Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
After several years in general practice, Dr. Mary Craig, DVM, found herself drawn to an area of veterinary work that requires an especially sensitive touch: at-home pet hospice care and euthanasia.
While most vets usually focus on cures, Dr. Craig saw a need for end-of-life care, when a pet can’t recover but still needs help in the comfort of their home — and the family needs some support too.
In 2011, she founded Gentle Goodbye Veterinary Hospice & At-Home Euthanasia. Through her Connecticut-based practice, Dr. Craig pays house calls to evaluate each pet as well as helps owners recognize the signs of discomfort or distress. If a pet needs to be put down, she works with the family to plan a familiar, loving environment for the procedure.
It’s an issue that many pet owners struggle to face. However, Dr. Craig explains, treating a pet at home can be the most compassionate choice. “Euthanizing a pet is one of the hardest decisions we make, but I also feel it is the kindest gift we can give them,” she says. “In fact, as their caretakers, their well-being is our moral obligation. I’ve come to feel that at-home euthanasia is a better option for nearly every pet and their people.”
Vetstreet talked to Dr. Craig about how her practice helps pets, vets and, most important, families.
A. Dr. Mary Craig: "When I was in general practice, I always felt [putting a pet down in a veterinary office] was a difficult way to lose a pet. The last activity a pet lover did with their pet was a stressful, anxious drive to the vet. Saying goodbye at home, in a familiar place, at the right time, with the right people around, allows everybody to be less traumatized. My hope is that a gentle goodbye allows people to heal faster and get another pet sooner!"
A. "A number of realizations helped me to this calling. I had many pets in my life that died — some in the vet’s office, some naturally. I know I waited too long in some cases because I dreaded that trip, and my pets suffered for it. I recognized a need for veterinary care in that end-of-life stage. Providing nonjudgmental care, and reinforcing education around signs of pain, can make a huge difference in quality of life for the pet and the relationship between pet and person."
A. "Veterinary hospice care, like human hospice, is as much about those left behind as it is for the patient. [For the pet, it includes] pain management, sometime appetite and hydration support, and environmental changes to help mobility and hygiene.
Hospice also [involves] conversations with the family about what the pet is going through, what the signs of pain look like and what I believe it feels like for pets to experience dehydration, nausea, immobility and chronic or acute pain. [We also discuss] the emotional impact on pets when they can’t participate in family activities or exercise longstanding housetraining habits. All of this can help people get to a point where they are OK with the decision to let go."
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
There are many mistaken beliefs about
neutering, itchy ears, litterbox habits,
parasite prevention and more.
Struggling to get your cat into her crate?
Mikkel Becker reveals how to train her to
go in on command, without a…
Get expert advice on keeping pets safe
during fireworks, barbecues, hot weather
and other Independence Day hazards.
The medium-size Mudi is a sheepdog
who tends to make an intelligent, active
and easy-to-groom companion.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
A dog diagnosed with the dangerous parasite may have to take antibiotics, get drug injections and stop exercising.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.