We’ve all been to the vet’s office at some point, concerned about our dog, cat or even bird, and felt like perhaps you didn’t get the answers you were looking for. Or maybe you didn’t think you got all of the information you needed. With the invention of Twitter, veterinarians are now interacting with their clients as well as outsiders on the best way to approach pain management, pet health, and even when to know it’s time to put a pet to sleep.
One rather poignant story I noticed was Dr. Pete Wedderburn, an Irish companion animal veterinarian who goes by the Twitter handle @petethevet, who on May 28th brought up the topic of Canine Cognitive Disfunction, along with a “TwitPic” of Pippa, a 17-year old canine client of his.
“Drugs and diet can help a bit,” Wedderburn tweeted, “but it’s essentially a ‘wearing out’ process in the brain -see http://is.gd/I2AO to learn more.” Dr. Wedderburn then asked a hard question: “The difficult judgement is this: when is it right to let her go. When is it justifiable to quietly end her life?”
Pippa’s life, at that moment, hung in the balance of Dr. Wedderburn, her owners, and even the Twitter audience.
“She’s not in pain, not suffering, just slowly fading… the answer to this is personal, and different for everyone,” Dr. Wedderburn added in another tweet, followed by, “Her owner’s coming on Twitter, so pls address any comments with this in mind. She’s a much loved little dog.”
One user weighed in that their Terrier lived into his late teens and eventually died in his sleep in his dog crate but that she’d often wonder how her dog’s quality of life had been in his last years.
Today, a little less than a month later, Dr. Wedderburn announced that Pippa had been put to sleep. An outpouring of tweets from Wedderburns followers rivaled that of the sadness over celebrity Michael Jackson’s death: