National pet hospice network resumes in-home care

dvm360dvm360 February 2022
Volume 53
Issue 2
Pages: 32

Hospice services for aging and terminally ill pets had been limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo credit: Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice

Photo credit: Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice

Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice, a national service provider, has resumed in-home veterinary hospice care for aging and terminally ill pets after these offerings were limited in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.1

Founded in 2009,2,3 Lap of Love is the largest network of veterinarians in the United States dedicated to providing in-home euthanasia, hospice, and pet loss support services. The company is based in Tampa, Florida, and is a family-focused, medically supervised, and team-oriented service dedicated to maintaining the comfort and quality of life for terminally ill or senior pets, according to a company press release.1

“Hospice is about living well until the end, however that end may be. We make sure [each] pet is as pain free and as anxiety free as possible. There are many things we can help with that go far above just medicine. With in-home hospice services, our veterinarians will create a custom care plan, and each family will be supported by a full hospice care team, including dedicated hospice care nurses,” said Dani McVety, DVM, founder and CEO of Lap of Love, in a company press release.1

Although in-home euthanasia appointments continued during the pandemic, in-home hospice care services were suspended. During that time, the company provided virtual hospice care through tele-advice services. However, Mary Gardner, DVM, cofounder and chief information officer at Lap of Love, and author of It’s Never Long Enough: A Practical Guide to Caring for Your Geriatric Dog, noted that it can be difficult to provide remote hospice care.1

“Our goal is to maintain the bond between humans and animals while focusing on comfort and education for families,” Gardner said in a company press release.1 “We are very pleased that our care teams are now ready to resume in-home hospice care following appropriate safety measures.”

In an interview with dvm360®, Suzanne Ellis, DVM, a veterinarian at Lap of Love in New Jersey, said the company aims to help clients and empower with control over their pets’ geriatric and end-of-life care. With many visits in general practice, pets are taken from their owners upon arrival, and that is the biggest difference for clients with in-home veterinary visits, she explained.2

“You’re in the home. The pet is not stressed. You don’t have them being anxious from their vet visit,” Ellis said.

Veterinary hospice care is focused on comfort and quality of life for terminally ill or geriatric pets by managing symptoms and keeping them happy. Hospice services are not focused on curing the animal’s condition, nor do they include routine care or diagnostic services, according to Lap of Love. Hospice care continues until death naturally occurs or a client has elected euthanasia.3

Primarily, the euthanasia process for the Lap of Love veterinarian is largely the same as in general practice, according to Ellis. However, these visiting veterinarians do not place intravenous (IV) catheters.2 “We’re giving an initial injection, which is a very heavy sedative and pain medication. [It] gets the pet in a really good, sedative [state for the] final injection, either an IV or another route that helps them transition,” she said. Returning hospice care to in-home services is bringing Lap of Love back to its roots, according to McVety.1

Lap of Love veterinarians can serve up to 6 hospice care or euthanasia appointments a day, factoring in driving time between visits to clients, according to Ellis. Although their schedules are known in advance, veterinarians frequently receive same-day cancelations and last-minute appointments added in, Ellis said.2 

Ellis said the most rewarding part of her job of performing hospice and euthanasia services is the reactions she receives from clients.2 “You never leave an appointment where people aren’t thanking you. They’re so appreciative and thankful we’re providing this service,” she said. “Everybody always thinks you’re going to be surrounded by sadness all day, but it’s the right kind of sadness. There’s also that feeling that you’re really helping. You’re just helping all day, every day—people and pets.”


  1. Lap of Love returns to in-home pet hospice care nationwide. News release. Lap of Love; January 20, 2022. Accessed January 25, 2022.
  2. Inside the practice: inside end of life care for pets at home. Medical World News®. September 10, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2022.
  3. What is veterinary dog hospice and cat hospice? Lap of Love. Accessed January 25, 2022.
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