The primary objective of medicine is always to find a cure for what is afflicting the patient. In many instances, however this may not be possible or even practical. For these unique cases there are multiple options available to the pet owner. The various paths of treatment include supportive, palliative or hospice care.
Supportive care is the act of providing the pet with the care required to continue a meaningful, comfortable life while allowing the pet owner to enjoy that special relationship we all have with our pets. This care is not directed at curing the condition but rather allowing the pet to retain a status quo and a good quality of existence. Many illustrative examples come to mind when discussing supportive care. A cat with chronic kidney disease is perhaps one of the most common examples in feline medicine. Although chronic kidney disease is not reversible, in many instances supportive care will provide longevity and meaning in the pet and pet owner’s life. Supportive care in this instance may include special diets, daily or occasional subcutaneous administration of fluids and/or medications by you the pet’s guardian or a sporadic hospitalization in the event of a setback. Although it is unlikely that this pet will enjoy a cure from the condition, continued supportive care can significantly extend a good quality of life for the patient.
An apparent simpler but actually complex condition in the dog that could qualify for supportive care is osteoarthritis. There are a myriad of options available in pursuit of maintaining a viable and fulfilling life for the pet and his family. Although we are dealing with a non-curable disease, supportive care may allow us to continue or relationship with this pet for many years. Options that are available to achieve this goal include diet, medications and a host of Complimentary Alternative Treatments.
In seeking out supportive care for your pet with an acute or chronic medical condition it is imperative that you and the health care provider form a relationship in understanding the mutual goals. What may be reasonable in one person’s mind in the pursuit of supportive care may seem excessive in the eyes of another. The converse may also be true. This approach in the treatment of long term conditions is not just confined to older pets. Your pet could suffer from hip dysplasia or kidney disease at a very young age. It is important to continually reasess your pet’s condition, quality of life and your own mindset. Pet care is a continually evolving process and the lines of communications between the pet care provider and the family must always be open.