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Please help me with my decision - Old disabled dog

2582 Views 26 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  ceardach
Hello to all

I have a 10 years old German Shepherd male named Buddy. He is having difficulties in walking because his back legs are very weak. This started about 1 year ago after he was run over by a car. One of his legs had to be amputated and I have made a special shoe for him to help him keep his height and balance. He was nursed carefully for 6 months after the accident and he got better to a stage where he could walk again but not very far. He seemed fine for the past 6 months. About 4 days ago he looked very sick and would not get up. He is urinating on himslef and has not gotten up since. He lost his appetite for a few days but has started eating again (but very little). He seems alert but looks sad and depressed. His gums are very white and his back legs are swollen. Some time ago he had blood in his urine and we gave him antibiotics and it cleared up. He has been on multi-vitamins and a balanced diet since the accident.

It breaks my heart to look at him in this condition. We are trying everything to keep him happy and alive. My vet has advised me to put him down, but I dont feel right because he has been such a loving and loyal dog for so long. Can anyone help me with this difficult decision? I feel like a traitor if I put him down. Should I keep trying my best and let nature take him or should I ease his suffering and have him put down? Does anyone know if the dog feels any pain when they are put to sleep?

Thank you to all who reply.


John Burnett
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John, Sorry to hear you are going through this. It is a difficult thing but for me, if I know it is the end of the road for my dog, I would put him to sleep to end his suffering. Based on your description of Buddy it sounds like he is not enjoying life too much these days.

I have unfortunately put down quite a few dogs and all of them have been very peaceful with no suffering at all.
John, I'm not sure anyone can help you with this decision. It is a decision we all dread.

The one thing I think you can ask yourself is what is his quality of life? Does he still express happiness? Are there still things that bring him joy, whether it is a favourite toy or the touch of your hand?

I believe you love your dog and you will know in your heart when it is time to let him go.

The problem with nature is it can take so long... we have
the ability to ease the way for the old ones, so I think we
should do that.

You aren't a traitor. You wouldn't be here if you didn't really
care and want to do what's best for him. It's one of the
hardest decisions you'll ever make but like you said, he's been
a loving and loyal dog for so long, now you have to give that
back to him.

They might feel a slight needle stick but it should otherwise
be peaceful.

I am very sorry you are facing this.

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I agree that if the dog is clearly suffering the kind thing to do is let him go and put him down. Painful for you to lose him, no doubt, but if you do decide the time is right to put him down know that you are preventing his continued suffering. You will not be letting him down. Your efforts on his behalf have been heroic, and you are to be commended for being such a loving and loyal owner. Nobody in their right mind would think otherwise.
The best way to return his years of love and loyalty is to end his suffering. You would not be a traitor in doing so. Rather, when animals are suffering and there is no way to end it or ease it, the treacherous thing is to keep them around for our own selfish reasons.

It is a very difficult decision to make and one every pet owner will face at some point. Putting the dog's welfare above our own feelings is often the last, greatest gift we can give them.

Originally Posted By: JohnPro Does anyone know if the dog feels any pain when they are put to sleep?
No, they don't. The term "put to sleep" is a very accurate descriptor as that is pretty much exactly what happens. It is very peaceful and very quick.
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I am wondering if this is a temporary condition that is treatable. If he would improve after treatment, I would consider treatment. The diagnostic tests might be quite expensive.

I went through something similar with my 12.5yo recently. He suddenly stopped eating, we did a bunch of test and would have needed much more. Three days after he stopped eating he would not lift his head or get up when I got home. He could still walk when I made him get up, but he did not want to get up on his own. At this point I decided to stop dragging him from vet to vet for biopsies. For the best case scenario he would have needed weeks of hospitalization and he was very stressed out when he was away from me and was afraid of vets and new places. I decided to let him go - even with the best of scenarios the outcome was uncertain.

Again, the key is for you to decide if this sad condition is temporary and treatable to a level that there is hope for significant improvement. If not, I would probably not let him go on like this. But again, you know your dog best. They tend to tell us when they had enough.
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I am so sorry to hear about Buddy. It's tough when a beloved pet gets to that stage. We had a Chow Chow for 13 years and the hardest decision I ever had to make it when we had him put to sleep last September, it was beyond heartbreaking. He had such a full life and in the end, his quality of life greatly diminished. It's been seven months and we still miss him
. Anyways, ((((hugs)))) to you and to your dear Buddy.
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I agree with Momto. Make sure it's not something temporary. The vet could've just thought since he's old and such, it's the best way but didn't really look into it. I've heard those stories way too often.

Good luck John.
I am so sorry you are going through this. I have never had to make that decision yet, but I hope if I ever have to that I have the strength to make the right decision.

I do agree with everyone else though. If it is not treatable, I would consider letting him go. I would hate to think of Rocky suffering. I am sure it is very tough on your and your family, but it isnt fair to him to keep him in the same condition he is in.

I will keep my fingers cross for you and Buddy that this is just a temporary thing, and that he will recover and still be with you for years to come.
dear john,

there are very few things in life that i am totally sure of, but i am absolutely, positively, unconditionally, sure that you can rest your mind and know that there is NO WAY you are a traitor to this dear soul...for considering the possibility that it might be best to help him end his discomfort. i can feel the pain in your words and although no one can make this decision for you or make it easier for you i have said many times to many people that after a lifetime of owning german shepherd dogs i have always felt so lucky to reach the double digits in age, and i have lost a majority of mine before that. and i have never had one that crossed the bridge without help. they are sedated first, just as if they were going to be anesthetized for surgery, and i believe it is not painful for them, but terribly so for us. it is the final gift we can give them and ultimately, i believe, based on a deep and abiding love for the dog. my heart goes out to you, my thoughts are with you, and i wish you strength at this very difficult time.

many blessings to you and your buddy. please come back here for support, there are so many of us who understand exactly what you're going through.

take care,
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My heart goes out to you.
I had to put down a beloved friend, my cat of 21 years last year. I went through all the same doubts and fears you described. Was I betraying her? Was I acting too soon? What if? What if? After a very long night of prayer and contemplation, and sitting up with her after a massive siezure- I decided to let her finally rest. It was EXTREMELY hard for me. The vet said I could keep her around a little longer with MORE medications, etc
Ultimately, I weighed her quality of life- she was already deaf, and suddenly the massive siezure made her go blind. She hurt a lot. I could tell. You know your animals. And for my dearest friend the best gift and kindness I could give was to have the courage and strength to end her suffering. Yes, I cried like crazy just after. But I had no doubt it was the right thing.
And it was quiet, no pain. Didn't even register with her. I held her the ENTIRE time and for some time after.
I still miss her. But I never felt like I betrayed her after that. I was thankful that I could be there for her in the end. Of all the demises our pets could suffer at the hands of strangers and accidents, I was glad I could send her off quietly.

Search your heart, watch your dog, you'll know if it's the right thing for you.
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I'm sorry- I wanted to make a correction, it wasn't last year, it was in 06. (I remember now because Ruby came to live us 6 months later). I say a prayer of thanks for her every night and light a candle, so for me she's still with me all the time.

This is the most difficult decision most dog owners will ever have to make. It never gets easier, and yes, it always hurts like ****.

Please, don't feel like a traitor. Your decision will be what you feel will be the right thing to do for Buddy. I look at euthanasia as the final gift I can give one of my beloved dogs. Unlike humans, we can give our dogs a dignified end to their pain and suffering.

A friend of mine says, when you put your dog to sleep, you take his pain and make it your own.

I can't tell you what to do, but I'm sure you'll be able to decide what will be in Buddy's best interest.

Good luck and give Buddy a big hug from me and the Hooligans!!!
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It is very peaceful when they pass.

I've been in your shoes. I never thought I would be able to bring myself to do it, but I knew at one point, it was time.

I bawled when I phoned the vet for the appointment.
I bawled when I brought my dog in.
I bawled when I took him home to bury him.

And without a doubt, I knew that I had done the right thing. A huge weight dropped off my shoulders. Somehow, without being aware of it, I felt the lightness and gratitude of his free spirit thanking me for setting him free.

You are not being a traitor. You are sending him off to a next phase in his life journey, with your blessings and love.
I imagine euthanizing an animal is much like being put under for surgery. That peaceful feeling you get right before you fall asleep. When Buddy wakes up, he will just be in a wonderful place.

My thoughts are with you as you make this difficult decision.
I would first like to say I am very sorry you are going through this right now. I just had to face the decision to put my 12 yr old GSD down in Feb. He had Degenerative Mylopathy and was losing the use of his back legs. Literally overnight he went from stumbling sometimes to not being able to walk at all. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. His first half was absolutly fine he just couldnt walk. Evert time we had to carry him outside or he would have an accident inside (could no longer control bowels ) he would hang his head down like he was just so ashamed of himself. And he would lay there in his bed with this look on his face like he was defeated. I read alot about older dogs that loose their dignity when things like this happen and that was what helped me to come to the decision to let him go. I felt at times that I was being selfish to keep him that way when he was clearly miserable although his disease was painless. The pain is still pretty fresh cause this was just a couple months ago and I feel for you. We made his last day the happiest that we could for him. We gave him the things he loved but could never have like pizza and popcorn and cookies. The vet came to our house and we held him and it was very peaceful. He just fell asleep. And although I was heartboken its like Castlemaid said, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted of my shoulders. I hope that whatever you decide you have peace in knowing you are doing the right thing.
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I am so sorry your dog is going through this. I know you love your dog, and will kindly and lovingly repay his lifetime of loyalty with the gift of release from his pain. When we do this for our dogs, it is an act of compassion... it hurts us, but helps them.
Re: Please help me with my decision - Old disabled

I agree with everyone else that a release from suffering is the final gift we can give our pets, and I've done this many times now so I do certainly appreciate your feelings.

One thing I'd like to ask though. I see mention of only one vet. With such a serious choice ahead of you I would urge you to get a second opinion. There may yet be a chance you don't know about or something misdiagnosed. I don't want to give you false hope by any means, but I do urge you to explore that option before you say goodbye.
Re: Please help me with my decision - Old disabled

I'm so sorry for the sad situation you are in with Buddy. I agree with GSDad - before I could bring myself to end my dog's suffering, I would have to get a 2nd opinion from a good vet (not just anybody). If they agree with Vet #1, I would definitely put him to sleep.

I have been in your position, with a dog we grew up with. I ended up being the one (along with my brother) to take our dog in and have him euthanized. We bawled like babies, but knew we were doing the right thing. It's not easy, but it's the best thing you can do for your friend.

In addition, I used to work in a vet clinic. I have seen people who kept dragging out the inevitable, and kept trying to keep animals alive who clearly were suffering and did not have any enjoyment from life. It was hard, b/c I knew the animals needed release from suffering, and I occassionally would get angry at clients who refused to let go of a pet for their own selfishness...However, I know how hard it is, also. After assisting with many euthanasia's, I can tell you that they go very peacefully - just relax and drift off to sleep. Our vet was very gentle and soothing when handling the animal, as well.

One thing you may want to ask your vet to do, if you end up putting Buddy to sleep, is see if they will do it at home. That's one thing I asked my new vet (far, far in advance, I hope) if he'd be willing to do. My Kodee is 9 mos old, but I would want him put to sleep in his own safe, comfy environment if I ever have to have it done.

God bless you and Buddy - good luck and just think about what Buddy needs. You are NOT a traitor - you are a loving friend who has an agonizing decision to make.
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