey AZ

Though not always the case, cats have a reputation for being aloof animals. Their ability to mask their true feelings is an instinctual adaptation that has aided their survival. Animals exhibiting signs of pain are easy targets for would-be predators, so a cat’s apparent poker face is an asset in the wild.

While the ability to conceal pain may have served our feline friends in the past, it can be detrimental to domesticated cats as pet parents are often unaware when they are experiencing pain. Luckily, a pair of researchers from the University of Lincoln recently set out to crack the code of cat pain. With the help of a team of veterinary scientists, they put together a comprehensive list of subtle signs of cat pain.

25 Signs Your Cat is In Pain:

  1. Absence of grooming
  2. Lameness
  3. Difficulty jumping
  4. Abnormal gait
  5. Reluctant to move
  6. Reaction to palpation
  7. Hiding
  8. Playing less
  9. Appetite decrease
  10. Overall activity decrease
  11. Less rubbing toward people
  12. Change in general mood
  13. Change in overall temperament
  14. Hunched posture
  15. Shifting of weight
  16. Licking a particular body region
  17. Lower head posture
  18. Blepharospasm (involuntary blinking or spasm of the eyelids)
  19. Change in form or feeding behavior
  20. Avoiding bright areas
  21. Growling
  22. Groaning
  23. Eyes closed
  24. Straining to urinate
  25. Tail twitching

If your cat is demonstrating any of these signs, there is a good chance he or she could be in pain. Ultimately, a pet parents intuition may be the best indicator that something isn’t right. If a marked change in behavior in your cat is causing concern, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your vet.

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Owning a Dog

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Pawprints Left by You

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When Should You Get a New Pet After One Dies?

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The question of when to get a new pet after one dies is one that many grieving pet parents struggle with. Anyone who has lost a beloved pet knows all too well the void that can be left when a four-legged companion leaves this world. It’s tempting for grieving pet parents to try to fill that void by inviting a new animal into the home. While there are no hard-and-fast rules around this, it’s good to exercise a bit of caution before taking on the responsibility of a new pet.

Thing to Consider When Deciding if You Should Get a New Pet After One Dies:

1.)Are You Ready to Give a New Pet Love?

The human-animal bond is beautiful and sacred. Whenever a deserving pet finds a loving home it’s cause for celebration. That said, you shouldn’t bring a new pet into your home until you feel ready to give the animal the love and attention he or she deserves. Nothing can ever replace a pet who has passed on, but every pet deserves a master who is ready to provide the same love and devotion you gave to your departed friend.

2.) Is Your Family Ready for a New Pet?

Even if you feel that you are ready to commit to a new relationship with a pet, it’s important to make sure that your family is on the same page. You don’t want to risk your family members resenting an animal because it was brought into the home before they were able to satisfactorily grieve the deceased pet. Before making a decision of this magnitude, it’s important to talk through these issues to ensure everyone is on board for creating a loving home for a new pet.

3.) How Will a New Pet Impact Your Other Pets?

In addition to your family, a new pet will change the dynamic for any surviving animals. Like humans, pets need time to adjust. Bringing a new pet into the home after one has died can be too much change for your other pets to handle. Acceptance of a new animal may not be immediate. If you do decide to get a new pet after one dies, make sure you have the capacity to adequately supervise the new animal relationships through this transition.

Bringing a new pet into the home after one dies is not all bad. Having a new fluffy friend in the home can be very therapeutic and is the right decision for some. Just be sure that your entire household is ready to create a loving home for a new pet before making this choice.

How long did you wait to bring a new pet home after losing one? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Talking to Your Kids About Pet Euthanasia

Talking to your kids about pet loss Gentle Journey AZ

Choosing to end the life of a suffering pet is a difficult experience on it’s own. When there are children in the home that have formed a close bond with the animal, it can make the process much more difficult. Knowing the right things to say to kids about pet euthanasia can be tricky. As a general rule, it’s best to be clear and honest about the whole experience. Providing children with too much or not enough information leads to confusion and can ultimately make the process much more difficult. Here are some answers to key questions you might get from your kids about pet euthanasia:

Why Can’t We Save Our Pet?

Explain to your child that you’ve done everything you can to save his or her pet, but that the disease or injury is very powerful and will not go away. The important parts of the pet’s body are no longer working and he or she is in a great deal of pain. The euthanasia procedure will make this pain go away.

Will Euthanasia Hurt My Pet?

Explain to your child that their pet is suffering but that you can end his or her pain through a gentle euthanasia procedure that a veterinarian will perform. Explain that the vet is an expert and knows the right steps to take to ensure pets don’t feel too much pain. Though it’s a very difficult decision, we make the choice to euthanize our pets out of love so they don’t have to suffer any longer.

Will My Dog Be Afraid?

Tell your child that you will do everything you can to make sure the dog/cat are not afraid. He/she will be surrounded by the people he/she loves the most, and when it’s the right time, the vet will give a drug that will make him/her drift off to sleep and he or she won’t wake up again.

Talking to children about pet euthanasia needs to be handled delicately, but an honest approach will relieve your child of some of the confusion he or she may be experiencing. At Gentle Journey of Scottsdale, we specialize in compassionate at-home euthanasia services and can help answer any questions you have about talking to your kids. Give us a call at 602-332-7757 or visit us online to learn more about our services.