Ethicists’ commentary on weighing owner and veterinarian judgments on the best course of treatment
Ethical question of the month, March 2023
A client contacts you after a distressing incident in an emergency clinic with her 8-year-old English bulldog. The dog has some respiratory compromise typical of the breed but has led a moderately active life. On this occasion, it jumped off a bed, vomited, and aspirated. The owner took the dog to the emergency clinic where it was sedated and intubated. The owner was then presented with 2 options: a palate-shortening surgery or euthanasia. The owner was not willing to do the surgery on both financial grounds and the concern for subjecting an older dog to an invasive procedure after a functional life. She felt badgered into making a decision she felt was not in the dog’s best interest. Eventually, after signing a waiver, the dog was extubated and recovered at home. Is there a danger that, as veterinary care advances, that the only option given to owners is the “gold standard” of care? How much weight can be given the owners’ wishes and history with their animal in case of emergencies?
Clare Palmer, Peter Sandøe, & Dan Weary comment on this dilemma and you can read it here: Ethicists’ commentary on weighing owner and veterinarian judgments on the best course of treatment (pdf)