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View Full Version : SPINOFF! Cost of treatment vs Quality of life in our Companion animals!



mustangtrailrider
Jan. 14, 2010, 12:22 PM
In light of the most recent threads about the cost of care and personal situations, how does one deal with the cost of treatment of a companion animal versus the quality of life?

In my opinion, the quality of life of the animal is the most important thing! If the quality of life isn't going to be be very good, I will have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care is out of my personal ability, I have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care and quality of life are just right, I will have surgery on an animal.

How do others decide?

My first concern is quality of life for the animal. Then comes quality of life for me/my family.

I feel that I have a responsibility to myself, my family, and my animals. If I can't take care of myself, I can't take care of my animals.

ChocoMare
Jan. 14, 2010, 12:39 PM
In my opinion, the quality of life of the animal is the most important thing! If the quality of life isn't going to be be very good, I will have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care is out of my personal ability, I have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care and quality of life are just right, I will have surgery on an animal.

A complete, exact Ditto :yes:

appaloosalady
Jan. 14, 2010, 01:10 PM
Absolutely agree. I can't tell you how important it is to think about these things ahead of time, either. We are dealing with a bad impaction colic right now and my vet knows that surgery is not an option for our horses. This prevents a lot of "what ifs" and lets him know right away what the available scope of treatment will be.

littleum
Jan. 14, 2010, 01:13 PM
This is something that haunts me. We have 2 very old cats right now, and seem to be at the vet for something significant but 100% fixable in the past 3 months. I dread that something will come up that is 100% fixable but beyond our means.

My parents raised my sister and I that our pets are part of our family, but that they are not "children", so there is that mental stumbling block too, but still... putting a price on your companions is so agonizing.

For me the quality of life is always the #1 consideration. Will they be happy? Comfortable? Would their quality of life be diminished? I'd really weigh if any kind of protracted or painful recovery would be worth the end result. With our old cats (12 and 15) every time we need to take them to the vet, those gears start turning... especially with the older one, who hates being medicated. I've already told our vet that when/if Tally requires daily medication to maintain her quality of life, it's time, because that offers her no quality of life whatsoever.

Far distant after that I would ask the question of what's the $ cost... and weigh that against the potential outcome. Would it buy a few months, a few years- would it actually FIX anything, or would it just prolong the inevitable? If it was just prolonging the inevitable, and a painful recovery ate into that borrowed time... the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that my willingness to pay is dictated by how much I'm willing to put my pet through to get to the other side, and what waits for them on the other side of it.

ChocoMare
Jan. 14, 2010, 01:18 PM
Far distant after that I would ask the question of what's the $ cost... and weigh that against the potential outcome. Would it buy a few months, a few years- would it actually FIX anything, or would it just prolong the inevitable? If it was just prolonging the inevitable, and a painful recovery ate into that borrowed time... the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that my willingness to pay is dictated by how much I'm willing to put my pet through to get to the other side, and what waits for them on the other side of it.

Very well said.

When I was faced with deciding "Is it time" for my late appaloosa, this was my thought process.

Yes, I could have put tons of meds into her body to keep her comfortable. Yes, I could have hauled her to Auburn for x-rays, scans, etc. Yes, I could have pumped her full of bute.

But the bottom line became this: Does ANY of what I do "Fix" her? Will any of it stop the inevitable? During the process of trying all those things, will her quality of life really be any better?

When that answer became a resounding "No," I made the decision and called the vet.

Was $$$$$ a factor? Of course. May bank account is not a bottom-less money pit. And you know what? Even if I had thousands to spend, it STILL wouldn't have changed the outcome. :cry:

This IS the reality of owning an animal.

Threebars
Jan. 14, 2010, 01:36 PM
*sighs with relief*

I didn't want to reply to the other threads - scratch that - I wanted to reply, but held my fingers...

My girls are my family, down from 3 two years ago to 2 now.

The long and short is "quality" over quantity, and sadly, that includes saying the final goodbye as apposed to getting into vulgar amounts of debt, especially if that means choosing between having a place to live for the three of us 'left'.

I'm not a hard hearted bitch - I wept all the way to the vet (and even though it was a BLOCK away, I was so upset I got LOST!) and couldn't even be in the same room for the last goodbye, but I KNEW "this be right" for ALL the reasons.

greysandbays
Jan. 14, 2010, 01:38 PM
"Quality of life" is a nonsense phrase that has no meaning but gets tossed around by people wanting to think they've got "the answers" -- and that there actually IS a "right answer".

All you can do is the best you can do, knowing full well it's probably going to be wrong anway -- that there was a "better" choice that for some reason was not attainable or involves earlier choices that should have been made differently and can't be undone.

MistyBlue
Jan. 14, 2010, 02:02 PM
I'm just really hoping we don't end up losing this forum or the ability to discuss actual farm dogs or cats in this forum from all the non-farm-dog/cat threads that keep popping up on here despite the rules that dog or cat threads have to be about *working* farm dogs or barn cats. (not an outside/inside cat or a dog that might go to the barn with you once in a while) :no:

wendy
Jan. 14, 2010, 02:13 PM
well, but doesn't this apply to horses, working dogs, barn cats, etc.? all animals?


In my opinion, the quality of life of the animal is the most important thing! If the quality of life isn't going to be be very good, I will have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care is out of my personal ability, I have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care and quality of life are just right, I will have surgery on an animal.

well sort of but I try to take the "cost of care" out of the decision as much as possible by planning ahead- buy animal health insurance, sock away "emergency money". I would feel awful if I euthanized an animal that could have been completely cured if only I'd had a little bit more $$$; likewise, I'd feel awful putting an animal through a procedure that didn't do all that much for the animal just because I could afford it. The animal's age (possible future lifespan), health in general, and other considerations need to be taken into account.
Some people's "personal ability to pay" decisions seem very suspect to me. When a family can afford an expensive vacation every year, new cars, new tack, fancy toys, and yet they somehow can't afford to pay the vet a few hundred dollars for an almost certain cure for their animal's ailment one begins to doubt the wisdom of taking cost of care into account in the decision.

appaloosalady
Jan. 14, 2010, 02:26 PM
Some people's "personal ability to pay" decisions seem very suspect to me. When a family can afford an expensive vacation every year, new cars, new tack, fancy toys, and yet they somehow can't afford to pay the vet a few hundred dollars for an almost certain cure for their animal's ailment one begins to doubt the wisdom of taking cost of care into account in the decision.

I haven't seen anybody say that they wouldn't pay a few hundred dollars for an almost certain cure? Personal ability to pay is just that - personal. One person's limit is going to be different than someone else's even if their incomes were identical, it does not mean that one puts higher importance on their animal than the other does.

I had a rottweiller with cancer and spent more on x-rays, biopsies, and other tests then the surgery to remove it would have cost and then put her down without doing the surgery because we found out that the surgery would not fix the problem, only extend her suffering for another few months. The cost had nothing to do with the decision.

Ozone
Jan. 14, 2010, 02:27 PM
If my cat would have be ok, (mobile, happy, eating, drinking, playing, cleaning him self) then I would have done the $700.00 every three days blood transfusions. It would only make him stay alive and that was not fair to him or enough fix for me to keep him going through his disease - this is the point where I say euthenize.

I am all about dignity in animals. I never want them to suffer (if it could be helped) and if they are heading towards euthenization I will do what I can to get them that wish before it is too late and their dignity runs out.

I would sell my house to make sure my horse gets proper medical attention he should need before I give up on him. Same goes for my cats. We take them into our homes/barns for life (ok not so much horses but still many of us still do keep our horses for life) so we should be more then able to proivide, or do whatever it takes to help them when they need it.

You make an excellent point Wendy. Lavish vacations, cars, toys etc. So sad and so very true.

Moderator 1
Jan. 14, 2010, 02:27 PM
We've closed the thread this one was spun off from, as it was a bit of a stretch for this forum. Generally speaking, at this point we want to keep threads about pets in this forum basically restricted to topics that are specifically related to critters living in or frequenting a farm environment.

I can imagine that would encompass some topics that aren't about a *working* farm dog, per se, but purty darn close. :)

Yes, it's kind of a fuzzy definition, but we had way too many general pet threads inundating this forum, so we're trying to be accommodating without letting the forum totally go to the dogs. ;)

This thread addresses the topic more generally and can apply to horses and the rest of our farm dwellers, so feel free to continue the discussion.

We've been looking into some options for expanding some of the non-horsey discussion, but for now, we want to keep it limited.

Thanks!
Mod 1

cloudyandcallie
Jan. 14, 2010, 02:40 PM
I think it is a personal decision that should be made by the owner of an animal. I've had dogs and cats and horses whose sire/dam were top quality and in shows and listed in breed books, and I've had dogs and cats and horses I've rescued.

And in the 1980s, I owned by UGA vet school and Briarcliff Animal Hospital records, the 20,000 alley cat. So I guess you can see where I stand. BTW that 20000 cat lived to be 18 yoa, and she was in the experimental treatment program that was used to test ketaconozole before it was approved for humans. So anyone who has used ketaconozole should appreciate Dominica Lee.

(I also donate to humans in need and animal rescues--I paid 1000 in 2001 to send a guy and his mentally ill mother and 2 cats and one dog back to Wyoming when they wwere hitchhiking thru GA from FL.)

dressagetraks
Jan. 14, 2010, 02:50 PM
Agree. Quality of life is the #1 consideration. I let a horse go on too long once. His death still haunts me, and in his memory, I vowed to never grasp at straws again and always listen to the animal himself. A few years after his death, I had my heart cat PTS due to rapidly spreading cancer. I absolutely believe she did not know she was sick yet. Looked great, eyes clear, frisky and playful, absolutely herself. But there were multiple abdominal masses spreading, and the vet made his opinion clear that she would have a downhill course all the way from that point, that he did not think surgery would help (too many masses, all of which had appeared just in the last few weeks), and that she didn't have long. I chose to spare her that because of quality of life.

There do have to be cost considerations, though. I'm not Barbaro's owners, and I don't think I need to apologize to my animals for not being Barbaro's owners. They don't care; they just know if their needs are met and they are happy with me.

When I took my barn cat Emily in last fall totally 3-legged lame and had to leave her to be fit in when they could (I had to work; couldn't stay), the vet office asked me up front if there was a limit. Just an informational question, totally non judgmental. I appreciated them asking that in such a matter-of-fact manner. Yes, there was a limit, and I told them so. Emily's surgery that day fell below it.

I do agree that you need to make these decisions beforehand, without emotions attached. It's much easier to have your guidelines set firmly before you are faced with an acute situation.

Right now, I watch my black Veneziano mare. She had a fracture/dislocation of a hind fetlock, and she is only pasture sound now. That leg is unstable, per the vet, and you can move it ways never intended when you pick it up. But she shows no signs of pain (I think she gave herself a neurectomy at the time of injury), gets around well enough while protecting that leg, and gets up and down. I always watch her roll and watch her movements. She gets up on the same side always but has no problem flipping herself over to get there. Eyes clear, head up, interactive. I bought her to try to tap the genetic goldmine and get a few foals, and I'll breed her this year, but I will also watch her like a hawk as the weight and strain increase and also as she ages - that joint is a massive case of arthritis just waiting to happen. It looks like a squishy grapefruit. I don't see anything wrong, nor does the vet, with using her as a broodmare right now. When she tells me it's getting to be too much, I'll make the call, even if she's pregnant at the time. Quality of life has to come first.

tabula rashah
Jan. 14, 2010, 02:57 PM
I am very fortunate that I worked for my vet for several years before I got my current job. I know that she would do everything feasibly possible to "fix" any of my animals (horses, cats, etc) if something were to happen to one of them. With her, I could always work off payment- which is a huge relief to me. That being said- there's no way I could afford to do expensive colic surgery or something like that. I don't think that makes me a bad owner. If it came down to it, I would have to put aside the heartache and make the decision to euthanize if it came down to it.

NoDQhere
Jan. 14, 2010, 03:55 PM
I agree 100% with Mustangtrailrider. I believe quality of life is important. I also believe in "trying" just as much as possible, as long as the animal is comfortable AND one can afford it. We just had one of our barn cats PTS last week and it was a tough decision to make. He had a tumor on his face that was inoperable. He had become a house cat while we tried treatment. As long as he could eat we kept hoping it wasn't cancer, but when he began to quit eating we knew it was time. He had lived a good long life but it was still hard to make the final decision.

Ruth0552
Jan. 14, 2010, 04:15 PM
Oh... pfttt. I thought it said companion horses. I have 2 companion horses. I will do what I have to to keep them healthy and living, but if they become uncomfortable, or say, need surgery, forget it. I love them both dearly, but neither are suitable for riding and I'm going broke feeding them as it is.

I seem to have a knack for keeping things alive. Exactly how much longer do we think a 32 year old large pony will live? Feeding her is more than half of the monthly hay/grain/shavings budget.

Diamondindykin
Jan. 14, 2010, 04:25 PM
I agree 100% with Mustangtrailrider. I believe quality of life is important. I also believe in "trying" just as much as possible, as long as the animal is comfortable AND one can afford it. .

I am going through this right now with my gelding. Friends think I am nuts for spending so much to save him (Laminitis) when he will never be more than a pasture puff. That horse is EVERYTHING to me and I have the CASH to pay for his treatment. I would never put my families financial future in jeopardy but I would spend every dime that we had to give to save him.

mustangtrailrider
Jan. 14, 2010, 04:33 PM
Someone brought up the idea of an expense fund and insurance. I think that is a very good idea if that is important to you.

If any of my horses were to colic, I would not put them through surgery. I think the surgery is very risky and is not without a painful recovery. I think that the stress and pain during the colic episode and recover make surgery no an option to me. I hate to see animals in pain.

I would rather euthanize an animal, even if it could recover, because I hate to see it in pain. I am one to euthanize too soon vs too late. Others I know wait longer than I would. That is ok.

I have seen animals suffering while the owners were waiting for a little bit longer to try another treatment or another week or whatever. It kills me! I hate seeing the animal in pain.

Talk about dog, cat, horse, pig, cow, or chicken. It makes no difference to me. I love my animals, but I have my limits. I am not going to put myself into debt to prolong the inevitable. I am not going to cash out my savings to pay for a life extending surgery on my 10 yo lab mix. If the animal is going to be debilitated in the future as a result from the injury or illness, I will not do any more.

Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for our animals and ourselves is let go!

lolalola
Jan. 14, 2010, 11:22 PM
I know a woman who is losing her house because she spent the money on treating various illnesses of her Great Danes. She was running a rescue but many of the dogs weren't adoptable and not a lot of funds were coming in. Now the remaining dogs, who are healthy but older, will have to be euthanized as she goes through foreclosure. She apparently also spent her 401(k) funds on her dogs. It's sad, but you can't put yourself in this kind of position no matter how much you love your animals.

I work with rescues, and take in older animals. While some are adopted, others stay here and live out their natural lives. I think that's key - I can't take in a ten year old animal and spend $10,000 on vet care for it. It would mean no other elderly animals could be fostered. If they have something that is easily treatable, no problem, but surgeries and such are generally out of the question. Of course, it is different when you have had an animal its entire life and yours is the only home it has ever known. Never an easy decision, but the animal must not suffer.

GatoGordo
Jan. 15, 2010, 01:10 AM
I seem to have a knack for keeping things alive. Exactly how much longer do we think a 32 year old large pony will live? Feeding her is more than half of the monthly hay/grain/shavings budget.
Given how stubborn ponies are, I'll put my money on another 5 years. :winkgrin:

What really pains me is when an animal needs an aggressive, expensive, life-saving treatment (e.g., colic surgery) and the owners opt to try more conservative strategies with an understood poor prognosis for an animal who is already uncomfortable. On the one hand, I understand the motivation to try to save the animal because it's hard to let go. On the other hand, I've seen multiple animals suffer needlessly before an inevitable death because the owner was not ready to let go, AND the owner ended up spending money that maybe could have been spent on a future animal who DID have a chance. Sure, once in a while a miracle happens, but as an unattached observer, it's hard to see the animals suffer when there is little hope of recovery with conservative treatment.

As an aside, I've also seen situations that DID save the horse where the owner opted not to do (insert expensive but definitive diagnostic/treatment here) and ended up spending significantly MORE money bit by bit. E.g., a horse with a really bad impaction who is on fluids and pain relievers for 5 days instead of going for surgery (appaloosalady, this is not aimed at you, rather, just sharing something I have seen happen where they ended up spending significantly more money on the "cheap" treatment).

It is VERY important to have some sort of dollar limit in mind ahead of time, IMO, and stick to it, for a couple reasons. The emotions of the situation could lead you to spend more than you can really afford, leading to debt/compromising care for people and animals/etc. At the same time, you are more likely to get a good outcome if you commit to spending that amount at the outset than if you diddle around with cheaper treatments and THEN say OK to the more aggressive treatment (this is in acute situations especially). E.g., delaying referral for colic surgery.

It makes me sad when an animal dies because someone can't afford an expensive treatment, but it doesn't make me mad. What frustrates me is an inability to make a decision to get an animal out of suffering, one way or another, but I realize that I don't have all, or even very many, of the answers.

See, horse related!

mvp
Jan. 15, 2010, 08:57 AM
I don't care what people do with their own animals or how they come up with the plans or decisions they do.... so long as they are thought out.

I can't help thinking that mulling over the "where's the line" question and then actually having to walk on it is good practice for when the sufferer is not animal but human.

Here in the US, we are in the fortunate but untenable position of being able to get at least emergency medical care first and ask questions about paying for it later. Should that go on indefinitely, we will be spared thinking harder about bioethics. Should medical care become rationed (as it is for the vast majority of the world), we may have to look these questions square in the face. We'd rather not.

So every time I see someone sissy-ing out about decisions for their animals, I can't help but think they are preparing themselves (and collectively the rest of us, too) to continue allocating resources in a way that's unfair at best and unrealistic at worst.

Frankly, it's emotionally and ethically far easier to practice making tough decisions on animals rather than people. You might as well cut your teeth on the smaller problem.

JMHO. And yes, I have written instructions and limits in place for all my animals filed with their vets and the emergency contact people I chose. That's as much about keeping all of us "on the same page" as it is about keeping my own emotions and values in line.

SLW
Jan. 15, 2010, 09:18 AM
In light of the most recent threads about the cost of care and personal situations, how does one deal with the cost of treatment of a companion animal versus the quality of life?

In my opinion, the quality of life of the animal is the most important thing! If the quality of life isn't going to be be very good, I will have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care is out of my personal ability, I have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care and quality of life are just right, I will have surgery on an animal.

How do others decide?

My first concern is quality of life for the animal. Then comes quality of life for me/my family.

I feel that I have a responsibility to myself, my family, and my animals. If I can't take care of myself, I can't take care of my animals.

Your guidelines are pretty much the ones I use.

A year plus ago one of my kitties needed an enucleation. The specialty clinic gave me a quote of $1300-1500. A vet clinic in the city gave me a quote of $800 and the country vet gave me a quote of $300. Happy to report that the kitty had the surgery and is no different with just one eye- he is one hell of mouser- and I was happy with my choice of veterinarian services.

Colic surgery, not an option for my horses even though I've known countless horses who had the surgery and continued to live long active lives.

To each their own as long as the animal does not suffer. Denial of an animals condition by an owner does the most harm because not everything is fixable even with a bottomless purse. :(

appaloosalady
Jan. 15, 2010, 09:39 AM
As an aside, I've also seen situations that DID save the horse where the owner opted not to do (insert expensive but definitive diagnostic/treatment here) and ended up spending significantly MORE money bit by bit. E.g., a horse with a really bad impaction who is on fluids and pain relievers for 5 days instead of going for surgery (appaloosalady, this is not aimed at you, rather, just sharing something I have seen happen where they ended up spending significantly more money on the "cheap" treatment).



GatoGordo - I understand exactly what you are saying and don't take it personally at all :). This thought has crossed my mind during the last three days, trust me. In my situation, the horse is being kept very comfortable. If his pain could not be controlled he would be put down - end of story. I will not let my hopes of a recovery make an animal suffer. The cost of having the vet out for treatments 2x daily for the next ? days will certainly be quite high, but my vet lets me make payments ;). If the horse makes it, I will not begrudge a single penny of the cost, if he doesn't make it, I will be able to sleep well at night knowing that I did the best for him that the situation allowed, which is really all any of us should be asked to do.

Colic surgery in my area is limited to treatment at MSU and easily ends up costing over $10,000 when dealing with an impaction. It is very ugly, nasty surgery and I personally wouldn't put a horse through it even if I had unlimited sources, JMHO and I have nothing but well wishes for anyone that does go the surgical route, I just would not choose to do so.

mustangtrailrider
Jan. 15, 2010, 09:47 AM
Years and years ago....I think 15 years now...I was living in Roswell NM with my EX husband. We had just adopted a pair of racing greyhounds. We were newly weds with entry level jobs and not a lot of money in the bank. My greys were racing in a secure fenced in are with our whippet mix. My male grey tripped over my whippet mix at full speed. He did an end over end and broke his right front just above his metacarpal joint. He was screaming in pain. I was crying like a baby. MY Ex and I had already had the price limit discussion and I was devastated. This dog was my heart. We took dog to vet. Surgery was only option for any chance of quality of life. This dog was retired from the track for a broken hock on the same side. We did the surgery. My mom paid for it. Thank you mom. That dog lived for a nother 7 years without any problems on that joint, unlike the arthritis in his hock. The surgery was over $1000. I understand limits. I was too emotional. Had my mom not paid for it....I don't know what I would have done then, but I would have found a way! This dog did not suffer and he had a great quality of life.

If one of my dogs now needed the same....you bet, I would do it. The cost vs quality of life ration has to be balanced.

Eg. If my 10 yo lab mix shattered his pelvis, requiring surgery, I wouldn't do it. If he could tolerate crate confinement and pain meds for recovery, I would give it a try as long as he was willing. He is a great dog that loves life. He has many years left.

If my 4 yo pit mix broke her back and needed cage rest and steroids. Yes I would if she had a promising recovery. If she was in agonizing pain and no hope, I would not do surgery to save her back. I would let her go peacefully.

I really do not like it when my small animal vet uses guilt trips in our conversation about treatment options for my animals.

Eg. My pit mix got bit by a snake. The left side of her face became very swollen. She was taken to the vets office for an I & D, drain placement, antibiotics, & steroids. She did not tolerate the antibiotics nor steroids. I pulled her off of the steroids after the last dose of antibiotics. Two weeks later, on Thanksgiving friday, her face swelled up again. More antibiotics and steroids....different type. It was a phone consultation. I was glad to do it. I had the discussion with vet about future of this injury. The further course of treatment would have been x ray(to check for foreign body), specialized digital imaging(very expensive), and exploratory surgery (very expensive). Dog was very miserable when her head flared up. I had already spent $2000 on this dog or because of this dog in the past year. If this came back a 3rd time, I was prepared to euthanize dog. I told this to vet. Vet actually said that if I had insurance on her, it wouldn't have been so expensive and I would not have to make decisions like this based on money.

Hello, the decision was based on the quality of life vs cost of treatment. There was not guarantee that a cause would have been found. Dog couldn't see out of eye when head was swollen. She couldn't live on Antibiotics for every flare up.

Long story short, after the second course of antibiotics and steroids, dog is back to normal without problems. We are very happy to still have her with us. She is an awesome mutt. I just hated seeing her miserable, in pain, and suffering. I felt Euthanasia was more humane than putting her through more surgery, drugs, and unknown future.

Sorry this got so long. I love my animals, but hate seeing any in pain.

BelladonnaLily
Jan. 15, 2010, 11:52 AM
[QUOTE=mustangtrailrider;4618170]

My first concern is quality of life for the animal. Then comes quality of life for me/my family.

QUOTE]

I agree with you for the most part but I'm unclear on this part...are you saying you put the quality of life for your PET above that of your FAMILY? Or was that a typo...

Iron Horse Farm
Jan. 15, 2010, 12:18 PM
OMG ......this opens a whole new can of worms for me as a vet tech. I am sick to death of the self righteous claiming how much they love their animals and "won't let them suffer" so they euthanize. This would be fine if it were true, but the people who use this tactic at the ER are bringing us puppies with Parvo, cats with abscesses and young hit by car animals with easily repairable/cage rest type fractures. Oooh, and then they call all of their friends to "come and say goodbye" and "share their pain now". Give me a break.

I have nothing but respect for the owner who won't put their 15 year old cat through an abdominal explore, but if you won't fix a simple fracture because "it will hurt", then you probably don't need to have animals.

Call me a sucker, over the years I have taken many of these home and currently have 6 :eek: canines that were signed over to avoid euthanasia. 4 k-9s (all puppies) with broken pelvises that required cage rest. 1 puppy that was pregnant (they didn't want babies) and 1 epileptic Rat Terrier that the owner "didn't want to put through medicating for life".

lcw579
Jan. 15, 2010, 01:33 PM
For me it is age of pet, quality of life after treatment and the ability of the animal to tolerate the treatment.

We had a young cat escape and get hit by a car. Oldest daughter and I were at Rolex, cat belongs to middle daughter and I get the frantic call as they are on the way to the emergency vet. Husband is worried about cost and how much he is to spend as the cat is taken back for evaluation. He was actually pretty sweet since he sheepishly said "I don't want to be cheap but they are tossing some big numbers around". This is a young, healthy cat with years ahead of him so I tell him to hand over his credit card and tell them to save the cat. He was even asked if he wanted to sign a DNR or the kitty equivalent. Cat survivedthe night and had surgery on his leg. He now has a plate and screws and a wire in his back leg and has lost sight in one eye but he was a good patient, healed quickly and is a wonderful boy. A very expensive boy but worth every penny. He is the light of my daughter's life and I don't regret a dime spent on him.

At the time we had an ancient cat, the carpet pi**er I've mentioned before, who had multiple health problems. He hated to be medicated in any way and was quietly fading away. I felt very lucky that my small animal vet never pressured us to try any of the expensive, invasive treatments available on him. As he said, those were for people with too much disposable income and a much younger animal. I appreciate that he recognizes the temperment and age of a pet when he makes his treatment recommendations.

My standard poodle will put up with anything and is a model patient. The rescue mutt is nervous wreck. These are all things I have considered when I think about what kind of extraordinary measures I will or won't take for one of my furry friends.

mustangtrailrider
Jan. 15, 2010, 03:16 PM
OMG ......this opens a whole new can of worms for me as a vet tech. I am sick to death of the self righteous claiming how much they love their animals and "won't let them suffer" so they euthanize. This would be fine if it were true, but the people who use this tactic at the ER are bringing us puppies with Parvo, cats with abscesses and young hit by car animals with easily repairable/cage rest type fractures.

Iron Horse, your comments make me laugh! I understand that you have seen far more than the average pet owner has. I understand that you have seen people euthanize their pets for reasons that seem trivial to you....hell, trivial to most people. As a pet owner/caretaker, it is their choice to do so. The one thing that I will say is that at least they brought their pet in to be euthanized rather than taking it to animal control or worse yet, leave it to die in the back yard.

Your definition of a simple cage rest recovery is different to you than it is to me or to the owner of the pet. I crate my animals off and on. It is no big deal to my dogs at all. They are used to it. If Fido is a backyard dog either fenced outside all of the time or chained to a tree 24/7, a cage rest recovery is cruel to me....maybe not to you, but it seems cruel to me.

That is my opinion.

I have had a puppy with Parvo through no fault of his our/his own. He went through treatment. He was at the vet for 5 days in a cage with an iv and no company. He was 7 weeks old. I don't think euthanasia would have been cruel for him. I think it would have been kinder. His care in vet "ICU" was deplorable. He would have been better off at him in our bathtub than there. He was in nasty condition when he got home. I felt guilty as hell that he had to be there. I would have recovered him at home, but I was having major surgery at the time. I would never put a puppy through that again!

A simple cage rest is that...simple. I don't mind the care that is involved. I am a nurse in surgery. I am used to doing a lot of things that are less than "nice". I can do a lot of treatment on my own animals and actually enjoy the hands on process. My animals will never go without care because I don't want to "deal with it".

Quality of life of the animal must be weighed with my/family's quality of life. What I mean by that is: I will not risk my financial future to save any of my animals. If I cannot put bread on a table I don't have, it does my animal no good. I will not jeapardize my financial stability to provide treatment of my animals. Now, that means different things to different people. I am happy to take out a care credit card if I feel that the situation warrants it. I will be happy to do so!

Don't worry Iron Horse, you won't ever have to care for my animal because it has a simple fracture or parvo or other injury. I will do so myself!

If the injury is so severe that there is minimal chance of recovery/quality of life, then yes, I will euthanize.

What someone does with their own pet is pretty much their own business! We each make choices that make no sense to others. If my animals are happy otherwise, it is no one else's decision or business what I do!

harveyhorses
Jan. 15, 2010, 03:22 PM
I just had my 24 yo more PTS. Her hooves were shot. She was putting almost no weight on bad hoof, with an abcess, and her good hoof showed a fracture on her coffin bone. She was eating, realtively happy, but had been in her stall for over three weeks. Only one person questioned why I had her put down, and they just said I should turn her out. To be in HOW much pain? If there had been something to make her comfortable, I would have done it, but just letting horses hobble around because it's cruel to put them down, just defies my kind of logic.

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jan. 15, 2010, 03:27 PM
In light of the most recent threads about the cost of care and personal situations, how does one deal with the cost of treatment of a companion animal versus the quality of life?

In my opinion, the quality of life of the animal is the most important thing! If the quality of life isn't going to be be very good, I will have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care is out of my personal ability, I have an animal euthanized.

If the cost of care and quality of life are just right, I will have surgery on an animal.

How do others decide?

My first concern is quality of life for the animal. Then comes quality of life for me/my family.

I feel that I have a responsibility to myself, my family, and my animals. If I can't take care of myself, I can't take care of my animals.

Currently, I'm tired of watching people keep their ancient dogs alive by any means possible when the poor thing should be let go. I'm talking about 16 year old large dog that can't walk without falling over, severe arthritis, and has open sores/cancer (in addition to tons of lumps that interfere with movement). The dog that can't come in the house anymore (wets allover) and has to live in the garage, alone, after being a house dog for the last 15 years.

I'm erasing the rest of what I had to say...I think you get my point.

mustangtrailrider
Jan. 15, 2010, 03:40 PM
Most people in this day and age cannot deal with death. It is not a part of our life anymore. More and more people die in hospitals and nursing homes now. Very few people die at home.

A lot of peole want their pet to die naturally so they do not have to make that decision. They do not want that responsibility! They do not wish to be in charge of "killing" an animal!

I cannot understand it either. Animal is miserable. Animal would die if nature had its way. Let it go!

Janet
Jan. 15, 2010, 07:39 PM
The dog that can't come in the house anymore (wets allover) and has to live in the garage, alone, after being a house dog for the last 15 years. In that case the OWNER is destroying the dog's quality of life.

I now have one incontinent near-end-of-life dog, and had another one two years ago. They remaind(ed) house dogs and we found ways to deal with it.

MsM
Jan. 16, 2010, 08:08 AM
Affording treatment can be an issue. Most people have a limit if they dont have unlimited insurance. I try not to judge - but of course I do! ;) To me, if someone gets an appropriate veterinary opinion and is not of the " well thats too much its only a backyard horse or mut, I'll just get another one" opinion, I can understand their decision even though I may not agree.
My parents chose to euthanize their dog when he needed daily insulin shots. The dog was shy about being handled and would likely have to be pulled out from under the couch. So when his quality of life declined they had him PTS. I likely would have tried the shots, but I respect their decision and the dog did not suffer, just lived a shorter life than he might have had. My current horse has been an adventure in veterinary medicine. I have spent many thousands of dollars on his treatments over the years (even if I had had insurance at the start, it would have been cancelled for most of his problems long ago!) But he is designated as "no colic surgery" at the boarding stable. This is primarily a QOL issue, but money does enter into it as well.

Two things owners do that I believe are wrong:
1. Getting a horse or pet and then pitying themselves when they "cant afford" to treat what should have been forseeable (or often preventable) issues and the "mean, money-grubbing vet" wont treat for free. And then they go out and get another animal! :eek: Now I am talking about people who have not lost jobs, etc but who dont think just an animal is worth paying for treatment.
2. People who refuse to see or acknowledge their animal's suffering. Or who let their animal suffer because they cant bear to lose it. Or because it is Nature (Fine - Nature is not Disney - I'll let a Mountain Lion kill and eat it then! :rolleyes:)

FlashGordon
Jan. 16, 2010, 10:21 AM
For me it is age of pet, quality of life after treatment and the ability of the animal to tolerate the treatment.



Agree with this.

Spent a lot of time mulling this stuff over the last few years, first after the tragic and unexpected death of my lovely and seemingly healthy horse, and then again when I took on a neglected geriatric horse shortly after first horse's death.

In the first situation, I hate to say it because it is almost selfish... if there had been even a chance to save him I would have. I would have spent every dime I did and did not have. Maybe to his detriment... maybe it was a blessing he passed of his own accord and did not leave me to make that choice.

With the second, my old man seems to always keep me guessing. Some weeks/months he looks amazing, other times he struggles with health issues. It has been a constant balancing act, weighing options, watching him, letting him dictate how far we go and how much we do. At the moment he is fat and happy, so as long as that continues we are all good.

Don't think there are any hard and fast rules that apply to every person, every animal, and every situation. As some others said, all you can do is the best you can, given the info at hand.

ReSomething
Jan. 16, 2010, 05:39 PM
My MIL kept a dog alive a little longer than the family thought she should - the dog was nursed tenderly, no banishment for him, but he was losing weight, subdued, dotting around on one hind leg due to hip dysplasia, had an area set up inside the house for urination as she couldn't afford some of the items available to handle that - she really couldn't afford anything besides physically caring for him and the rest of us felt he was more than ready to rest. She finally let him go last week.

When Snort came to us I had a sit down and talk with the person I got him from. We discussed his age, mid 20's, and a reasonable standard of care. So he gets his Pergolide and his teeth done, and his feet trimmed, but for any catastrophic painful illness such as a colic or founder euth is the best option. I do worry that he will be ill but not in pain, at that point I have a rough amount in mind.

Cats on the other hand - ye gads, I had a $200 dead cat in 1974 and I never got any better at saying "no more expense", that and vet expenses sneak up on you. I would have pumped more money into one cat if there had been any hope of survival - but he hated needles and dialysis was out of the question.

IMHO if you are going to be a responsible animal owner you need to have a plan of action, some point past which you will not go, or you will make whatever decision works for your situation. Making no decision and letting things get really bad is the same as making a decision to let things get really bad.

GatoGordo
Jan. 17, 2010, 02:09 AM
IMHO if you are going to be a responsible animal owner you need to have a plan of action, some point past which you will not go, or you will make whatever decision works for your situation. Making no decision and letting things get really bad is the same as making a decision to let things get really bad.

I agree 100%.

Appaloosalady, I completely respect your decision to keep your guy at home and try to keep him comfortable. I hope he is doing well. I was thinking about that more in the sense of the importance of having a plan/making up your mind. I'm SURE that you are not spending or putting your horse through half as much as what I've seen some people do who "didn't want to put the horse through x" or "didn't want to spend money on x".

As mentioned above, everyone has their own threshold of "is it worth it?" in regards to the horse's suffering and future QOL, as well as finances. I used to think that colic surgery was a bit much, but for simple things (no resections) most of the horses I see (I work at a horsepital) bounce back pretty quickly and are off fluids and searching your pockets within two days. That's just my opinion, though, and it is getting more defined as I learn more about the effects different surgeries have on horses, and there are some surgeries I would not put my own horse through (e.g., large colon resection).

As an aside, $10,000 for a simple impaction surgery?! :eek: Around here (mid-Atlantic), if things go well, a simple displacement or impaction could get out of the door for half that (assuming no complications), and the $10K-$15K is for horses that require resections and are SICK.

wendy
Jan. 17, 2010, 10:43 AM
I'm also a little surprised at how many people just say "no" to even considering a simple colic surgery. The one case I was intimately involved with it cost around $3k, the horse was back running around happy as could be in next to no time. Considering many people are willing to pay several thousand for a saddle, or that board n training for a single year can cost triple that, or consider the purchase price for a nice horse; weigh the cost of the surgery and the usually excellent outcome vs. the price it seems a bit odd people just rule it out.

ReSomething
Jan. 17, 2010, 11:36 AM
I'm also a little surprised at how many people just say "no" to even considering a simple colic surgery. The one case I was intimately involved with it cost around $3k, the horse was back running around happy as could be in next to no time. Considering many people are willing to pay several thousand for a saddle, or that board n training for a single year can cost triple that, or consider the purchase price for a nice horse; weigh the cost of the surgery and the usually excellent outcome vs. the price it seems a bit odd people just rule it out.
I can't afford a several thousand dollar saddle, nice horse, etc. If I could, I would have major medical and the surgery would be a given. I am interested to know from Gato Gordo that there are various "levels" of colic surgery - that gives me a little more information about my options and may change my decision making process.

coloredhorse
Jan. 17, 2010, 11:54 AM
With large animals, another factor that must be considered is ease of access to surgery/etc. Where I used to live, I was within an hour's drive or less of three -- yes, THREE -- outstanding large animal hospitals. In the case of a colic, fracture or other ailment that could be reasonably fixed with surgery, that was a fairly easy trailer ride for the horse and close enough for me to oversee a period of in-hospital aftercare and make whatever decisions necessary with minimal fuss.

Where I now live, I am looking at a 3+ hour trailer ride. So if one of my horses were to colic, I can't say that she would get that colic surgery at a mere cost of $3K. Why? Because I am not just looking at the cost of the surgery. I am looking at subjecting my loyal equine companion, who is already suffering, to a long trailer ride ... and by the time we got to the hospital, the prognosis could have changed radically. Even saying the surgery was a screaming success, I am then faced with a long distance between me and my post-surgery horse for at least a few days. Heavy shit can go down post-surgery. Can I reasonably be expected to make critical decisions when I am not physically there, seeing the care, seeing the horse for myself? No. So I would have to choose to leave her there and trust in vets with whom I have no regular relationship, or to abandon my other horse (not to mention work and family obligations) for the short term and stay with the ill one.

And regarding the one horse left at home; what impact will the stress of being left without her BFF for more than one day have? Do I stall my usually out 24/7 horse to avoid having her leap out of her pasture seeking company? (Yes, both have done this in the past!) Will the stress cause that horse to colic, and if so, will my less-experienced husband be up to handling it? Will it cause him undue stress?

At the most basic level, I agree with mtr and many others who have posted here. I'm not averse to getting extensive, agressive, costly treatments for a good prognosis of recovery to a reasonable quality of life ... provided that will not bankrupt the human family. My horse that is eligible for insurance is insured against such an eventuality; my other is too old. However, there are a huge number of factors that must be weighed very quickly during a crisis ... this is true for everyone. The decision to euthanize or seek aggressive treatment in a life-threatening illness is a personal, deeply emotional one that does not have a "right" or "wrong" answer even within one situation, certainly not comparing this situation to that. I would never judge another's decision, whether I agreed with it in my own head or not.

mustangtrailrider
Jan. 17, 2010, 12:45 PM
CH, I see that you stated at the most basic level you agree with what I and others have posted. Can you possibly elaborate?

I state many things simply because I lack the patience and eloquence to state them any different. What is in my head/heart often are different than what comes out on this computer screen.

Many things are factored in a decision such as whether to treat or not for a major colic/illness/etc.

So yes, simply stated, everything has to be weighed!

coloredhorse
Jan. 17, 2010, 03:37 PM
Hi mtr! I hope all is well with you and you are getting out to enjoy our emergence from the deep freeze!

More elaborately, I think you stated very well what the most basic considerations must be when determining how to treat (or not) catastrophic injury or illness in our animals. I will first ask this question: Is the treatment likely to yield a good prognosis, defined as the animal returning to an acceptable level of physical comfort and the ability to live what is a "normal" life for that individual? I will then ask the second question: Can the family finances absorb the cost of this course of treatment without irreparable harm?

If the answer to those is yes, or possibly even a definite maybe, then all the factors associated with each individual situation have to be assessed. Different people are going to have different criteria generally, and in response to variations in the particular situation. For instance, for my horses, the travel distance to a competent hospital is a huge issue. I know several people who have made that late-night-driving-like-the-hounds-of-hell-are-chasing you trip and been happy to do it. I have to question, for my animals, if that trip, the surgery, hospital stay, trip back, and recovery regimen at home is going to be too hard on them. Others feel differently. I don't agree, but I will not judge them for their thoughtful conclusions.

So that's what I meant as far as agreeing at a basic level. There are a lot of posters here who seem to agree about answering those two basic questions first. From there, though, there are a gazillion ways of looking at different factors that may weigh into this sort of decision.

My thought processes are similar for my small animals, except that tossing them into the car for a 15-minute-max drive to either the veterinary ER or our regular vet is not as big a deal as the 3+ hour trailer ride for the horses. I will do what is in the animal's best interest, and I won't hesitate to euthanize if that is what is in their best interest. I'm definitely of the "better a day too soon than a minute too late" ilk.

Is that clearer?

Dressage Art
Jan. 17, 2010, 09:57 PM
In my opinion, the quality of life of the animal is the most important thing! If the quality of life isn't going to be be very good, I will have an animal euthanized.

Agree.

I was dealt a very difficult hand by life: my 11 year old mare fractured her neck. It's a tiny fracture of a bone fragment, but due to swelling she had some neurological symptoms for 3 weeks. I'm giving her a chance to recover: a year with a full medical support. But if she will not be happy and pain free I will have to make a dreaded decision. And I really, really don't want to make it. It makes me sick even thinking about it.

GatoGordo
Jan. 17, 2010, 10:59 PM
ReSomething, yes, cost of colic surgery (including subsequent hospitalization) varies DRAMATICALLY with the type of problem that the horse has. For any who are curious:

Things that drive up cost:
- time on the table (surgeon's time and anesthesia)
- time spent on fluids -- the cost adds up if the horse is on 2-3L/hr for several days!
- post-operative ileus and small intestinal inflammation -- These horses may have to live with a nasogastric tube in for a couple days after surgery and are labor-intensive (refluxing every couple hours), driving up cost; also, fluids lost through the NGT have to be replaced IV.

The Big One:
- systemic compromise, shock, endotoxemia, ischemic bowel -- These horses require dramatically more resources to get them stabilized before and during surgery and to keep them going in the immediate post-operative period while trying to prevent laminitis. The SICK horses have high fluid requirements, are on multiple drugs, require intense monitoring and frequent bloodwork, and need plasma to replace protein losses and protect against the effects of endotoxemia (can be $750-1000 for plasma alone).

Simple displacements or large colon torsions in which the intestine is not yet compromised from decreased blood flow (with a good surgeon) might be on the table for as little as an hour. I've seen horses who were off fluids and eating small amounts of hay within 24 hours and went home a couple days later; their bill would be the smallest.

A large colon impaction requiring an enterotomy entails a somewhat longer time on the table to flush things out, but these horses usually have an excellent prognosis and bounce back quickly (= lower cost).

If a horse has a strangulating obstruction, the cost starts climbing; quotes of $10K-$15K are common. If they just need a small piece of small intestine resected, the cost for surgery will be higher but the post-operative course is often fairly smooth. If they need a big section of small intestine resected or a large colon resection, they are usually on the table even longer and are often sick as hell afterwards (although this may reflect the fact that they were sick as hell before the surgery).

Of course, horses don't always pay attention to how WE think they'll do after surgery.

AiryFairy
Jan. 17, 2010, 11:24 PM
Right now, I watch my black Veneziano mare. She had a fracture/dislocation of a hind fetlock, and she is only pasture sound now. That leg is unstable, per the vet, and you can move it ways never intended when you pick it up. But she shows no signs of pain (I think she gave herself a neurectomy at the time of injury), gets around well enough while protecting that leg, and gets up and down. I always watch her roll and watch her movements. She gets up on the same side always but has no problem flipping herself over to get there. Eyes clear, head up, interactive. I bought her to try to tap the genetic goldmine and get a few foals, and I'll breed her this year, but I will also watch her like a hawk as the weight and strain increase and also as she ages - that joint is a massive case of arthritis just waiting to happen. It looks like a squishy grapefruit. I don't see anything wrong, nor does the vet, with using her as a broodmare right now. When she tells me it's getting to be too much, I'll make the call, even if she's pregnant at the time. Quality of life has to come first.

See, I think breeding a horse in that condition with an ankle so unstable it can 'move in directions never intended' and making her carry the weight of a foal would be utterly cruel. One thing to make her comfortable and harvest her eggs to keep her gene pool going, but to breed her seems to fly in the face of "quality of life" coming first - jmo.

mustangtrailrider
Jan. 18, 2010, 08:44 AM
CH, we are doing very well. I have ridden every day this long weekend except Saturday, when we went out of town. I am riding today in the Gopher Preserve. I love my mare. She is awesome! I rode my other gelding, and he is doing great! He would love a new home!

CH, thank you for explaining yourself more deeply. I really appreciate it. My considerations are much the same. You stated it very clearly and precisely. It is easy to agree with those criteria. I would be the last to judge anyone for making that decision. I have have had to make the decision a couple of times in the last year and a half. It is never easy.

Mtn trails
Jan. 18, 2010, 12:00 PM
Some people's "personal ability to pay" decisions seem very suspect to me. When a family can afford an expensive vacation every year, new cars, new tack, fancy toys, and yet they somehow can't afford to pay the vet a few hundred dollars for an almost certain cure for their animal's ailment one begins to doubt the wisdom of taking cost of care into account in the decision.

You must be talking about my neighbor. They have more money than God, have a lovely house, pour thousands into the yard, put up a new 6 stall barn and new wood fencing in the last couple of years. They have 3 horses, two regular size, and one mini. They never have their feet done, never have the vet out for any reason or vaccinate, never worm, etc. Basically ignore them except to feed them and don't supply bare bones care but spend thousands and thousands on everything else.