Symptomatic treatment consists of therapy given to eliminate or suppress clinical signs. Examples include using antiemetics to control vomiting
and glucocorticoids to control pruritus.
Palliative treatment consists of therapy chosen to suppress the clinical signs of patients with diseases for which the underlying cause cannot
be cured and that are likely to be progressive.
Inappropriate therapy consists of therapy that is not needed by the patient or therapy for which the risks associated with it outweigh the probable
The choice of therapy should encompass knowledge of the patient's history of adverse drug events (e.g., rash, tremors, anorexia,
vomiting, diarrhea). To minimize adverse drug reactions, it is usually best to avoid unnecessary combinations of drugs.
Keeping your eye on the target
Once the goal of therapy is defined, the feasibility of such therapy must be assessed. In many situations, the final choice
will represent a balance among the optimum therapy for the problem or problems, the availability of the optimum therapy, the
type of therapy clients can or are willing to afford and the ability and desire of the clients to comply with therapeutic
recommendations. There should be no misunderstanding about what is wanted and what is given. In some circumstances, we must
also determine clients' willingness to pursue treatment for their pets and advise them based on their pets' needs and their
level of motivation. Once this information is obtained, with appropriate input from the client, follow-up plans should be
devised to best monitor the patient's progress.
Dr. Osborne, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, is professor of medicine in the Department
of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota.