Vet2Home launch home care service for elderly and sick dogs

If your pet is diagnosed as terminally ill, or when its life begins to be affected by old age, owners are often faced with the heart breaking decision of how to help them in their twilight days. Just as people do, sick animals need an awful lot of care so that they do not suffer until they are either put or sleep or pass away naturally.

The problem is that many owners do not feel competent enough to nurse their pet at home in it last few weeks and are often forced into making a decision they are far from comfortable with. Help is now here however, as in a tie in with National Pet Month 2013, Vets2Home have launches a 24/7 palliative care service and animal home hospice.

‘We want people to know that we’re here to help at all hours of the day and night,’ says vet Susan Gregersen, founder and managing director of Vets2Home, who have provided at-home veterinary services since 2005. ‘We will tailor-make a care plan for your animal so it can be pain free through to a natural or assisted death. This is more than possible at home.’

Animal home hospice care is an old idea that has recently been revived in the United States. Susan is bringing it across ‘the pond’ and focusing it on pet owners in Sussex and Surrey.

‘It is the best way to give a pet individual treatment in a comfortable setting and familiar environment,’ she explains. ‘Owners play an important part in a pet hospice situation, and care focuses on pain control and comfort for the animal as well as on 24-hour advice and support for the family when the end is approaching.’

Susan says she has had too many requests to put down a pet that clearly still enjoys life and is not yet suffering, but the owner simply can’t bear the unknown.

‘Fear is the number one reason people choose euthanasia too early,’ she says. ‘If owners make this choice because they don’t know what to expect or how to deal with the situation, they may miss out on the intimate and often emotionally healing process of final-stage care for their pets. Gentle home euthanasia is available at any stage, as long as the owner feels prepared and is ready for it.

‘It is the goal of my practice, Vets2Home, to be among the first UK-based, specialised animal hospice providers, offering individual home consultations 24/7 to owners so they have a better understanding of pain and disease. We will also offer owners help and support to prepare for the death of their pet.

‘I am one of the only vets in the UK (if not the only vet) with many years’ experience of helping families and pets at home. On more than 6,000 home visits I have put to sleep around 1,800 animals (dogs, cats, sheep, budgies, crows, guinea pigs and hamsters) in the nicest possible way. My clients’ gratitude that the death of their much-loved pet could take place without pain, in their own home, speaks for itself.’


Case study 1 – Kono

Kono was a large wolf hybrid, imported by his owners, Robin and Dona Roche-Tarry, when they moved from the USA to their home in Brighton eight years ago. One weekend in the autumn of 2012, Kono’s owner contacted Vets2Home out-of-hours service because they were worried he had suddenly become severely lame. After treatment and pain relief for a month resulted in little improvement, Susan Gregersen referred Kono for tests and X-rays to a local veterinary hospital in Brighton. Sadly, Kono was sent home with a terminal diagnosis of bone cancer. Realising their dog was going to need special veterinary care in his last month, the Roche-Tarry’s decided to use Vets2Home’s other service for end-of-life support and 24-hour, gentle in-home euthanasia.

Kono was a much-loved dog, so before he was put to sleep, various members of the family flew in from the States and Spain. Late one evening, before he was in too much pain, Susan sedated Kono and he was quietly put to sleep, surrounded by those he loved and in his own home.

‘Kono was a part of our family and a unique and special animal,’ says Dona Roche-Tarry, managing partner for global executive search firm CT Partners. ‘He was shy and not used to being around people, so taking him to a vet was an anxious experience for us all. Because of the service provided by Vets2Home we were able to treat him and keep him calm and happy in his last few months of life. The decision to put a dog down is extremely difficult, especially when you have to take them to a “hospital” type of environment. We were able to be with him, say our private goodbyes and as a family stay with him until the end.

‘Vets2Home also provided help with the special cremation, which was also really important to us. Vets2Home is a great service and the professionalism and care the staff provide is exceptional.’

Case study 2 – Inca

The case of Inca, a much-loved brindle mongrel, is a classic illustration of the importance of end-of-life home hospice care. During his final two years, Vets2Home treated Inca with pain relief for arthritis, antibiotics for toothache (because he had lost most of his teeth), and a special diet to help his digestive problems, which meant he never had to leave the house to go to a veterinary practice. Much loved by his owner, Louise Bowtell, from Ditchling, East Sussex, Inca had been an integral part of her family since they had re-homed him as a young dog, and he grew up with their two children.

When Inca was 15, after much deliberation and numerous consultations, the joint decision was taken that his life had very little quality. Vets2Home attended and, with the family all around him, he was calmly put to sleep in his own bed.

‘Susan provided Inca with a dignified and calm ending to a long and happy life,’ says Louise. ‘She offered consistent care and warmth during Inca’s old age, and treating him at home was less stressful for Inca as well as for us. Inca was a lovely dog and such a big part of our family, and the ending that we gave him reflected this. I strongly recommend Vets2Home to any pet owner.’

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