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Old dog advice?

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Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Messages
5,537
We have a lab/chow mix who is 15 years old. He has always been very healthy and robust. Within the last year or so he has developed cataracts, lost almost all of his hearing, and has developed significant arthritis. His personality is such that he just keeps chugging along. He still loves to go for walks, but makes frequent stops, or can't go very far anymore.

Big problem has develped recently. He has quite a problem getting up from the hard floors (which is about 2/3 of our house). He is limping or favoring one leg or another. It differs frequently. We have been giving him doggie advil and glucosamine for about 2 years. Within the last week he has started whining almost constantly (except when he is sleeping). It is a very low whine, like a door that needs to be oiled. We cannot find any significant tenderness in the joints, nor is there any discernable heat anywhere. It has gotten where he is not getting up from lying down only once per day. He's even left a couple of little (very little) surprises for us on the floor. Last night he had a bm in the laundry room because he couldn't get out the dog door. This is an animal who NEVER went in the house!

I'm really worried that he is in so much pain right now, and his quality of life is so bad, that we need to do something for him. I really need input from others about suggestions in dealing with this. Any and all suggestions and opinions are welcome.
 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
6,299
Oh, Uppy, I'm so, so sorry. I'm right there with you as my husband and I have tentatively made the decision to put our dog down due to his extremely poor quality of life at this point (paralyzed last year, 100% blind as of this week and started losing bladder/bowel control within past few weeks).

In general, I feel people tend to put their animals down too soon. I'm usually the one who will tell a person to try a few more things before making the "final" decision. But if I'm being honest, it sounds like your lab/chow mix is in pain and that must be so, so hard for you. I defnitely understand how tough it is when your dog is the type to just keep chugging along--I know that Byron is so stoic that he'll take anything that is thrown at him without any complaint at all. I feel that it's much tougher to get a "sign" from dogs who are like that.

I would probably ask your vet if there is anything you can do for the pain. Byron is now on Tramadol at all times now to manage his pain until we decide exactly what step we want to take next. And I'd probably just buy a bunch of cheap rugs to put in the areas of your house where your dog likes to lie and near all the doors. Our house is all hardwoods, so we had to do the same thing to help aid him in walking, even though he can't walk unassisted.

I'm so sorry. I don't know what else to say. I feel like we are in the same boat--knowing the end is near, but not being able to say "this is it" just yet. I would probably just make it the goal to keep him as comfy as possible with pain meds until it's time. Ugh, my heart goes out to you.
 

kateydid05

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jun 10, 2010
Messages
248
Upgradable, I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. My family dog, a beagle, lived to the age of 17 and towards the end had very similar issues. We made the decision that her quality of life was so poor that it wasn't fair to keep her suffering any longer. What does the vet have to say? Is there anything more they can do (within reason I suppose)? I think you know what the right decision is, although a very difficult one at that. :((
 

lyra

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 13, 2007
Messages
5,221
We felt very guilty about making the decision to put down our then 13 year old Bouvier. He had symptoms very much like your dog. He would not stop whining, wouldn't move from his bed and was starting to have bowel incontinence. The vet said he had cancer, and wouldn't have lived much longer anyway, and that he was in a lot of pain. It was something that seemed to happen all at once, it wasn't like it went on for months. So we wish we would have taken him in a bit sooner. It was so hard to say goodbye.

Now our terrier is 13 and she's having all kinds of issues. So we took her in to the vet, who mistakenly thought we wanted to put her down. Talk about more guilt! No, we just wanted to make sure our dog wasn't in pain, and that the cysts she had were not cancer. She has bladder incontinence now and then, sometimes several days in a row, and she has a real hard time getting up. But she's crazy as can be on top of not being able to see or hear very well. She's very unpredictable. But the vet is keeping a check on everything.

Ask you vet what is available to you for his symptoms and find out if he is in pain. I could handle mostly anything but the constant pain thing. That's the point that I personally will not allow. Take care. I hope you get some answers that make your choice more clear.
 

Upgradable

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Messages
5,537
The only thing the vet has suggested are strong pain relievers, which will not change anything except his level of pain. We will not expect any improvement in his level of activity or bowel/bladder control. We know the time is coming, but we are putting it off and off in hopes of, I don't know what.
 

Haven

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 15, 2007
Messages
13,166
Uppy, Nel--I'm so sorry you're both facing this difficult decision right now. (I'm in tears for both of you.)

I agree with NEL that people tend to put their animals down too soon, but I also agree that it sounds like your pup is in a lot of pain, and is suffering quite a diminished quality of life.

When we've faced this decision ourselves, it really helped me to remember that my dog (or cat) wasn't lying there fearing death or feeling sad about nearing the end of his life. That is what *I* was doing for him, but I don't believe our animals experience that. DH always tells me that they just know what they are feeling, and when it is terrible pain, they just suffer through it until we intervene and make it stop. That's all. It always made me feel better to remember that.

It is so hard to be the one to make the decision, but I think deep down you know when it's time.

I don't know if there are any vets near you that offer this service, but ours will come out to a person's home and put the pet down there so he doesn't have to suffer any anxiety about going in to the hospital, or pain in being moved from one place to another.

And I'm sure you would do this anyway, but please stay with your baby when they put him down. I know it's hard for us to be there, but someone on PS is a vet tech (I think) and she once shared that they look around for you when you leave the room, and she implored owners to stay with their pets until the end. We stayed with ours, and while it was so very sad, I felt good knowing that they knew we were there with them right until the end.

Big hugs to you. I'm so sorry. So, so sorry.

ETA:

I forgot about this until just now, but my vet is actually the one who told me it was time to put my kitty Bootsie down. She had been sick for several years, but we were managing her pain with meds and her quality of life was not diminished. However, that took a drastic downturn at one point, and after what I think was three years of painstaking care to keep her feeling well, we reached a wall. She was 18 at this time, and I had adopted her when I was ten years old, so you can imagine that, even as a 28 year old, it was really difficult for me to imagine life without Bootsie.

DH and I were at the vet for the umpteenth time one month, and she sat down with us, put her hand on my hand, and said "Lori, I think it's time you consider putting Bootsie down." I, of course, burst out in tears, but she was right. I had been in "management" mode for so long that I couldn't even entertain the idea that perhaps there was nothing more that could be done for Bootsie.

I think some vets will keep their opinion to themselves unless asked. Perhaps it would help to ask your vet "What would you do if he was your dog?" We ask ours all the time, about every decision we have to make, and I think it really helps us see the situation from a non-emotional perspective.

I am so sorry, Uppy. And NEL. I feel so much pain for you both right now.
 

Upgradable

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Messages
5,537
I, too, think it is a disservice to humanize an animal's emotions. I really believe they are connected to their owner and family, but other than that, their personal experience and habit are all they know. It really is the suffering and inability to get about like he loved is what is bothering me. I also have doubts or conflicts about just medicating his pain, because his quality of life is always what Buck was about. I think pain relievers would just give US relief, not necessarily him.
 

Haven

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 15, 2007
Messages
13,166
If I could give you a big hug right now I would, Uppy.
 

aviastar

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Oct 5, 2010
Messages
1,190
In having this conversation with my boyfriend's mom, she told me that there was one dog she waited too long to put down, despite a lot of the issues you are dealing with, the dog still seemed to have good days and she just didn't want to face the decision. But there eventually did come the night when it was very obvious that the poor dog wasn't going to make it, and she was in a great deal of pain, but also stressed because she couldn't do what all her instincts and training had taught her to do. Out where we live, at the time, there was no 24 hour emergency vet and they had to wait till morning to take her in. BF's mom said she will never wait that long again, putting her own discomfort with the decision ahead of the animal's quality of life. It's a difficult line to distinguish, but one you never forget if cross it.

This is a situation I DREAD with my own dogs, and I am crying for you here at my keyboard. It sounds like you are asking all the right questions; I am wishing you peace.
 

dragonfly411

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2007
Messages
7,378
Uppy - I don't think I can give you functional advice on this. Only you know your dog. I just wanted to offer some virtual ((HUGS)) and positive thoughts. Sometimes they help a little.
 

Kaleigh

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 18, 2004
Messages
29,570
Big big hug Uppy. I just lost Casper who was 17, had to put him to sleep. His quality of life was poor. He went down hill very quickly so he didn't suffer for long.

It's such a hard thing to do but is the right thing to do.
 

Miss Sparkly

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 2, 2010
Messages
1,664
So sorry you're going through this :( When I was 18 I had to make the decision to put down my 7 year old cat. For some reason all of her organs began shutting down and she was dying ;( It was the most difficult thing I've been through and to this day will still cry thinking about it. He's lived a long life for a larger breed dog and sadly it may be his time. Best wishes for you and your pup no matter what is decided.
 

somethingshiny

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 22, 2007
Messages
6,746
Only you will know when it's time. Only when you're sure on your decision will it feel like the right one.

My in-laws had alab for about 15 yrs and put her down a few months ago. She had her assorted health issues and my ILs did everything they could for her. But, one night, she lost all control of her bowels and bladder and couldn't stand up. That day they took her in to be euthanized. It was heart breaking, but nothing before that day convinced them that it was time to let her go yet.

Good luck in making this decision.
 

junebug17

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 17, 2009
Messages
12,513
So very sorry you're facing this difficult decision Uppy - for me, it has always boiled down to quality of life, and that can be a difficult thing to asess, especially in the case of a slow decline due to old age. You know your dog best, and only you and your family can judge when you dog is having more bad days than good. The tipping point for me is when a pet is clearly in pain and can no longer do the things that he loves, and seems to be just existing. I'll be thinking of you as you make your way through this hard time. (((Hugs)))
 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
6,299
Uppy, I agree about the pain relievers--I didn't mean to suggest that as a mid or long-term solution. We only got a week's worth of pain relievers while we talk with all of Byron's docs to put together a plan. I agree that the general lack of quality of life is what's so heart-wrenching.

What does your vet suggest? I know Haven brought up that her vet mentioned recommended euthanasia and that helped her make the decision to put Bootsie down. I think that is important as well. Not that the vet should be the definitive answer--our regular vet and Byron's neurologist both suggested euthanasia back in February, but we pushed on and I'm glad we did. This week both of Byron's ophthalmologist recommended euthanasia--one cried with me because she's very attached to Byron and the other compiled a 2-page write up about how humane euthanasia is for dog's like Byron. I'm only saying that sometimes it's helpful to have an outside opinion from somebody who has known your dog for a long time.

Many hugs to you, I feel awful for you. I wish I could help, it's such a draining, guilt-inducing, awful process.
 

ChloeTheGreat

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 25, 2009
Messages
682
I am so sorry you and your fur baby are at this point. Whatever decision is made, I wish you strength in finding peace in it. HUGS.

My stepmother had to make the decision to euthanize her old boy just a few months ago. He had a life full of health problems but just kept plugging away until the very end. I think he was suffering for quite some time before she was ready to take that step.

I hope that my own fur babies will live long full lives as yours has and tell me when it is their time to go.
 

packrat

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
10,615
Awww Uppy I'm so sorry! I made the decision to put down my kitty Bella a few months ago and it was agonizing. My gramma made the decision for her dog a month or so before that..he was quite old and could barely walk, and she's not exactly running marathons or anything, so if he was outside and needed help, the neighbors had to come over..well, even if he was in the house and needed help, the neighbors came. It's hard and it's the most heart wrenching thing to consider but it does sound like his quality of life isn't there anymore.

This isn't to make anyone feel bad, even tho it makes *me* feel like the worst animal parent in the world..When Sadie started having problems a few years ago, we talked about it and considered it, but I felt like since she was JD's dog before we got married, we didn't get her together, *he* should be the one to make the decision. He didn't/couldn't/wouldn't. Right when I got to the point where I was just going to make it for him and take the consequences, she passed away. Outside. Alone. I don't know that I can ever forgive myself for that. As hard as it is to take them in, or have the vet come to the house, I feel like it's our responsibility to..I don't know.."help" them I guess, and be by their side when they pass on. We didn't want to do it too soon but then..we were too late.

Hugs to you both, Uppy and NEL. :(sad
 

Resonance.Of.Life

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 8, 2008
Messages
1,297
Quality of life is what it boils down to (for me).

I had an 18 year old FIV+ kitty ( that I adopted when he was 8 years old from the shelter) that all of a sudden was vomitting, couldn't hold water or food down and I took him to the Vets. Apparently he had developed kidney cancer and even though there was an option to forcefeed him and administer chemo, my heart just couldn't do it. I knew too, it was time to put him to sleep because he refused to leave my lap and he was NEVER a lap cat. (I feel lame, but I'm tearing up as I'm writing this).

Do whatever you feel is right for your poor beloved dog.
 

OUpearlgirl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 26, 2007
Messages
3,081
Awww Bucky Boo. He's such a good, sweet dog, but he's been feeling bad for awhile now. It sounds like things are finally getting to that point that you've been hoping to avoid for months. I know that this is going to be hard for the whole family (and Ms. Rocket!) but it may be time.

Take him to the vet and see what he says. I think you are right and kind to not just over-medicate him.

Love to you and the rest of your house. I hope I get to give him a treat tomorrow!
 

JewelFreak

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
7,768
Uppy, it's always such a wrenching decision, as in, wrenching out your heart. I agree that you know your dog best & if his life isn't worth living for him, you'll do the best thing. If we only could know positively it was the time, it would be so much easier.

My darling beautiful Buck is coming to that point soon too. He's 13+ & on pain meds all the time, back legs & spine weak due to a spinal injury a few years ago. Now he's losing bladder control, a little trail wherever he's been. He still is alert, happy, loves his (very short & slow) walks & LIVES for riding in the car with me. I think he's hurting a fair bit but not at this point ready to go. Oh man, how I dread that time.

I usually wait too long to help them leave & feel guilty forever for thinking of me instead of them. When they still seem to get any enjoyment from life, I can't bear to take it from them. I'm a coward.

Plenty of dust and all kinds of understanding & commiseration for you. Only your furry friend can tell you & when it's time, you'll hear him.

--- Laurie
 

zoebartlett

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 29, 2006
Messages
12,450
Uppy and NEL -- I'm so, so sorry you're both going through this. It hurts a lot to put a pet down, especially one that you're so close to. You've gotten great advice from others, so I'll just offer my sympathy. My thoughts are with you two.

I have to admit, I'm one who definitely puts human emotions into my pets. I can't help it. I wonder all time time what they must be thinking and I often apply what I'd be feeling in a certain situation to them.
 

Upgradable

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Messages
5,537
JewelFreak|1316218315|3019191 said:
I usually wait too long to help them leave & feel guilty forever for thinking of me instead of them. When they still seem to get any enjoyment from life, I can't bear to take it from them. I'm a coward.
--- Laurie
I can't thank each of you enough for all of your support and sharing. This is the first time I've ever been in a position like this. I quoted Laurie because this one statement is what I'm really worried about. Half (maybe more than half) of me says "Who am I to make this decision? Shouldn't nature just take it's course? And Buck has good days too. It's just that his bad has really started to outpace his good 2 to1. I'm torn between waiting to see (and risk leaving him in pain because I'm scared), and easing him out (when this may just be a part of living his life). :(sad
 

Matata

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 10, 2003
Messages
7,384
Uppy -- I haven't read all the responses but I'm sure you've been given some food for thought. Animals that age almost always have varying degrees of kidney failure. This can lead to weakness of the hind limbs and loss of continence. Your vet will be able to tell you what's going on with him from a blood test and you can make your decisions from there.

Hugs to you. If it's his time to travel to the Rainbow Bridge, remember it's a noble thing, a loving thing and the most honorable thing to do for an animal you love and who loves you.
 

Upgradable

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Messages
5,537
He's had two good days in a row. I should be happy. Why aren't I?
 

Upgradable

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Messages
5,537
Well, Saturday is the day. He started vomiting yesterday and is quite unsteady on his feet. He has even quit whining. My husband and I are taking him into the vet as the children have said they do not wish to see it happen. The last indignity will just be getting him into and out of the car. He has gone down hill so fast! But now I am sure we are doing the right thing, for Buck as well as for ourselves.

Buck, we love you and always will. It has been an honor having you as a part of our family. Thank you for choosing us.

buck ready for tornado.jpg

buck trying the gripper shoes.jpg

family dog.JPG
 

NewEnglandLady

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
6,299
Uppy, I've been thinking about you. I feel like sometimes the decision about when to let go is the hardest, so I'm happy that you and your family have made that decision and while I know Saturday is going to be very, very hard for you, I hope it brings you (and Buck) peace.

My heart goes out to you and I'll definitely continue to be thinking about you, your family and sweet Buck. Thanks for sharing the pictures, I admit I got a bit teary-eyed.
 

yennyfire

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jun 6, 2010
Messages
6,584
Oh Uppy, I am so sorry that you are having to face the loss of your beloved friend. He is beautiful! I know that he will be watching over you always. Many hugs to you. I know that Saturday will be an awful day, but try to remember that Buck will be in a better place and no longer in pain.
 

dragonfly411

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2007
Messages
7,378
Uppy - Thinking of you.
 

Upgradable

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 15, 2004
Messages
5,537
Rest in peace, Buck. There'll be no more pain.
 
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