How do you know when? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 12:46 AM Thread Starter
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How do you know when?

Hi there I would love some advise on this, my old 15 year old dog has chronic arthritis with terrible knees and hip, he requires help to stand and walks in a stumbling and staggering way when he does, he pretty much walks out to wee and poo and back in to eat, drink and sleep. The difficulty is that he become very anxious when he is lying down and barks and yelps non-stop until he is up, sometimes once he is up it seems like he doesnt know what he wants to do now that he is up.

The hardest part though is getting him up, he often becomes aggressive and attempts to bite and snap, today he got me and put two deep punctures in my hand with his canines - was attempting to muzzle him so i could lift him. Once he is up he is fine - no aggression just keen to get out to if he needs to pee or poo.

He still loves his food, but I feel he over drinks and urinates too frequently (every few hours). I can't lift him safely nobody else in my family dares too and now we have the neighbours writing us letters about the noise.

I have bought him some sedation from the vet and honestly its breaking my heart i can see him fighting through it but unable too.. he seems confused about his sedated state and tries to get up but can't... his eyes look dead and he looks so helpless unable to get up he has urinated on himself because he cant get up, but without the sedation he will bark through out the day off an on for sometimes quite a while (10-30 minutes at a time) unless someone sits with him, and even then sometimes that doesn't help either. I have him with a pillow and blanket and take his temp regularly to make sure he isn't over heating or getting too cold.. but I just dont know how to manage him.. we are thinking of euthanasia which is breaking my heart because he is not dying, but he is in pain and his quality of life is compromised but I don't feel like he has given up on life himself.

Someone help me see clearly if you can, I won't take offence he matters more than my ego and I'd love to hear any insight into how I should be approaching him. I am a vet nurse myself and I see dogs being brought in for euthanasia all the time, so you'd think I'd know the answer to this, but often times i feel animals are brought in to be pts well and truly much later than they should be.. when they have been suffering for days on end before being brought in. He is painful but he also loves hugs and eats well, and drinks well.. the issue is his management and anxiety and aggression. Thank you I appreciate your time and advise.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 12:56 AM
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To me it sounds like you already know the answer yourself.

Personally, I would Euthanize. The issue is not only his anxiety and aggression, it is the pain, that he can't walk by himself, the severe arthritis and his age. The only reason he probably snaps at you is due to the pain.

You are the only one that can manage him. What if you are down yourself? Let's say your back went out and you can't lift him for days?

He's had a good long life. Let him go with dignity and don't try to squeeze every second out of his life. Even if he likes his food and overdrinks. Just from the description you've given. I couldn't watch him being in that severe of pain that he needs sedation. We can give them gift to let them go and release them from their chronic pain.

Hang in there (((HUGS)))
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 01:02 AM
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Is he on anything for pain?

It sounds like he is kind of a palliative care case, which is nice because that gives us the freedom to give meds without worry of their long-term side effects. So you can medicate for pain, and you can help him with his anxiety - but the anxiety might actually be pain - yelping and barking - so I would look at pain management more closely if you have not. There might be a link here in this section about that. If not just google Cornell Vet Pain Management. I was just logging off and saw this so sorry for not doing it for you.

I know that many will recommend PTS but sometimes pain management allows the dog some quality of life.

My old dog would bark because he wanted something - so I waited on him. He had always been a pushy dog so he really let me have it in his last months.

Cholodin is a supplement that can help older dogs age better too.

A harness like the one here Ruff Wear Performance Dog Gear | Dog Packs | Dog Boots look for the webmaster - is really helpful - the dog can be carried/moved like a suitcase. There is also a harness that helps support front and back. I am not sure but if you google Whole Dog Journal Ruffwear Harness the other one should show up.

If you cannot get the pain under control, then...well, it is most fair to him to let him go.

Take a look in this section, there is a quality of life inventory that tries to help owners make this decision. I wish you the best, you have the compassion, you just need some clarity.

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 01:18 AM
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I agree with Mrs. K that you already know the answer even if you dont want to admit it. Better a day too soon than a day too late.

Sounds like your guy has had a good long life filled with love but the amount of pain he's in and the amount of assistance he needs is frustrating him and then sedating him only adds to the frustration. Ask your dog. They do tell us when they're ready to go.

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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 01:27 AM
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That sounds a bit like our schnauzer when we had to let her go. She had to be carried up and down the stairs, and if she wasn't taken out, she would go potty then slide through it (because she couldn't walk). She had to be helped up and would fall if she tried to walk too far.... I think we should have let her go before we did, but my mom decided it was time when she refused to eat. I didn't push it because I know how hard of a decision it was for her. She was her first dog and had been with her through the hardest times in her life, but I did ask her to consider it and look at her quality of life.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 01:34 AM
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It's time. The body wants to live. It's an engine that's designed for survival but there are limits. Death is rarely easy and I think dogs especially will themselves to go on. We as their friend/companion/guardian have to help them and keep their comfort our goal.

It's been two and a half weeks since I said Goodbye to Felony. I still cry every day. I miss her so much. But it's a comfort to know that her pain is over. It's such a difficult decision to make when its your dog. I am sorry that you are going through this. I think that when the chance for meaningful recovery is gone and bad times out number the good--it's time.

One thing though--have you tried steroids? I've heard that they can give a few good weeks. My friend had an IW with bone cancer and they gave him steroids and he had a bit more quality time.
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 01:39 AM Thread Starter
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He has been on daily joint supplements, weekly cartrophen injections and non-steroidals for years now for his joints, last year I stopped giving the anti inflammatories regularly as his liver enzymes were way out of whack and as he was getting blood in his stool, I have restarted the pain relief today (previcox - its one of the gentler non-steroidals on their intestinal lining we have here in aus).. and I have just booked him in for a home visit for his euthanasia next week.. but might have to bring that forward, it doesn't help its swelteringly hot here today.. I have the fans on him and a wet tea towel too to keep him cool, but he is still slightly hyperthermic.

I guess I'm going through the doubt and guilt that everyone faces, about when to let him go, particularly because he is trying so hard to keep participating in life (struggling to get out to toilet rather than messing in the house and putting away his food with as much gusto as he always has, giving affection and seeking it when he is not stressed about standing etc.). I appreciate your advise so much, I know the time is nearing for him, not from an illness point of view but because of the stress and pain he is feeling everyday. I will see if his anxiety reduces with the pain relief, and see how he is tomorrow once todays sedation wears off, I don't think I'll use the sedation anymore on him if i can help it because I can see how its not relieving his anxiety, it might actually be compounding it because he cant get up (apart from when the time comes).. anyway thank you I will talk to my family today I see if I can get the vet out to us tomorrow, with my hand all swollen and draining now I couldn't possibly lift him into the car anyway now. My poor old boy, I've known and loved him since primary school and he has seen me through uni and into working adult life as my most loyal friend.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 01:42 AM
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It's the kindest thing to do--but,boy, is it hard. Enjoy your days, let him have his favorite foods and be kind to yourself as well.
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-09-2012, 02:08 AM
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I am so sorry for your predicament. I wish you all the best during this tough time. If it were me, I would call in the vet earlier than later.

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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-10-2012, 12:11 AM
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There's never a good time to say goodbye, but you know in your heart. My vet always helps me with this: Her bottom line is when the quality of life is so low that it's painful. I'm not going to tell you one way or the other because that's something only you can decide. You'll have regrets either way. If you let go, you'll regret that there was nothing else you could do. If you don't, you'll regret feeling like you prolonged the agony.

Geeze, a tear fell while I was typing this to you. Look him in the eyes and you'll know.
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