Let’s discuss palliative care for our pets!

Ms. Crystal Pereira, New Delhi

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

— Mark Twain

It was 4 years ago that I entered the fascinating, delightful, and ever-giving world of companion animals. The young and youthful pet industry yearns to offer pets in India a better life than yesterday. As I played my part, I stumbled upon several revelations; some heartwarming and some disheartening.

One such revelation was knowing that the Indian Pet Care Industry is projected to reach  INR 5457 crores by the end of the year 2025 without factoring in a critical part of the pet parenting journey; the end-of-life care for these pets.

Allow me to take you through why palliative care for pets in India is the need of the hour. Making available and provisioning palliative care, by playing a part in making it a reality will undoubtedly benefit all stakeholders involved – most of all  the animals.

The bond between Indian pets and their humans

We, Indians, have always shared an amicable relationship with the animals around us. Our religious texts taught us of it and our families have reinstated those values growing up. When you think of it, the affection Indians share with their house pets does not come as a surprise.

What makes pets so special?

House pets allow us to share a special bond of love with a species other than humans. It is a relationship that is free from conflict, and forms its basis in the act of constant giving from both sides. Consistent effort and attention is the fuel to this partnership.

A pet parent puts in the work to make their pet’s life better, while the pet does the same for them in return. It is one of the purest and the most potent forms of love a person can ever experience.

End-of-life and the need for Palliative Care

The thought of losing your constant companion and your reliable comrade after years of coexistence is heartbreaking. When the time comes, it is everything you thought it would be and worse.

Sadly, pet parenting comes with the commitment to stand by your best friend even as the light in their eyes grows dimmer. It is this time, which makes the bond stronger than ever.

Goodbyes are always hard, but making them gentler is not impossible. Years of provisioning palliative care for humans have proved this fact. It is about time now for our animal friends to also have access to the same compassion and care.

Scope for trained Professionals and service providers

In 2019, I worked on putting together a guide to end-of-life and palliative care for companion animals. That is when I found the lack of trained professionals and services available to pet parents.

The Indian Pet Care Industry is the fastest growing pet industry globally. Businesses are expanding the horizons of what pet parenting means, and what constitutes and delivers the complete experience. In an environment as constructive as this, there is a lot to gain from providing value through provisioning palliative care for animals.

It is heartwarming to note that this concept has started gaining acceptance in our country. The construction of a first-of-its-kind animal hospice center in Kerala is proof. I hope that we see more regulated, educated, and caring organizations initiating activities to extend their services of palliative care to our animals.

The road until then…

In memory of Pendulum, the light of my life and my best friend

If your pet is terminally ill and you are not willing to administer euthanasia at this point, hospice care is ideal. You can facilitate an at-home palliative passing for your pet by putting together the pieces yourself.

Palliative Care for your pet at home will typically include,

  • A 24×7 on-call veterinarian
  • Nutrition and hydration support
  • Cleanliness and grooming
  • Help with urination and defecation
  • Movement support
  • Symptom management
  • Mental stimulation
  • Quality time with the family

Nutrition, from day 1, forms the basis of the quality of life your pet leads. To a large extent, it also dictates how their golden years turn out. Opting for an all-natural, species-appropriate diet like DawgieBowl can improve their life quality and add years to it.

Endnote

The Coronavirus pandemic has been proof that Indian families are increasingly embracing pets in their lives. These pets and families can benefit immensely by utilizing palliative care services to help them close a one-of-kind chapter in their lives and grieve their loss.

With great confidence in the professionals of our country, I pray for access to better hospice, and gentler goodbyes for our animals. I also urge you to initiate conversations with your pet parent friends, your pet’s veterinary doctors or with your veterinary doctor colleagues about making available this all important care for our animals.


About the Author: Ms. Crystal Pereira is the Head of Marketing and Customer Success at DawgieBowl Healthy Pet Foods, New Delhi, India.

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