Discuss Tough Medical Decisions in Advance to Prevent Suffering Later

 |  Feb 27th 2011  |   9 Contributions


Max - Saddest dog in the whole worldphoto 2009 Colin Davis | more info (via: Wylio)
Bad things can happen even to the most well cared for pets. Dogs can suffer from gastric dilatation with volvulus (known colloquially among vets as bloat) more-or-less out of the blue. Abdominal masses growing silently from months can rupture suddenly, leading to an acute crisis of abdominal bleeding (called hemoabdomen). Cats that seemed healthy their whole lives may suffer rapid onset of urinary obstruction. Either species may slip through a broken window or a door left ajar and wind up struck by a car.

Pets suffering from any of these problems may find themselves hanging to life by a thread. The interventions to treat these issues can cost thousands of dollars, and in many cases there is no guarantee of success.

When a pet is stricken with bloat or hemoabdomen or urinary obstruction or vehicular trauma or any number of similar acutely serious medical crises, time is important. The treatments have the best chances of working if they are started immediately. There is no time to delay.

Unfortunately, many people are stricken with indecision when they find their pets in these sorts of life-or-death situations. I can't count the number of times I have seen wives repeatedly and unsuccessfully call their husband's cell phones in desperate attempts to get their spouses' input (and, let's face it, to avoid making "wrong" decisions that will anger the spouses). Solitary husbands call wives, too. Lone partners call partners. The pets languish while phone call after phone call, but no decision, is made.

The decision to put a pet through a major medical procedure, and possibly drain part of a child's college fund in the process, is not one that most people want to make alone. But if your partner is on a flight or camping in the wilderness you may be stuck in the miserable position making just such a decision.

Here is what I recommend. Talk to your partner today. Come to a general agreement about your mutual desires in the event of a veterinary emergency. I sincerely hope that the agreement never will require implementation. But if it does, it could save your pet -- and possibly your relationship.

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