Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)TiHo eLib

Dying like a dog : the convergence of concepts of a good death in human and veterinary medicine

Standard views of good death in human and veterinary medicine considerably differ from one another. Whereas the good death ideal in palliative medicine emphasizes the positive aspects of non-induced dying, veterinarians typically promote a quick and painless killing with the aim to end suffering. Recent developments suggest a convergence of both professions and professional attitudes, however. Palliative physicians are confronted with patients wishing to be 'put to sleep', while veterinarians have begun to integrate principles and practices from hospice care. We will argue that the discourses on good human and animal deaths are not distinct, but that they interact and influence each other. On the one hand, veterinary medicine adapts techniques like chemotherapy or sedation from palliative end-of-life care. On the other hand, philosophers, veterinarians, pet owners, patients and the general public alike make certain assumptions about the (dis)analogy of human and animal dying or killing. Unfortunately, these interactions have only scarcely been reflected normatively, especially on the part of human medicine. Conflicts and misattributions with potential serious negative consequences for the (animal and human) patients' wellbeing are provoked. For these reasons, palliative physicians and veterinarians are invited to engage in the debate around human and animal end-of-life care.


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