In this issue you will find:
World Rabies Day
In veterinary medicine we see a large number of pets at the end of their lives. They have cancer, chronic kidney disease, debilitating arthritis, neurologic problems and many other disease processes. For many reasons (including: age, cost, invasiveness of the treatment, complicating disease processes, lack of treatment for the disease, poor prognosis) the owners do not wish to pursue treatment, but it is not time to euthanize.
This is where hospice type care enters the picture. Wikipedia defines hospice as “a type of care and philosophy of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient's pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs.” Essentially, this means to keep the patient as comfortable as possible with as few symptoms as possible and trying to keep them content with their life.
The patient must be monitored closely so they can be managed appropriately. After all, each patient is an individual with its own disease process and needs. For example, a chronic kidney disease patient may be nauseous and not want to eat or drink well, but is not in pain. A bone cancer dog may eat well, but the pain from the cancer is severe or the cancer has spread to the lungs so he/she can no longer breath easily or the chronic pain can be managed but the leg breaks at the tumor site. A patient with severe arthritis may have a decreased appetite as the pain becomes no longer manageable and mobility becomes a problem.
A variety of treatments and medications can be used to mitigate the symptoms and improve the quality of life, for a time. We let the patient be as active as they want to be, although sometimes some activity controls can minimize symptoms. This can also be a time to spoil the pet with special attention, activities and foods. The bonding with a pet during hospice can be wonderful.
During hospice care, limited additional treatments are undertaken. If there is a serious problem or illness, this is often considered a time to say goodbye. Aggressive treatments are not undertaken.
Veterinary professionals can assist with hospice care and help monitor a pet's condition. We can advise when it is time to say goodbye, but we cannot make the decision for our client.
World Rabies Day
World Rabies Day is held annually on September 28. It is the anniversary of the death of Louis Pasteur, who developed the first rabies vaccine and laid the foundations of rabies prevention.
It is the first and only global advocacy, education, and awareness campaign for rabies. It has the support of all international health organizations and major stakeholders including the WHO, OIE FAO and CDC. It has reached millions of people with rabies prevention messages and is part of rabies control programs in many parts of the world.
Around 59,000 people die from rabies annually, with over 99% of these deaths occurring in Africa and Asia, as a result of being bitten by an infected dog. Up to 60% of all dog bites and rabies deaths occur in children under 15 years of age.
Dogs are major victims of the disease too; millions are killed every year as a result of mass culling through misguided attempts to curb the disease. Rabies is 99.9% fatal, but it is also 100% preventable. Eliminating the disease by vaccinating dogs protects them and stops transmission to people.
But despite the existence of effective, relatively low cost solutions to control animal rabies, people and animals are still dying. Learn more at http://rabiesalliance.org/world-rabies-day/
In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 27
BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:
I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfetter'd by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;
Nor, what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth
But stagnates in the weeds of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.
I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
With greater frequency pets are part of the family. This increasing human animal bond means that more people experience severe grief with the loss of a pet.
While the grief process is normal and natural, for some people it can become debilitating. When this happens it is important to seek help for oneself or a loved one.
There are many resources available for help. Perhaps a friend can provide the needed release by being there to listen. Your pastor is often a good resource with training and experience in grief counseling. There are many books and online resources available. For some people these are not enough. These individuals need to seek the help of a grief counselor or other mental health professional.
Needing help to deal with the feelings that come with the loss of a beloved pet is not a bad thing. It is not a sign of weakness. It is the result of a close relationship that has come to an end and leaves a huge hole.
The following is a short list of books that may provide help after the loss of a pet.
1. Montgomery H, Montgomery M. (1994). A Final Act of Caring: Ending the Life of an Animal Friend. Montgomery Press. (A helpful handbook for those dealing with the difficult euthanasia decision);
2. Montgomery H, Montgomery M. (1991). Good-bye My Friend. Montgomery Press;
3. Morehead D. (1996). A Special Place for Charlie. Broomfield, CO: Partner's In Publishing, LLC. (Children);
4. Quackenbush J, Craveline D. (1985). When Your Pet Dies: How to Cope with Your Feelings. Simon & Schuster;
5. Viorst J. (1971). The Tenth Good Thing about Barney. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. (Children)