Pet Owners More Likely To Choose Advanced Treatment Over Euthanasia

In the UK, pet owners are more likely to elect advanced, specialist veterinary treatments over euthanising their pet when they are very ill. The phrase “to put him out of his misery” is dying out.

Bay Area Veterinary Surgery
Picture courtesy: Bay Area Veterinary Surgery. Is the same trend occurring in the USA?
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

The demand for advanced veterinary treatments in Britain has doubled amongst the major veterinary businesses to an annual turnover of more than £1bn.

The turnover of the hundred largest veterinary practices increased from £635m in 2010 to £1.36bn in 2014. The information comes from a leading financial provider, LDF.

As the demand for specialist veterinary treatment grows, veterinarians are specialising in cardiology, oncology and orthopaedics. Some focus on prosthetics and dialysis.

I think this development is interesting because it indicates that people are treating their cats and dogs as family members. The medical treatment that they receive is very similar to the treatment received by a human family member. In fact, today, almost anything by way of medical treatment can be delivered to a pet in the same way that it can be delivered to a human.

Back in the old days a person might say “it is only a cat” or “it’s only a dog” (this still occurs, of course). The meaning was that it is not worth spending lots of money on a cat or dog and the best thing to do is to put him down when seriously ill. Times are changing and overall this must be a good thing.

It appears that more people are treating their cats and dogs as a true family member rather than as an accessory to the family. The danger, though, is that people will more often anthropomorphise their pet which can bring problems. For example, the expectations of people who look upon their pet as a little human can be misplaced. They can end up expecting their cat or dog to behave in a human manner, rather than in the manner of a dog or a cat. The person may become disappointed. This, in turn, may lead to abandonment of their pet, or an unsatisfactory relationship.

Feline acupuncture
Feline acupuncture. Courtesy of Tree House Holistic Veterinary House Calls

Robin Hargreaves, senior vice president of the British Veterinary Association said:

“Clients ask me what can we do and my opening line is often, ‘pretty much anything that can be done to you or me can be done to this dog or cat.'”

Mr Hargreaves said that social attitudes had changed. People no longer face ridicule when spending a lot of money on their animals.

“30 years ago, if somebody told their friends and family there were going to pay for an operation, probably a lot of people would have said, ‘for goodness sake, it’s only a dog.'”

People are more open to the idea of treating their animals rather than euthanising and replacing them. Indeed many pet owners feel guilty if they don’t medically treat their pet and elect euthanasia instead.

This is good, as mentioned, but there is another danger which is that sometimes the best course of action is to euthanise your cat or dog. Sometimes people put their cat or dog food through too much treatment or inappropriate treatment perhaps because they’re thinking of themselves rather than the well-being of their dog or cat. Or, their vet recommends it in the knowledge that it is a good income producer.

In Britain about 2.6m pet owners have pet insurance to cover medical costs according to the consumer group: Which?

Source: Times – Ben Webster

22 thoughts on “Pet Owners More Likely To Choose Advanced Treatment Over Euthanasia”

  1. Ofcourse there have been advancements in animal medicine that make potential cures or longevity possible.

    But, I think that the introduction of pet insurance has caused the same greediness with vets as it has with doctors for humans. There’s a change that can be horrifying.

    I have seen people go through countless surgeries and debilitating chemotherapies when all were completely useless, because they were terminal at the onset. It made me sick knowing that their chart read “terminal” and they were put through such agony.

    So, this greediness has invaded the vet world.
    My belief is that I know what is best for my cats or any animal in my care, because I have the responsibility to learn exactly what may be going on.

    I, further, believe that any reputable vet will not impose their will when it comes to my cat or coerce me into accepting a care plan that may cause more misery.
    It’s my job to be informed enough to know what the best course of action would be.
    The decisions should always be mine.

  2. I think advances in veterinary medicine and uptake in pet insurance, mean that there are more options available now to extend life and relieve suffering, than there was in the past. Medical conditions which may have been a death sentence in the past, can now be managed with medication/surgery or perhaps even cured.

    Vets like Noel Fitzpatrick with his revolutionary, bionic surgery have also improved the quality of life for many pets.

    However I feel that we must also accept that some animals may not be psychologically suited to the long-term confinement or separation from their homes, which some of these surgeries and treatments require. We can’t explain to a pet that a course of chemotherapy is going to make him/her feel miserable for weeks/months, but will be worth it in the long run.

    At the recent BSAVA Congress meeting in Birmingham, one of the issues raised by vets was how to help owners choose the “right time” for euthanasia. The ‘Quality of Life’ scale for (elderly pets)suggested by one vet sounds like a good idea.

  3. Dear Gabby:

    So you’re concerned about “love for another and strength of heart to do the right thing and end your pet’s failing life”? YOU? Really?

    Nahh, can’t be. After all the venom you’ve sprouted online, Woody, absolutely no one is fooled by your “compassion”. It’s like Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy suddenly pretending to be Mahatma Gandhi. Nobody here is fooled for a second. And I apologize to Mr.Gandhi for mentioning him in the same breath with you and those other two psychos. So now you’re making judgements about which humans are fit to live or die?
    Wow. Your compassion is a weird, twisted thing.

    Okay. I’m done feeding this troll.

    • Is this better?

      If you truly want to stop the inhumane suffering of thousands of animals, then you must begin with destroying any one free-roaming cat — no matter how you have to accomplish that. That’s the TRUE suffering-animal equation. Destroy any ONE invasive species cat = save countless THOUSANDS of admirable and innocent animals and all their offspring from being tortured to death by just that ONE cat.

      You come and tell me what you said again after you’ve been drawn to animals screeching in your woods every day for 15 years, then finding a cat running-off from its now gutted-alive or skinned-alive play-toy. Then having to muster-up the strength of heart required to stomp that poor animal to death with your own foot to lovingly hush its misery and torment caused by someone’s cats. My driveways used to be lined with the senseless and writhing-to-death, screeching-to-death, carnage from cats play-toys nearly every morning for 15 years. Then you come and tell me what is and is not a humane death for animals. A cat’s suffering for less time than any animal it has attacked is far more humane than anything that you will ever suggest or ever know.

      Maybe you need to feel and hear the sound of a small animal’s skull pop beneath your foot every day for 15 years, maybe then you’ll understand how killing any cat BY ANY MEANS is the most humane thing to do for all other animals on earth, including even being the most humane thing to do for the cat itself.

      Though, to be perfectly honest, after I see now that ALL cat-owners don’t give one damn how any of their free-roaming cats die nor how any and all animals are skinned-alive and gutted-alive by their cats, I am now reconsidering why ANY cat deserves a humane death. Perhaps cats deserve to die the same way that cats torture all other animals to death by being skinned-alive and gutted-alive, including the fact that their owners even encourage their cats to torture animals to death. It would be perfectly fair, just, and equitable for their cats to suffer to death the very same way that their owners allow and even applaud the way their cats kill other animals; would it not? In fact, if these brain-dead cat-fanatics believe in karma, then the cat-owners too need to die an inexorable death by being gutted and skinned alive and left to writhe and scream themselves to death. That too would be perfectly just and equitable by their own standards of how all living things should and must die. Is this what you wanted me to learn?

      It sure seems that way! So far I’ve seen no adequate arguments against it.

      • So much better just to end your own suffering, Jim.
        You are so tormented by your hatred.
        Please take that gun and blow your own brains out and end your pain.

        • Dee, Woody will never do that because he’s insane. Sad thing is, I’ve seen his kind of online hate directed at everything on the face of this planet: wild animals, his precious birds, and ironically enough, humans and computer technology. Completely insane, and totally boring after a while. I do expect my internet trolls to at least be entertaining, but he’s anything but that.

        • I’m not the one that needs to ever worry about suicide, but you most certainly do.

          They found that women infected with cats’ brain-hijacking parasite are….

          (deleted as by Woody and it is a rant – Admin).

      • Oh Lord. *Yawns* Better? No, not really. You’ve already gone from irritating to downright boring. Of course, you reached that point weeks ago, ever since you arrived on this site.

        I imagine it’s only a matter of time before Michael gets fed up and bans you. Again. But you’re like a cockroach. You come back. That’s fine. I get it. We all do. Ever hear of the expression “familiarity breeds contempt”? It also breeds boredom too. Think about it. Shock value of the troll variety like yours wears thin and wears off pretty quickly. You’ve proven that time and time again.

        Let me cut to the chase: you seem to think that by posting drawn-out, psychotic comments as long as War and Peace that someday humankind is going to rise up en masse and say “Oh my God, Woody (or Jim, or whatever sockpuppet he’s using now) he’s absolutely right!!! We’ve all been absolutely wrong for ages now. Let’s get rid of ALL those nasty cats RIGHT NOW!”

        News flash, buddy, it’s not gonna happen. Not now, not ever. Now maybe you mistook my response to your comment as interest in your diseased POV. What the heck, I was bored (even more so now), had five minutes to waste and when I saw your other comment you were an easy target. Same thing goes for your latest. I’m bored now. And YOU’RE boring, Woody. That’s a cardinal sin for an internet troll. You try to engage me and I refuse to be engaged. That does work both ways.

        And now since my five minutes are up and I have a real life to go back to, let me bid you adieu. Carry on with your insane, pointless crusade. You’re a legend in your own mind.

        • Of course I know you will never change what you do. I tell everyone this. I make certain everyone knows it, just like you said! Everyone now realizes this. That is why everyone is now destroying all free-roaming cats wherever and whenever they can. You’re not going to change what you do. The only thing left is to destroy all your outdoor cats by any means a person deems appropriate. See how that works?

              • No problem, Michael. You have nothing to apologize for. I have to admit, I was having waay too much fun with him. He’s too insane to change, and he’s boring too. Well, until next time.

              • I think that we knew that a while back, Michael. He may be a cross-dresser who goes around dismantling scarecrows so his birdies won’t get scared or just a participant in drag shows.
                He must have to use an industrial strength depilatory to rid himself of that beard though.
                I may have a straight razor around that would be of help.

                • Good one, Dee!

                  He probably allows his little feathered friends to pull out his body hairs so they can make their nests. No sacrifice is too great.

                    • I bet he does too. Lying out there in the field naked: “Come here, my feathered friends, I have something for you.”


                      Okay, I think I’ve gone too far with that.

  4. “To put him out of his misery” is only dying-out for cat-owners. They always care more about themselves and how it will make them feel; rather than have the strength-of-heart and the depth of love it requires to stop an animal from continued suffering and even more pain and misery from operations and invasive procedures. This even extends to all their excuses for letting cats roam free to torture other animals to death too. They don’t even care about the suffering and torment of those animals either, as long as what the cat-owner is doing makes the cat-owner feel good. It takes a lot of love for another and strength of heart to do the right thing and end your pet’s failing life. Most in the cat-world lack all of that, as evidenced by your article. And often, even the vet sees dollar-signs rather than any morality about the suffering of animals today. As long as they can use your cat like a pin-cushion and make a few $thousand, and the cat-owner is so self-serving and self-absorbed to not see what they are putting their cat through just for what a greedy vet advises, what should anyone care! Cut, slice, dice, poke, and drug away! The hell with what any animal has gone through, is going through, and will go through even worse now. Right? All that matters is that you keep your cat barely alive, at all costs! 🙂

    I love the TNR crowd that find one of their almost-dead road-accident cats with half a face left and 2-3 legs, and they make it stay alive anyway and declare how loving they are for being such a “devoted rescuer”. All their fellow fanatics online praise them to no end for what they are doing “for the cat” for being so “loving”, so “caring”. None of those people should have ever been born. But then, if they don’t keep it alive and in that condition, however can they post articles and photos online asking for massive donations to pay for all those vet-bills? 🙂 I often wonder how much of those donations actually go for any cat-costs at all. I know someone who makes a pretty-good living by just posting those articles online. Anyone you might know? 🙂

  5. When the vet informed me about the cost to treat Mitzy, I broke down, and said that I’d have to euthanize her because I couldn’t afford the treatment, after already spending all the money I had.

    Fortunately, they had compassion, and told me not to worry about the bill. They treated her without anymore payment from me, and have never billed me. This was the first time I’ve ever experienced this from any vet.
    Anyone else have this experience?

  6. Michael, I don’t think you meant to include “food” in this post. “Sometimes people put their cat or dog food through too much treatment or inappropriate treatment.”


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