Hospice Care Tips From Gail Pope

Dr. Jeff

Feb 23, 2017
Hi everyone-

Here are a few of the useful tips that are applicable to many pets (hospice or not):

Tips for allowing your animals to pass naturally and peacefully:

Consider educating yourself about human hospice care as it is akin to animal hospice care: all about living life all the way to its natural ending.

When worrying about pain and suffering, again look to the human world of hospice where pain or perceived suffering can be addressed in many ways, embracing both Eastern and Western philosophies.

Do not allow yourself to be swayed by a “prognosis”. Many animals and humans defy these predictions and live remarkably long lives after entering hospice care. As Bernie Siegal once said “when the spirit rises--all bets are off”. I have seen many no-hopers become miracle stories. (Bernie Siegel, M.D. is an internationally recognized expert in the field of cancer treatment and complementary, holistic medicine).

Be careful about judging quality of life as this interpretation is based on determining the best time to end a life. You can provide real quality of life by being a companion on the journey with no assumptions and by simply offering the very best possible care.

Eliminate panic from your mind. Have faith in animals’ ability to be in charge of their own dying process. See them as the wise spiritual beings that they are and defer to this wisdom.

If you need to nurse your animal, do so with the attitude of a good restaurant waiter: "I am only here to serve." Do not hover, fret or try to make things different than they are.

Offer the foods they love; be understanding if they don't eat. Also, ask for advice from someone experienced in feeding a sick animal.

Embrace the understanding of being an anam cara, or soul friend. In this instance, an anam cara becomes a midwife to the dying.

Sing them their favorite songs, tell them about all the wonderful things they've taught you and let them know what things they've done to make you feel special. Tell them about what you'll remember and treasure about them when they've gone.

Consider employing a classical veterinary homeopath to guide you through this journey and recommend an appropriate homeopathic kit for you to have on hand at home, ready for the last stages of life so you’ll have the right remedy on hand in case of need.

Consider also the gentle support of animal Reiki, flower essences, aromatherapy, sound therapy and other energy healing modalities.

Subcutaneous fluids can be soothing to the body during hospice. (Your veterinarian or a veterinary technician can teach you how to administer these fluids).

Acquaint yourself with the stages of the dying process by learning from someone who has been through it. Many veterinarians have never experienced the natural death of an animal and are unaware of the signs. Recommendation for euthanasia can sometimes come days, weeks or even years before natural death occurs.

Refrain from forcing medications and supplements on your pet as a last ditch effort to save them. This may induce stress and give the impression you think their decision to pass on is not a valid one.

Stick with your normal schedule as much as possible as it is familiar and comforting. They are happy that you are continuing with your life. Take time away for yourself and give them quiet time alone, too.

Understand that animals are in control of when they die and they will die with you if that is what they choose. Sometimes they decide to slip off when they are alone.

If you hear yourself saying "I can't stand to see them this way!” remind yourself that this event is not about you, it is about them and their life.
Don't talk to people who are judgmental of your decision to let your animal die a natural death. Instead bless them silently and know that their attitude only comes from their own fear of facing death.

Consider consulting with an animal communicator or other type of counselor who can assist you in staying in a balanced and loving state so that you can make room for little miracles and meaning in the dying experience.

The absolutely most important thing is to love them deeply and gently, respect their decisions and allow them the pleasure of entering the light from the comfort of your arms.

If you go through this process with courage and grace, I promise that you will no longer fear death and your perspective on life will be forever changed to one of acceptance and peace. What greater legacy can our animals leave us?


Aug 29, 2017
Thank you Gail, and Dr. Jeff for posting this. It's so hard for me to get this right.

Dr. Jeff

Feb 23, 2017
Hi Liz!

In what way is it hard?