Animal hospice is care for animals, focused on the patient's and family's needs; on living life as fully as possible until the time of death [with or without intervention]; and on attaining a degree of preparation for death.
"Palliative care is the active total care of patients with a life-limiting illness that is not responsive to curative treatment. Control of pain, of other symptoms, and of psychological, social and spiritual problems, is paramount. The goal of palliative care is achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families." [The World Health Organization, 1990.] Palliative care can go on as long as it is needed, for months and even for years.
Hospice exists to provide support and care for patients in the last phases of incurable disease, or at the natural end of life. Hospice definitely incorporates all of palliative care; and is defined as a philosophy, a specialized program of care, and in some instances, an actual place for the dying.
Hospice recognizes dying as a normal process, whether or not resulting from disease, and sees the end of life as an opportunity for growth. Hospice exists in the belief that patients in the last phases of life deserve this care so that they might live as fully and comfortably as possible. Through appropriate care and the promotion of a caring community sensitive to their needs, patients and their families may be free to attain a degree of mental and spiritual preparation for death that is satisfactory to them.
In most human hospice organizations, services are limited to patients who have decided not to undergo any further curative treatments, and have a limited life prognosis of 6 months or less.
Hospice Care for animals has been described as "management of palliative care patients who have progressed such that death will likely occur within a period of days to weeks"; however, the distinction between hospice and palliative care for animals has not yet been sharply defined.