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AAHA and IAAHPC Issue Joint End-of-Life Care Guidelines

A new set of guidelines for veterinarians for dealing with end of life issues for pets and their owners.


It's a topic no pet owner wants to think about as their pet edges closer to the end of their life span. It's a difficult time which can often be made worse with all of the decisions surrounding how to handle the care of a pet that is nearing it's end. That's why this new guidelines are a great service for veterinarians and pet owners. Developed by the American Animal Hospital Association in conjunction with the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, the guidelines "provide practice teams with the framework and tools to develop a comprehensive collaborative end-of-life plan and better recognize the needs of patients, clients and team members" during an emotionally draining time.

According to the joint press release from AAHA and IAAHPC, "30% of pet owners experience significant grief and 50% will doubt their decision following euthanasia." This has a troubling effect on veterinary staff as well, who are at real risk of career burnout and compassion fatigue. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that one in six veterinarians had suicidal thoughts and have higher rates of depression and other mental health issues compared to the average American. Hence these new guidelines are not only designed to benefit pet owners but to ease mental health concerns for those in the caring professions.

You can read the full set of guidelines on the AAHA website. If you are nearing that time with a pet, or you have a friend or loved one with this situation, the guidelines can be a helpful document to discuss with one's veterinarian and their staff to help make this painful time easier for everyone.

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