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Discussion Starter #1
We all love our dogs. We probably would not have them if we did not.

Sometimes things go wrong with our dogs and the answer is to go to the vet. I am fortunate to have access to excellent, practical veterinary care.

While we all want answers as to "what is wrong" when we go to the vet, often times finding out can be highly expensive and, at times, highly invasive. At that point a decision needs to be made.

I usually ask the following questions:

1) Dr. XXX what do you believe the problem is? If we pursue the diagnosis, what will my dog go through and how much will it cost me?

2.) What would be the treatment and cost of treatment for that problem? Is the problem life threatening?

3.) What will be the outcome if we do nothing (assuming the animal is not in discomfort)?

4.) What is the least we can do for this animal now based on what you think the problem is?

5.) If we choose treatment X and monitoring instead of treatment Y with surgery, what are the risks?

Sometimes the treatment is the same regardless of the diagnosis (IOWs the answer is drug X if the problem is A, B or C). If that is the case my vet and I will often jump to treatment and see what happens in a specified number of days. If the dog gets better, we have saved both the dog and myself from invasive testing, hospital stays and costs. It is worth it to ask.. as the more you know the better the chances of making a decision that is best for both the dog and for me as the owner.

I have health insurance on one dog. I have an older dog with no insurance. I have a veterinary budget for the older dog (and a copay budget for the insured dog). If my older dog runs into something that is expensive and requires on going management OR runs into something that is fatal if untreated and treatment is expensive and will be invasive or terribly uncomfortable and will not extend her life for years I will make decisions.. In both these cases I will ask if I can make her comfortable and the least costly way to do that.

If there is no choice other than something very expensive I will ask for something to make her immediately comfortable and select euthanasia as the most fair option for both the dog and my finances.

With the insured dog I would go a bit further based on both the fact of insurance and his age and his drive to be active. Even here it the outcome will be a dog living in pain for the rest of his life or having a poor quality of life I would decide on the best option for the dog (PTS).

My point is that we are not all overly blessed with ready cash. We love our dogs for sure but when things go wrong it is wise to ask your vet questions. Sometimes we can avoid excessive costs and still end up with a positive outcome (in fact, that has happened more often than not in my case with my vet). Sometimes the decision we make must be a financial one and sometimes we make decisions based on risk.

Maybe my perspective is a bit different having been a livestock farmer for a number of years and having been through several hard decisions and also having made decisions that cost a great deal of money only to have the same outcome.

No matter what, the decision is always up to you, the owner keeping the best interests of the dog in mind. No one should be vilified for their choice, whatever that is.
 

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Something to think about: if the only people who should own dogs are those who can live up to your(general you) standard of care, what happens to the dogs in the lesser homes, who takes them in, and what of the future, is less dogs on the planet, only loved dogs in well-off homes with full veterinary care on hand, premium food or raw if that's the standard, etc what of the remaining population. Where do they go? Are they better off dead? Are they better off never having been born? Do we want the dog population reduced to only the numbers that can go to those homes that will give state of the art vet care, and can afford a certified behaviourist for any problems that may arise?
My own dog came from a home of extreme poverty. I know he was loved, I am grateful of that, and shmamed by the irony that those people live an unknown life of extreme poverty with very little choice while I play choice based training games with my dog in a nice little house that I have the privilege of owning.
 

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As difficult decisions, one of the most upsetting is Euthanasia.

Sometimes this is the best choice for the situation considering the animal, the family and the budget.

Sorry, budget is always a constraint in making decisions.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
For most people money counts. I think quality of life counts too. If you are presented with a dog with cancer and invasive surgery and radiation or chemo is going take large resources you don't have and give you 6 months.. of which two months the dog is sick.. and doing nothing will give you 3 good months.. with pain management.. it may be a choice worth considering.

Or if you have an older or injured dog that cannot use its rear legs.. do you spring for a wheel chair and know that pressure soars are very real and may require time in a hyperbaric chamber at great cost...

I am saying it is individual decision.

If you are poor and want a dog learn as much as you can to keep the dog healthy and prevent illness and recognize you may have to let go if something goes wrong. If the dog has has quality of life with you and that life is shorter because of lack of funds for veterinary care, I say that is OK as long as you can make the decision to euthanize and have the funds for that if need be.
 

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Agree.

It is our responsibility as loving, caring pet owners to provide the best life for the pet within our means.

I have witnessed several homeless with a very loyal dog. You could see the joy, care and love they gave to each other. I'm sure these pet owners provided the best care for their pet within their means. Yes, the situation was dire for both, but it was clear they were bonded and would be in worse condition without each other.

I lifted a helping hand to these partners when I had the chance. One pair I was able to provide a 5 lb bag of dog food and a meal for the owner. Another pair, I offered to take the dog to the Vet for vaccinations and a meal for the owner.......sadly he refused the vax for his dog and he shared his meal with his partner.
 

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I agree that owning and loving a dog means making tough decisions at some point. It's just part of keeping and loving them. And weighing cost vs. probable outcome, age, etc., is part of making the decisions. How far I'd go for a 3-year-old is going to be very different from what I'd do with the same condition in an 11-year-old.

However, perhaps because of my own experiences with rescue intake, fostering, and adopting out, I disagree with people in strapped circumstances deciding to have a dog. I saw too many dogs abandoned at vets because people couldn't pay the vet bill (and too many of those were puppies with parvo because they'd never been vaccinated); too many unwanted litters because people "couldn't afford" to spay (and this isn't the middle of nowhere, there are low cost spay and neuter clinics around here). Among the things people should know before getting a dog is the cost of decent care and the potential cost of problems. Responsible dog ownership means knowing you can meet a dog's basic needs, not dump it back on a rescue group or shelter because you can't.
 
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