Read the article in the New York Times “Deciding when a pet has suffered enough”
This article is written by a non-veterinarian but brings up issues and questions we as veterinarians and pet care-takers must wrestle with on a daily basis. With the advancement of veterinary medicine in leaps and bounds over the past 2 decades we are able to provide more and more advanced care for our pets, sometimes rivaling the care provided for human beings. The question I always ponder is, “Should we?” As a veterinary neurosurgeon in Charleston, SC I am able to provide services including spinal and brain surgery for my patients. Before I perform these procedures I always discuss that, although these options are available, it does not always mean we should or must pursue them. My perspective regarding the services I can provide in veterinary medicine is that the quality of the pet’s life AND the care takers’ lives are of the utmost importance. I try to use this consideration in guiding the care that you and I decide to pursue. I always try to help guide the decision-making process based upon my experience and understanding of the patient, but ALSO based upon the dynamics and ongoing care needed at home. If I truly feel that one decision is absolutely more appropriate than the other, I do not hesitate to say so. Although it can be a very difficult decision to make, I honestly feel that sometimes euthanasia is the greatest act of love you can provide for your pet. Whichever decision you make regarding care for your pet there may always be regrets down the line and you may start to question your decision. In these cases I always remind pet owners that the decision they made was made with love and with their pet’s best interest in mind and that is all you can do. This is obviously a very emotional and difficult topic to discuss. If there are ever any questions never hesitate to discuss them with myself, another veterinarian at Veterinary Specialty Care, or with your regular veterinarian. There are also support groups and counselors available for people who need further help coping with the loss of their pet.
Peter J. Brofman, DVM, MS, ACVIM (Neurology & Internal Medicine)