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Old 01-17-2014, 11:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Family wants to euthanize 14 y/o

My first dog is now an old man. When I got him it was after years of campaigning and convincing. My mom didn't like dogs and my dad didn't want to upset my mom. They were very clear that he was MY dog. I took care of him, paid for everything he needed (I was 13 when I got him) and always did all his training etc. He's a feisty little 25lb mutt. When I got ready to leave for college I had figured out a way to bring him with me when they said they wanted to keep him. Turns out my parents are soft-hearted after all!
He's been living with them on and off for almost six years. They travel often for long periods and during that time he either goes to board or comes to me. I'd say he spends about 40% of his time in my care now. My parents take excellent care of him, he gets my elderly father out for his twice-daily walks, and gives them something to care for. They love playing with him every evening and I believe they're good for each other.

Now he's 14. He's an endearingly grumpy old man. He's stone deaf, he sleeps under my bed most of the day, and he has a grade 6 heart murmur. His eyes are cloudy and he has cataracts but he appears to see fairly well. He has good days where he runs around and bad days where he just goes outside to potty and goes back to bed. He had surgery 1.5 yrs ago to clear out a bladder full of large stones. He has stones again, and a UTI (we're treating it). He's on Benazepril. He had a dental about 6 months ago and did very poorly under anesthesia, to the point of requiring epi after his heart stopped. Now he has a tumor in his anal gland that is starting to grow rapidly. At this point it doesn't affect his function, it's just annoying and is causing recurring impaction/infection. He also has two teeth that need to be removed.

My parents are scheduled to pick him up in March to take him for a few months, and when we spoke on the phone my mom said that they discussed it and wanted to have him euthanized at that time. I'm not sure how to feel about this; he's eating and drinking, can move around just fine, is active when he wants to be, and (to our knowledge) is not in pain. My mom is terrified that he'll be suffering and they won't know it because of the bladder stones that they didn't catch until it was pretty advanced. The office I work at will not euthanize a 'healthy' dog but even they admit that he is in a grey area. None of his systems are shutting down just yet, but he certainly does appear to be amassing a laundry list of elderly dog issues.

Obviously at his age the next few months may make the decision for us, but I'm not sure what to think. I've never had to make this choice. I've euthanized foster dogs that were so ill or injured that it was the only responsible choice, but not a dog that is just 'old' with no real particular ailment that necessitates it.

Is it kinder to let him go while he's still doing OK or is that cutting it short? Should we wait until he's starting to suffer or is that cruel? I know it's an individual choice that only my family can make, but I really just wanted to start a dialogue.

Thank you.
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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He'll tell you when he is ready.
Quality over quantity.
Hold him tight and close when he passes, he will appreciate it. I am so sorry
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marbury View Post
He has good days where he runs around and bad days where he just goes outside to potty and goes back to bed. He had surgery 1.5 yrs ago to clear out a bladder full of large stones. He has stones again, and a UTI (we're treating it). He's on Benazepril. He had a dental about 6 months ago and did very poorly under anesthesia, to the point of requiring epi after his heart stopped. Now he has a tumor in his anal gland that is starting to grow rapidly. At this point it doesn't affect his function, it's just annoying and is causing recurring impaction/infection. He also has two teeth that need to be removed.
Sorry to be blunt but you asked...

Quality of life. Would you want to live with an anal tumor causing impaction? I wouldn't! It is your responsibility to make the hard decisions. Do for him what you would want someone to do for you.
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Old 01-18-2014, 12:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Dogs are different than people because the thought process referred to above is not there. You know your dog best. If he is suffering you will know. You will know when it's time. Take things one day at a time and enjoy him. March is a long way from now.
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Old 01-18-2014, 01:31 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Honestly...I think going out on a high note is the best thing to do. I feel bad our old girl had to pass the way she did; I wish that we could've let her have the best day of her life then let her slip away on a good note.

The hard part with waiting until they are "down" is when that happens, they might be so bad that your last memory would be a poor one. Watching Cheyenne have a stroke, seize, and basically struggle because her body didn't know when to quit since her brain had still kills me to this day.

I am sorry that you have to make this decision. If only all dogs passed at the ripe old age of 20 or more, with no health problems, in their sleep as the chew on their favorite toy one last time...
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Old 03-01-2014, 11:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Update: his anal gland tumor has grown. He can still defecate, but it's soft stool due to the pressure from the tumor. He is otherwise hungry, alert, happy, etc. This makes it tough because his quality of life, other than slight difficulty passing stool, is totally OK.

Any advice?
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Old 03-01-2014, 11:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm sorry you are facing this really tough decision. It is never easy. I can say that there was a time I waited too long. I will always regret that. Hopefully, your old man will let you know, when it is time.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm sorry to me it sounds like your folks just don't want to deal with an elderly dog. Screw it he's old put him down.

I had to take care of my DM Boxer for 18 months she quit using her wheelchair. I had said when she was no longer interested in eating it was time. That day came in Nov of last year.

Just my 2 cents hardly an unbiased point of view.
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Old 03-02-2014, 12:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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You are in a tough spot. But you asked for an opinion so here goes.

He is quite old(not that age is a disease) , he has the worst level of heart murmer (this means blood is not flowing properly and causes fatigue dizziness, malaise,inability to clear fluids,and low oxygenation), he had bladder stones(he cannot have surgery again, so he is dealing with the constant pressure and discomfort of stones rattling around in his bladder), he has a tumor in his anal gkand( making it more difficult and most likely painful to defecate). Even if he is not showing what you perceive to be pain, he is in it.

I know he has good and bad days, but you need to decide if you are keeping him alive for YOU or because he has a good quality of life. Do you wait until a bladder stone dislodges and get caught in the urethra and he can no longer urinate? Do you wait until the anal gland tumour ulcerates and gets infected?

If it was my dog, I would let him go when your parents come back. Sorry. I rarely give that advice, it's such a personal and emotional moment and it's not my business to butt into yours.

But I can tell you that , at my clinic, we would be having this conversation with you. To start preparing you.

I am very sorry. I know how difficult it is to let a good friend go. It never gets easier. And it never should.


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Old 03-02-2014, 12:13 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Glad to be getting some 'real' responses! Not to knock all the folks who have offered support, I thank you for it. But very few people have the wherewithal to actually talk shop when it comes to this and I appreciate it.

The folks at my clinic are actually trying to talk me out of my desire to discuss euthanasia. That's why I asked here. Unbiased audience.
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