EPISODE 186 | RELEASED October 3, 2022

What Is Futile Care in Veterinary Medicine? | Dr. Nathan Peterson

Dog cancer treatment decisions are rarely easy. And they can be as hard on veterinarians as they are on owners.


Researchers from Cornell University surveyed over 400 veterinarians, and 99% of them said they have experienced clients wanting to pursue futile care for their pets. So what is futile care, anyway?

Futile care is continuing aggressive treatment when it is unlikely to benefit the patient. These scenarios can be difficult to identify and define, but can be distressing for veterinarians who are compelled to provide care that they feel is prolonging suffering in their patients.

Listen in to learn more about the challenges of balancing the needs and emotions of dogs, their owners, and their veterinarians. And if you feel like you might have pursued futile care with one of your pets when hospice would have been more appropriate, don’t be too hard on yourself: all of your decisions were made out of love.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Show:

Medical futility is commonly encountered in small animal clinical practice study

Futile veterinary care is widespread, study finds

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