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Palliative Care Instead of Treatment

I just need some pet parent support.

About a year ago, I adopted a senior dog (12 years young!) who had been in a puppy mill for his whole life (he’s a toy bread and thus very popular). He’s a weird dog as a result- he doesn’t play, isn’t really food motivated, is as housetrained as he’s going to get (he used to pee on the couch after a nap! Now he doesn’t but will still pee on the floor once in awhile), and has just in the last 3 months been brave enough to go on walks. Poor little dude was afraid of EVERYTHING (and still kinda is), it took me 6 months to get him to walk on a leash. He has no teeth, he’s got some kind of stiffness in his back leg.

When I adopted him, my resolve was that my role was to have him have as comfortable a life as possible. So, except for the housetraining, we took everything super slow at his own pace. (for housetraining, I just brought him outside whenever I though he had to pee and put down a pee pad when I’m gone). An example of going at his pace : for awhile he would only eat dry catfood, so I didn’t fight it (he now eats dog food, but won’t touch wet stuff or touch the dry food if its wet). Some people might think me a horrible pet owner because I don’t make him eat we food (because of his mouth), but my resolve was “make his life as enjoyable as possible”and I’ve stuck to it.


We’ll be going to the vet tomorrow or Thursday because he has a terrible cough. I suspect pneumonia or bronchitis as a worst case scenario. And I’m afraid of being shamed at the vet if all I want is to keep him comfortable instead of endless tests and hospital stays and treatments where he’ll be terrified and might regress all the progess we’ve had in the last year. I had to give him pills when I first got him because he had been neutered and it.was.awful. I don’t want to put him through that again - he is still so afraid all the time and I want to limit his discomfort as much as possible. Before him, I had a dog who died a few years back of diabetes - the treatments and her subsequent decline were terrible and she was pretty young at 7. She was so afraid and unhappy all the time. She died in my arms at home.

Some people might think I’m terrible, but I just feel like quality of life is so much more important than quantity. I’m comfortable with the possibility that palliative treatment means that he might be gone sooner rather than later, even though it breaks my heart.

Has anyone else been through this? I find vets can just assume that you’re willing to do ANYTHING to treat pets and can be a bit judgemental if you aren’t, I just need some help with setting limits and hearing other peoples stories.

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