Dr. Tami Shearer has always had a passion for providing hospice care for her clients and patients, even before she realized she was actually providing that service.

"I became interested in hospice care probably the day that I graduated from veterinary school," Dr. Shearer said. "But at that point in time I really didn't think it was hospice care. I just thought of it as practicing good relationship-centered medicine and taking into account that not only am I there to care for the pet but also that pet's family."

Dr. Shearer will bring her nearly 25 years of experience in pet hospice care to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Convention July 31-August 3 in Atlanta. She will be leading two sessions on hospice care on Sunday, August 1: "Quality of Life: Setting up Hospice and Palliative Care Services in Small Animal Practice," from 9-9:50 a.m., and "Quality of Life: Hospice and Palliative Care Protocols," from 10-10:50 a.m.

While hardly anybody was talking about hospice care for pets even 15 years ago, Dr. Shearer said that hospice care is now a much more mainstream part of veterinary care.

As pets become more and more a part of the family, pet owners are seeking out medical care that more closely matches that given to people, including hospice care.

In response to this, Dr. Shearer developed hospice care protocols to help guide veterinarians through the care of terminally ill pets and ensure that no part of a pet's care is overlooked. The five-step pet hospice plan includes the following steps:

1) Evaluation of the pet owners' needs, beliefs and goals for the pet.

2) Education about the disease process.

3) Development of a personalized plan for the pet and pet owner.

4) Application of hospice or palliative care techniques.

5) Emotional support during the care process and after the death of the pet.

Instead of requiring physical upgrades or new equipment, Dr. Shearer said that hospice care is more of a philosophy or system of care.

"It's simple, it's easy to apply, and I hope more veterinarians are motivated and find that this also becomes a calling for them," Dr. Shearer said.

Source:
American Veterinary Medical Association

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