For Sepsie

While I love all animals, I’m known for being partial to cats. This wasn’t always the case – in fact, prior to having a cat, I really never understood their appeal. I questioned the redeeming value of owning something so aloof and independent. Dogs, with their unconditional love and constant want to please, were my … Continue reading For Sepsie

Do we “replace” our pets when they pass?

Many owners look to purchase or adopt a new pet following the loss of a prior companion. I’m frequently consulted as to my opinion the best time to consider bringing another dog or cat into the household. Should they do so prior to the death of their beloved friend, or wait until after they have … Continue reading Do we “replace” our pets when they pass?

When cancer hurts, but only part of the time…

People readily associate a diagnosis of cancer with severe adverse clinical signs. I’m not speaking of the effects of chemotherapy or radiation; rather I’m referring to the decline in a patient’s quality of life occurring secondary to progression of disease. Regardless of whether the patient is a human or an animal, we’re equally capable of … Continue reading When cancer hurts, but only part of the time…

Survival time isn’t the end…

Most owners of pets with cancer are fixated on the familiar phrase “survival time.” The words describe the approximate length of time a pet is expected to live following its diagnosis. Survival time is a meaningful endpoint to measure for humans with cancer, where death occurs as a natural part of disease progression. In veterinary … Continue reading Survival time isn’t the end…

How much is too much?

I regularly face owners who decide not to pursue therapy for pets that have what are considered treatable cancers. The reasons for this choice can stem from concerns for too many vet visits, too much strain for the pet to go through, projection of their own feelings about cancer treatments on their pets, or financial … Continue reading How much is too much?

What do you think about grief?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about grief. I’m not sure if it’s associated with the particularly gloomy run of cases I’ve seen at the clinic or the personal stress and sadness I’ve recently faced, but something is pulling my emotional barometer towards focusing on the different ways people inwardly, and outwardly, express grief. I’ve … Continue reading What do you think about grief?

Do Veterinarians Owe Owners Anything After A Pet’s Death?

Several years ago, an owner scheduled an appointment with me about a week after I’d euthanized their pet. It was an unusual request, seeing as though their pet was no longer alive and in need of my services. I urged the owner to call me or email me with any outstanding questions or concerns. It … Continue reading Do Veterinarians Owe Owners Anything After A Pet’s Death?

Quality of death in real time

Mornings are when I catch up on current events and scan social media for trending topics.  While the news streams live on my TV in the background, I give cursory review to the headlines along my Twitter and Facebook feeds and The Huffington Post.  I'm aware of the dubious nature of those sources with regard to authenticity and content, but nine … Continue reading Quality of death in real time

No one wants to talk about it, but it’s something we all must face: All about euthanasia

One of the most difficult aspects of pet ownership is considering their mortality.   Yes, this is a heavy way to start an article. But reality tempers the excitement of picking out a new puppy or kitten, or adopting an older dog or cat, with the knowledge that animal’s expected lifespan will, in all likelihood, … Continue reading No one wants to talk about it, but it’s something we all must face: All about euthanasia

But first, do no harm…

Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that translates to "first do no harm." This is the fundamental belief ingrained into doctors that, no matter the situation, our primary responsibility is to the patient.   The origin of the saying is uncertain. Examining the Hippocratic oath, the words uttered by physicians as they are sworn … Continue reading But first, do no harm…

In memory of a weird dog…

This week marked the passing of a particularly special oncology patient and I wanted to use this entry as a means to tell his story.   It may sound cliché when we say each and every one of our patients are important to us, but it really is true. We do not discriminate, even when our … Continue reading In memory of a weird dog…

How biased are you?

One aspect of veterinary oncology that makes it difficult to talk with owners about the expected survival time of their pets is something called “euthanasia bias.” Or, as I like to phrase it, “What one owner will tolerate, another will not.” It’s something that especially confounds my ability to predict a patient’s outcome for a … Continue reading How biased are you?