Veterinary Informed Consent

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     What is Informed Consent?   

When taking your pet to a veterinarian (or yourself to any medical professional, including pyschologists and psychiatrists) there is a trust that is there that is legally and morally held in place by what is termed "informed consent".

Basically, this is the idea that you as the decision maker for your pet or yourself have the legal right to understand thoroughly the situation involved medically and all the options, with their risks and benefits. Then you can make an actual informed decision to consent to treatment or lack of treatment.

There are some specifics that should be dicussed and understood for informed consent to be complete and valid.

1.) You should be informed to full understanding what the diagnosis of the disease is, if an actual diagnosis is possible. For example, blood work and urine tests show kidney weakness or failure. (Please note, there is NO valid medical test for ANY supposed "mental disorder" and most mental difficulties do have some true underlying medical condition causing them, such as hormonal imbalances, allergies, toxic situations, nutritional imbalances or food intolerances etc...)

2.) What the expected prognosis is-in other words, can one expect a cure or not or is this a long term control thing or as with some cancers, is loss of live likely and in what time frame. This is always a best guess on the part of a medical professional as pets and people don't always "read the books" or follow such predicitions.

3.) What is the standard treatment for this diagnosis (usually a Western Medicine viewpoint) and what are all the known risks and benefits.

4.) What are any alternative treatments-whether Western Medicine based or Alternative or Homeopathic type treatments, dietary changes or the like and any risks and beneftis associated with those.

5.) The option of not treating at all, and the risks and benefits of that.

I have to admit after decades of practice when I thoroughly researched this, I hadn't fully understood what all was included in informed consent, especially number 5 above.

So, an example might be, a severe flea allergy. Fleas are easily diagnosed by finding them or their excrement ( little black dots or lines that when put on wet white paper turn reddish as it is actually digested blood.)

Prognosis is good as we do have effective ways to treat with all the current topicals. Of course, such things as garlic and other alternatives would have to be discussed. All side effects of topical flea medications would need to be discussed regarding the pet and also any exposure to people and children. Treating the environment may need to be done and all chemical and non-chemical options would need to be discussed.

If the animal's skin was severely inflamed recommendations of gentle baths and possible even antiinflammatories should be discussed. If such drugs as corticosteroids are going to be used, such side effects as increased thirst and appetite, possible liver damage or diabetes, and that one must wean the pet off such medications to allow the body's own production of cortisone to recover if on injections or pills that will suppressed the normal production need to be disclosed and understood.

Of course, it is impossible to go over every known side effect, but the most common and most dangerous MUST be discussed, as well as what to do if those are observed.

In this case, the possiblity of tapeworm infections from fleas being ingested would need to be gone over and the danger of tapeworms to humans if found.

Again, the no treatment option gets talked over as well. For example in a pet with no to rare fleas and no skin reaction, simple using a flea comb daily might suffice.

I hope that gives you some guidelines on what to expect of your veterinarian. If you aren't told all the above, it is your responsibility to demand the data before you agree to any treatment.

I am, of course, hoping health for you and all your pets and no need to get informed consent ( though it should be done for "routine" things such as neuterings, teeth cleanings, vaccines well).

RECOMMENDED ENTERTAINMENT: Throw a squeaky mouse toy for your cat or a ball for your dog-great fun and exercise for you both.

All medications have to be removed through the body usually through the liver and sometimes the kidneys. If your pet is on especially any medicine known to stress the liver, such as corticosteroids, anti-seizure drugs such as phenobarbitol, or some of the arthritis drugs such as Rimadyl, consider using Hepato Support found here: and liquid form for cats and small dogs here:

Until next time, come follow us on Facebook here:


Dr. Jan

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