Comments on the dilemma in the October issue: 'To treat or not?'

Siobhan Mullan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial (Academic Journal)


The dilemma in the October issue concerned a vet who had been asked by their client to perform a radical surgical intervention on their pet (In Practice, October 2010, volume 32, pages 458-459). The vet was highly competent at the procedure, but unsure whether it: would be overtreatment for that case. If the vet did not perform the treatment, the client had made it clear they would go to another local vet. James Yeates commented that veterinary treatment choices must be based on the interests of the animal. Treatment should first be compared to euthanasia and it should be considered whether the pain of surgery was worth the pleasure of future life. It was not acceptable to perform the surgery simply because another vet would do it otherwise. A possible way forward would be for the vet to advise euthanasia and give their reasons why. If this was unsuccessful, the vet could try to speak to the other vet if possible, as this might reveal that he or she was also not keen to perform the surgery. If both the owner and the other vet were immovable, then performing the operation was legitimate, as it was possible that the other vet was less skilled in the procedure. However, it might be better for the vet to maintain their moral integrity - if the client and the other vet proceeded nonetheless, the stain would be on their consciences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-515
Number of pages1
JournalIn Practice
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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