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true story!) for another time. No, I’m talking about the pet owner who has real issues affording the necessary, recommended care for a sick pet, whether it’s hundreds or thousands of dollars. Although it’s widely available, health insurance for pets, for the most part, hasn’t caught on, so veterinary bills are mostly paid out-of-pocket. I’ve had clients consider taking out a second mortgage to pay for veterinary care. I’ve seen people max-out credit cards. And I’ve watched caring owners make the difficult decision to euthanize a pet because they couldn’t afford, or couldn’t justify, the cost of treatment. These can be heart-wrenching decisions, and they often have to be made on very short notice, when emotions are running high.

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So back to the original question: “What should I do, Doc?” If I know nothing about the client’s situation - home life, finances, offering a 10% discounts on employment, and so on - the answer is usually, “It depends.” trees, herbs , plants , all gardenOn so many things. In cases with no major impediments to ing needs. treating a serious or chronic disease, I give the owner my recommendation for the best medical or surgical treatment available. Sometimes that’s at my office, and sometimes it’s through a referral to a board-certified veterinary specialist for advanced diagnostics, high-end orthopedic surgery, chemotherapy, cataract removal, or even a cardiac pace-maker! Most of the time, though, it’s not that easy. The same patient with the same problem, be it a puppy with a birth defect, a middle-aged cat with diabetes, or an older dog with cancer, might receive very different courses of treatment depending on the owner’s life situation, financial status, philosophical approach to his pets, or many other factors. This may sound unfortunate or even outrageous to some, but it’s a fact of life in veterinary medicine. Sometimes, I feel more comfortable with the question, “What would you do if this was your own pet, Doc?” I’m glad to give my opinion regarding how I think a given treatment plan is likely to turn out. Sometimes it’s based on hard scientific data (which I believe in strongly), sometimes on gut feeling. Usually, it’s based on both. I’m flattered when my clients hold my opinion in high regard, so I feel privileged to engage with them in that conversation. In some situations, I give my clients permission, so to speak, not to go further with treatments; in others, I encourage them to pursue additional diagnostics, always conscious of the need to balance the desire to help with the realities of life. Just because we can do something doesn’t always mean we have to do it. I’d like to think I’m a proactive veterinarian, and I hope that my desire to help a patient is always tempered by realism. There is so much we can do now as veterinarians, but aggressive and extensive care may not be the best for a particular patient and family. My experiences through the years with my own companion animals, and how they’ve related to the rest of my family (three grown kids, but I still have a 15-year-old at home) have helped me understand my clients’ states of mind when faced with a pet’s illnesses. I’ve been in that same tough spot, making decisions about treatments, and how much is enough. So when they ask me, “What should I do?’ or “What would you do?”, I tell them that, in my opinion, the benefit to the patient and to the owner must both be taken into consideration. You should ask your veterinarian the same types of questions when serious problems arise. We don’t always have all the answers, but we try our hardest to advise you on the proper course of action for you and your pet. Ultimately, though, you’re in charge.

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Slidell Magazine & Chamber Business Connection - 82nd Edition  
Slidell Magazine & Chamber Business Connection - 82nd Edition  
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