A lot of the pets we see at home for hospice and end of life consultations have illnesses such as cancer, kidney failure or severe mobility problems.

In many cases we worry that a pet is going to take a sudden turn for the worse, and that the wait to see a vet may be both painful and stressful.

We try to anticipate what could happen depending on each disease, and what we could do to help the situation should there be a sudden and unexpected deterioration. Sometimes these changes can seem to happen for no particular reason, at other times they can be linked with circumstances such as for example a fall or a change in weather.

What are crisis kits and why do we use them?

A crisis kit is essentially medication intended to be used only in case of a sudden crisis in a terminally ill pet. It is something we very often leave with a pet owner at the time of the initial consultation. It’s also called a “just in case” kit in human medicine.

Crisis kits form an important part of caring for pets with terminal illness. They help by giving peace of mind and reassurance that if things got worse very quickly, there is something the pet owner can give to help their pet, while waiting for one of our vets to arrive.

We often use quite strong medication in our kits, as the goal is to minimise any feeling of pain, distress or shortness of breath. The medication we use specifically targets these feelings, and although they may not remove the symptoms completely the pet is likely to feel a lot better.

Each crisis kit will vary depending on the pet’s condition, and on the symptoms we anticipate may occur in a sudden crisis situation. Some of the pets we have dispensed kits to have been pets with bone tumours, internal tumours, heart failure and other conditions that can cause sudden severe pain.

The medication could be in tablet form, powder, liquid or injection, all depending on what the owner is comfortable with giving, and the pet’s illness and temperament.

As veterinary surgeons we do take special precautions when dispensing these crisis kits, and we give both written instructions as well as an explanation on how to use the medications and demonstrating how to handle them and administer them correctly.

If you would like to talk to our team about hospice care and the option of a crisis kit for your pet please contact the Dignipets team on 0333 3208731.


Maja Redfern

Maja is clinical director at Dignipets. A mobile veterinary practice that offers palliative and end of life care for every pet in need in the West Midlands. Having completed a certification programme in hospice and palliative care in 2017 Maja advises colleagues and referring practices on pain management for their most difficult geriatric cases. She is a dedicated pet owner (two dogs and three cats) and has developed a reputation amongst wanderers and strays for being the go-to person when lost.