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Our veterinary services are now limited to wellness care, minor medical treatments and end-of-life care for those animals that cannot be transported to a traditional standing practice, whether that is because of the animal’s physical or emotional limitations, or because of the owners own mobility limitations. Because we cannot hospitalize patients we generally are unable to see seriously ill pets. However, if you are having difficulty transporting your pet to a full-service veterinary practice, please contact us and we MAY be able to help you.
Vaccinations, heartworm testing, feline viral testing, routine screening and monitoring labwork (via Antech Laboratory) and diagnosis of minor medical issues are all a part of wellness care.
It is a current concern that as a profession we may be over-vaccinating our pets and as a result potentially causing adverse harm to their health. We follow the current vaccination guidelines of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Feline Practitioners Association (AFPA) which recommend individual lifestyle assessment and evaluation of the individual’s medical history to determine what vaccinations and monitoring is best. We gather as much prior history as possible combined with the current lifestyle of your pet to make recommendations on how to keep them healthy and happy. (Click Here to review our Handout on “Recommendations for Puppy/Kitten and Adult Dog/Cat Vaccinations). Additionally, heartworm disease is a growing concern in Florida, and other areas of the U.S. It has recently been confirmed that populations of heartworms exist that are resistant to our current heartworm preventatives. Since this is a deadly disease left untreated, we will discuss with you the lastest recommendations on how to prevent this disease in your dogs, cats and ferrets. We do require yearly heartworm testing in all dogs in order to purchase (or acquire a prescription for) heartworm preventives.
For most of our laboratory testing we use Antech Diagnostics via courier service. Such testing includes routine screening and monitoring blood work (CBC, Chemistry, thyroid testing, urinalysis). Other tests we may also order include allergy testing, advanced blood tests or biopsy/histopathology. Please inquire for specific available tests and pricing as they vary widely.
If a pet has a medical issue that is not in urgent need of medical attention, we may be able to start diagnostic testing (blood work, urinalysis) to determine possible diagnosis. But in some cases it may be required to refer to a standing practice for additional workup or care. Some known medical issues may be able to be monitored in the home setting.
End-of-life care encompasses several life stages that all of our pets will journey through, in one form or another. These include the senior years where pets enjoy a slower paced life, but still may have many good months or years. For some, there is the unfortunate development of a terminal illness that will eventually lead to death. Sometimes intervention during this stage can provide improved comfort and quality of life that enables more time with our beloved companions. And then finally there is the active stage of dying, at which point we either choose a natural death for our pets or we decide that a humane and peaceful euthanasia is the right decision.
As pets enter the “Golden Years” of life, it can become stressful and difficult to transport them to their regular veterinarian. If they are large breed dogs, they may have great difficulty getting up, may slide on tile or hardwood floors and simply may not be able to get into a vehicle. Small animals may become scared as their senses of sight and hearing become compromised with age. By coming to your during this stage of your pets life, we can help assure that your pet has the medical attention needed to provide good quality of life for as long as possible.
As with human hospice, pet hospice aims to meet the physical and emotional needs of a pet nearing the end of natural life or with a terminal illness. It also strives to support the family at this difficult time. Hospice functions on the principle that death is a part of life…part of the journey we all must take. Our goal is to allow this journey to be pain-free and with improved quality of life until the time comes to pass with dignity.
Hospice is a new and growing field within veterinary medicine and Dr. Craig is devoting time to learn and study techniques that can help animals in this phase of their life.
If you have an elderly pet struggling to get up and get around, or a pet that has been diagnosed with a terminal illness that has already entered into a hospice scenario, but you are finding it difficult to get them into your regular vet for continued care we are happy to help you.
During our visits we try to use our time to gather as much information as possible about the pet and the family’s situation. We will also perform an exam on the pet to establish a baseline for his/her current state of health. The goal is to assess and improve quality of life for the pet and family so that as much time as possible with your pet is enabled. Often times a visit may last an hour or more, so setting aside enough time for our visit will allow us to establish your goals and help you care for your pet. It is also important that all family members that have a hand in caring for the pet are present so that we can gather input from everyone. Having any prior medical records from your regular veterinarian will also help us determine the best course of treatments for achieving our goals.
Services that may be utilized during hospice care include:
• Prescription and management of appropriate pain medications
• Use of Quality of Life Guidelines to help assess an individual’s situation
• Developing methods for mental stimulation
• Administration of (and/or instruction to owners) subcutaneous fluids for hydration maintenance
• Placement of feeding tubes to aid in continued nutrition (this may require referral/transport to a standing facility)
• Cold Laser Therapy as an alternate or additive means of pain management
• Recommendations and acquisition of carts to facilitate patient mobility
• Counseling on the on-going hospice process and deciding when “it is time” to let go
Our goal is to support you and your family through the natural ups and downs of this stage of your pet’s life. Eventually the hospice stage will transition to the point of natural death or euthanasia. We are here to help you with this transition and may refer you to professionals to help where we cannot.
This step in end-of-life care is both a blessing and a burden. For most people, it is one of the most difficult decisions they will face with their pets. It is equally one of the kindest gifts we can give to our beloved pets whom are uncomfortable and debilitated. Once an owner accepts that the pet has lost its joy in life and may be crossing the line to suffering, the decision to let go can lift an immense burden from one’s shoulders. We will help you to decide that the time as arrived and guide you through the process of your pets passing.
Looking for the following changes may help you know:
• Changes in appetite or drinking
• Loss of interest in play
• Periods of confusion and unexplained vocalization
• Loss of ability to stand up
• Progressive difficulty breathing
• More bad days than good
Once the decision to euthanize has been made, there are a few things we recommend that you consider.
• Where do you want to say goodbye? (inside, outside, at a favorite place)
• Who do you want to be present?(family, friends, children, other pets)
• What are your aftercare wishes?(home burial, cremation with or without the return of ashes)
• How can I remember/honor my pet? (clay paw prints, memorial plaques, jewelry)
• Would you like a memorial service during or after the euthanasia?
During the process of euthanasia, we aim to make the experience as peaceful as possible and will proceed at a pace that is comfortable and unrushed for all involved. We will provide an estimate of costs prior to arrival (if possible) and then will take care of all expenses upon our arrival. Then we will begin the preparations for the euthanasia. We recommend that you have an area already chosen (inside or outside) that is comfortable for you and your pet. We sedate all animals with an injection under the skin so that they do not experience any anxiety and slowly fall asleep in the comfort of the home surrounded by their loved ones. Once they are asleep we will then establish intravenous access in a convenient leg where we will give a final injection that will stop the heart. This final step is usually a quick process lasting only a few minutes. It is a very emotional experience for all involved and we understand this may be difficult for you. We will do all we can to provide you and your pet respect and comfort at this difficult time.
After the passing of your pet, we will provide an impression of your pet’s paw at no additional charge if you desire. We will leave the impression with instructions on how to bake and harden.
(**Please Note: In general we will not perform euthanasias when the animal is healthy but no longer wanted. This is sometimes termed a “convenience euthanasia”. There are many options in the community for placing such animals. However, there are sometimes situations, such as severe behavioral problems or unresolvable medical conditions, for which euthanasia becomes the only viable option. We are happy to discuss such scenarios during an exam/consultation visit to explore options. In some cases we may be able to refer you to a behaviorist or other specialist, to attempt resolution of the problem first.)
Once the pet has passed away, knowing what to do with the remains can also be a difficult decision. We encourage you to think about this in advance and have an idea of your wishes, because after the pet passes you will be emotional do not want to later regret decisions that cannot be undone.
Home burial may be an option, but we recommend that you check with city ordinances where you live to assure there are no restrictions. We also suggest that you evaluate the likelihood that you may not always live at your current residence. In such a case you may wish that you could have your pet go where you go, and cremation me be the best option.
For those wishing cremation for the pet, we want you to have the peace of mind in knowing that we only use the services of The Pet Loss Center of Melbourne, FL. We will transport your departed pet to The Pet Loss Center for the cremation service you select. The options are as follows:
• Communal Cremation: multiple animals are cremated together and the remains are scattered in a designated area. With this method, there is no way to have any portion of your pets ashes returned to you.
• Private Cremation: pets are cremated individually and remains are placed in an urn of your choosing. We assure you that there is no possibility of mixing of remains with other pets. In general, owners pick up their pets remains once they have been cremated, but a home delivery may be scheduled for an additional fee. We can review urn options in advance or at the time of the euthanasia.
The Pet Loss Center is like no other crematory service you may have encountered. They will treat you and your pet with the compassion and respect any family should be given upon the death of a very special member of the family. They will help to guide you through the grief process that follows such a loss and provide you with many options for memorializing your beloved companion, including memorial service options, urns for your pet’s ashes and personalized memorial pieces. We encourage you to visit their website for additional information at www.thepetlosscenter.com/melbourne-florida
If your pet passes away at home, you may also contact The Pet Loss Center to arrange for aftercare. Their phone number is 321-821-4871.
Pet Loss Grief Support
1.The Pet Loss Center (www.thepetlosscenter.com)
2.Karen Cohen, local certified Animal Chaplain and Ordained Interfaith Minister who can assist you in your grief. http://www.animalchaplain.info/
Pet Loss Books for Children
• When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers
• Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant
• Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant
Pet Loss Books for Adults
• Grieving the Death of a Pet by Betty Carmack
• Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Anderson
• Pet Loss and Human Bereavement by William Kay and Herbert Nieburg
• Animals as Teachers and Healers by Susan Chernak McElroy
• A Final Act of Caring: Ending the Life of an Animal Friend by Mary and Herb Montgomery
• Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults and Children by Herbert Nieburg
• It’s OK to Cry by Gina Schampers
Office Hours (Alternate Appointments Hours Available Upon)