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footinmouth Donating Member (630 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 09:06 AM
Original message
Anyone else dealing with an elderly pet?
My poor old dog is heading towards 17. How do I decide when her quality of life has gotten to the point of having to put her down. Her hearing is long gone, but she still appears to have her vision. I don't know how good it is, but she's not walking into walls or anything. She eats, drinks, pees and poops. She has some troubles getting around. We just say NO to stairs. She has her bad days, but other days I'll put her out in the yard and she'll run around like a young pup. She's on Deramax for the arthritis, but other than that, the vet seems to think she's still rather healthy.

She's been our faithful companion for so many years, I'm really having a hard time with this.
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Minimus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 09:43 AM
Response to Original message
1. I feel your pain. I have a 13 yr old male Jack Russell Terrier
that is having some bad days lately. He wasn't eating, lost alot of weight, trembling, coughing and incontinence. I just spent $500 at the vet specialist getting some tests done.

My regular vet said he has congestive heart failure and put him on a couple of meds - heart pill and diuretic. Now the specialist is saying he does not have CHF and took him off all the meds. His chest xray showed some "infiltrate" in his lung and they do not know what is causing it.

Since going off the meds he has perked up and is eating again but his night time coughing has gotten worse.

There are additional tests that can be done (bronchoscope, lung biopsy, etc) but I do not want to put him through any invasive procedures. It is such a hard decision.

I always told myself that I would never let him suffer or be in pain and that when he no long had a quality life I would make the decision to put him down. :cry:

But one day he is sick and the next day he is playing so how do you make that decision?

My sister had to put her sick dog down and she told me that when the time comes I will just know.

Good luck to you. I wish you peace of mind when and if you have to make the decision and I wish many more days of feeling good for your dog.
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footinmouth Donating Member (630 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. Sounds like we're in the same boat
So far, she doesn't appear to be sick. No coughing, seizures or anything. The vet hasn't mentioned doing any invasive tests on her. She gets her blood checked every 3 months to be sure the Deramax isn't causing harm to her liver. We've had some incontinence problems, but so far, they are manageable. Kibble in, kibble out if you get my drift. I think this would be a whole lot easier if she was sick.

Good luck to you with your pet. We've got to remember the good times.
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serryjw Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-07-04 08:58 PM
Response to Reply #1
30. The same way you would decide IF we could choose as people.
When a human is 80-90 they have 'bad' days. As long as he is eating,pooping and enjoying life he should be with you. When quality is not there he will tell you.
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demnan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 09:48 AM
Response to Original message
2. She's fine for now and you are so fortunate
When life gets to the point where she no longer wants to live her mood will change, and her eating and elimination habits will change. I'm glad she has a few good days. Just like with elder people, there are good days and bad.
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footinmouth Donating Member (630 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 10:32 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. Thanks for your advice
I think you're right. I know her well enough that I will recognize a mood change. She's been a sweet loving animal her whole life. When she starts to get crotchety, I'll take that as a sign.

I keep comparing her to my mother-in-law. She's 94, relatively healthy, sleeps a lot, and has troubles getting around. Other than that, she's just fine.
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Longhorn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 10:16 AM
Response to Original message
3. Our Cocker/Golder Retriever mix, Sandy, lived to be 17 and a half.
We adopted him from the pound when he was just ten months old.

In the last few years, he had cataracts so his vision wasn't great but he could get around. He slept a lot but still liked to go outside. He could barely hold his head up, though. Eventually, he lost his appetite and started soiling himself in his bed. The vet did some mild test and said he had kidney failure.

In trying to decide what to do, I did a google search and found an article at the Texas A&M vet school site that said that dogs can be in pain and not make a sound. That helped me make the decision to put him down because he had reached the point that there just was no quality of life for him and I couldn't stand the thought that he might be suffering.

My twin daughters (age 20 at the time) came with me to the vet office. (This was January of 2002.) Sandy was in his bed on the counter with us holding and petting him while the vet gave him the injection. It really was just like he went to sleep and he looked relaxed and at peace. It was difficult but it was going to be difficult to lose him under any circumstances. And yes, there were times I wondered if we had been premature -- maybe he could have lasted longer. I'm not sure there's any way to avoid second-guessing myself. How do I know I didn't wait too long and he suffered at the end?

I've come to the conclusion that I knew Sandy better than anyone in the world and I have to trust my instincts about him. He died with people he loved who cherished him.

I wish you and your dog the best during a difficult time.
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footinmouth Donating Member (630 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 10:38 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. Yikes, 17 1/2 years old
That is a very long life for a big dog. You are right about the fact that dogs can hide their pain very well. Our last dog lived till he was 12 and our vet told us the same thing. That he could have been in pain and he's just not telling us.

My vet did a lot of poking and prodding the last time she was there and there was no wincing, jumping, yelping or any other sign that he was hurting her. I guess I'll just trust my instincts with her and hope that I'm not looking through rose-colored glasses.

We got her from the local SPCA when she was only 6 weeks old. My sons begged us to keep her. They both live out of state now, and every time they come home, I keep telling them that she probably won't be here the next time they come home. They no longer believe me.

================
Thanks to everyone who posted and felt my pain. It's nice to be able to come here and talk about things that are a little closer to home. I need a little break from red and blue for a bit.
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Lorien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 10:29 AM
Response to Original message
5. The oldest living dog is 27
he's a border collie in England who has been fed a vegetarian diet for most of his life (according to Guinness).

Just keep her on the highest quality food you can find (no meal "meals" or corn products in the ingredients), and she may well live past 18. If the vet says she's healthy then take him/her at their word. It's sounds like you are an excellent "dog parent".

It's one of the cruelest facts of life that our fur children can't live as long as we do. Just treasure every day you have together. Healthy older pets generally just stop one day, so I wouldn't worry about helping her to leave this life unless your vet tells you that she's really suffering. If she's still having puppy moments, then it sounds like she's doing quite well.
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footinmouth Donating Member (630 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. 27 - oh my
Wow, that's an old one. I've got her on Iam's Adult mini chunks right now and she seems to be doing well with that. I'm hoping she just goes to sleep one night and passes quietly in her sleep.
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Lorien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 05:03 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. Just so you know; Iams is a republican company
and it's ingredients list includes meat "meals"; ground leftover parts that are unfit for human consumption. If you put her on a holistic, human grade diet like Artemis, Wellness, Karma, Solid gold, Organix, Spot's stew (there are many to choose from) you'll probably see a big improvement in just a few weeks. My 16 year old cat was on Iams and Nutro, and seemed to be slowing down a lot. I put him on Artemis and Wellness, and with two months he was bounding after the kittens and playing with his toys at night. It's a near complete transformation!
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footinmouth Donating Member (630 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 08:24 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Where are these brands sold?
She seems to be doing OK on the Iams, but I'd be willing to try mixing in something else a little bit at a time. If she tolerates it, or thrives on it, I'd make the switch. Does PetSmart carry them? She only goes through 1 4lb bag every 2 weeks.
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medeak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:11 PM
Response to Original message
9. have to put down dog
had appt Friday and couldn't bring self to do it.

She has liver cancer and except for excessive bleeding and vomiting everything is ok.

Asked vet when to put her down and he said "If dog can't eat.. or we can't control bleeding then it's time" Well it's time and still can't deal with it. Happy to have rug shampooer out 24/7 just to have her company a little longer.
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Longhorn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:26 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. I'm so sorry. It's a very tough time.
We all understand and wish you both the best. :hug:
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footinmouth Donating Member (630 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. I'm so sorry
I know how you feel. Hopefully you'll be able to come to terms with this very soon. Think back on the happy times you had with her and maybe that will make it a little better. Check back, we're here for you.
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puddycat Donating Member (884 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #9
17. medeak, your dog will tell you when its time to go. You will know.
Edited on Mon Nov-15-04 12:40 PM by puddycat
I understand what you are going through. Our animals are our friends, our companions, our children. They are more loyal to us than any human.
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medeak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. you're right!
she's feeling happy and chasing tail (mega doses of prednisone) am not too much into this euthanasia thing.

Vet said today her labs were terrific and can't understand (full of cancer) but she's happy and will probably have turkey for thanksgiving!

(thanks for the good wishes)
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Iceburg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-06-04 04:19 PM
Response to Reply #9
28. Our aussi met a similiar fate two years ago with pancreatic cancer.
Blue was only 7 years old. To ease her pain, we had a morphine patch put on her back. After about 7 days, Blue quit eating and would would no not come in the house on her own -- we knew it was time. We arranged to have the vet come to the house and with Blue resting comfortably on her favourite sofa in familiar surrounding, the vet put our dear Blue to sleep. It was an incredibly sad moment but at least she did not have to endure another trip to the animal hospital ... we died in her own home surrounded by the people and things she loved.
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ironflange Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:46 PM
Response to Original message
12. My mom's cat
She came to my sister's house 17 years ago as a full-grown cat. We were ready to take her to the vet, for the last time, last spring. However, the night before she was scared by a dog and went up a tree. Since then, she has been a new cat! She's really skinny now, but she's eating well, she's not in any discomfort, and her bad eye has cleared up. Main thing is, she's still good company.
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SW FL Dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 10:20 PM
Response to Original message
15. She'll let you know when it is time.
I've only had to make the hard decision once in my life. My Terri died of kidney failure at 17 1/2. She crossed the bridge during the night at the emegency vets. I had to put my Maggie down at 12 1/2 after a 3 year battle with congestive heart failure. Maggie was a fighter but in her last days I could see it in her eyes. She just didn't have the strength to continue her fight.
It sounds as if your dog isn't ready, she still has spunk and isn't suffering. You know her best, only you and your vet can decide when it is time.
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americanwomanone Donating Member (247 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 12:08 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. I Totally Agree
Having gone through this quite a few times if you will watch, you will know. You will see it in their eyes.
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puddycat Donating Member (884 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 12:48 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. Oh! sorry. I didn't see your post and I posted the same thing.
But I guess it doesn't hurt to have it posted again. Yes, our animals tell us when to let them go and we only have to listen. I just dread the day my baby tells me its time to leave, but until then I do whatever it takes to be there for him, like he's always been there for me.
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puddycat Donating Member (884 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 12:51 PM
Response to Original message
19. she seems full of life, yet! Hang in there!
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Willy Lee Donating Member (925 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 02:09 PM
Response to Original message
20. Dear FootInMouth-
OK, so I am a total sucker for Senior, or "Vinatge" dogs. Everybody wants a puppy, right? But when you walk through a shelter and see that grizzled muzzle, the cloudy eyes, the awkward gate... well who ever will take that poor fellow home? Me, of course. I put my dear sweet boy Socrates down in January, he was a 14 year old lab and my very best friend. I now have 2 senior mastiffs and an exuberant young border collie mix.

17 is a great age! You should be proud and happy that you 2 had so many good years together. I struggled for about 3 years over when the right time was to say goodbye to my Soc buddy. He was blind, deaf, arthritic, etc etc, but still ate, drank, pooped, and most importantly wagged. Then came the day when he couldn't get up and peed on himself. He was so embarassed, poor guy. I tear up just thinking about it. We have a vet who makes housecalls and he came out that night. Again with the damn tears!

You will know in your heart when the time comes. I believe that dogs don't look at death the same way we do, and I truly believe that even after he is no longer physically with you his spirit will accompany you through life.

Here is a cool poem I like to read when I am thinking of my departed friend...

We have a secret, you and I,
That no one else shall know,
For who, but I can see you lie,
Each night, in fireglow?
And who but I can reach my hand
Before we go to bed,
And feel the living warmth of you
And touch your silken head?
And only I walk woodland paths,
And see, ahead of me,
Your small form racing with the wind,
So young again, and free.
And only I can see you swim
In every brook I pass...
And, when I call, no one but I
Can see the bending grass.

-- Author Unknown

It is from the senior dog project, tons of good info there. Good luck with your friend! Cherish every day!!!!!
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footinmouth Donating Member (630 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Awwww, this is so sweet
Thanks for posting that. It makes me feel better. The general concensus here seems to be that she will let me know when she want out. I know her well enough that I think I'll be able to sense it. For now, I guess I'll just let her do as much as she's able to do. Right now her good days, far outnumber her bad ones. She can still eat, sleep, drink, pee, poop and wag, even an occasional spurt of running. It looks like I have plenty of company here.
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Phentex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-06-04 06:37 AM
Response to Reply #20
25. That's really beautiful and one...
I had not seen before. Thank you.
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NRaleighLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-17-04 10:43 PM
Response to Original message
23. Lots of great advice here - echo the "she will let you know" theme -
we put down our 14 year old German Shepherd 14 years ago - she had troubles keeping her footing when urinating (worse when doing the other) - but it was really how she went "away" from us toward the end - no longer interacted, really was telling us it was time, and that it was OK....very sad, sad day, but we knew it was going to liberate her at last.

We have a 14 year old Black Lab mix that is now deaf, but otherwise is going pretty well (though really slowing down)...we are watching for the signs, but she is still with us and having a good quality of life.....the KEY is to do what is best for her, not you (we know people who have kept their pets alive well past their time because they didn't want to go through their own pain....which is selfish in my book).

Hang in there, enjoy the good days, celebrate the wonderful time she has given you, and feel good about the quality life you've given her....
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havocmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-04-04 06:05 PM
Response to Original message
24. Hey, I saw a old, gray German shepherd jogging around with a young
woman at a time when my older dog was starting to have sorta bad arthritis. I spoke to the woman about how fit the old shepherd was. She told me that 6 months before, he could barely walk. Started giving him alfalfa and WOW.

At the time, I made special food for my dog. Started adding sprouts to her mix and running it thru the blender. She really improved. Knocked my fretting about her seeing the vet for the final time right out of the water. She went on for several more, reasonably comfy years.

When a companion animal is ready to cast off a body which has become too much of a burden, they will usually let you know.

There is a book, called Good bye, friend which may be some help to you as you and your fur friend get close to a good bye of your own.

And know that sometimes a beloved friend finds a way to let you know all is well and love does not perish with the body. Love outlives the vessel. A stubborn but loving old cat taught me about redemption and what might be possible beyond the gate, and I am a pretty entrenched old cynic!
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Phentex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-06-04 06:39 AM
Response to Original message
26. It's really hard! We knew when she stopped wanting food...
She was 13, had always had good health but she just grew really tired and eventually didn't want to eat (which was RARE!) Her heart was starting to fail and we knew it was just time to not let her suffer. :(

I feel your pain!
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Minimus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-06-04 07:06 AM
Response to Original message
27. I had to make the decision and it is the hardest thing I have ever done
but this poem helped even though I can barely read it without breaking down. I do not know who wrote it, I found it during a google search for pet loss and grief.


From a Grateful Dog

You're giving me a special gift,
So sorrowfully endowed,
And through these last few cherished days,
Your courage makes me proud.
But really, love is knowing
When your best friend is in pain,
And understanding earthly acts
Will only be in vain.
So looking deep into your eyes,
Beyond, into your soul,
I see in you the magic that will
Once more make me whole.
The strength that you possess,
Is why I look to you today,
To do this thing that must be done,
For it's the only way.
That strength is why I've followed you,
And chose you as my friend,
And why I've loved you all these years...
My partner till the end.
Please, understand just what this gift
You're giving, means to me,
It gives me back the strength I've lost,
And all my dignity.
You take a stand on my behalf,
For that is what friends do.
And know that what you do is right,
For I believe it, too.
So one last time, I breathe your scent,
And through your hand I feel,
The courage that's within you,
To grant me this appeal.
Cut the leash that holds me here,
Dear friend, and let me run,
Once more a strong and steady dog,
My pain and struggle done.
And don't despair my passing,
For I won't be far away,
Forever here, within your heart,
And memory I'll stay.
I'll be there watching over you,
Your ever-faithful friend,
And in your memories I'll run,
... a young dog once again.
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-07-04 07:30 AM
Response to Original message
29. I am, and I have.
Things to watch for:

Appetite; is the dog losing weight while still eating normally? This is usually THE sign that the time is come. Otherwise, they are starving before your eyes while still eating. Apparently, they don't digest the food properly any more.

Can they get up and down? When it becomes more painful than medication can handle....

Are they still happy? Glad to see you, enjoying your company, etc.?

Hearing and vision can be dealt with. My current old friend is deaf and doesn't see as well any more, but it doesn't slow him down. I have to help him find his way in the dark.

I had to make the decision twice in the past. Once for my sweet old yellow lab; she couldn't maintain weight any more, was becoming skeletal, eyes dull, and didn't want to get up. Once for my wonderful old springer, who woke up one morning and couldn't get up. He was 13 and had already had hip surgery a few years back to keep him going awhile longer.

I was lucky; my vet does "ranch calls." She'll come out and take care of the business while the dog and I are sitting together on the dog bed. Nothing scary; no last, difficult car trip, metal table at the vet's, etc.; just falling asleep in my lap, right at home.
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