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cndlyn

when to euthanize

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MY BC is 14 and his back legs on going out on him almost all the time. We usually have to help him up when he falls. He can get up from laying down, but it takes a lot of effort. He has teeth worn down and now can't eat dry food. He has cataracts and pretty much totally deaf. I think he is in pain because he drools and pants alot. he also will also have a BM in the house and not even realize it (sometimes he has been asleep). he had been the best dog so its hard to see him like this

I think it is time to euthanize him, but everytime I start to make the call, I feel selfish when I think of calling the vet. Is it time? how do you really know?

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Hi cndlyn,

 

I am sorry that you are having trouble with the decision to euthanize your old friend, and I agree, it is not an easy decision to make. My vet has some advice for knowing when it is "time". She says to make a list your dog's three most favorite things in its life. For most dogs, eating would be at the top of the list, probably followed by playing with their owner or pack mates, then perhaps followed by going for a ride in the car, going to a favorite place, going for a walk with their owner, etc. As the dog is no longer finding enjoyment in these three things (check them off of the list as his interest diminishes), then it is time to put him down. Additionally, if your old boy seems to be in pain, then it is probably time. My vet also says that none of her clients have ever said that they put their beloved dog down too soon, but many of them have said that they waited too long. My heart goes out to you at this time, and best wishes for a very difficult decision.

 

Regards,

nancy

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I am very sorry to hear you are facing this decision, cndlyn. :(

 

When I have been in your situation, I have found it helpful to review some of the "Quality of Life" assessment tools available--as a way for me to evaluate my dog's condition a little more objectively. A friend recently found this particular one, on a Canine Cancer website, especially helpful because it allowed her to examine many specific behaviors: Quality of Life Scale.

 

I hope you are able to find whatever materials and support will help you at this time.

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Call your vet. He will talk you thru it and help you make the right decision. I just had to do this a month ago and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. My 15 year old dog had pancreatitis, arthritis, was deaf, something going on with his liver and we don't really know what all else. I spent thousands of dollars (not complaining about the money) trying to make him better, thinking one more pill would do the trick. We were about to go to the next level when I finally came to terms that he was really sick, one more thing was not going to make him well and that his quality of life had diminished significantly. We were spending the entire day just helping him get by rather than enjoying life. As much as I loved him, I could not bear for him to be sick one more day or take one more pill or be poked and prodded any more. My wonderful vet talked me thru all the options and scenarios and helped me make the right decision for my dog. It was really tough and I miss my boy every day. Good luck and best wishes.

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That this topic was brought up at this time for me is sort of a relief. I'm going through the same thing now. Tam will be 15 in October. He has really aged the last year. He is almost entirely deaf, sight is not good and senility is setting in, but he still loved to eat and run after Joe, a dog he chose as the one to follow. I came home after work this week. Tam was Tam in the morning, but something happened during the day while I was at work. I'd say a stroke, maybe idiopathic vestibular syndrome, but he could not stand and staggered around like a drunken sailor. He had the presence of mind to hold his urine until he got outside and then he could barely stand as he peed. Today is the first time he ate a little since Tuesday. I can see he's fighting it. He's not incontinent and his balance has gotten better. I made an appointment to euthanize him this Saturday morning.

 

A couple of months ago, Sligo, another one who will be 15 in November, also had a stroke and identical symptoms to Tam. I made an appointment to euthanize Sli, but the night before the appointment, he changed a little for the better. Now, 2 months later, you can hardly tell that anything was wrong with Sli.

And I also saw him struggling to --- live?

 

I had some leftover meclizine from Sli that I've been giving to Tam and maybe that's what's helped him. Tam, unlike Sligo, is tilting his head to the side and circling in the direction of the head tilt.

 

So do I wait this out, with Tam, hoping he makes a come back like Sli? Maybe if he starts eating, but I won't let him starve to death either.

 

It's been a bad week and I can't even think straight to make the right decision for this dog who, in his prime, was top dog, sleek, athletic, muscles rippling beneath his glossy sleek coat, a dignity about him, now an old dog nearing the end of his life. So do I send him off to meet his maker? I just don't know.

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Vicki, I'm sorry you are going through this too. It is so hard to watch our beloved friends age.

 

If Tam's *main* problem is the head tilt thing, don't give up too soon. I watched my ol' Lucy (who was a big agility champ in her day) go through this about a year ago; vet said, oh, no worries, it'll clear up (mostly) soon. It took a good two months, during which time I had to urge her to eat, help her up and down stairs sometimes. There were so many times I thought, geez, does she really want this?

 

But today, a year later, you can hardly tell she had that problem. 'Course, now she has others....but the general "assessment" scales can help. Activity - she's not nearly as active as she used to be, but seems to enjoy going for short walks, or short swims in my pool. Appetite - pretty darned good! Attitude - as feisty as ever, though sometimes it's hard to show it. Those 3 things reflect what Nancy said - are they able to do what they like most?

 

cndlyn, as others have said (or implied), only you can make that decision. You shouldn't feel any guilt; but any twinge of it should not be that you are relieving your dog of pain, embarrassment, or guilt - the only guilt is really waiting too long. I think your heart will tell you when the time is right.

 

Lucy just "celebrated" her 15 year/6 month birthday - so I will likely be sharing your pain sometime all too soon.

 

Hugs to you both, and best wishes for your pups.

 

diane

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I second what Diane said about the head tilt--if that is the only problem, don't give up too soon. Reno had two episodes like this thirty days apart, diagnosed as vestibular disease, where he could not stand or walk, head tilt etc. As bad as it was, he did recover almost completely. He was not exactly the same but he was pretty close with no real adverse effects.

 

I don't pretend to know your entire situation but I just wanted to give you some hope. I'm sorry you and your dog are having to experience this, it is painful to watch. Best wishes and hugs.

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I am cancelling the appointment to put down Tam. He's not ready. I'll know when he's ready. I'm hoping he'll make a come back like Sligo. We'll wait and see. One of my concerns was is that I'm leaving the country for the first half of September, and I don't want any of my dogs to die on anyone's watch but mine. Right now he appears to be functional and fighting and as long as Tam --- or any of my dogs have the fight in them to live, I'll fight right along side of him. And he'll be with my best friend who he's known for years, so I feel a lot better.

 

Thank you all. I have 4 seniors that could go at any time -- in their sleep or by some other way, so it's going to be a rough year, but I owe them my half of our partnership and I'll be right along side with them if they've got the fight to live or if they decide it's their time. I owe them at least that much.

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Thank you everyone for replying. My vet simply told me "you will know when it is time" Maybe I do know and simply don't want to make that decision. I agree that others have said they waited too long. That happened with my brother and his wife and their 18 year old friend. I just don't want to wait until something happens when I can't get to the vet right away and have to watch him suffer.

 

I believe there is also something else going on with him, maybe small stroke? or dementia? he is not the same dog, and I am not sure he does enjoy life right now. I have decided to make the appt and have him put to sleep. I just don't want to think about it too long.

 

See4th, I will be thinking of you and Tam. It is so hard when they can't tell you what is hurting and look at you with so much love in their eyes.

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Just MYO. It is not "selfish" to help ease an old dog out of his pain and discomfort. It is selfish to keep an old one alive and in pain because you can't bear to let him go. I really believe that if we listen to our dogs, we know when they are ready to go. Sometimes that's a day, a week or year longer than we might have believed and sometimes it's a day, week or year less than we would have thought. The only pet's euthanesia that I truly regret is the one I waited too long to do - because I invested so much emotionally in keeping her alive that I couldn't/wouldn't face the fact she was ready to go.

 

For me personally, calling the vet to schedule the appointment is the hardest thing to do - harder even that being with my pet when he/she dies. My dogs have all gone peacefully in a good environment with lots of support and while I grieve at the time, I never have any doubt that I have made the right decision (of course over the next few weeks, I second guess myself a lot!).

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Thank you everyone for replying. My vet simply told me "you will know when it is time" Maybe I do know and simply don't want to make that decision. I agree that others have said they waited too long. That happened with my brother and his wife and their 18 year old friend. I just don't want to wait until something happens when I can't get to the vet right away and have to watch him suffer.

 

----

 

I have decided to make the appt and have him put to sleep. I just don't want to think about it too long.

 

If you feel he is in pain, I would ask the vet for meds that you can give him before you take him in to make it as stress free as possible.

 

If it's hard for him to get around, see if your vet will come out to the car.

 

With my dog on her last day when I knew it was time, I made the appointment, and the vet told me to go ahead and give her a second dose of her tramadol to help with the pain. The meds kicked in and we spent a couple of good peaceful hours together before hand. I was really grateful for that.

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It is not "selfish" to help ease an old dog out of his pain and discomfort. It is selfish to keep an old one alive and in pain because you can't bear to let him go. I really believe that if we listen to our dogs, we know when they are ready to go. Sometimes that's a day, a week or year longer than we might have believed and sometimes it's a day, week or year less than we would have thought.

This. It bears repeating.

 

It's never an unkindness to err on the side of too early rather than too late. You know your dog best, and you know what kind of life your dog has led up to the point when you're faced with such a decision. Sometimes the decline is so long and slow that we don't really realize how much a particular dog's life has changed over the last several years of its life. But going back over that time and reflecting on how things have changed can help you decide if an individual dog's quality of life is still good enough, or not.

 

J.

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I have 4 seniors that could go at any time -- in their sleep or by some other way, so it's going to be a rough year, but I owe them my half of our partnership and I'll be right along side with them if they've got the fight to live or if they decide it's their time. I owe them at least that much

 

This is how I feel as well. I watched my Zach go downhill so fast that I thought he had a limited time left. And now, he just returned from a week away with us. He enjoyed being the only dog, was spoiled rotten by everyone and is happy. He does stagger a bit from the vestibular disease and he takes very slow walks, but his life is good. And I will fight with him until we know the time has come.

 

My thoughts are with everyone living with senior dogs - it is never easy to know when the 'right' time is...

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Thanks to everyone for the hugs, thoughts, prayers and replies. We went ahead and put Bear to sleep on Saturday, August 27th. When we started to walk in, I almost backed out, and then Bear fell (again) trying to make one small step from the parking lot to the sidewalk and we had to pick him up. That is when I knew that it was time. The actual procedure went very smooth and very quick. They were going to give us as much time as we needed, but I told them I just needed to do it quickly, my husband and I were both crying and it was tearing us up to go throught this. My vets office was like a second home to my boys from daycare and boarding and was loved by the staff there. the girl who sat in with us had unofficially adoopted Bear when he stayed there and had given him the nickname "Bear Bear" It stuck and we called him that often. There were many tears and hugs from us and the staff. it was better feeling like Bear was with family. We had him cremated and my husband wants to keep his ashes and have them spread with his when he dies. I tied to post this earlier, but got to upset thinking about it yet. I am crying now as I write this. Our 10 year Cisco is keeping our minds occupied, and I am sure it will get easier, but having to make that decision was extremely hard on me.

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That is the kindest, and hardest, decision you can ever make. I'm sorry you had to make it, but I'm glad it was a good setting for all of you - it can never be great, but having a supportive staff is worth so much. Know that Bear if pain-free, and running happily with all the other great dogs that have crossed that magic bridge. I had a Cisco too - but he was the first of my three at the time to go (similar situation as yours, only the vet came to my house...that was best for us). Time will never heal your pain completely, but soon, you'll have an easier time remembering the good times.

 

Hugs to all, including Cisco!

diane

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