Hospice Care: An alternative for pets suffering from Doggy Dementia

At first, Alissa Algarin didn’t think twice about her dog, Cain, spending more time on the couch than normal. After all, he was getting older, but then Cain, a pit bull mix, stopped following her to the door when she left and lost all interest in his toys. He also began pacing in a circle around the kitchen.

Note: This is the third and final installment in this series on Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (Doggy Dementia).

Here are links to the two previous posts in this series:


Veterinarian Shannon Skevakis with Cain and owner Alissa Algarin

Veterinarian Shannon Skevakis with Cain and owner Alissa Algarin


After some blood tests to rule out other issues, the dog’s veterinarian produced a diagnosis — cognitive dysfunction syndrome — a condition that Algarin sometimes calls “doggy Alzheimer’s.”

“What might happen is that his brain might go first, before his body,” Algarin says of Cain, now 11-years old. “So it means that I might have to get to a point where I have to put him down.”

But she’s also not quite ready to say goodbye.

Cain, diagnosed with cognitive disorder

Cain, diagnosed with cognitive disorder


Alissa Algarin seeks out hospice care for Cain, her 11-year-old dog who was recently diagnosed with a cognitive disorder. Shannon Skevakis, a veterinarian with Lap of Love, a veterinary hospice network, visits Cain and Algarin at their Highlands home.

Helping families say goodbye

Still, some pet owners and veterinarians may not agree with hospice, thinking the practice prolongs suffering. But in a field where eating and sleeping are primary concerns as opposed to blood work and kidney values, Mary Gardner disagrees.

“Hospice is not about prolonging anything,” says Gardner, 43, a hospice veterinarian in the Los Angeles area who grew up in Vineland. “It’s actually sometimes making it shorter but making it better.” Some clients compile bucket lists for their pets, or plan their last day together as a special send-off.

There are many factors to consider when assessing an animal’s quality of life, says Gardner, who co-founded Lap of Love six years ago with fellow veterinarian Dani McVety in Tampa, Fla. “There is so much more than just the pet,” she says, and more than the cost of hospice. “It’s the emotional budget, it’s the physical budget.” The very act of lifting a heavy dog can tax a caregiver.

To read the rest of this informative article, click the following link: People turning to Hospice Care for their pets

Watch video: Veterinarian Shannon Skevakis counseling Alissa Algarin about Cain, her 11-year-old pit bull mix, who was recently diagnosed with cognitive dysfunction syndrome.


2 responses

  1. How are you Richard? Excellent article. I am looking forward to many more.
    All the best.

    Barbara Nielsen

    • Hi Barbara,
      Thanks for the compliment. I’m trying to post information that might help owners of dogs that are going through conditions that Divinity had. The more resources the better!

      Personally, I was excited to learn the information on the second post of this series. It gives hope for the future.


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