Making Health Care Decisions For Your Pet

1st December 2022

It is common for a veterinary surgeon to recommend a particular test, operation or treatment for their patient. As pet owners, we have to decide whether to go ahead with the suggested procedure. But how do we know that we are making the right decision?

In human health care, there is currently a campaign to raise awareness of the BRAN system to help patients make these decisions. BRAN stands for Benefits, Risks, Alternatives and what happens if we do Nothing. The system can be just as useful for pet owners.

1. Benefits

The first question to ask your vet when they suggest an operation, blood test, Xray or course of medication is “what are the likely benefits?” For example, having an operation to remove a cancerous lump from a pet’s skin would hopefully cure the cancer.

2. Risks

The second question to ask is “what are the risks?” In the example above, going ahead with the operation would carry a risk of complications under the anaesthetic and bleeding or infection at the operation site. 

3. Alternatives

The third question is “what are the alternatives?” Sticking with our original example, alternative treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be possible.

4. Nothing

It is always a good idea to ask about what would happen if we did nothing. For example, some cancerous lumps grow very slowly, and in a very elderly pet it may be that leaving the lump alone will probably not lead to any further problems within the pet’s natural lifespan.

At Acorn House Veterinary Hospital we understand that our patients are well loved family members and it can be worrying when a test or treatment is recommended for your pet. All of the veterinary surgeons at Acorn House will be very happy to guide you through these decisions, and the BRAN system can be a very helpful way to do this.

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