The End of the Road

It is not an easy topic, but a frequently asked question. It is also a question, we as veterinarians need to ask from time to time: what is the best for the patient? When is it the right time to say euthanasia? There are many situations where this is clear, especially when the patient’s clinical signs are obvious. Terminally ill patients, patients are in constant pain and suffering, whether it is a physical illness like tumor or renal failures, or other degenerative diseases that cannot be reverse or don’t have an effective way of managing and treating, or condition where it was managing for a long time, and now down to the point where medically is no longer effectively controlling or managing the diseases.

It sounds all straight forward?? It may sound relatively simple when we read it on paper, but it is not easy when the patient is one that has been living with you for the past 13-14 years, sharing happy and sad moments together. Most of owners are sentimental and emotional when we give them the bad news of their pets being very sick and even untreatable or not responding to treatment, and they should be emotional, there is nothing wrong with being attached to your pet. But it is these moments, I usually remind owners about the suffering and pain their pet is going through, and it becomes cruel if we are purely prolonging their lives and suffering for our emotional values.

All these might sound very grim to many people and even offensive. In reality or people who know me well will always hear me saying that AGE is not a disease and giving patient a proper time frame to try and even going to the great depth in helping them is what I do at work. To me, treating and curing my patients are my duty, but I'm also a spokesman for them since they cannot express themselves effectively to us.

Of course, there are the other sides of the spectrum where we see patient with condition easily curable and managed, but the owner refused to treat or follow proper treatment plan for them. An easy and simple example is an animal with a malignant aggressive tumor on the leg where the treatment is to amputate the leg, however, the owner refused because of cosmetic reasons. I also want to borrow this opportunity to say that 3-legged animals do very well and can have very normal lives.

Be a responsible owner, be responsible to your pets.

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