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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Euthanizing Because Of Cost?

Deciding to euthanaize a pet is rarely an easy thing. Which brings the following question from Scott.

Have you had clients resort to financial euthanasia? I read an article that said millions of dogs and cats are put down each year because their owners won't (or can't) pay for the treatment to save them. How do you fell when an owner makes that decision and you have to carry out the procedure?

I'm not sure that "financial euthanasia" is the best phrasing, but I understand what you're trying to say. This is not an uncommon situation, and in most cases I can't fault the owner. However, that's not to say that I like doing it. Always keep in mind that the veterinarian is the final decider about whether or not the euthanasia will be performed. Most of us try to respect an owner's wishes, but we have our own ethics and are under no moral or legal obligation to perform a service merely because a pet owner wants us to. So to me and most veterinarians, there has to be a justifiable reason for euthanizing a pet, and I take that on a case-by-case situation.

Case #1--An 11 year old cat begins to vomit frequently. The owner pays for lab tests, which show nothing abnormal. The vet repeats the exam a week later and notices a lump in the abdomen in the region of the stomach. X-rays don't reveal anything other than a mass, but it doesn't appear to be something the cat swallowed. The next step is exploratory surgery, which the owners cannot afford. The vet has a strong suspicion that the cat has a tumor, possibly in or on the stomach. The cat continues to vomit, and can't seem to keep food down. The owners don't want him to suffer, and ask the vet to perform euthanasia. In this situation, I would do it because the cat has a high likelihood of having a serious problem, and it isn't going to get better without extensive treatment. Rather than letting the pet suffer and die slowly, I would put it to sleep.

And know what? This happened with my own cat. However, I did the exploratory and discovered that most of his stomach was one big tumor. I knew that I couldn't afford chemotherapy, and it was large enough to be inoperable, so I ended up putting him to sleep. So this is a real situation that I modified slightly for the sake of discussion.

Case #2--Here's another real case. An owner has a 10 year old golden retriever that develops a large mass in the abdomen. Surgery is performed and it is discovered that there is a huge mass involving the spleen. The spleen is removed and the dog recovers well. About 6 months later, more masses are detected in the abdomen, which means that a return of the cancer is likely. The owner can't afford more treatment, and decides to put the dog to sleep when they become big enough to affect the quality of life. I would definitely do this euthanasia, as the owner has already done a lot, and further intervention would likely not help.

Case #3--A six year old cocker spaniel has a horrible ear infection, and has had frequent infections for the past five years. The owners aren't willing to do any further diagnostics or surgery to help, and are tired of the smell and appearance. The dog is otherwise happy and healthy, but will have life-long problems with the ears. The owners want the dog euthanized because of the chronic problems and impact on their lives. I would refuse to do this procedure because the dog's life is not at stake, and an inconvenience to the owner is not a justifiable reason to me.

Case #4--A five month old labrador puppy comes in with a broken front leg. The owners are young and cannot afford the needed surgery. Simply splinting or casting the leg would be questionable. This is a tougher case, as the dog's life will be significantly impacted, even if the injury isn't life-threatening. I would likely refuse euthanasia, but offer to help adopt the dog out to someone who could help.

As you can see, each case is different, and they aren't always clear-cut. The rule-of-thumb I tend to use is "what is the pet's life going to be like if we do nothing?" If the quality of life would be really bad or fatal, I will strongly consider euthanasia. If the quality of life won't be bad, just inconvienent or less than ideal, I likely won't do it.

So yes, Scott, people do have to make decisions for their pets' health based on finances. This is the reality of the world, and isn't something that I condemn people for. One of my equine professors in vet school taught me a very important lesson. She said that someone shouldn't have to go bankrupt simply to prove their love for an animal. I would agree with this, and have remembered it over 12 years later. I would prefer it if clients could always afford treatment, but that's not always the case. This is why I recommend having an emergency fund just for your pet's care. But in the cases where the owner can't pay for treatment, I try to put the pet's best interests first. Not always a pleasant task, but a necessary one.

56 comments:

  1. I had this come up today. Lady wanted to euthanize a 16 year old cat because she's allergic to it and moving to a new house or whatever. The tech told her that's not a reason we will euthanize for and so when she handed the phone to me the cat was suddenly "very ill and miserable." At 16 years old she very well may be but I insisted I needed to evaluate the cat first and get a good history and the owner declined.

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    1. I am in a vaguely similar situation - stray cat approximately 2 years of age taken in by my boyfriend 2004; he took care of vet bills for cat (cat lived outside almost entirely). Boyfriend passed away in 2015. I can't afford vet bills for cat - cats fur is falling out, and he weighs approximately 3 pounds now. He is still active and eats his food. Our local SPCA is a non-kill facility but if. Cat has lived outside it will be relegated to "barn cat" status, which means being homed with other cats in a barn somewhere and, as cats tend to do, will have to fight for a dominance position. I have called my local vet to see what the cost is to euthanize this male cat. It is prohibitively expensive. Not sure where to turn now.

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  2. There is certainly a very fine line here. I do have an emergency fund and would do anything within reason for my animals as long as they have a relatively good quality of life. I have had to make the decision to euthanize a couple of my pets, but the decision was not based on cost. (I have 2 hip-dysplastic older Labs, as well as my "foster-failures" --two amputee cats and a one-eyed cat). My criteria remains the "Choose your pet's five favorite things" theory--when the animal can no longer enjoy these, then it is time. As my very wise and trusted vet once told me "Better to make the decision one day too early than one hour too late".
    And then there are those who allow their pets to suffer and continue treatment much too long, in the misguided belief that they are doing the animal a favor by keeping it "alive". Last week at the shelter where I volunteer we did an owner-requested euthanasia (which we do as a public service at very low cost, but never for financial or frivolous reasons) on a 24-(!!!)-year-old cat. This unfortunate animal had been unable to eat for over a week, and unable to stand or move independently for over a month. She had pressure-sores on every bony prominence, and was covered in her own excrement. Her elderly owner had simply been unable or unwilling to let her go, but the cat would certainly have been better served to be humanely euthanized before she reached this pitiful state.

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  3. I still think that children should come before pets.... and as people will continue to get pets they can't really afford, by choice or acquiring strays, there will come a time when something major is needed and choices have to be made..
    I would rather see the children fed and cared for than the pet. Humane euthanasia may be an option if an animal cannot afford to be treated, or is not suitable to rehomed.. which can always be an option.
    Lets face it - it might be something vet clinic staff face in higher numbers while the there is a recession as people are reluctant to take on debt if things are tight.

    Mind you - some years ago, I treated a sick cat for many months - chronic renal failure, and one day it stopped coming. Some time later the owner appeared with their dog. I hesitantly asked after the cat, assuming it had died peacefully at home. He said that he fed it one day, and then hit it over the head with a spade; he could not face bringing it in to be put to sleep...

    Just occurs to me that if vets decline a client's request, there are other options they might resort to.... unfortunately. I guess that sometimes we have to suspend moral judgement.

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  4. As everyone can see, this is a difficult subject and one that vets and veterinary staff have to think about frequently.

    Just this afternoon we got a call from someone who wanted to euthanize their 7 year old cat. The cat had attacked the husband all of a sudden and for no apparent reason, to the point of the husband having to go to the hospital to be treated. We had never seen the cat before, and I found it strange that a cat would have such a drastic behavior change for no reason. I said that we could get the cat in tomorrow (this was about 30 minutes before closing) and evaluate if euthanasia was the best thing, but I wasn't going to rush into it tonight. The wife had been told by her husband that if the cat wasn't put to sleep when he got home, he was going to kill it. While I understand her difficult position, I couldn't bring myself to agree to such a fatal decision without more information. I have euthanized pets before because of extreme aggression, and feel this is in the best interests of the humans around the pet. But there are usually more signs. Some clients seem to have difficulty understanding that vets have their own morality and ethics, and aren't obligated to do something merely because the client asks us to.

    VetRN, I really like what you vet said, and completely agree. I have recommended and performed euthanasias when we knew the pet was terminal, and didn't want them to get to the point of suffering. Just like there are people that want to do it too soon, there are those who wait too long.

    Fi, I also agree about the human families coming first. I make those same statements to my own clients.

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  5. My predicament, we are trying to re-home our 13 yr old male Bengal. I have posted him on petfinder, kiiji and some site in the UK. A local shelter told us all her foster homes were full and that at our cat’s age he would most likely get sick and die in a shelter. She said our best bet is to euthanize him. I would rather him go to a good home, to cat people. I am not a cat person and I am in constant tears because I am NOT a cat person. I don’t hate the cat, I hate having a cat in my house. He is declawed, and not permitted outside. I feel his “quality of life” is below average because I do not pet him. I talk to him, feed him all the stuff you’re supposed to do. I took Kido in 3 yrs ago. I tried within the month to return him to his owner. The owner pretty much let me know he was NOT taking him back. Now that I am at my wits end he wants me to the leg work and find him a new home. I am truly devastated, I am crying all the time because I do not want to kill him, I want him to be sick and in pain so that the vet will tell me it is inhumane to keep him alive. I want to be with him for his last breath. I cannot stop crying, I am rambling because I am so torn. I want the best of both worlds and honestly do NOT have the time keep him here any longer.

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  6. Love For a lost soleMay 12, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    I had a great dog her name was Roxxanne (Roxxie, or Foxy Roxxie) for short. She woud of been 3yrs old on July 4,2010, but i was forced to put her down because i didn't have the money for treatment at the time of treatment. I beleve that if they would of taken the time to treat her she woud be hear playing and lighting up everyones day. She was a boxxer so those who know the breed know what a good dog she was.
    All i know is that when i cam home from night school she was having a sezier and i tried to get her to come out of it like i was trained to to at every kennle i worked at told me, and nothing worked so i made the desion to go to a after hours ER. for pets, and the min. i get their they had me a peice of paper that told me i could eather have $400 to $800 for treatment up frount or decline treatment, or for $100 talk the vet. So i talked to the vet told her i only had $100 till igetpayed she sead that they dont do payment plans and that she only had a 50/50 chance of living. I wanted to take that chance she had gotten up to a 108 temp., and she needed to stay a cuple days at that point i would of done anything, but sences all YOU VETS only care about your payment insted of the baby in your hand i will no longer se her face . I would of payed you back all of it. they would't even put her down untill i payed them the $100 office fee. Where is the love for our 4 leged friends.

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  7. What about when you need a few days to pay for the procedure the vet performed, and they euthanize the animal against your will?

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  8. Euthanizing a pet against your will is illegal in the US. At my practice we require a signed authorization form before we will do the procedure. If this was actually done against your will, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.

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  9. I have to say after reading the comments above it kinda helps me feel a little better that I'm gonna have to put my 11 yr old cat down. At first I kept thinking I was wrong to put her down considering I can't afford another surgery. August 21, 2013 my cat had to have surgery she had tiny lumps totally filled her entire bottom half of her. You could hardly feel them unless u pressed into her that's how i found out there was something wrong. Vet said it was aggressive so she prolly has 6-9 months. as it goes by I can actually see the tumurs now. It's so hard to think about putting any animal down but I totally get the reasons on why some people do....

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  10. I found pet insurance to be a life saver for my dachsund. I had a dachsund previously and spent quite a lot on a back surgery. He lived a long life and when he went to the Rainbow Bridge, I adopted Jessie. Only, this time, I purchased pet insurance and obtained a Care Credit card. I came home one day to find Jessie lame on one side of his body. Off he went to the specialist. Long story short, the insurance paid all but $300.00 of the massive bill. I did not have to use my Care Credit.

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  11. I wish the focus was on the HIGH cost of treatment, I recently had a knew replacement and my cost was $1800, YES WITH INSURANCE....
    My lab tore her ACL and the cost to repair is $4,000, WTH! Why....

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    1. Unknown, you're making a crucial mistake here, and assuming that the cost you paid was the total cost of your knee replacement. Actually, you paid only about 5% of the total cost! A human knee replacement runs around $30,000-35,000, and even with insurance commonly ends up with about $3000 out of pocket costs (http://health.costhelper.com/knee-replacement.html). You may have paid $1800, but your insurance company paid the other $30k. The $4000 cost for your dog was without any kind of insurance, so it was all out of pocket. That ACL repair was SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than a comparable human surgery. Whenever looking at the costs of veterinary care you need to be very careful to make the comparisons appropriately.

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  12. My 12 year old cat has lost a significant amount of weight over the last year. At first, when she went in for her semi-annual, the vet said that the weight she'd lost at that point was okay, and that it was weight she could've lost for her health. But she went in for her regular annual just last month and her weight kept going down. She was steady around 11lb for most of her life, but went down to 8.6lb rapidly.

    I thought it might be stress because I have two other cats that she never seemed to get along well with, so I separated her into another room. She gained a little bit...tapped 9lb once or twice, but has generally floated around 8.8lb. Now, she's vomitting all the time...can't keep food down. I don't know if it's the food or what, because when she coughs it all up, it's obviously mostly digested (at least as far as the stomach could do before passing it on.) She's empty now but still puking spittle. Just a minute ago, I tried to weigh her like I have been each day, but she seemed painful on her bottom. Even holding her against me with my hand on her lower back, just under her tail, seemed to hurt her.

    When I put her back down again, she squatted like she was going to defecate (no attempt to go to the box) but nothing came out, and she proceeded to hide under my bed. I've left a message with the vet for when she's there tomorrow, but I'm worried this might be the end. I just dropped nearly $2000 to fix my car, so my 'oh shit' fund is almost empty. I don't want my cat to suffer. I can't afford long-term treatment for a chronic condition. This older cat wouldn't even tolerate me giving her pain meds after her last dental extraction.

    I'm at a loss. Because she's hiding under my bed, I'm worried she'll just stay there.

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    1. Contact your vet. It may not be as serious as you think, but even if it is you still need to get her checked out.

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  13. I have a 11-ish y.o. female mutt that I adopted from the SPCA about 10 years ago. I love this dog, she is the sweetest girl and is so no-frills or needy whereas my other 2 dogs are super high maintenance. But this older dog has developed either an impacted tooth or something causing an infection in her sinus so that she sounds horrible, has a horrible time trying to breathe primarily out of one side of her nose, and is starting to sleep all day. She still eats and drinks and occasionally goes out, but you can tell she's slowly deteriorating. It's very sad. I have had her to my Vet a couple of times and it's at the point where basically I either need to pony-up several thousand dollars I don't have to freely spend to save my dog, or have her suffer until she's really bad off, or put her to sleep soon. I don't like any of the options and barring selling off possession to try to get the money to save her, I have no choice. There's really nothing anyone can say here other than "life sucks," but I am so sad and at a loss what to do. I really love this dog.

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  14. My little 10 year old cat has been at the vets for 2 nights now with an infection of some sort (blood tests done). His temperature hasn't come down yet and the vet doesn't know whats wrong. The problem is, my hubby said if he cant come home tomorrow, we need to make a decision what to do about him. The bill is already at around £400 and we just cant afford any more money. I am so distraught. I don't know what to do. Do I ask them to put him to sleep or do I ask to bring him home with oral meds and hope they do the trick.

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  15. My 6 year old Weimaraner was recently diagnosed with Zygomatic Mucocele...the cost of which to surgically fix is around 5k. I have small children at home and my husband is in the military and I do not work. There is no way we can afford the surgery, but it is the only treatment for her issue. Meanwhile, she has developed enormous lumps of fluid on her face and it makes it slightly difficult for her to eat and looks painful although she doesn't seem to be in much pain. Her face looks like it's going to explode. It's heartbreaking, and we are frozen - so stuck because we do not know what to do. We can't afford the surgery but her condition is not life threatening, but it is impacting her quality of life. But we do not want to put her down, we love her so so so much. Please any advice would be really appreciated

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  16. I think the owner's wishes should come first.
    Especially if it is an older pet and they are experiencing age related problems. Its more humane to euthanize than let the animal continue to deteriorate and treat with costly meds.I don't find its any of a vet's business if I choose to humanely terminate my pet's life.
    I remember a cousin's dog that died under their house of old age. That was abuse and I vowed never to allow my pets to suffer past the age when they first start showing signs of cognitive dysfunction, arthritis, deafness or blindness

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  17. My cat is 6 yrs old and suffering from what the vet thinks is pancreatitis. I just had my 2nd spine surgery and my boyfriend is supporting us both and our cat right now. She's gone from 14.7 lbs to less than 11 in a month, she's lethargic, vomits at least once a day, won't eat or drink, and looks miserable. It breaks my heart to watch. We spent $275 a little over 3 days ago at the vet to get her examined, a shot for vomitting, and blood work. Blood work was normal, she hasn't puked since she got the shot, but we Cannot get her to eat or drink. She's on pain meds and anti nausea, but every time she Smells food she gags. I've been emotionally preparing myself with the reality that we will likely request to have her put down. It's not at all what we want, but with just my boyfriends income, we can't afford more testing. The ultrasound will cost at Least $300, and if we spend that, we can't pay rent this month. Reading all these posts is helping me come to terms with things a little, and helping with the guilt I feel. I know that pancreatitis in cats isn't good, and I think she is suffering. Making the decision to put her down will ruin me, but it's not about me, it's about her quality of life, doing the right thing, and not going bankrupt. I know this blog is old, but it was a blessing to read and know that I'm not alone.

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    1. I still actively blog, and check all comments on every post, so even though this was 7 years ago, it's still timely and appropriate. I'm glad that it might help you.

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    2. My cat is doing the same thing. But was misdiagnosed with having kidney failure. I know all the things it is not. But in 11 months she has went from 17.3 lbs to 9.7 lbs. And this second opinion Dr said it could be her stomach or bowels. And wants to put her on Prednisone, B12 and a high efficiency diet. That is just more money to try and see if something will work. She throws up if not every day at least every other day and her gums have always been bad. But now are blood red and so swollen. She can barely eat. I feel guilty about putting her to sleep. I have had her since she was 5 weeks old. Ibfelt like I have not done enough, but I know financially I can't. It will rip my heart out if I make this choice. So torn at this moment.

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  18. I am going though the same currently. Have a 9 year old pitbull mix that has always had severe anxiety. She had a partner that recently had to be put to sleep due to cancer. Over the past month her anxiety has gotten 10 times worse, she has become increasingly aggressive, refuses to eat 5 out of 7 days a week and is now hurting herself when left alone. In the 3 years ive had her she has never ever shown a side of aggression towards myself or fiance but in the past week she has flipped on us 3 times. Im making the decision for us and her to put her down. Her quality of life has become nothing but fear and worry the past 4 weeks. I have tried medication in the past that only made the situation worse and i cant risk rehoming her the way she is. It is a decision that im not making lightly but as an owner and a pet parent, it is our best judgement to what is best for our pet/animals/children.

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  19. We bought a kitten in July. We were going to get pet insurance for him as we knew we wouldn't be able to fund expensive bills. Our other cat is insured for this reason. We picked our kitten up on a Thursday evening, but early hours of Friday morning we were woken by a kitten smelling of poo. He had diarrhea. Rang vets he said probably kitty nerves but bring him in. They wormed him and said see how he goes. The diarrhea continued. We had him tested for Guardia and a full feacal test not a basic one. It showed nothing. For 16 weeks we have been giving netronidazole and panacur which results in a couple of weeks respite from the diarrhea only for it to return. Vets now want to do further tests and biopsies and we simply don't have the funds. Even if we'd have put him on pet insurance the vday we picked him up they still wouldn't have paid as we'd only had him 9 hours before he showed signs of illness. We don't know what to do, we can't afford to get the tests but can't leave him with diarrhea either.

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    1. Talk to your vet about this situation and see what they suggest. Some of these chronic diarrhea cases can be difficult to treat, and I wouldn't be able to give proper advice without seeing him in my office.

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  20. I'm having so much guilt for putting down my 10 year old cat. She was in hiding 99% of the time, as she had very high anxiety especially around my young kids. She started spraying a few months ago, for which we treated with feliway and calming collar, which seemed to help a bit. Then she lost weight and started peeing blood. I took her in to the vet who said her urine had high levels of sugars. I couldn't afford another $200 blood work to confirm the type of diabetes and if insulin would be necessary. I could have taken her home and tried prescription foods, but worried that she already had a poor quality of life regardless of the diabetes, I ended up choosing euthanasia. She was looking so poorly when I brought her in. I also wasn't certain I'd be able to provide her with the proper foods to control the diabetes as we're very tight on funds. I could have saved her, but I didn't, and I'm so, so upset with myself and this decision. If it wasn't an ethical choice, the vet would not have brought it up, right?

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    1. Most vets are very ethical when discussing euthanasia. And if a client can't afford treatment, especially long-term, I will sometimes recommend euthanasia in cases like you describe. You shouldn't feel guilty or upset, as you simply couldn't do anything to help your cat and she would have suffered otherwise. You actually helped her out and kept her from getting worse.

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  21. I have a 16 year old cat, who for the majority of his life has been very healthy and robust. Just recently his back legs have become very wobbley (Im assuming a mini storke) but was still mobile, loving and eating and drinking. For the last 2 days, he has had very bad dirraeha, and has become incontinent, or he goes to his litter box, does nothing, steps out and poos all over the floor. I am very upset as I have called the closest vet to my location, and besides charging for a vet visit, also stated that reguardless of the outcome of the check up, I would still have to pay almost 100.00 to have him put down, ontop of the vet visit charge (69.00 and up). It sickens me that the vet also pushes to have a private cremation done (An additional 150-400 dollars) and when I asked about taking the remains home for a private family burial, the vet office started quoting City bi-laws, and unless I provided proof that I would not be burying my beloved fur baby within city limits, they would preceed to creamate the remains without my permission, and still charge me for it (but they said it would be a group rate, and I would not recieve any ashes, which is still 50-100 dollars) I am on a very very tight income, and most of my emergency fund I had was used when my partner (no ex partner) was out of work. If the vet had quoted the vet appointment, and if it was determined that putting my cat down was the best option, maybe only charging the euthanization fee, or just the vet visit fee. It seem crazy that I have to pay to have my pet examined, potentially just to have the vet tell me that putting him down is the best/only option, then having to pay ontop of that to have him put down, and bringing proof that if he is put down that I will be burying him outside of the city limits to avoid more cost added to the bill......I think people who start out in the vet field, should be given tests to assure that they are in it for the well being of their patients and patient owners, instead of the $$ amount they can make.

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    1. I am very sorry about your situation. However, do you think that the vet's time isn't worth being charged for? If your vet has never seen your pet they actually have an ethical obligation to make sure that euthanasia is indicated. This is NOT an "on demand" service, and any vet is within their rights to refuse to do it if they feel it isn't indicated. Euthanizing is a separate charge, and that vet isn't doing anything unusual in the profession.

      As far as burying your pet, some cities have very strict laws about this. If that is the case in your area and the vet let you take the body home knowing you would bury it, they could be held accountable even though it's your choice. This is always a local ordinance and can vary significantly between cities. The vet is actually protecting themselves and you to prevent any legal trouble.

      As far as your last point, Ethan, what kind of test would you propose? Is there an actual test that can determine whether or not a person is "in it for the well being of their patients"? I'm honestly not sure if any test could accurately tell if this is the case, or if it is even ethical to do so.

      And lastly, most vets make far less than what the average pet owner realizes. We make about 1/3 of the salary of a human doctor with comparable experience and training, and most young vets are struggling to simply survive and pay off the loans they took to get the degree.

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    2. I am sorry to have to disagree with you. But a vet has to know everything from the head of a cat or dog to the tail, inside and out. You have to be able to know and find out all injuries and illness. I can get into my vets office the same day I call than I can if I needed to make a appt with my dr. Veterinary services can all be done under one roof...blood drawn, x rays, surgery, dental cleanings and get meds right there on the spot. There may be a need to send off the blood work but that comes back in relatively fast. Only in the unlikely event will a pet need to see a specialist.

      And as far as I know you should NOT have to pay for a group cremation if you are not getting something back. That is just ridiculous! I just had to put my sweet Manx to sleep 4 days before this last Thanksgiving and my vet was very kind and helpful. He would have worked out a payment plan if I needed. But I spent 50.00 to put her to sleep and to have her privately cremated was 175.00 which was far less than most places. I would call around and get the best price for both. I would suggest private so you get your baby back. Or find out by calling the city how you can get a piece of paper saying you can bury on your property. But find another vet. Even if you have to pay another office visit. Just call and explain the problems you are having. Just my opinion for your pet.

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    3. No vet in the world knows EVERYTHING. If this was true then we'd be able to heal more animals. Medicine is very difficult or anyone would be able to do it.

      Pet crematories charge vets for group cremations, so it's not free and therefore reasonable for vets to pass along the cost to clients.

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  22. I am so very torn as I consider the future of my 12 year old Golden girl. Her health has been declining for the past year. She is losing her sight, has arthritis in her back and hips, has an enlarged liver, and a noninfectious cough that we haven't been able to shake. She recently fell (probably due to arthritis) and tore her ACL. My longtime vet, who I trust and who deeply cares for my dogs, strongly recommends surgery, but I am so afraid to put my girl through that with all of her other health problems, and the cost of the surgery is certainly an issue as well. I feel awful even thinking about it. How can I possibly know if it's time?

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  23. Our one year old papers female American Bully swallowed a sock that my children left in her reach. We have told them over and over-do not leave laundry for her to get ahold of and for a long while we did really well. While we could have afforded at least the X-ray to see if there was a blockage, we have another huge problem: she tried to attack EVERY single person that came into the examination room-vet tech, cashier, veterinarian. I had her muzzled, but not crated. She was aggressive toward cars in the lot passing by when we arrived at the vet. She wanted to attack innocent people going to their cars. She limits us to where we can go and what we can do. We have made the decision to euthanize her. Bringing her back to good health will only endanger someone else and sooner or later, she will end up biting someone. We cannot have visitors and we cannot leave for extended periods of time. The fact that she could possibly harm someone is something we cannot live with no matter how much we love her. She isnt happy-she suffers everyday on edge thinking she has to be on the attack toward every person she doesn't know. It hurts us as a family but she is definitely suffering more. Please pray for our little Gaia to pass over and suffer no more.

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  24. We just had our 4 year old cat Eric euthanised due to a urinary blockage. He had treatment for his condition, having a catheter applied to drain his bladder, and receiving antibiotics + special new food. We were told he had improved, but when we got him home his blockage immediately returned with a vengeance. He had a seizure that night and was in obvious distress with a rapidly filling bladder, so we returned him to the vet early the next day for further treatment. We left him with them but received a call later in the day where they recommended that, not in so many words, we have him put to sleep. While we accepted the seriousness of his condition and agreed to his euthanasia, it is easy to see how many owners can find it difficult to pay for treatment long term. As we have no pet insurance, Eric's initial treatments came to over £1000 over three days, though we would have willingly paid much more to help him. Now we are left with a strange mix of relief that his suffering is over, tinged with guilt that he had to die so young. Prices are definitely too expensive.

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  25. We're so torn right now. We love our 17 year old cat (I adopted him the year I graduated) and we've just been told he likely has an ear polyp by a new vet. We had him at a different vet three times over the last few years for what we were told was ear infections. The new diagnosis fits with his subtle eye droop and head tilt. The cost we've been quoted for a scope/CT to confirm is $4k which may not include treatment or removal. There's also some concern it would grow back. If he wasn't so elderly, if treatment was for sure, if we didn't have other debt already, if he hadn't already had two surgeries for lower urinary tract blockages that kept in debt throughout my 20's... we'd definitely do it. The situation being what it is we've asked if there's palliative options, but we're not being given a straight answer. I know it's hard to say without more tests, but surely there's something we can do for him other than put him down.

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    1. Have to set aside your feelings. I know it is hard to do. We want them to live as long as we can live. We want to be selfish. This is what I had to do with my cat. It was hard to do. I had 2 choices on what could have been wrong with her. But finding out would have been costly and still might have left us hanging. So I got no real answer. Think about what is best for your pet. 17 years is a long time. Already had 2 surgeries. Been to different vets....but surely one of the 3 or 4 vets would have made a suggestion to you. How does he act? Does he play? Does he eat well? I guess look at things overall. Just dont let him suffer while you decide the what ifs. I was doing that. Cats are good at hiding more pain than they actually feel. Just my suggestions. Need anything. Please let me know. I can sympathize

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  26. We are struggling with this as well. We have a 6 year old lab that we rescued from a Co workers family. He was on his way to the humane society which was a kill shelter. They did not disclose that he hadn't been to the vet in years, and had chronic ear problems. It's our fault for saying yes before an examination was done. He wasn't chipped, had been vaccinated ever. We got him all up to date and have had him for 3 years. Hundreds of dollars later, we have learned he needs hid ear drums removed and will be deaf. This is almost 2000 dollars that we just don't have. We have no idea what to do. We hate him being in pain, we love him and are willing to work with him after to do sign language, but this is just too significant a cost. Is there a fund to go request help for animal surgeries etc.

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  27. I thank you for this blog and the comments. I recently, as in 3 days ago had to have my 1 year old cat (still kitten) euthanized. I had gotten her in June of last year. By August she was sick with vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. She was hospitalized for a couple of days with a cost of over $1100. A few months ago she got a UTI...a couple of hundred dollars. Saturday night I had taken her to the emergency vet because she was displaying the same symptoms. She was prescribed antibiotics again for a UTI. I was quoted $306, but had to eliminate some things in order to get the price down to $187. The next day she was getting worse...not able to urinate at all. I took her back and the vet stated she was completely blocked. She would need a catheter, IV, and a couple of days again in the hospital. I could not afford another $1100. I hadnt even had her a year. The vet suggested euthanasia and I sadly agreed. She would have died. I feel horrible. I loved Panda so much. Was I wrong to make this decision for her? My kids have told me that I did the best I could. I miss her and feel extremely guilty, but I simply could not afford it.

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  28. I need Help I have A very Mean cat who is 2 who just had kittend and all she wants to do is beet up our cats

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  29. My 13 year old boy is blind and has the human equivalent of HIV. His tail drooped and he cried in the litter box. We took him to the vet. 800.00 plus dollars later, home he came with anti inflammatory meds and painkillers. A month later now, still cries and now limps in his hind legs. Still eats, drinks but his regular routines are gone. He circles around from the little boxes to his safe space every 10 mins. I fear he is in pain that we cannot detect. We want to put him down humanely. Is that possible? We cannot afford an MRI to tell us his brain his deteriorating, we know that, we see it. I have 6 other cats in the house, if he bites one...they get the HIV. We love him, what should we do? Can we put him down with love and dignity?

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    1. You most definitely should put him to rest. He is suffering although he can't tell you. He will be at peace and not hurting anymore. That is love and dignity when it's done so that he is not in pain anymore. It seems you are doing more harm than good for him.

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  30. In most sadness I put down my 2 year old cat after a dog attack. I took him to the emergency vet immediately after it happened expecting him to only have a few bruises etc. As it turned out, he had a ruptured diaphragm and needed emergency surgery costing between $3000 and $5000 with no guarantee of sucesss. Second option was euthanasia. I took the second option as I did not have the money and was not willing to go into debt without good outlook as i am 8 months pregnant. Now that he is gone, I regret deeply what happened. I wish I had of taken a chance. 2 weeks have passed and I dream of him every night. Anyway, I am not sure if I will ever have another pet. I tried to do what was best, but 'what ifs' are excruciating.

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  31. I am currently facing same problem.. I have a cat for about 4 years now, we've been to the vet few times already because she's ill (excluding her vaccine visits). When i adopted her, i also decided that i would take care of her (best food, vet, etc. that i can afford). Our last vet visit last March 2017, the vet said she has pancreas problem. We did the blood works and xray. Now few months later, she's showing the same symptoms (constant vomiting, loss of appetite, drinking a lot, fever and of course weight loss - except this time, she's obviously in pain). I'm quite panicky as my financial status lately isn't very stable. Just for the blood works and xrays before, i already spent a lot, the vet said that pancreatitis is a really costly illness. I'm torn and broken literally. She's so pitiful but i am afraid that due to my financial limitations, i cannot afford to revive her. We'll be heading to the vert again later today, after hearing what the vet would say, maybe i'll make my decision based on that. So strange how she's a bouncy happy cat just few days back and to now, she can hardly move. https://www.facebook.com/TheCocoPomPom/?ref=bookmarks

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  32. I accidentally ran over my 13 year old cat. She had a fractured pelvis on one side and dislocated hip on the other. Had to decide between expensive surgery (after already spending so much on initial treatment and diagnostics) that likely would not give her a meaningful recovery or putting her down. We decided to put her to sleep, but now I wish we had given her more time to see how she did and given her a chance. She was still purring and content (on drugs) but couldn't walk and was peeing on herself. It was a tough decision and I will always wonder if it was the right one- and wished I had looked under my car before backing up. :(

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  33. My family and I are going through this right now. It's not exactly financial however. We have three pets (two dogs - one with incontinence and one with two bum knees and a history of biting, and a cat - also health issues). We spent the last year with our toddler in and out of the hospital for severe asthma. She stops breathing, coughs until she vomits. I can't work since she often needs overnight care and our next step were more surgeries (she's already had one). Finally, we take the step of removing the pets from our home's main floor for a month and having our house professionally cleaned - they even cleaned the ceilings. She suddenly and miraculously got better. It was dramatic, better and better each day until feeling about 80% with minimal coughing and nose issues. Our allergist/asthma doc and pediatrician recommended we get rid of the pets since she has such a visceral reaction (they were upstairs one day, she was in the hospital that night). Unfortunately, we have a very small home. They're corralled in an extremely small area since they cannot be anywhere else. I cannot interact with them without changing clothes and washing. They've become mean, aggressive, and started urinating and destroying the area where they are.

    We've contacted 38 shelters, multiple vets, and had our Facebook post shared over 100 times but no takers. We have no where to turn and due to the noise ordinance in our town, we cannot leave them outside all day (plus it gets super hot and super cold.)

    We don't know what else to do. Our doctor has threatened calling CPS if we don't have the dogs removed. Shelters have told us they won't adopt out a dog that has a history of biting with injury (my daughter required glue and stitches on her face) and that it'd be unlikely to adopt a dog that isn't housebroken and can't be trained. They simply do not have the room to take them.

    So, what do we do? Our doctor informed us they would recommend CPS remove our daughter for health reasons since we "refuse to put her health first" and are jeopardizing her life if she has a vomiting episode and we don't wake up. But we of course do not want to euthanize, but what are our options? And if the vets refuse, what do we do? I can't have my daughter removed.

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    1. You've done so much more than many pet owners would have done. You really don't have much choice but to euthanize. :( The pets aren't happy, they aren't adoptable, and they are making your daughter sick. Take them out for one last good hike, a special treat for dinner, then say good-bye, as hard as it will be. I can't imagine your vet would refuse given the circumstances. If you are forced to sign them over to the shelter they will likely euthanize them anyway due to the aggression history. You are in an impossible situation. Good luck.

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  35. Dont know what to do. My 14 yo cat has been diagnosed with hypo thyroid and now need to be on medication twice a day. He hates taking tablets. Also regular 3 monthly blood test, he is so stressed going in the car and going to the vet.
    What do I do? Have him lose his dignity and be stressed cause of treatment and regular vet visits. ...or let him go while he still has his dignity.I have to be ho est and say that it is going to be a struggle financially.
    Please, I need some feedback

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    1. First, it would be hyperthyroidism, not hypo. Big difference. There are lots of options and this is a very treatable disease for most cats. Besides pills you can find a compounding pharmacy (I'm sure your vet knows one) where the medication can be made into a flavored liquid or a transdermal gel (applied to the ear). The best treatment is radioactive iodine therapy as it is a complete cure, though it's also the most expensive.

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  36. I'm about to enter vet school. Honestly, I think that people who can't afford $1,000 and up for vet care shouldn't have pets AT ALL. Unless you have a pet who is injected with adamantium, your pet will get sick sooner or later. Your pet will need medical treatment. If you don't want to spend money on a sick ANIMAL and would rather spend it to your needs, then don't get a pet. As someone who is about to be a vet, it's not about the money. Just to let you know, being a veterinaria will not make me rich. If I wanted to be rich I'll choose anethesiology or surgeon. The bulk of the money paid will go to paying equipments, medicine, vet tech and nurses, and other operational expense.

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    1. If that's your attitude child, which its obvious you are by your verbiage, you will make a horrible Veterinarian. Where do you get off telling people if they can't afford $1000 they shouldn't have a pet?? Yes animals get sick, but they dont always require surgery. Hopefully you will study English while you are in school and practice some empathy and compassion or you won't have to worry about "operational expense", because no one would dare bring their pet to you.

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  37. I have a 10 yr old bloodhound who has had chronic ear infections for the last 4 yrs. We have spent tens of thousands of dollars treating these infections, usually with just a couple weeks in between the infections. She has had allergy testing and we have changed her food to accommodate. This has not helped. We have had many cultures and rounds of antibiotics. The antibiotics are to the point that they are not working anymore. She was put on an antiviral medication to try to help but it has not. Our only option now is a $4000 surgery. We don't see this as an option because she also has hypothyroidism and severe knee arthritis which we treat with medication daily so she can walk and stand. We will be putting our girl down unfortunately because we cannot afford the surgery and she shakes her head all day long. I couldn't imagine walking around shaking my head all day long. It seems cruel to me to prolong this any longer. Her ears are also very painful for her just to touch

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  38. I inherited a toy yorkie when my mom passed 9 years ago. In the last 9 years (he is 15 and I have loved him his whole life) he has developed tumors and masses that have removed, tested, prescribed meds and had multiple vet visits. We have spent a good deal of money on all this. I love this boy so much and feel as though he is a connection still to my mom. He is now having to wear a diaper due to an plum size tumor on his anal area. The new Vet estimated surgery at 1700.00 with no gurantee that he'll survive it. Some days are better than others. He does not "seem" to be in pain, even when he poos but he is not himself. He is going blind and losing weight. I feel he is "embarrassed" by his diapers and I am sure that even with careful, gentle cleanings several times daily, he is aware of his smell. I still have tremendous guilt with even taking this time to see if he'll get better but also with having the thought of putting him to sleep because of his changes in behavior when I stroke his thin little body he lays his head on me and looks at me so lovingly but he seems tired. I am bawling and broken while typing this but still don't know what to do and the Vet only says " I can't advise you"??? Really?!?!?

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  39. I have a 6 year old cat with a history of undiagnosed health problems (weight loss, chronic diarrhoea, bladder infections, difficulty breathing, an intersusseption requiring emergency surgery). She has been well for over a year but recently became badly lame (she has always been very wobbly on her legs) and after X rays the vet has diagnosed her as hypermobile, with two subluxated knee caps, one permanently fixed out of position. The options I've been given are surgery to reconstruct the knee and possibly to break and reset a malformed femur (8000 dollars), amputation (3000 dollars) or euthanasia. I won't put her through the surgery and can't afford it, and am seriously worried about her ability to cope on three legs given they are all weak and wobbly. I hate the idea of putting her through an amputation only to find she struggles even more afterwards. I've lived a long time with her sickly in the house and don't think I can go through it again. We've been through so much it just doesn't seem right to do such drastic surgery on a fragile animal. She is bright and seems happy right now, on some pain meds, eating, purring, playing with leaves, surprisingly mobile. Euthanasia seems crazy given this, but the vet says we can't leave her with her leg the way it is and wants me to do the surgery. I don't know what to do. A second opinion would be really welcome!

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  40. I am in the same boat. My 7 1/2 year old large breed purebred dog has suffered with atopic dermatitis and chronic ear infections since he was approximately 1 year old. We have spent thousands of dollars each year feeding him various types of foods, including raw, novel proteins, grain free, and finally an anallergenic food. At one point I was bathing my 90 pound dog every other day with $25 shampoo to get rid of the scabs that were all over his body and face. 2 years ago we were licky enough to start him on an oral medication that has alleviated approximately 90% of his skin itch. This has not come without a cost though, we have spent approximately $400/ month for food and medication for our beloved pet. This does not include regular yearly vet bills, or bills when he has developed an ear infection. This year has been horrible as he has really not been without an ear issue since Feb/March. Cultures have identified Pseudomonas which seems to be resistant to all but 1 antibiotic, which unfortunately does not appear to be working. We have been advised by our wonderful and compassionate vets that there is little left to do for him, and we honestly are financially tapped out. We are struggling to come to terms with the fact that our pet, who seems okay, is in a great deal of pain from his chronically infected and bleeding ears. It is an impossible situation to be in as a pet owner and I would never want to wish it upon anyone. I understand your dilemma Sarah, as we are living the with the same struggle here.

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  41. I'm sure my dog will need dental surgery very soon. He's swollen from the muzzle as well as a small abscess from his gums. I can't afford the surgery. I'm wondering if I should put him down once he gets to the point he can't eat anymore, maybe giving him something for pain meanwhile. He's only about 8
    Being a veterinarian would you allow it? Please be honest.

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