Caring for a pet in hospice care can be both emotionally and physically taxing. As a pet owner, it's natural to feel a range of emotions, from sadness and anticipatory grief to stress and anger. Here are some strategies to help you manage stress and grief while providing the best possible care for your beloved pet during their final days.
Establish a Routine
Creating a daily routine can provide structure and predictability for both you and your pet. This can help reduce stress and make it easier to manage your pet's care. Some easy ways to create a reliable routine include setting feeding times and setting the same wake-up time for you and your pet. Another benefit of keeping a routine is that it will allow you to spot any changes in your pet far easier than if you don't have a routine. Be sure to take care of yourself by including time for just you in the routine as well!
Connect with Others Who Understand
Joining pet loss support groups, whether online or in-person, can provide a safe space to share your feelings, learn from others who have experienced similar situations, and find comfort in knowing you're not alone. You may experience something known as anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is the emotional response experienced when anticipating the loss of a loved one, even before the actual death or loss occurs. Anticipatory grief allows people to mentally and emotionally prepare for future loss, but it can also lead to complicated emotions and challenges in managing day-to-day life while still supporting and caring for their pets. This is a unique experience which is hard to explain to those who haven’t experienced pet loss.
Here are some groups and forums to take a look at:
Taking care of yourself is crucial when providing hospice care for your pet. Ensure you're eating well, getting enough sleep, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Practising mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, can also help reduce stress and anxiety. There are many free mindfulness meditation videos available on YouTube. We recommend starting journaling as writing down how you are feeling can really help your mental health.
Veterinarians, pet hospice specialists, and support staff can offer valuable guidance and expertise during this difficult time. They can help you understand what to expect, provide advice on managing your pet's symptoms, and offer emotional support. Veterinarians are here to offer advice but make sure you seek mental health guidance from a suitable professional if needed.
If you are finding this time particularly difficult it may be beneficial to seek professional counselling when you are anticipating your own personal experience of pet loss. By caring for yourself emotionally, you can improve the care you are providing to your pet and allow yourself to be present with them.
Create Lasting Memories
Cherish the time you have left with your pet by creating lasting memories. Take photos, write in a journal, or create a cat or dog paw print keepsake as a way to remember and honour your pet's life. You could even put the paw print in a frame. We also recommend creating a bucket list for your pet. You can include ideas that are new or visit your pet's favourite places again. This can help make those last few weeks overflowing with happy memories.
In conclusion, providing hospice care for your pet can be an emotionally challenging experience. However, by implementing these strategies, you can better manage your stress and grief while ensuring your beloved pet receives the comfort and care they deserve. This will help you celebrate your time together with your pet.
Do you want your pet to be as comfortable as possible throughout hospice care? Read our blog here on how to make your older pet comfier at home.
We are proud to offer telehealth consultations to anybody in the UK. Telehealth consultations will help you and your pet to enjoy what time you have left together by giving your strategies to monitor your pet's comfort levels. Call us on 0800 0495944 to book your appointment.