For pet parents, our beloved companions are cherished members of our families, offering unwavering love and friendship. However, as pets age, they may encounter health challenges, which can be emotionally and logistically overwhelming. Fortunately, advancements in veterinary medicine and technology have introduced a valuable resource: telehealth services. In this guide, we explore the purpose, benefits, and application of telehealth in end-of-life pet care, particularly through Caring Pathways’ innovative online platform, Caring Conversations.

Written by Dr. Mindy Brewster, Caring Pathways Veterinarian

Understanding Veterinary Telehealth

First, it’s important to understand that the word “Telehealth” is an umbrella term that encompasses both TeleMedicine & TeleAdvice services. In veterinary medicine, the term TeleMedicine is currently reserved for patients who have been seen in person by a veterinary professional and are receiving follow-up care for that condition virtually from that same Veterinarian. However, TeleAdvice services aren’t bound by this restriction and can help any pet parent. TeleAdvice is meant to provide general health information, and pertinent recommendations based on client concerns for their pet. This type of virtual appointment is not meant to diagnose or treat your pet for a specific condition but can provide you with information and valuable resources to help your pet. TeleAdvice services, while limited in scope, offer much more accessibility and can be invaluable in providing professional guidance that allows pet parents to make informed decisions about their pet’s healthcare.

Expert Guidance for Pet Quality of Life and End-of-Life Decisions

TeleAdvice services excel in evaluating a pet’s quality of life and guiding end-of-life care decisions. It is important to be aware that TeleAdvice services are not regulated, so if you decide to utilize this type of appointment for your pet, please make sure a licensed veterinary professional is the provider of such services. At Caring Pathways, we prioritize top-tier service. Our TeleAdvice and Telemedicine providers are licensed veterinarians who’ve pursued additional specialty training in end-of-life care. Many are certified by the respected International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC). IAAHPC certification graduates are truly the cream of the crop for hospice and palliative care professionals.

The Purpose of Veterinary Telehealth

The primary purpose of veterinary telehealth is to extend quality care beyond the confines of a traditional veterinary clinic setting.

By leveraging technology, veterinarians are able to: 

  • Reach pet owners in remote locations
  • Assist pets for whom a vet visit is stressful or logistically difficult
  • Help facilitate timely interventions
  • Provide continuous support throughout a pet’s life journey

Telehealth consultations empower pet owners with convenient, proactive healthcare management by providing information for optimal pet care decisions.

The Benefits of Veterinary Telehealth

  • Convenience: Pet parents can seek professional advice from home, eliminating the need for stressful clinic visits.
  • Accessibility: Telehealth connects pet owners with qualified veterinarians in underserved areas, ensuring all pets receive necessary care.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Telehealth consultations are often more affordable, making veterinary care accessible to a broader demographic.
  • Continuity of Care: Telehealth enables veterinarians to follow up with pet owners, ensuring consistent support.


End-of-life Care and Telehealth

  • Quality of Life Evaluation: Telehealth allows professionals to assess a pet’s well-being remotely, guiding decisions that prioritize comfort and dignity.
  • Emotional Support: Telehealth professionals offer empathetic guidance during the grieving process, supporting pet owners emotionally.
  • Palliative Care Management: Telehealth facilitates ongoing monitoring and adjustments to maximize comfort for pets with terminal illnesses.
  • Euthanasia Planning: Telehealth consultations allow for private discussions about end-of-life care options, helping pet owners navigate difficult decisions with clarity and compassion.
  • Family Involvement: Telehealth provides a platform for inclusive decision-making and emotional support, allowing distant loved ones to participate in discussions about a pet’s end-of-life care.

In Closing

In the journey of pet ownership, telehealth emerges as a valuable ally, offering convenience, accessibility, and compassionate support at every stage of a pet’s life. Especially in end-of-life care, telehealth offers guidance and support. This helps pet parents navigate the decision to say goodbye to their beloved pet. At Caring Pathways, we understand how devastating it is to face the end of your pet’s life. We are here to support you every step of the way.

About the Author: Mindy Brewster, DVM, CHPV

Dr. Brewster is originally from Nebraska. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Iowa State University in 2011. During veterinary school, she came to Colorado for several weeks for an internship and knew she wanted to live here. After graduating, she packed up her four-legged family and moved to Denver. Dr. Mindy worked in private practice for 7 years honing her diagnostic and surgical skills while also volunteering in shelter medicine. Dr. Mindy became aware of Caring Pathways in 2011 when she had to say goodbye to her first pet, a very special senior cat named Jack. That experience taught her the value of a peaceful, at-home passing.

The experience impacted her so much that she knew she wanted to help others in this way too. Dr. Mindy is truly honored to be able to provide this service for people and their beloved pets as part of the Caring Pathways Team. Dr. Mindy is committed to life-long learning and is always looking for ways to better serve her clients and their pets. She recently completed over 100 hours of continuing education in end-of-life care and earned her certification in hospice and palliative care (CHPV).

Gina Singleton
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