CHOICE membership

Specialised health treatment for pets


I have had acupuncture treatment for my elderly dog who had arthritis due to luxating patellas which were repaired after many years (after we “rescued” her from her previous owner). In conjunction with conventional pain relief at times but also use of Chinese medicine she was able to be quite mobile and relatively pain free until she was euthinased at aged 151/2 years. Many conventional medicines have side effects which can be more harmful to the animal’s health than alternative therapies - for example steroid based treatments; anti-biotics. People shouldn’t confuse trying alternatives which may benefit the animal with keeping an animal alive or agreeing to intrusive treatments just because a vet says it can be done. Over the years I have met a number of vets who would do whatever treatment as long as you had the money-even if that treatment did not really add to the quality of life for that animal.As animal owners we need to be able to separate our emotions and love for our animals and look at what is best for them not us. Some vets play on our love and make us feel guilty if we decide not to proceed with a treatment.


The Vet is in a difficult position. If he/she suggests euthanasia they can be labeled ‘Dr Death’ or similar, so they will tell the owners of all the alternative treatments. Some owners desperately want to keep their pet no matter the expense or pet’s quality of life. A ‘perfect’ owner will consider reasonable treatment but must be able to take a realistic and informed view of the future for the pet but some owners are too emotional to think rationally.


That’s a good point, @lisajlain - the vet is in a tough position. It’s such a tricky position to be in! I agree it can be hard to think rationally when a loved one is involved - but as animals can’t communicate, it’s important we look out for their best interests with a clear head - even if it’s no the decision our heart would choose.


I’d love to see more information out there about the unethical pet food industry - the real reason you’re even writing this article…

the pets are getting sick from the toxic horrid ingredients such as cereals, grains and “pet food” grade meat. sadly the vets are being trained by the toxic food companies and believe the “special” food is special when its only crap.

there needs to be a huge light shone on this toxic industry and how much money it makes at the expense of animals’ health.


Hi Corrine

Vets are not trained by the food companies. They are trained using physiology and biology first; then diagnostics using pathophysiology. The “food training” comes into it when there’s advice on the interactions of the companies foods with these various body functions. Depending on how well versed you are on the physiology of the body in relation to each species, will then refer how much or little you listen to the pet food companies. Some vets swear by the foods, others steer right away. Each will have their reasons, but they may not be based on the true science in the end and could well become clouded with their deceptive and dangerous marketing.

Though I do agree with you that the over consumption of any one food group (and in this case - happens to be grains) can lead to alteration of the body’s physiology and gut microflora etc… which of course, has a flow on effect to the rest of the organs in the body (basic physiology).


My husband and my dog has just been diagnosed with lymphoma, she’s only just turned 9 and is healthy otherwise. We had an appointment with an oncology specialised vet last week and will be preceding with chemo this week. We can’t afford the top amount of chemo (up to $10,000 - no pet insurance) but are doing 6 doses 3 weeks apart to hopefully give her another year of quality life. Obviously if she is not doing well on it, we will reassess and we don’t want her hating having to go to the vet all the time. We don’t have children and she is our baby having adopted her 1 year into our relationship! I guess it depends on your circumstance but if we could afford it I would definitely get pet insurance.


Pet insurance may not have been much help in your situation any case @amiee.mulder – as your dog has turned 9 she would be limited to “seniors” or accident-only insurance.

It can be tricky to get good value for money for pet insurance. For more info see our pet insurance buying guide - and CHOICE members can access our full review of 113 Australian pet insurance products from 19 brands.


Yes we looked into it when she was younger as I know the cut off age was 8, but with a pre existing skin condition already I was wondering if there was a point. So far we have started chemo and with some help from a gofund me campaign are coping so far with the costs!


I think I would rather see some more common ailments i.e. dental health covered by mainstream pet insurance. We pay a lot p.a. for pet insurance and still have to pay on top as dental was not covered by any of the ones we investigated
PS it was suggested we get puppy orthodontics procedures (BRACES!!!) on our pup also which we politely declined, but poor alignment of his teeth have now turned into nightmare dental bills.


I’m down to the last old dog out of three and he was experiencing breathing problems which were getting worse. Horrible at night (he sleeps with me) to hear him struggling to breathe. I took him to my lovely vet - $500 worth of tests and we couldn’t come to a diagnosis. Took him to the animal hospital - a series of tests (ex rays, scans, blood tests and lord knows what else) and they found the poor old boy had pneumonia (successfully treated) and and collapsing airways - a chronic condition which will eventually claim his life. Over $6000 later (credit card maxed out) and he is on a puffer and spacer twice a day. Not exactly alternative, but pretty unusual for a dog. I’m not on a high income and I have no pet insurance - did have it when all three dogs were young and healthy, but couldn’t afford to keep it going into their old age when they needed it. The puffer costs up to $133 each time I have to replace it. I love my old Hugo and want him to have quality of life, which he does have again, so it’s all worth it but there is a limit. There has to be. I have had many pets put down over the years and Hugo’s turn isn’t far off.


An unfortunate coincidence with your husband and dog.


I just tried to get information on the insurers, and could not till I paid to join Choice, as I am a pensioner, this is not possible. So will have to wonder if I am doing the right thing with my insurer still!


I don’t understand why owners expect value from pet insurance when we all know that insurance companies make massive profits. We hear from a small handful of owners who are ahead but of course, most are not.
Put the premium away in a box or special account and you will be ahead in a couple of years!


An interesting article regarding pet health.

Our previous pet, a miniature poodle, would sit and stare blankly at the lounge room wall in an almost trance like state.

Our vet diagnosed her as having a condition whereby her liver could not tolerate fat, especially lamb and lamb bones.

No more lamb, lamb bones or other fat and no more problems.

She lived to almost to 14 years.