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The AHPC Certification Program will consist of 5 independent modules and they are as follows:

Module 1: Introductory Hospice Module

Module 2: Conference, Communication Module, Euthanasia Technique Laboratory

Module 3: Advanced Hospice Module

Module 4: Pain Management Module

Module 5: Advanced Euthanasia (opening in 2018)


Module 1: Introductory Hospice Module


  • Overview of Certification
  • Shifting Paradigms in Veterinary End of Life Care
  • Human Hospice vs. Animal Hospice
  • History of Animal Hospice

The Interdisciplinary Team in Hospice Care:

  • Interdisciplinary Team Approach
  • Supporting the Pet Owner: Non-medical Roles of the Animal Hospice Team
  • Practice Options for Hospice Care
  • Facilitating Communication with Referring Veterinarian, Specialist, and Interdisciplinary Team

Overview of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care:

  • The Caregiving Experience: Psychosocial Needs of Pet Owners
  • How to Organize a Consultation
  • Importance of Integrative Care to Support the Patient
  • Development of a Personalized Care Plan
  • Education of the Caregiver
  • Case Examples

Ethical Considerations and Decision Making:

  • Clinical Ethics, Professional Ethics, Societal Ethics

What to Expect with the Dying:

  • Hospice-supported Natural Death
  • Euthanasia
  • Post Mortem Changes

End of Life Communication:

  • SPIKES and Frame Communication
  • Introduction to Grief and Loss
  • Cremation Process, Burial Options
  • Standards of Aftercare
  • Honoring and Memorializing
  • Maintaining Emotional Balance for the Hospice Team

Legal and Safety Concerns

Basic Steps in Establishing a Hospice and Palliative Care Business


Module 2: Conference and Communication Module 

This onsite module will be offered once a year and will be held in conjuction with the IAAHPC Conference.

In addition to conference attendance, completion of the one-day Advanced Communication Skills Workshop and half-day Euthanasia Techniques Lab will be required.  

The Advanced Communication Skills Workshop has been developed by, and will be lead by, Bustad Award winner and educator, Dr. Jane Shaw, DVM, PhD of Colorado State University. The Euthanasia Techniques Lab has been developed by, and will be lead by, Dr. Kathleen Cooney of the Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy (CAETA). Completion of this euthanasia lab and the 7 hours of online euthanasia training within the modules grants the CAETA Certficate of Completion showing advanced training in euthanasia.

Full attendance of both skills lab is part of certification requirements, even if you have previously taken. 

When registering for Conference through the learning portal, be sure to select the option specific to completing Module 2 of the Certification Program. Conference registration will include both the conference and the advanced communication lab.


Module 3: Advanced Hospice Module

Adanced Medical Care:

  • Prevalence of Conditions Seen in Hospice Practice
  • Balancing Efficacy of Care
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Neurological Conditions
  • Respiratory Diseases 
  • Overview of Cancer for End of Life Patients 
  • Gastrointestinal Conditions
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • Pharmacology Interventions for Symptom Management
  • Physical Medicine
  • Complimentary and Integrative Medicine
  • Interpreting Behavior to Guide End of Life Care and Decisions
  • Assessing Animal Quality of Life
  • Comfort Care During Active Dying
  • Advanced Euthanasia Training (in collaboration with the Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy, CAETA)*
  • Ethical Decision-making

Adanced Nursing Care:

  • The Nursing Role in Hospice and Palliative Care (part 2)
  • The Home Environment Assessment
  • Pain Management
  • The Nursing Role in Symptom Management and Client Relationship

*Note:  Completion of the AHPC Certification program also provides a Certificate of Completion in the CAETA program.  Students will receive access to all CAETA program benefits including their library of resources, option to continue training in equine, livestock, and exotic euthanasia, and use of the Euthanasia Team Training Manual.

Module 4: Pain Management Module

This module embraces the multimodal treatment of paint management and provides an evidence-based approach to treatment options.  It focuses on the neurobiology of pain mechanisms so as to understand the basis for mechanism-based treatments.  Further, this module embraces the team approach to pain management, recognizing the valuable roles of the veterinarian, veterinary technician, and owner in managing each case.  In particular, veterinary technicians play a major role in managing these patients of their lifetime, and interact with veterinarians and owners to be certain that patients are receiving optimal treatment and that owners are informed and educated about the treatment options for their pets and receive appropriate follow-up care. After completion of this module, students will understand the basic neurobiology of pain in companion animals, and be able to apply the information in the selection of treatment modalities.

Osteoarthritis & Pain

  • Introduction
  • Joint Pain
  • Osteoarthritis & Inflammation
  • Neuronal Events in Joint Inflammation
  • Spinal Neurons
  • Activation of Sensory Neurons
  • Osteoarthritis & Joint Mechanics
  • Osteoarthritis Treatments
  • Managing Osteoarthritis

Multimodal Management of Canine Osteoarthritis

  • Analgesia
  • Weight Control and Diet
  • Chondroprotectant
  • NSAIDs
  • Adjuncts
  • Physical Rehabilitation
  • Case Studies


  • Introduction to NSAIDs
  • Current NSAIDs
  • COX-1 & COX-2 Receptors
  • NSAID Half-life
  • Objective Assessment of NSAIDs
  • Safety & Adverse Effects
  • Gastrointestinal Adverse Effects
  • Asprin
  • GI Protectors, Washout Periods, & Drug Interactions
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Pain Management in the Cat

  • Economics of Feline Pain Management
  • Challenges of Treatment Pain in Cats
  • Opioids in Cats
  • Tramadol
  • Other Analgesics
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Diagnosing Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Treatment Options & Guidelines
  • Feline Chondroprotectants
  • Outcome Measures & Pain Management

Neurobiology of Pain - Part 1

  • The Pain pathway
  • The Gate Theory
  • Preemptive Analgesia
  • Types of Pain

Neurobiology of Pain - Part 2

  • Neurotransmitters
  • Opioids
  • Tricyclics & Anticonvulsants
  • NMDA-Antagonists
  • Tramadol
  • Neuropathic Pain
  • Bisphosphonates & Adjucts


  • Cancer Pain Classification
  • Behaviors Suggesting Pain
  • Pain Management of the Cancer Patient

Opioids & Alpha-2 Agonists

  • Controlled Substances
  • Opioid Receptors
  • Opioid Classification & Delivery
  • Common Opioids
  • Alpha-2 Agonists
  • Dexmedetomadine
  • Alpha-2 Summary

Local Anesthetic Blocks

  • Local Anesthetics & Techniques
  • Epidural - Part 1
  • Epidural - Part 2
  • Forelimb Blocks
  • Intercostal & Dental Blocks
  • Soaker Catheters & Retrobulbar Eye Blocks

Pain Assessment

  • Pain Processing & Variability
  • Anticipating Pain
  • Characteristics Associated with Pain
  • Pain Scales

Animal Health Technicians in Pain Management

  • Importance of an Animal Health Technician
  • Developing a Pain Management Plan
  • Client Communications

Tricyclics & Anticonvulsants

  • Mechanisms of Action for Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Tramadol
  • Evidence for Pharmacological Treatment of Neuropathic Pain
  • Anticonvulsants

Nutraceuticals and Stem Cells

  • Cartilage Structure & Function
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
  • Nutraceuticals & Supplements
  • Destructive Players in Osteoarthritis
  • Evidence for Nutraceuticals
  • Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Stem Cells

Pain States

  • Adaptive & Maladaptive Pain
  • Visceral Pain

Module 5: Advanced Euthanasia Module

Overview of Companion Animal Euthanasia

Caregiver and Pet Considerations

Physiology and Pharmacology

Pre-euthanasia Sedation and Anesthesia

Euthanasia Techniques

Challenging Situations

Case Review