Hospice care is treatment that seeks to improve the quality of life/wellbeing for pets with a life limiting or terminal illness. Focusing on quality of life help pets live as fully as they can for the precious time they have left.
End of life care involves treatment and support for pets nearing the end of their life - it is part of palliative care.
Palliative care improves the quality of life for both seriously ill pets and their owners by both prevention and relief of suffering. It relies on tools to identify and assess pain and suffering and neither intends to hasten nor postpone the end of life.
Quality of life refers to the total well-being of an individual animal, taking into account the physical, social, and emotional components of the animal’s life. The assessment an animal hospice provider or caregiver makes is all about how well or poorly an animal is doing, considering the totality of an animal’s feelings, experiences, and preferences, as demonstrated by the animal. In the context of animal hospice care, these assessments indicate the current or ongoing comfort levels in relation to the diagnosed health problems and severity of symptoms and suffering. Read more here Using quality of life assessments in pets - DigniPets Blog QOL
All our visits are done by fully qualified and experienced veterinary surgeons; we are a small team, and it will always be a Dignipets vet who comes to you.
Yes, always. We will always try to take your wishes into account at our visit and give you time to be with your pet. Dignipets vets get plenty of time for their visits so it feels never rushed.
If you wish to register and get an idea of cost, please call 0333 3208731. If you have further questions or need to book a visit, our support team will email or call you back.
We are currently unable to offer payment plans and require full payment on the day of the appointment. The vet can accept cash or a card payment.
Most of our vehicles will have a logo on to help you identify us when we arrive.
If you need to spend more time with your pet after your appointment, we can recommend a transport service or crematorium that will collect at a later time.
If you need to book at short notice, it is better to call and speak to the team. If you need to cancel, we ask you give as much notice as possible; if the vet has started driving you may be charged.
We have a vet available 7 days, but we cannot guarantee an immediate appointment. If your pet is deteriorating extremely quickly it can mean that you may need to use your nearest vet practice for faster treatment.
Sadly, some conditions can deteriorate very quickly. We are very sorry for your loss. If your pet passes away whilst our vet is enroute to you, there will be a driving fee to be paid. This is to cover the time that the vet has been travelling to you from their base and will take into account your area and the time of day/night. If you would like the vet to continue to you to assist with aftercare, they can take payment for both the appointment and personal aftercare wishes at the same time. If you prefer the vet not to continue with their visit the vet will ask a member of our support team to contact you for payment.
We are sorry for your loss. If your pet has passed away, we can help you find the best way to access the aftercare you prefer. This is dependent on your location and services available in your area. You may be able to take your pet to a local pet crematorium yourself if you wish but we are able to look at transport solutions if this is not possible. Please be aware there will be a driving cost involved for this. The cremation and aftercare fees however, are similar you would pay at your local APPCC crematorium.
We do not set a time limit on our appointments as we need to give pets and owners the time they need, each home visit is individual to their needs. Normally our vets take around 45 minutes for the full visit, but this varies greatly. We are also dealing with emergencies on the day, some people may need to call urgently for a visit because sadly their pet is just deteriorating rapidly. These visits will take precedent over visits with stable pets. We will always aim to get to these as soon as possible to prevent a pet being in distress. If you call us within working hours, we will get to you the same day if needed. As a fully mobile vet practice we are travelling to get to you. The time and distance our vets take travelling to you depends on where they are starting from and can sometimes be some distance away from you. We also need to factor in the possibility of traffic. It is therefore difficult to say when we can reach you so we give a time slot, after and before a certain time to avoid disappointment and setting false expectations. Your hospice vet will contact you when they are starting out toward you and have a better idea of the time. Although for some pet owners the fact that we can’t give exact times is disappointing; we take great pride in that this system has allowed us for 7 years now to help every pet who needed us on the day. In the end the only thing that matters is that they get the help they need when they need it.
We are a hospice and end of life care practice so we are unable to provide vaccinations or any other general practice services.
We can see multiple pets on both our hospice and end of life visits if you give us warning as we will need to set aside extra time. We would charge a consultation fee as normal for the second pet but there would only be one visit (call-out) fee. Please ask for details
There is some evidence to show that pets benefit from seeing their friend after the appointment. It can be a more peaceful experience for your pet if there are no other pets present during the procedure itself - some housemates don’t cope well with emotional situations and can be uncharacteristically disruptive. However, it’s a personal decision and as you know your pets best, we will be guided by you.
We advise it is a good idea to continue with your daily routine as much as you can in the following days to support your other pets. Some may want more attention from you, and some may want less. There can be cases of pets grieving where they do not eat as much and can become withdrawn. It is always advisable to have pets in this condition checked for any signs of ill health, which could be a coincidence, however if they are otherwise well, we can help you with supporting them through their grief. Increase the things they love and provide structure as best as you can.
If you are unsure on your aftercare wishes, then we are still ok to take you pet away to the crematorium. We do ask for a small deposit until decisions are made. We don't like to rush your decisions, but the crematorium we use does not have facilities for keeping your pet long term.
Yes. If you do not wish to make your own arrangements for cremation, the vet can take the pet with them at the end of the visit and arrange an individual cremation. The vet may not be able to help with lifting and carrying your pet into their vehicle so if you are unable to and there won’t be any helpers available, you need to mention this at the time of booking. The cost of cremation will vary according to size and choice of vessel. Your pet will be cremated by themselves and the ashes will be available for you to collect from the crematorium. If you are unable to collect, please tell us and we will give you a quote for delivery. Aftercare click here
If you do not wish to bury your pet at home or make your own arrangements for cremation, the vet can take the pet with them at the end of the visit to arrange a cremation. PLEASE NOTE: there is a fee for this which depends on the size of the pet. The vet may not be able to always help with lifting and carrying your pet into their vehicle so if you are unable to and there won’t be any helpers available you need to mention this to us at the time of booking. Your pet would be cremated communally and the mixed ashes buried or scattered in the fields at the crematorium. Aftercare click here
We are a fully mobile service; we all work from home and there is no physical practice building. Our vets cover a large part of the Midlands, from Staffordshie, Birmingham, Telford, Leicester, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Derby and Coventry.
We understand it is difficult to know when it is time but you can find quality of life questionnaires on our website to help you to know what indicators to look for. We can offer online consults to discuss quality of life further if we are unable to examine your pet.
Normally a brief examination would be made at the beginning of the appointment so that we can talk through everything. However, there are times where it would be inappropriate to carry out an examination, e.g., during a lockdown or if the pet is distressed and the decision to put to sleep is made out of welfare concerns.
We will always have blankets or pods for your pet if you wish for us to take them into our care at the end of the visit but if you prefer to send their favourite blanket with them just let us know. We are unable to take duvets, large beds or multiple blankets.
You may contact us at any time between 7am - 8pm (7 days a week) but please bear in mind if you call is not urgent, we may not be able to get back to you straight away. For non-urgent requests it is best to email [email protected]
We understand if you are too upset to talk so we are happy to communicate via email with you on [email protected] to register and book your appointment, please include all vital details about your pet. For instance, what condition/s your pet has, where they may feel pain, are they nervous, reactive, or aggressive.
We use an injectable sedative and pain relief as standard before euthanasia. This can take a few minutes longer, but it will make the pet more comfortable and relaxed minimising stress for them. We also have oral sedative available on request and at an extra cost for reactive or aggressive pets.
A large proportion of our call-outs are booked the same day. We often make visits at very short notice (an hour or less) for pets that are deteriorating quickly and we always strive to prioritise the most urgent cases. But sometimes we do have days where we are dealing with several emergencies so always contact us as soon as possible to minimise the stress of a rushed visit (or worse the disappointment of having to make an unplanned car journey to your nearest surgery) we advise that registered and potential clients provide us with regular updates on the condition of their pet so we can plan as much as is practical.
We can always transport your pet for cremation after the visit. Or we can liaise with a crematorium to arrange collection by them. Alternatively, you may arrange cremation yourself by dealing with a crematorium directly. Or opt for home burial. Ask your Dignipets vet for options. For clients who have been referred to us by their local vet, we are able to transport your pet to their clinic during opening hours if preferred. Aftercare click here
For elderly or disabled pet owners (or pets with exceptional issues – mobility or behavioural), we will make plans with your registered veterinary clinic for further tests, surgery or hospitalisation. If you are unable to arrange transport for your pet, we can work with a local pet taxi or transport. We will advise you over the telephone if we believe that a home visit is not suitable for your pet’s condition. For example; if your pet is very poorly and there is concern that arranging a home visit would delay urgent hospital treatment. In these cases, it is best to prioritise the immediate transport of the pet to your local practice.
We are sorry you have to go through this difficult time of losing a pet. We will always try our hardest to arrange collection for your pet but unfortunately during out of office hours this can be quite difficult. We do however have knowledge of services that may be able to in your area. Also, you can look at our local pet crematoria page to see what is available in your area. Aftercare click here
All our vets are very experienced with anxious or sometimes aggressive pets. We have tailored sedation protocols we use to make any handling as stress free as possible. It is important to us that your pet can receive treatment fear free. As every pet is different, we recommend for you to get in touch on 0333 3208731.
A crisis kit is essentially medication intended to be used only in case of a sudden crisis in a terminally ill pet. It is something we very often leave with a pet owner at the time of the initial hospice consultation. It’s also called a “just in case” kit in human medicine. Crisis kits form an important part of caring for pets with terminal illness. They also help by giving peace of mind and reassurance that if things got worse very quickly, there is something the pet owner can give to help their pet, while waiting for one of our vets to arrive. A crisis kits could for example contain a stronger pain killer and something for anxiety, to make your pet calmer and more comfortable while waiting for the vet to arrive.
Most insurers will pay some of the costs unless you have already exceeded your policy limit. When you book an appointment let us know which company your pet is insured with as we may have advice but you will also need to contact your insurer and check your policy for what may be covered. Please be aware we cannot do direct claim from your insurance company. You can email [email protected] please include the word insurance in the title. Please allow up to 2 working weeks for us to process insurance paperwork. We will usually need you to fill in your section of the claim form and send it to us, we can then send this on to your insurer with all the relevant documents to progress your claim. We try to make things as easy as possible for all our clients.
If you know that the time is coming it can be a nice for children to draw a picture that can be kept with your pet even after they have passed away.
Memory boxes can be a really good way of allowing children to express their feelings towards the loss and to help remember and memorialise their pet. They can decorate the box and add a favourite toy, collar and photographs along with drawings
Sometimes holding a little ‘service,’ especially if you are opting to have your pet’s ashes scattered or planted, can be a nice way to pay tribute.
We also have a memorial walk every year where you and your family can attend to walk in memory of a lost pet together.
More on Children and Pet loss here (Helping children through the sudden loss of a pet - DigniPets Blog)
Helping pets and their families navigate the last stages of the pet’s life is very rewarding. Although as hospice vets we see a lot of sadness, we also get to see a lot of love and beautiful moments.
We always welcome colleagues to reach out, and we have a network of like-minded vets who are always welcoming towards new vets in this small community.