You’ve just found out your beloved pet has cancer. Your veterinarian has explained all the options to you, and now it’s time to make a decision: do you do the expensive treatment option, or not?
This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but… I say not.
Let me tell you why.
It boils down to two key points: quality of life, and consent. Our pets cannot give consent, and they deserve a really great quality of life.
When you chose to embark on an intensive – and often invasive – course of treatment for your pet, you are making choices that will very deeply impact the quality of your pet’s life. Worse, most of these treatments will only extend your pet’s life for a few years at best, and much of that will be spent receiving medical treatment they don’t want, don’t understand, causes them pain, and makes them sick.
Look, I understand. We love our furry friends. But the truth is, these invasive treatment really only benefit (I’m sorry to say this, I love vets, I do) the research annals of veterinary medicine, and the bottom line of the animal hospitals that offer them.
I’m not suggesting you do no treatment at all; simple surgeries to remove tumors or increase blood flow or slow the spread of a cancer are a good first step to take. But at some point, standard palliative care is really for the best; medications to ease pain, fluids to help flush out struggling kidneys, or other simple tools to help your beloved friend have peace are often a better choice.
In addition, you have to look at the financial angle. Even the least invasive of the newer treatments for pets have an incredibly high price tag, with some procedures and treatments costing in the tens of thousands of dollars. With these treatment often only adding a few months to a lifespan, is it really the best way to help animals? If it were my pet, I’d offer supportive care until they were no longer comfortable, and if I had it to spare, I’d donate that money to programs set up to spay and neuter stray animals (after all, some 50,000 animals a day die waiting for homes in shelters). I think that would benefit the greater good.
Obviously, your pet – your decision. But remember; sometimes what CAN be done isn’t always what SHOULD be done.