My dog Hudson was sick. Very sick. He’d been doing great even though he has megaesophagus and the complications that go with it. He was playing and eating and going for walks — he was old, happy being grumpy, and engaged with life. The trouble happened because I’d gone on a trip and left him with a sitter and he hadn’t kept his anti-vomiting medicine down, which he takes for megaesophagus. He was puking and puking so I decided to take him to a gastro specialist at an animal hospital in New York City where I’d had a good experience before. I felt that all he needed was an injection of his medicine to get him back on track.
I must confess that when I take my dogs to the vet, I tend to be too trusting, especially of specialists. Sometimes I have trouble speaking my mind. You know the scene — white coats and impressive machines and that disconcerting omniscient look a vet can have. Yes, I can be intimidated. Or, I should say I once could be intimidated.
On the way to the hospital in a pet taxi, Hudson was very anxious and, thus, was having trouble breathing. I wasn’t too worried because I assumed they’d take good care of us — boy, was I wrong!
Imagine the animal hospital — sick pets with their very worried people, bright lights, frenzied nurses, and concerned-looking doctors. It’s a regular human ER. And it’s NYC so up it a bit.
It’s as if we’re there now …
Hudson is rushed to an oxygen tank as soon as we check in. I wait and wait in the waiting room (so aptly named). Finally, I’m showed into a checkup room and meet someone I think is the specialist. Turns out to be a resident, a young woman who has the makings of a great vet but absolutely no ability to communicate with a patient’s owner.
“Lung cancer!” she says after mentioning that they already took X-rays of Hudson. I’m starting to sweat a bit because I can’t get a word in edgewise. You know the feeling (though usually it’s the human doctors who act like this).
“OK,” I say, “he very well may have lung cancer.” (Why did they take an X-ray without my consent?) “If so, we’re not going to treat that at his age [which is 13]. But we can treat his vomiting.” She frowns and persists that this is very serious and that he shouldn’t go home. I demand to see my dog and start planning an escape.
I walk into the oxygen room. Hudson has his ears up in his tank looking at me, like, can’t we go home? Just as I am ready to request his release, a vet in the room corners me — really corners me, in a corner. I start to feel as if I might faint as she bombards me with comments about my selfishness and cruelty if I don’t put Hudson to sleep right then and there!
I try to explain through growing tears that he’s still enjoying life; this is just a setback. For one very brief moment, I falter — am I keeping him alive because I just lost my other dog? Don’t these vets know what they’re talking about?
But, no! Something inside me bursts. Every fiber of my being knows that this is wrong. I demand a shot of Hudson’s vomiting med, I demand Hudson himself, and I push my way through this bullying vet’s dark aura. I think I brilliantly said, “A vet‘s first tenet is to ‘do no harm,’” but I may have just said it in my head. Woo-hoo! Brave dog owner overcomes!
Hudson was fine by the time we got home and has continued to be OK, except for an occasional bad pukey day and an abscess (which is another story), for four months going.
It wouldn’t have mattered, though, if Huddie had passed away the next day. The point is: Vets should not bully an owner into deciding at that moment in the hospital or office about putting her dog to sleep. This is unbelievably unprofessional and, yes, cruel. And probably selfish, too. If, on top of the worry and stress of having a sick dog, you are also a more soft-spoken, retiring sort of person, it’s an even worse experience.
If a vet tells you that she recommends euthanasia and explains why, this is professional. If she tries to bully you into a decision when you disagree with her, get the hell out of there and take your dog with you if you can. Breathe and trust your intuition and get a second opinion if you like.
Be the spokesperson for your dog! If you’re meek like I was, build up that confidence by being informed about your dog’s issues — after all, an owner knows her dog better than a doctor, even a specialist.
Have you had a similar experience with a vet? If so, how did you handle it? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!
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11 thoughts on “A Vet Bullied Me — But I Knew It Wasn’t Time for My Dog to Die”
I am going through this right now and my cat is 6yrs old and overweight and has a hard time grooming herself. I rescued her when she was 3 and has been overweight scince. Because she is unable to groom her rear end I have maintained a lion cut for her every month and she starts to get stinky and poop stuck to her behind. I have been sending her to vet to get groomed monthly and now the vet said that I should euthanize her because she’s in pain. I put diaper rash cream on her every 3/4days but I guess it’s not enough.
The thing is once she gets groomed and she comes back home she is 100% fine. Cuddly, purring and it just starts to affect her within a few days that she starts to get stinky. I just feel like I’m being forced to euthanize her and I know if she goes to get groomed again I will get yelled at about this and her quality of life is bad again. I don’t know what to do because it’s just diaper rash that’s making her uncomfortable.
Thank you for writing this and, for what it’s worth, it sounds like you made the right choice for your dog. I’m going through this to a degree right now. My dog was diagnosed with cancer several months and on his last visit we got the bad news that, unfortunately, the cancer had spread and there isn’t much that can be done at this point. As of right now, he still has a healthy appetite, wants a long walk every day, and gets up to greet me with his tail wagging when I get home. He isn’t behaving like a dog ready to say goodbye yet (he’s on pain meds to help manage any potential pain from the cancer). On his last visit, the vet told me that he should be put down either on that very day or within the next few days. Naturally, I was devastated, but I listened to my dog’s vet and scheduled his euthanasia for a few days later. When the day came, I couldn’t bring myself to take him. He’d eaten every bite of his breakfast, had gone for a long walk with me the night before, and excitedly wolfed down all of the roast chicken and steak I’d spoiled him with since his appointment. The last thing in the universe I want is for him to suffer, but I don’t want cut his life short if he’s still getting something out of being on this earth. I think it’s true for both people and dogs – being sick or chronically ill does not mean that life isn’t worth living. I’m prepared to have it done when it’s time (whether that be tomorrow or in months), but we all only get one life on this earth and I don’t want to extinguish a life before it’s time.
my cat had a lump successfully removed from his throat. He needed a breathing tube. they tried to take it out. Eventually they did. His breathing then was labored. They were concerned he was breathing through the opening where the breathing tube had been but this opening was closing up. To survive he needed to breath through his nose or mouth normally. Surely in time he would recover.
We visited him to give him encouragement. It was hot and stuffy. I was struggling for air there myself.
The vet seemed to push euthanasia at us. We started doing it. Our cat was sedated 1st but before the euthanasia drug was administered our cat’s breathing was fine, and not labored.
What would have happened if we had not gone any further?
Our cat was sedated. he was comfortable. he might have recovered from his operation in time if given time.?
The vet was pushing euthanasia at us – we were overwhelmed and maybe didnt speak out enough to save our cat?
Just reading these stories has made my stomach turn, my dog is going through something similar atm, in the past week he fell pretty ill to the point where his biting himself raw apparently bought on by Cushing’s disease at this point my dog is in a lot of pain so I have taken him to my vet where because my dogs age was automatically put in the “too hard basket” so we were offered to put him down, I refused! my dog was fine before his last attack, eating fine, going to the toilet as normal and being his normal self and now because they saw him in a bad way they bring up putting him down, so I asked for a different solution like maybe doing their job for a change and doing whatever possible to help him, his in observation tonight and on pain relief , but I fear I know what they are going to try to tell me tomorrow and again push the fact his helpless, something I strongly don’t believe, I don’t know what to do at this point, maybe taking him elsewhere further from home to better vets that know what they are doing, The problem is that I know his suffering and in pain so it makes it hard to take this option.
My bird was put down the women at the desk bullying me to agree with her. I kept saying no but she wasn’t listening! This is veterinary hospital at Whangaparaoa, Auckland . N.Z I said no but she kept saying this and this is wrong and its a wild pigeon so we should put it down put it to sleep she just went on and on. I froze i felt like i had no other choice, i felt ill but she wanted to kill her. The pigeon had hurt her wing but it was healed but wrong so it couldn’t left one wing. it was so tame, I had her for only 2 and bit days. They said we look at her then you can take her home but they lied! They wanted to kill my bird!
They said she was skinny etc etc and i said i only just found her i want to take her home and feed her, but they wouldn’t let me. i cried and wanted to run out the vets with my bird. I cried in the car at home the next day and next. They said my choice but it was not! it was them, they made the choice!
My old dog had been in the hospital for dehydration. She ingested something that made her sick. The hospital released her after a few days but I was still feeding her and giving her water from a syringe. I don’t think she was getting enough water and within 24 hours she was getting dehydrated again. I had a vet appointment at 4 pm but should have taken her to the hospital sooner because she was acting strange. She ended up collapsing. I took her to the vet ( I was out of town and barely knew the vet) . He said I could take her to the hospital but he didn’t think she would live through the night, he said I’d be keeping her alive for me not her, if it was his dog he’d put her down etc.. At one point she raised her head off the table and I changed my mind. He bullied me. In a mean voice he said” You are not changing your mind are you”? I allowed him to intimidate me and he euthanized my dog. A week later I got a copy of her blood work and found out she was severely dehydrated again and could have been treated and likely saved. I so regret not taking her back to the hospital. It’s been 3 months and I can’t fotgive myself. I am completely heartbroken. I wanted to run like you but didn’t. I did t stand up for me or my dog.
Please don’t allow a vet to do this to you… trust your gut.
I’m so sorry for you and sweet loved one. It’s a nightmare to have to deal with this kind of trauma. I hate this happened to you. Hugs and prayers for you.❤️
Thank you Debby… I am not sure I can ever recover. I am completely heartbroken and feel I let my dog down. I didn’t stand up for her when it mattered the most.
I know you went through a similar, horrific experience. How are you doing ? How are you getting through the pain and regret ?
I am so sorry for your loss. This has happened to me last weekend. Bonnie was 14 years and 9 months but she was still eating, drinking, enjoying our company, the garden, … she wanted to be alive. She was on a diuretics medicine for a condition as she was coughing and her lungs were full of fluid. (The vet was not able to give us the right treatment for 6 months). We didn't give her the pill that night as the vet told us to stop if she was getting better. But overnight she got worse and in the morning she collapsed on the floor with heavy breathing. We took her to the vets and the first thing she said was: "you might have to put her to sleep". (How encouraging!) She gave her oxygen and an antidiuretic and we waited for 2 hours. She called us and said she had been able to stand up but her breathing was still very laboured. When we went back to see her. She was a completely different dog to the one we had brought in. She was getting diarreah, breathing extremely heavily, her eyes were sticking out of the eye sockets, … she was dying! The vet kept on pushing for euthanasia, saying: "look at her, if she was my dog I will put her to sleep now" She had her injection ready to euthanise her. No sedation, nothing…. So so cruel… I am devastated and I have requested a necropsy as I believe she might have been given something that would push us to euthanise her… This has been the worst moment of my life. To say good-bye to my beloved companion for almost 15 years like this is the most painful thing I have had to go through.
I just went through a horrible experience with my cat at an emergency vet. She bullied me so bad and put my cat to sleep. I had just come in off a long trip to my sick kitty. I didn’t want to risk going through the night in fear that he may not make it. My kitty needed a blood transfusion, and she said even with that, she didn’t think he would make it. I said I wanted to try, and then she says we need an $800 deposit. I had $500 and asked if she could work with the $300. She said no we can’t and even with the transfusion I don’t think he’s going to make it. Then all of a sudden this tech says he’s gone into cardiac arrest, heart had stoppped, and she asked if I wanted her to resuscitate? Of course I said YES! She said she got him back and then tech tells me she needs me to make decision about blood transfusion which I had already done. Then proceeds to tell me she needs to go and get her cat for the transfusion. Worst than that, she says I live about an hour away! Here we are with an emergency vet that doesn’t have any blood there! Wow! Then it gets worse! Vet calls me to the back to see my kitty and he looks like comatose! She says he’s not with us, but did not explain. Only said he would go back in if she tried CPR! I went hysterical and yelled out that I didn’t want him to suffer! She bullied me! She euthanized my cat!! No form signed prior! I felt something was very wrong, and when finally got the records! Wow! Not a thing about cardiac arrest! Heart did not stop beating at anytime! So much facbrication in the records! I’ve had to seek professional help to deal with this devastation. I wanted to save this baby so bad! I believe it was her attention to euthanize my cat from the start. He was outside a lot. I did spray him as well as using yard spray from a Tractor Supply, but he still he had flea anemia. I had no idea because he acted fine and I put inside before I left to go out of town. I’ve never had a cat get sick like this before. I try to take very good care of my cats. I’ve had cats all of my life and never had this happen, I believe she judged me as a bad care giver. She has fabricated the records, and that’s not ethical! I totally wish that I had gotten him out of there immediately! I trusted that I was getting professional help for him!
I am so sorry you went through this, and sorry for the loss of your sweet kitty.
My story is below. I have had to seek professional help also. I had my dog almost 1/3 of my life. I am completely devastated.