How Much Should I Spend to Keep My Elderly Dog Alive?

What do you ethically owe a devoted pet?

I am a 65-year-old single retired woman who has sufficient means to take care of herself, though I need to watch my budget. My 15-year-old dog has been largely healthy for much of his life. I really love him, but I can see that in the next year or two there will be hard choices about how much money to spend on his care as he ages.

I grew up in a farm environment with parents of limited means. We were always kind to our animals, but they were not family members. My entire family believes in quality of life over quantity — so much so that my mom and her sisters chose quality over quantity at the ends of their lives. I also have a strong practical bent, which is why I saved enough for a comfortable retirement during 35 years of working and despite some less happy events like divorce and serious medical issues. But I know the practical doesn't always carry the day in terms of doing the right thing.

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My concern is not just the cost of treatment for my dog but also gauging when his suffering is too much. I can afford to spend a fair amount, in that it won't impair my lifestyle, but I am not comfortable allocating many thousands of dollars to treatments for my aging dog. However, I am concerned with what I ethically owe this very devoted pet. What do you think is the right thing to do?

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