September 13, 2018

How is Palliative Care Provided to Veterinary Patients?

Like a lot of other therapies in veterinary medicine, palliative care takes a multimodal approach to treat the pain or symptoms a patient is experiencing, explains Kathleen Cooney, DVM, MS, CHPV, an animal hospice consultant.

Like a lot of other therapies in veterinary medicine, palliative care takes a multimodal approach to treat the pain or symptoms a patient is experiencing, explains Kathleen Cooney, DVM, MS, CHPV, an animal hospice consultant.

"Hopefully, we provide palliative care through what's known as integrative medicine—where we're actually harnessing all of the different channels of medicine that's out there for the best
medical approach and mitigation of those symptoms that we can. So for example, conventional therapies, alternative therapies, maybe physical medicine, behavioral therapies or modifications, and nutritional support. 

So we try to take it all, look at the big picture, think about all the possibilities out there for care, and then start to apply those to our patient often in a step-by-step approach versus all—you know packing it all—in at the same time. We don't want to overwhelm our patients or overwhelm our caregivers. So we say 'What's going to be the most effective?' look at it and look at all of the gold standards out there for that particular condition, for that symptom, and say what's going to be the most impactful. And then we can start to layer on from there. 

And there's a concept of the multimodal approach, and pain management is a good example of that, where we might have to start with one type of pain management medication and then we can add on another and another and another. But they're certainly going to be those times where the pain is very intense to begin with and we need to hit it with everything we've got right out of the gates. 

So anything we do within palliative medicine again is just to mitigate or lessen those symptoms and help that pet live as normal life as possible, increase their engagement with their family, increase their social well-being, and really advocate for more of those positive emotions that they can experience versus those negative, because nobody wants them."

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