Presenting Kindred Spirit, Kindred Care: Making Health Decisions on Behalf of Our Animal Companions

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Kindred Spirit, Kindred Care: Making Health Decisions on Behalf of Our Animal Companions


Trend: More people are treating pets as non-human family members. More people view animals as sentient, intelligent, creative and feeling. Our animal companions live in our homes, sleep in our beds, eat at our tables, and go on vacation with us.

Trend: Veterinary medicine is rapidly advancing, largely guided by human medicine. Where formerly most veterinarians were general practitioners, now there are several thousand specialists in private practices. There is CT, MRI, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, acupuncture, herbs, wheelcarts, dialysis, transplants, pacemakers, root canals, cloning, and dozens upon dozens of other ways of diagnosing problems and prolonging life. The trend towards offering more advanced (and controversial) procedures is expected to continue.

Fact: Pets depend on their human caretakers to initiate, authorize, and finance their health care. Pets depend on their human caretakers to transport them to and from the doctor's office and provide convalescent care.

Fact: Both quality and quantity of life are important to most humans when making decisions on behalf of their animal companions.

Fact: Most people want to do the right thing.

Question: What is the right thing?

Answer: It depends. It depends on the patient's medical condition, tolerance, and adaptability. It depends on the client's relationship with the animal. It depends on the client's priorities, resources, philosophy about health care, thoughts on the spiritual nature of animals, past experiences, and ability to provide hands-on care.


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Last revised: April 2006
Text and images © 2004-2006 by Shannon Fujimoto Nakaya