What happens if you refuse vet treatment?

(41 Posts)
whateveryousay Wed 15-Jan-20 21:28:36

Recently, one of my dogs had an accident which left him in pretty bad shape. When the animal ambulance arrived in the first instance, I really didn’t think he was going to make it, he was in great distress and pain, and I asked the vet if she thought it might be better to just pts, as the suffering seemed unbearable, and he didn’t look good. I was also highly distressed.
The vet was lovely, and she said that she wouldn’t pts at this stage, and that if I refused to pay for his treatment, she would hand him on to another vet, she still wouldn’t put to sleep. She was telling me this to reassure me that there was still hope, and so of course we did everything necessary, and he is ‘out of the woods’ and on the slow path to recovery, for which I’m grateful every day.
But I’m just curious, what would have happened if I’d been unwilling, or unable to pay for his treatment? I made a decision years ago to ‘self insure’, and so I don’t begrudge a penny, I have saved on premiums over the years, but I’m wondering what happens to the poor dogs who aren’t insured, and the owners won’t pay 😞

OP’s posts: |
TheReluctantCountess Wed 15-Jan-20 21:39:23

I thought they would PTS if the owner didn’t want to pay for costly treatment.

Loveablers Thu 16-Jan-20 00:23:55

They wouldn’t PTS

They’d usually either offer a payment plan or take you to court.

Loveablers Thu 16-Jan-20 00:24:33

I don’t see how this is refusing treatment - you’re actually asking what would happen if you refused to pay

BitterAndTwistedChoreDodger Thu 16-Jan-20 00:32:21

I have refused treatment, a few years ago, for my lovely Lab.

It was horrible, as your heart tells you to do whatever it takes to save your dear pet.

In my case, a costly operation would have given him a slim chance, he would have been in critical condition for 48 hours. IF he pulled through, there was a high probability that the same thing would happen again at some point, and we would have had to go through the same decision process again.

He was prepped for surgery when we said goodbye, and at the age of five he wasn't an old dog. It was horrible.

Now with some distance from the emotion of it all, I am certain I made the right decision. If the vet had interfered at any point, it would have been an even more stressful process.

whateveryousay Thu 16-Jan-20 07:46:47

Bitter, that sounds very difficult, sorry that you had to go through that. Thank you for answering.

Loveablers, I am wondering what happens if the vet says ‘we need to do x, and it will cost £££’, and you say ‘no, don’t do it’. Eg ‘your dog’s leg is broken, it’s not life-threatening, but will cost £££’, and you say up front that you aren’t prepared to pay for it.

I have tried to google it, and come up with charities for people on low incomes etc, but I’m just worried about what happens if the owner has the money, but isn’t willing to spend it, iyswim.

OP’s posts: |
doxxed Thu 16-Jan-20 10:01:02

I have heard that if you are unwilling to pay for the surgery, they will do it, but then remove the animal from you. Heard this off a vet nurse.


5zeds Thu 16-Jan-20 10:04:54

I think you can choose to have your dog put down any time. The dog is your property.

doxxed Thu 16-Jan-20 10:21:12


They also suggest cheaper treatment, like amputation rather than pinning for a bad break. According to the link above they are under no obligation to treat an animal, past first aid and pain relief. However most people working in a vet practice love animals. I was upset after having 2 pets put down at once (they were the same age but different problems) so one of the nurses brought some baby rescue hedgehogs out.

RougeVinEtFromage Thu 16-Jan-20 10:25:08

@doxxed we're the hedgehogs just to try cheer you up grin

doxxed Thu 16-Jan-20 10:30:36

Yeah! I kept trying not to cry and failing, and the nurse asked if I wanted to look at a mite under their microscope and then if I wanted to see their baby hedgehogs that they were looking after until they could be released.

I was 28, not 8, but it did make me cheer up a bit grin

Nigglesmiggle Thu 16-Jan-20 10:37:42

I’m interested in this. We have an elderly dog who is now too expensive to insure for more than the basic package so if he was to need extensive surgery or treatment we would probably have to refuse and pts. This is partly financial but mostly because at his grand old age I don’t want to put him through difficult procedures which would confuse and upset him in order to prolong his life for a few extra months.
He’s a wonderful dog and I will be devastated to lose him but he can’t go on forever.
I wouldn’t want a vet to take him away because of that decision!

purpleme12 Thu 16-Jan-20 10:44:22

I'm sure I've heard from a very nurse I've known that they do put to sleep if the owner can't afford/doesn't want treatment. I'm sure there are cases where the animal goes to rescue or something like that but I think they do put to sleep if the pet is very poorly and the owner doesn't want to/can't pay

RougeVinEtFromage Thu 16-Jan-20 10:44:29

@doxxed that's amazing gringringrin I remember doing work experience in a vets and hoping I'd get to do stuff like pet hedgehogs and look at mites. Instead I spent the entire week doing loads of washing, drying and folding in the cellar with an angry crow screaming at me!

tabulahrasa Thu 16-Jan-20 10:56:56

I’m pretty sure if you want your pet PTS they more or less have to do it. (I’m not sure if they can refuse if it’s completely healthy)

With something treatable but you just can’t afford it, some vets can let you pay later or there are cheaper alternatives... or you can relinquish it to a charity who will then take over their medical care and rehome them.

“his grand old age I don’t want to put him through difficult procedures”

That’s different, for the last couple of years of my last Dog’s life the vet knew I’d have him PTS rather than have him have any invasive treatment, despite being fairly young - he had various medical and behavioural issues and I wasn’t willing to put him through anything more so we decided that if it required staying at the vet or operations, then however minor it was he’d be PTS.

I don’t know how she actually felt about it right enough, but she was aware and never disagreed with it.

pigsDOfly Thu 16-Jan-20 10:59:17

Surely a vet can't just take a dog from someone unless with a court order, or whatever it is that the RSPCA needs to get to take a dog away from its owner.

Is refusing to pay for treatment and requesting the dog be pts instead actually cruelty?

A dog is classed as a possession, no one can just decide they're going to take something that belongs to someone else.

If the vet is prepared to give the treatment and the owner is prepared to sign the dog over to the vet that's a different matter, but unless the dog is otherwise completely healthy and young I can't see many vets doing anything other than pts.

I know someone who had their healthy old dog pts for no other reason than no rescues would take it and they no longer wanted or felt they could keep it. As far as I'm aware there was no argument from their vet.

Scattyhattie Thu 16-Jan-20 11:01:37

My vet had a young dog in with broken leg when mine was in, it had an op to pin leg and was staying at vets as the owner couldn't or wouldn't pay it was in process of being signed over for rehoming, i suspect is more to the story as my vet would usually allow a payment plan or offer alternative treatment where possible to help make affordable.

Its an offence to not get veterinary treatment for your sick/injured animal so they probably wouldn't allow you to leave with the pet in a bad way, so would either pts or request animal is signed over.

slartibarti Thu 16-Jan-20 11:03:16

A friend's dog was hit by a car and badly injured. Dog had a reasonable chance of recovery but treatment would be very expensive. She couldn't afford to pay.
Vet contacted a local newspaper who agreed to pay provided they could follow dog's treatment with articles and photos. Dog made a good recovery and became a local celebrity. Also great publicity for vet.

purpleme12 Thu 16-Jan-20 11:04:56

@pigsDOfly that is so sad that he was healthy and put to sleep :-(

pigsDOfly Thu 16-Jan-20 11:23:24

purleme12 yes it is very sad. And he was such a lovely old dog as well.

They'd been looking for a shelter for him for sometime but no one would take him because he was too old to be rehomed.

I must admit, I was pretty shocked when I learned that they'd just decided to have him pts. Poor old thing.

Trewser Thu 16-Jan-20 11:32:19

Our dog was hit by a car. Treatment cost 4k, no payment plan, either had to pay up front or take dog home with a shattered leg and shoulder. Had to borrow money from parents. Vet was an absolute

purpleme12 Thu 16-Jan-20 11:59:44

No vet I've ever spoken to has ever let me pay in installments either. I would if these vets people talk about who do are only in certain areas?!
So unfair

tabulahrasa Thu 16-Jan-20 12:09:21

The payment plan thing... it’s credit, someone on here ages ago, can’t remember if it was a vet or just someone who worked at one pointed it out.

They have to be set up to lend money to do it, like registered the same as other places that do credit.

So most can’t do it, it’s not just that they won’t.

whateveryousay Thu 16-Jan-20 13:40:37

Trewser, that’s awful! When our Dog had his accident, our vet sent the ambulance, and he was in their care for 3 days before I paid anything! They did keep telling me verbally what the costs were, as we went along, but I actually had to remind them I still hadn’t paid after 3 days. I think I have a great vet.

Pigsdofly, it’s dogs like that that I’ve been worrying about. So sad.

I will ask my vet at our appointment next week what she would have done if I’d said I wouldn’t pay to have ddog treated.

OP’s posts: |
5zeds Thu 16-Jan-20 14:03:29

I really don’t agree with thousands of pounds of treatment for pets. I wonder who it serves and would be distraught if my dog was forced through too much treatment or forcibly rehomed. I think quality rather than length of life is key.

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