Many of my Pet Grief clients are served by our local mobile veterinarians. Yesterday, I hosted a special event to thank these vets for their care of my clients and their animal companions.
Now that clinic-based veterinarians are doing fewer and fewer house calls (or none at all), mobile vets are more important. They provide home-based palliative care for animal companions who cannot be taken to a clinic. When appropriate, mobile vets can provide is euthanasia in the home, making the animal's last day much calmer in many cases - both for the pet and for its people. Some mobile vets also provide full veterinary care in the home.
Palliative care is a specialty that looks at the interaction between multiple illness being treated by other specialists. The word "palliate" means to "make (a disease or its symptoms) less severe or unpleasant without removing the cause" [Apple Dictionary].
Palliative care doctors provide life-changing care, whether a patient was headed toward death or simply just really sick. When I worked in human hospitals, I saw these doctors:
- notice problematic interactions between medications that had been prescribed by doctors of differing specialties
- identify emotional or existential suffering that 15-minute-per-appointment doctors hadn't seen in a patient
- and have some heart-to-heart conversations with patients when no one else had.
In veterinary medicine, many generalist vets provide holistic care, which includes palliative care. Think of the stereotypical country veterinarian – if your vet is like that, s/he has wrapped palliative care into their practice. But not all have. And the palliative care specialty didn't exist when many vets were in school.
Some wonderful mobile vets in Lane County attended my event. We each learned a bit more about each others' professions. And we brainstormed about how we could work together to make things easier for families as their animal companions approach and reach the end of their lives. If you've read this far, I'm guessing that's you and your pet(s)!
(I want to be certain you understand that I'm not suggesting you leave a vet or clinic you're happy with. Clinic-based veterinary teams have far more capability right at hand than mobile vets do. There's a place for both kinds of practices.)
All the evaluations of our time together were positive, and the consensus is that we'll be doing this again. I'm looking forward to it!