When it’s Time, Comfort Is Everything
Updated: Jun 6, 2020
Saying goodbye to our pets is a delicate subject but one that deserves discussion now that at home veterinary services have become both more needed & recognized. Knowing we have options at such a difficult time can help families through. More and more people are learning about the peaceful & personal option of in-home euthanasia for their pets. Rather than spend their final moments in a hospital setting that may be stressful, pets can be given the comfort & dignity of moving on in the comfortable & familiar surroundings of home. It allows pets & family to be surrounded by other pets, family & friends, avoids traveling during an emotional time, gives families the chance to grieve privately & set up their environment in their own personal way.
Suburban Paws spoke with Dr. Alexis Tischler, DVM, CHPV, veterinarian & owner of Comforted Companions Veterinary Care on Long Island who found her passion for the human-animal bond aspect of veterinary care during her Hospice Care training program. She is a uniquely certified veterinarian & currently the only vet on the island that received additional training in Companion Animal Euthanasia, Hospice & Palliative Care from the Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy (CAETA) & the International Association for Animal Hospice & Palliative Care (IAAHPC). While veterinarians & some technicians in certain states are licensed to perform euthanasia, less than 200 across the world are additionally trained & certified specifically by these organizations to specialize in all aspects of the Hospice, Palliative care & Home Euthanasia. Something few people know exists as a specialty.
This is important, because not every pet is ready for euthanasia & this additional training gives vets like Dr. Alexis the ability to offer families more time by providing hospice & palliative care if she feels it is not yet their time. According to Dr Alexis: “There is a misconception that animal hospice is about hanging on for as long as we can when in fact it is taking whatever time we have left & making the most out of it from a comfort & quality of life standpoint. Palliative care involves pain control. Palliation is within hospice care itself, but hospice care also includes nursing care for some of the normal daily routines that animals are not able to carry out as well on their own.” And that is one of her favorite aspects of her job - getting to help people comfortably decide when to make the most of the time they have left.
This specialized training & certification also gives Dr Alexis the ability to help the family, children & other family pets from a psychological & emotional standpoint as well as offering resources that exist for families experiencing pet loss. “providing resources to families assists in the process including pet loss support literature, groups & counseling referrals, gifts of comfort and a variety of memorial item options to make the appointment as personalized as possible”
“When the unfortunate event to say goodbye comes”, says Dr. Alexis, “I want to help families celebrate their pet, take time with him or her & focus on the life that each pet had with their families. I find that walking each family through the whole process before we start takes much anxiety off the table & allows people to focus on their pet rather than what I am doing medically”
For families grieving the loss of their pet, honoring them is also an important part of both the grieving & healing process Through storytelling or sharing memories, or having keepsakes, tokens or memorials made.
Dr Alexis recalls that some of the most memorable moments are when children are involved in the process. “They are so resilient & say the most adorable things at just the right time. I like to ask children “Which job do you think your pet would’ve had if he/she was a human”. I get the most wonderful responses that make the parents & I smile.” From a dachshund that was a Saxophone player at the local jazz club, to a shaggy terrier mix who sold coconuts on the beach, to a Minpin that slept so much that he could have worked at a mattress store testing mattresses, children have shared with her many touching thoughts about their pets. “Children are amazing & I think including them in the process is very important as long as the family is comfortable.”
The unique aspect of home euthanasia is the personal & private experience it offers. Getting to know Dr. Alexis, not only on a personal & professional level but as someone who worked with her during the loss of one of our family pets has given me insight to the broader & unique set of abilities she provides to the pets and families she cares for.
Should you have questions about pet hospice, palliative care, or home euthanasia, visit
to find a certified veterinarian near you or contact Dr. Alexis for information from someone not only wholly certified but also well qualified in the area of compassion.