FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
What is palliative care?
Veterinary palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of animals with serious or terminal illness, and provides support for you, the owner-caregiver. The focus is the relief of pain and suffering.
Simply prescribing medications for pain and symptom relief is not complete palliative care. Palliative care is a more comprehensive programme that goes beyond medications for symptom control for your pet.
Palliative care involves you, the owner-caregiver, in the shared decision-making, including: taking your wishes, goals of care and limitations into account, providing you with options, educating you on your pet’s illness and what to expect as it progresses, discussing what quality of life for your pet may be, guidance in decision making and timing for euthanasia, what to do in a crisis and bereavement support.
What is palliative medicine?
The terms ‘palliative medicine’ and ‘palliative care’ are often used interchangeably.
Veterinary Palliative Medicine is the veterinary component, provided by a registered veterinary surgeon, of the multidisciplinary field of palliative care.
Palliative medicine is a speciality in human medicine, but is in its early development stages as a specific field in veterinary medicine.
What is supportive care?
Supportive care is the medical and non-medical therapies that address the symptoms of, and aids the recovery and return to function of, an illness or condition. Its goals and scope is similar to palliative care, but the term is used more for acute recoverable or chronic but stable non-life-threatening illnesses.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
PalliVet is a home-visiting veterinary service operating within London
We drive to your home and provide select veterinary services** in your home.
**Veterinary services we provide are:
– palliative care consultations, for pets with serious or terminal illnesses, where curative treatment is not possible, not sought, or no longer helping
– pre-euthanasia guidance and planning and quality-of-life consultations where we help guide you in the timing for euthanasia, and assess, discuss and guide ways to improve quality of life until that time
– peaceful euthanasia, where we provide a compassionate, calm, gentle euthanasia experience at home
– chronic progressive illnesses (supportive care), such as arthritis or other mobility problems, and advanced kidney or heart disease
–collapsed dogs that cannot get up or walk unaided, and you are unable to bring your dog to a clinic.
** please refer to the relevant sections for a detailed description of what these consultations and services involve.
The initial home visit duration is between 1 hour and 2 hours, according to the amount of time required for that particular service.
Home euthanasia visits are scheduled as 1 hour appointments. We can book a longer appointment (1 ½ – 2 hours) if you would like more time.
We will provide a fee estimate to you at the time of your enquiry.
Payment is due at the home visit. We have a mobile card processing machine and can take card payment at the home visit.
We normally require your pet’s previous medical history prior to the home visit (particularly if your pet has seen a vet within the past year). We will first request and obtain your permission for this prior to contacting your regular vet.
After the first home visit we can provide a follow-up email, with further follow-ups for your pet and his/her progress via email, phone or a home revisit.
We provide home visits 7 days a week*
Sunday, evening and out-of-hours home visits are subject to availability and have a surcharge. The surcharge is reduced when booked in advance.
*We are CLOSED during conference leave, annual leave, on occasional weekends and late evenings/overnight (9pm to 8am weekdays, 7pm to 9am weekends).
Our business and out-of-hours times are on our Contact page.
Our online diary indicates when we are fully booked or closed.
Bookings may be made in advance or same-day.
We drive to your home in our vehicle, thus we require suitable parking near your home, and generally rely on visitor parking permits when required. We cannot guarantee a home visit where suitable parking is not available, but will do our best to accommodate you in these circumstances.
Do you cover my area?
PalliVet services LONDON and limited areas outside London.
We cover an area within a 45 to 60 minute drive from Islington (N5), North London.
A map of the area and postcodes we cover is on our AREA page
Please state your postcode when contacting us for the first time.
We require your postcode prior to offering an appointment or providing an estimate.
How much notice do you need?
Bookings may be made in advance or same-day.
We understand that symptoms can change rapidly, and will do our best to help at short notice. We aim to accommodate urgent same-day home visits, subject to availability.
If your situation is not urgent, booking at least 1 or 2 days in advance is advised and allows for more flexibility in appointment availability and choice of appointment time.
Bookings may be requested via email, however if you have an urgent or same day request, please phone us.
Our online diary indicates the days we are unavailable.
What are the fees? How much does it cost?
The home visit fee is dependent on the service – consultation duration, area postcode (driving distance/time to the home visit), medications/tests (if applicable) and, for euthanasia and cremation services, according to the size/weight of the pet.
A surcharge applies for out-of-hours (evening and Sunday) home visits and for emergency (immediate) visits.
When requesting a fee estimate please include your postcode, the reason for the home visit (the type of service you require), and if for euthanasia, the breed and size/weight (approximate) of your pet.
How do I make payment?
Payment options are credit/debit card or cash.
Fees are payable at the time of the home visit.
We carry a mobile card machine and can accept card payments in the home.
We do not accept AmEx cards or cheques.
For euthanasia services, payment is usually taken at the time of signing the euthanasia consent form, prior to commencing euthanasia. We can also accept payment prior to, or at the end of, the home visit.
Will my pet insurance cover any of the fees?
Consultations, medications, tests and contributions to euthanasia and cremation may be claimable on your pet insurance, as per your insurance policy details.
The travel/visit fee is generally not claimable (although may be in certain circumstances).
If you have pet insurance, just let us know, and we will assist in the completion and submission of your claim form.
Do you carry medications? Can you give medications at the home visit?
We carry medications routinely used for palliative care – including pain relief, anti-inflammatories, anti-nausea, antibiotics, appetite stimulants and other medications.
We can give injections at home, supply medications and write prescriptions.
We also can give tips on how to medicate your pet.
What tests can you do in the home?
We can do: blood tests, urine tests, blood pressure measurements and subcutaneous (under the skin) fluids at the home visit.
Do you have a clinic?
We do not have a brick-and-mortar veterinary clinic that you can bring your pet to.
If your pet needs to go to a clinic (such as for advanced diagnostics, procedures and/or hospitalised care) we can refer you to a local or 24-hour clinic.
All our services are in your home.
Home visits allow a private, personalised service with longer consultation times to attend important detail and discussions, and are naturally much nicer for your pet.
Can you transport my pet to a clinic?
We do not transport pets to a clinic.
If you need to take your pet into a clinic, you need to make your own arrangements. If you are not registered with us, contact your usual veterinary clinic for further advice on this matter.
We understand that transport is a concern for owners of large dogs, which is why we offer home visits for dogs that are collapsed or cannot walk unaided and cannot be carried. We can provide a home visit where we make an in-home assessment of your pet, the possible causes of the collapse or immobility, and can provide pain relief.
If it is clear at the home visit that your pet needs hospital care, and you want this option, you will need to make your own arrangements to transport your pet to a clinic. If you do not have your own vehicle, a local taxi or a family member, friend or neighbour with a car may be able to help you.
Do you provide home visits out-of-hours or 24/7?
We have a limited out-of-hours (extended hours) service up until 9pm weekdays, 7pm weekends.
We do not provide an overnight service.
I am not yet ready to make an appointment. What advice can I get before booking an appointment?
We understand that you may wish to speak directly with the vet prior to booking an appointment and are happy to assist where possible.
Advice about our services and availability: We can answer questions you may have about our services, fees and appointment availability. Detailed information about our services, visiting range and business hours is on this website.
Advice about your pet’s health or timing of euthanasia: If you are not registered with us, and your pet has not yet been seen by us, we are unable to provide specific advice* regarding your pet’s health or timing for euthanasia. We may however be able to provide some general advice that can help guide you.
*A valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR), i.e. one where a veterinary surgeon has initially physically seen and examined your pet, is required under veterinary regulations before a vet can give specific medical advice for that animal.
If you are worried about your pet’s health and quality of life, we can book a home visit appointment where we can address your concerns in a detailed consultation in conjunction with an examination of your pet.
How do I know if my pet is in pain? Do pets hide pain?
It is often said that animals “hide pain”. Animals do show signs of pain, but not in the manner that many people expect. Animals are more likely to be quiet, withdrawn and not want to interact or move, rather that crying out, when in pain. Some pets and breeds are more stoical than others making pain even harder to assess by owners. We have charts and tips to share with you to help you recognise signs of pain in your pet.
EUTHANASIA AND AFTERCARE FAQS
How much notice do you need for a euthanasia appointment?
We can usually accommodate same-day euthanasia requests, although appointment times may be limited or unavailable on some days.
Booking in advance offers flexibility for timing and opportunities for planning, especially if you would like a weekend or evening visit.
If you feel that the time for euthanasia is approaching, please do reach out to us so that you can know our availability in the upcoming days or weeks. The final decline can be sudden, with a major change in symptoms from one day to the next, and planning ahead may not always be possible. We do our utmost to accommodate these same-day requests, but planning ahead helps you to prepare (practically and emotionally) and helps to secure an appointment.
What preparations do I need to do before the euthanasia appointment?
Although specific preparations are not strictly needed, pre-planning for euthanasia offers more opportunities for a calm, peaceful and personalised experience for you and your pet.
Suggestions for preparations can be found on our planning ahead page
Can my pet have food or medications on the day of euthanasia?
You can feed your pet as usual, or even give special foods or treats, on the day of euthanasia, if your pet still has an appetite and can tolerate foods offered.
Give medications as prescribed, although if this is difficult or they have adverse effects, contact us and we can advise which medications you should try give and which you no longer need give.
Should other pets be present for euthanasia?
We welcome and are happy to accommodate other pets being present during the euthanasia appointment, as long as they are not disruptive.
Other pets do not immediately understand that their 4-legged furry companion will or has just died (as far as we know, although some anecdotes challenge this belief), but they will pick up on the mood and atmosphere in the room and may respond in their own way to this.
A range of responses are possible – some animals show no response whatsoever, some may quietly choose to sit nearby, some may be clingy, some may be over-exuberant or anxious that ‘a visitor’ (the vet) has arrived, and some dogs simply prefer attention being directed to themselves rather than others.
If other pets are disruptive or disturb the calm atmosphere we are aiming for, we will kindly ask they be removed from the room for some of the appointment time. They are welcome to return when appropriate.
Should children be present for euthanasia?
Children are welcome to be present for the euthanasia, either all or part of it, if they wish so and you are comfortable with this.
It was once believed that children should be ‘protected’ from hearing about or witnessing death, but current beliefs are that children should be included in discussions about the family pet’s upcoming death and euthanasia (as applicable), and be present if desired and appropriate.
Children come to understand death during their childhood years; the age according to their maturity and previous experiences with death. Very young children do not understand death. Over their childhood years they learn to understand death and its finality.
A child’s wish to be present or not will depend on their understanding of death, the bond they had with the pet, their resilience and coping strategies at this time, and their personal preferences. Some children that are very closely bonded with the family pet wish to be present, others prefer to say their goodbyes before and not be present for the euthanasia. We believe in respecting a child’s preference at this time, in conjunction with the parent’s views about their child being present.
What are the bodycare (aftercare) options after euthanasia?
Bodycare options are: home burial, cremation with ashes returned to you (individual cremation), or cremation without ashes returned (communal cremation).
Can you arrange cremation?
We can arrange cremation (individual or communal), and can transport your pet’s body at the end of the home visit. We carry baskets, stretchers and blankets for this.
For individual cremation, your pet’s ashes are returned in a container of your choice (see available options)
Can a favourite toy, blanket or other item be cremated with my pet?
Yes. Toys and small items (such as scarves and light/small blankets) can be cremated with your pet. Large items, such as large/heavy blankets and baskets, unfortunately cannot be cremated with your pet. If you have any special requests, just let us know.
How soon are ashes returned?
For individual cremations, ashes are normally returned within 10 days. We will let you know when your precious pet’s ashes are due back.
Ashes can be returned directly to your home or to a veterinary clinic. We can further discuss these options before or at the appointment booking.
Will I get my pet’s ashes back?
You will receive your pet’s ashes back – only and all of your pet’s ashes.
The pet crematorium we partner with is the Cambridge Pet Crematorium, which is reputable, trusted and the leading pet crematorium in SE England. Every pet for individual cremation is identified and logged throughout the transport, cremation and return process.
On receiving your pet’s ashes, you will also receive a card with the date your beloved pet was cremated.
You may make arrangements to attend the cremation, where you will be able to spend some time with your pet prior to cremation.
If you would like more information, please feel free to ask us.
Can I bury my pet at home?
You can bury your pet at home, providing you follow guidelines that include:
-You own the property, or have express permission from the owner or local authority. It is not permissible to bury on public land.
-Your vet has judged it safe for your pet to be buried at home without causing a risk to you or other animals
– You bury responsibly at a suitable deep – at least 2 to 3 feet deep (and even deeper for large dogs)
-The grave is away from any water courses (e.g. at least 6 feet away from a lake, river, well or spring). This is not an issue for the vast majority of London properties.
My pet has died at home. Can you collect the body?
If your pet has died at home, and you would like us to collect the body for cremation, we may be able to do so during our regular hours if your pet weighs less than 20kg and if you are within our inner visiting range.
We do not provide body collection services out-of-hours.