Deciding on Treatment for Your Pet
Disclaimer: You may find yourself wanting to skip this article. These questions can feel hard. It’s tempting to avoid them. That is, until you can’t. We know you want to take the best care of your furry family & yourself that you can. This article will help you to think these things through.
How do you know what’s best for your fur child?
Are they in pain? Is their illness/injury terminal? Do they have other conditions that could complicate their treatment, possibly impacting the quality of their remaining time with you? We love our fur kids so much. How can we consider not doing every treatment that’s available? I’m struggling with these issues right now with my 15 year old cat, Sebastian, who has sinus cancer. Every day I must decide anew.
Can we do “too much?” Spending tremendous amounts of time, money, and energy on veterinary care is the route that many of us choose when our pets have been injured or given a terminal diagnosis, because we want to prolong and improve the quality of their lives. Can medical care for our pets cross the line and do more harm than good? And how do we know that that advanced care is not just prolonging pain, rather than actually improving our pet’s life?
Here are some questions that plague animal lovers right here in the Miami Valley—including recipients of Ellie’s Rainy Day Fund—and can create tremendous stress.
- Do I pay for the surgery that will help my cat to pee again, or do I pay my daughter’s tuition?
- Do I pay for my medications, or get my dog’s ACL tear fixed so she can run & play again?
- Do I fix my pet’s teeth to reduce her pain & possibly prolong her life, or will her other conditions be exacerbated, thus reducing her enjoyment for whatever time she has left?
So often these decisions are unanticipated. Too often pet parents are forced to make difficult decisions rapidly, in the midst of panic or trauma. The choices usually come down to:
- Throw every resource at the issue (worry about the money later)
- Manage your fur kid’s pain
- Help them to cross the rainbow bridge.
All of these choices come with struggles & uncertainties. But in the midst of chaos, sometimes we make poor choices that can leave us tinged with regret.
Hard as it is, we need to consider “how much is too much for my fur kid?” AND “how much is too much for me?”
What if you had that conversation before an issue arose?
Having frank and open conversations with your vet about common complications your pet could face could serve as a sort of blueprint for making health decisions about your pet and give you the confidence and knowledge you need when making those decisions. Questions like:
- Is he in pain?
- What will her life be like if we do “X”? How about if we don’t?
- If we fix the problem now, is it likely to come back?
- What’s life expectancy with/without treatment?
- Will determining a diagnosis change the course of treatment?
- If it were your pet, what would you do?
Even in the most perfect of circumstances, these decisions about your pet can be intense and very traumatic. There’s no one right, easy answer—how much is too much depends on you, your pet, and the context of the situation. Considering these answers in advance can help prepare you to answer them in the moment, should a life-threatening situation arise. Giving yourself the permission and time to consider these deeply intimate and personal answers ahead of time can help you when it matters most.