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Latest health and behavior news and advice from the veterinarians at Tufts University.

Features April 2013 Issue

Factoring in the Cost of Life

Sometimes a dog owner will be advised that his pet has an illness that’s potentially treatable but that the treatment is going to be expensive — often beyond the owner’s means. “People feel torn about what to do when the main thing standing between giving a sick animal more time and more quality of life is money they don’t really have to spare,” says Your Dog Editor in Chief, John Berg, DVM, who often operates on animals with cancer and other serious diseases. “They spend large amounts — thousands and thousands of dollars — that they can’t afford out of a sense of guilt.

“We always try to ease people’s minds about not stretching themselves too thin. It’s a fact of life, particularly in today’s economy, that people simply might not have the income to spare to keep their dog alive, on top of their other financial obligations.”

A dog owner facing his pet’s death because of a lack of resources should take comfort in knowing that he “provided a lifetime home and a lifetime of good, loving care for an animal” who otherwise might not have had a chance,” Dr. Berg says. At the end of the day, he adds, “most people don’t have the luxury of viewing decisions about expensive pet care in purely ethical terms. The practicalities of life have to take precedence.”

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