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My dog is 11 years old and part german shepherd. Her issues started with a weird limp but it didn't phase her as she would run and chase the ball till she dropped. Anyway it got progressively worse and I thought it was just old age and HD. We took an xray and while HD may be the case she has degeneration in her spine and the vertabrae starting fusing together and the vet said her symptoms may be neurological.

Sure enough her limping progressed to walking funny and crossing legs and she did not respond to his test where he puts her on her ankles. Normal dogs correct it because it feels uncomfortable, she didn't even feel it. The weird gait and falling over progressed and now its gotten to the point where she is completely incontinent and is dragging her back legs now. Being mobile is hard for her but she will still drag her way around to greet us and can get to her food and water. She is still eating and has an appetite and her stool is firm but dry. She is mentally clear as she recognizes us and still is able to come towards us if we call. She pretty much is now outside and sleeps in the sun and eats and drinks water. But she is alone she can't play with my other puppy as she cant even move and gets scared of another dog being so close to her without being able to defend herself. It's not great quality of life but I dont know when putting her down is right. If there is such a thing as "right".
I know it's progressively getting worse slowly but I am not sure exactly what I am waiting for. Not being able to move entirely? Not eating or being able to pass stool? Pain?

She basically hangs out all day and sometimes I will hear her whine and I will not know if it's because she wants company or if she is in pain. I dont suspect pain as I dont think she has feeling in her legs anymore or very little. But it could be her back or someplace else. She whines when someone is near by and she wants attention but not always. She's a very quiet and calm dog.

What are you thoughts? I understand most of it is completely subjective but I have never had to put down a dog before and obviously doing it too early is regretful but also waiting too long as well.
 

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This is always a very difficult and painful situation to face...

If it were me, I would give her a fantastic day filled with yummy food, treats, games, company, hugs and kisses - do her favorite activities to the best of her ability and spend the day cherishing your time together.
Incontinence, immobility, loss in quality of life....I would put a dog like this to sleep.

Wishing you the best of luck - tough predicament...
 

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I asked my vet the same question last year when my old dalmatian stopped responding to the rimadyl he'd been on for arthritis.. The vet said that the only advice he could give me was that most people, him included leave it too long. I set a date a few weeks away because it coincided with a week off work and I knew I wouldn't want to go to work for a few days afterwards.. Well, Oscar collapsed before then. Although I was there when he was put to sleep, I feel guilty that I didn't do the right thing as soon as I knew that it was inevitable, because I could have spared him the indignity of collapsing.. Not much help I know and believe me, I know how hard it is, but ask yourself honestly if you are keeping your dog alive for you or for her.. Good luck, I don't envy you :(
 

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I euthanized my GSD five years ago. She was dying of cancer, and I waited until the tumor was large enough so that she was spending over half the day asleep from her medications. In all honesty, when I did put her down, it was extremely hard. She was wagging her tail and looking at me and nothing about what I was doing felt natural. Personally, for a dog that is just old and passing from the illnesses of old age, I would never do that again. I'm happy for others who are able to euthanize their animals and feel afterward it was the right thing to do, but in my case I'm not sure I've ever felt like it was "right".

On the other hand, last fall I had a very different kind of experience. My friend had to go into the hospital last November and was there for over three weeks. He left his aged and sick GSD with me and I nursed her and took care of her while I saw her exhibit all the exact symptoms which you describe your dog having. On Thanksgiving I gave her a nice meal but she could hardly eat and began to breathe heavily. I called my friend and told him the end was near, so he checked himself out of the hospital against medical advice and came to pick her up and take her home with him on Friday. She was too sick to move by then and I asked if he wanted me to call the vet for a home euthanization. He said no, and all day on Friday he just stayed with her in my backyard, and in the late afternoon she fell asleep in his arms and didn't wake up. There were many tears and it was heartbreaking to watch, but it certainly had none of the trauma which happened to me when I euthanized my dog.

Yes, there are many arguments to be made for putting a dog to sleep. But seeing my friend hold his baby in his arms until she passed naturally was, to me, a much more soothing scenario than I had experienced when I put my dog to sleep. Perhaps this is not at all helpful, and I apologize if that is the case. But since you mentioned that you had never put a dog to sleep, I just wanted to share my thoughts, from the point of view of someone who had euthanized his dog, and also from the point of view of watching a dog go peacefully without being euthanized.

In some cases, when dogs are euthanized in old age, you are not really saving them that much pain or suffering, because by the time many pet owners put dogs down, they are only a few hours or days from dying on their own. And in those last hours, their bodies will often shut down enough so that they spend most of the time asleep anyway before they pass. Just my two cents. I hope that you find the right answer in your heart for dealing with the situation of your dog. I'm truly sorry to hear it is getting near that time for you two to part.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thank you all for the response. I guess that's the big question, we can never know. I honestly don't know how she's going to go if I just leave her. I mean if she could just go to sleep and die of old age without much pain that would be the way I would choose but it's so hard because there are no guarantees. Like you said, it could also result in a terrible incident where she is gasping for air and unable to move and being terrified. That would be so much worse.
And I feel it's often too late once you realize that it is time because by then the animal is already in the stages of dying and it may be painful or scary. At least with euthanization there is peace. But you are right, it does feel unnatural.

actually I had an experience. We had a hamster and the hamster was exhibiting signs of a disease where it was losing its fur and getting really dry and scaly. And it started to have dark spots on its feet and bottom. It slept a lot and we saw that it could be cushing's disease. Well even now as I write this it was terribly traumatic to see the hamster go this way. Idk people dont view hamsters the same as dogs but any living thing you get attached to and you witness it suffer is really something that is unsettling to say that least. One day it was bleeding and leaving trails of blood in its area and the next morning it was breathing very very heavily. Could barely move didnt eat. Drank little water. It was now bleeding out of his behind and all I could do is just watch it suffer for hours as it went through a painful dying process where I can only imagine it was bleeding from the inside due to a cancer or something. I kept suggesting we euthanize it as I saw there are methods to use dry ice to euthanize hamsters and small pets where they drift off to sleep but my family didn't want to. And when it was twitching from the pain and breathing really heavily we got the dry ice and put her inside and within 3 seconds of putting her in the box, she took her last breathe. I think she died regardless of the dry ice and that was a moment where I realized i waited too long.

I honestly would hate for my dog to go through something similar i mean something like the hamster situation but it would be a thousand times worse for me and for a dog. It's hard to know because the vet doesn't know exactly what the disease is but most likely EM and it's impossible to predict what she will die from. Maybe she will start being paralyzed in the upper body and have trouble breathing and if it's 4am with animal hospitals closed or us sleeping, I would hate for that to happen.

I guess writing this out gave me some clarify, euthanization feels very unnatural and it's not a very easy decision to rationalize ESPECIALLY when they are still mentally awake and wanting to be petted and fully lucid as they were before they got disabled. But it also gives you a 100% guarantee that their death will be painless and peaceful.

It's a tough call. I have to do it I guess but I just dont want to or know the date....
 

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My dog is 11 years old and part german shepherd. Her issues started with a weird limp but it didn't phase her as she would run and chase the ball till she dropped. Anyway it got progressively worse and I thought it was just old age and HD. We took an xray and while HD may be the case she has degeneration in her spine and the vertabrae starting fusing together and the vet said her symptoms may be neurological.

Sure enough her limping progressed to walking funny and crossing legs and she did not respond to his test where he puts her on her ankles. Normal dogs correct it because it feels uncomfortable, she didn't even feel it. The weird gait and falling over progressed and now its gotten to the point where she is completely incontinent and is dragging her back legs now. Being mobile is hard for her but she will still drag her way around to greet us and can get to her food and water. She is still eating and has an appetite and her stool is firm but dry. She is mentally clear as she recognizes us and still is able to come towards us if we call. She pretty much is now outside and sleeps in the sun and eats and drinks water. But she is alone she can't play with my other puppy as she cant even move and gets scared of another dog being so close to her without being able to defend herself. It's not great quality of life but I dont know when putting her down is right. If there is such a thing as "right".
I know it's progressively getting worse slowly but I am not sure exactly what I am waiting for. Not being able to move entirely? Not eating or being able to pass stool? Pain?

She basically hangs out all day and sometimes I will hear her whine and I will not know if it's because she wants company or if she is in pain. I dont suspect pain as I dont think she has feeling in her legs anymore or very little. But it could be her back or someplace else. She whines when someone is near by and she wants attention but not always. She's a very quiet and calm dog.

What are you thoughts? I understand most of it is completely subjective but I have never had to put down a dog before and obviously doing it too early is regretful but also waiting too long as well.

I just went through this Saturday. Myself. If I had to do it again I would wait. I won't ever forgive myself for not giving it one last chance. My Kaos hips were completely gone (I tried everything stem cell, accupuncture etc etc). He had the exact symptoms as yours. Although he wasn't incontinent. I had posted a thread about a lump or swelling on his one front leg. It seemed the joint was enlarged. Well the pred was taking it's toll on him. The xtra urination and greatly increased appetite were no big deal. But I didn't like how it made him pant heavily all the time and he had trouble sleeping because of it. It also gave him loose stools. Saturday I noticed blood in them. That combined with the leg lump and I rushed Kaos in....

The vet that has been treating him and the teck saw him and said boy has he gone downhill (last time they saw him in person was late January. Pred started early March). Vet told me from the rapid decline and blood in stools he feared prostate cancer or a tumor on the spine. Neither was the case which surprised him. The lump/swelling also wasn't cancer it was from arthritis and the bone joint was enlarged. We talked Vet recommended putting Kaos down. I panicked because he talked about total non ability to walk (once off pred) really quick and that he was in discomfort/pain now and it would increase (Kaos was also on tramadol). Vet and tech both said he didn't look himself. Then the arthritic front leg. I also feared him not even wanting to get up at all...

I could go on (finish as I left things out)) but I gotta go to work which I don't know how I will get through.... I know Kaos wouldn't be able to walk etc. But I should have given it one last chance. My last GSD Genesis had DM and I dealt with that (another reason I am so upset). I just panicked with the blood and thought of him being in pain and not being able or wanting to get up on his front legs. I really really hate myself right about now....
 

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Screw work I can't deal with that today.....

OP just make sure whatever you do one way or the other you think about it and plan it out. Then go over it again with what if's. Since I had a DM GSD dog before I was prepared to have Kaos live out his life not being able to walk on his rear legs. I was ok with putting in the effort. MY previous DM dog Genesis was starting to have bowel problems. The though of putting him down was starting to enter my mind. What made the decision easy was he did something horrible to himself I won't mention. That made it easy for me..... With Kaos and his hips I knew as quickly as he was going downhill total loss of his hind legs were probably a week or two away. I had planned for that saying ok then he will be off the pred. Those side effects go away. Also since Kaos wouldn't walk he couldn't really do anything to hurt himself. He still though refused to believe something was wrong no matter how many times he stumbled and fell which were horrible to see. He had cuts on his paws. I tried boots but they made things worse. I was only going to think of putting him down if he ever became completely incontinent. Or really in pain or that look......

The crazy thing is my DM GSD Genesis never liked to be picked up etc. But when he got DM he just realized he needed my help. I would say let me help you and I could just hold his rear and he would walk if he needed to go out quickly (before I could get to a towel, harness etc. He had the DM wobble and shake but I don't ever remember him having nearly as much trouble as Kaos. Kaos on the other hand didn't mind being handled. But he didn't want me helping hold him still to go to the bathroom. Kaos wouldn't wait and hold still. The urine would get on his leg because he wouldn't hold still and tumbled. Or when he pooped he might squat and fall and get some on him because he wouldn't stay still. Like I said I panicked and made the biggest mistake of my life. Just whatever you do think about every possibility and don't get caught off guard like me. If I live to be over 100 I am not getting over what I did. I could have brought him home. Saw how he dealt with not being able to walk and having trouble with the front leg. What the pain off the pred. and on another med was etc etc...
 

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I am dealing with something very similar. My mix is 14 had one ACL replaced the other probably needs it but the vet thinks she is probably passed the stage that it makes sense to do the other surgery. She is incontinent but it is being handled with medication, she takes a lot of pills each day most for pain. She can make it around the house and yard but we are getting to the point stairs are out of the question. She has the whole front of her body enlarged because it is doing all the heavy lifting. I also have to yell because she can't hear that well anymore. Personally I just can't do it, she still seems to enjoy life, she still gets up to play with the puppy and still is part of the family. It sounds like your dog is a bit further down the road than mine which makes it even harder. She still seems happy but that dog would walk through fire if she thought it would make me happy so it is hard to tell.

I wish I had some advice for you but this is the hardest decision a pet lover could make. It may be selfish but I hope my baby just goes in her sleep one night having a nice dream about chasing a ball.
 

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I just panicked with the blood and thought of him being in pain and not being able or wanting to get up on his front legs. I really really hate myself right about now....
Don't be too hard on yourself!! You did the right thing by your dog! You did not wait too long and have him suffer. We tend to hold on to them for OUR sake not theirs.

To the OP
I held on to my first dog too long - (granted she went from "ok" to paralysed within 4 days) we expected to at least get a few more comfortable month with her but the x-rays had showed tumours all through her body.

I had to put her through the ordeal of being taken to the vet paralysed and carried inside on a stretcher, lifted onto a table and PTS there. (she had always hated the vet and being carried)
I will NEVER NEVER ever do that again. She was so stressed out, it was horrible and I still feel very guilty over that.
When it's time for the next dog I will be calling the vet to come to my house and do everything here.
Look at your dog and put yourself in her position. Would you still be enjoying life? or are you just waiting to die? As the dog are you going to get anything out of those last few weeks or days? Are you keeping her around for you or for her sake?

I don't think there's a right answer. Either way it will hurt like **** in the end and only time will make it better :(
 

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It is the toughest decision. I'm going through it with a cat right now. I keep saying that when her soft food runs out it will be time, but then I go buy her more. (She has chronic urinary problems)
I had a Shep-mix that I had to put down, my heart dog. I know I waited too long. He was falling walking UP stairs and he couldn't hold his bladder anymore. I knew he was in pain, but I was being selfish. One day he crawled up on the couch with me... literally crawled... and when he laid his head on my lap he groaned with every breath. I looked down at him and said "Ok, I get it, it's time" and his eyes changed. It was like he was thinking "finally! She gets it!".
I regret waiting so long... I will never regret the time I had with him, though.

Only you can know when the time is right...
 

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I could never ever sit and watch one die....I used to have a friend who could not make the decision and would bring one home - put it in a room or a crate in the basement and leave it there....then come back and it was dead....I think that was the most heartless and cruel thing to do....leave them alone...she had one of my early litter and I heard she did this and I could have strangled her for it....easing them out - even if it saves a few hours of suffering is much more humane....people in terminal illness often express a wish for an easy end.

I faced something similar recently myself....I had a 12 year old who was losing control, on meds for incontinence, wobbly (NOT DM, tested) from spinal stenosis, and on pred for over a year....a few times he seemed depressed, and almost thought he was bloating from looking at his abdomen.....it was a day to day thing with him....he would get around, and was always beside me or in sight a few feet away....he got up to drink and go outside and to eat...otherwise he just plopped down and slept or watched me....

When he refused to try to get up and kept going down when I took him outside, I knew that he was ready to go. He rallied for a day, but I made the appointment anyway...many of his mother's side (mother, grandmother, littermate, half brother, uncle) had hemangiosarcoma...and as it ended up - that was what likely what was going on at the end...he had pale gums and some swelling of the abdomen....I could have gone on with the neuro impairment and even the incontinence...but it was obvious there was more and while he was not in dire pain, he was tired and not happy...he had no fear of the vets, and actually liked "his" vet....so I managed to sit on the floor with him and cuddle him while he passed last Tuesday.....

It sounds very much like your girl is not happy and tired as well....hold her and love her and let her go with some dignity rather than suffer a prolonged shut down which will tear you apart even worse....

Lee
 

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You have already seen that her quality of life is not good. That's why you are asking this question. For her an extra day in pain is not a bonus. As far as we know dogs do not have a sense of life span.That being said I realize I am in the same situation with one of my oldies. It is much easier to decide for an outsider.
My fther was a vet and he said that most people wait too long but he did just that for his own dogs.
Two years ago it was time to go for one of the dogs. The vet told me to give him a pretty strong dose of Valium so he was asleep when the vet came at the house to put him to sleep. The dog was already sound asleep and never was aware of the vet and the transition was not noticeable. It was the most peaceful passing of all dogs I had to decide for.
I wish you strength in the final days.
 

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Pancake,

Stewardship comes with the responsibility of having a furry loyal companion and as you well know, this responsibility has it's ups and downs. My heart goes out to you as your current situation is as difficult a dilemma as can be.

I am certain most all of us have been down this path before, if this is your first, I will remain confident you will do the right thing for your 11 year old gal who is counting on you to exercise your stewardship during this most trying time.

Our last shepherd had this horrible crippling disease called Degenerative Myelopathy and it broke my heart to see such a regal creature slowly and surely becoming paralyzed. My wife and I searched our hearts and compiled a list of why we should keep her alive as she deteriorated progressively. The only "good" reasons we could come up with were reasons which we deemed as selfish for us.....we simply did not want to say "good bye".

Of the 3 dogs I have had to hold in my arms as they were finally liberated from their hardship, I will say the last was the most difficult as Degenerative Myelopathy causes no pain but creates incredible physical mobility hardship amongst other problems. Making the decision to send her on her way with a shred a dignity intact was what we deemed as best....and I truly believe we did exactly the proper deed for our companion of 8 years. Our decision was proper for us and our dog.

One last thought, our previous 2 dogs suffered from cancer and when the time came to say good bye, after we all did our best, we were given a gift by those two dogs. The gift they gave us were their eyes, their eyes were the "gateway to their souls" and spoke volumes, letting us understand it was time to say good bye and that we need not fret in completing the toughest part of our stewardship during the final hours of our splendid friendship.

You will make your decision and if your decision is based on selflessness on your behalf then you will make the best decision for your friend.

Take care,

SuperG

Picture is of our beloved Hana who left us last year due to DM....she was a glorious living creature who gave us so much.
 

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I totally sympathize with your situation. I just found out two weeks ago that my 8 yr. old Raven had osteosarcoma of the lower jaw, but her lungs were perfect, so I opted for the partial mandibulectomy and she is progressing well, although eating is a challenge right now. I had already told the vet that chemo and/or radiation was not an option and that her quality of life was all that mattered. Keep in mind that these animals are very stoic and by the time pain becomes apparent, they have probably been suffering for a while. My prayers are with you and your baby.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Lots of responses and I do believe she has spinal stenosis but also DM as she is practically paralyzed in her rear legs. Quality of life.. well I guess that's something us humans will never know about dogs because they can't tell us. I can know if my quality of life is bad or if my friend with terminal illness has a bad quality of life but with a dog it's hard to know. Do they enjoy sitting out in the sun and just BEING? Even if it means being alone sometimes or not being able to move? She seems to enjoy her food esp the canned food and chicken i bring her but is that enough? She is BEING at this point. Although she can't play fetch like she used to or even hang out with my dog or even people and can't go on walks, does merely existing provide her with an ok quality of life? That I dont know. I think that a the guilty part is that she may have a better quality of life if she was around humans more. She doesn't live inside and before her disease progressed when she was wobbly I tried to bring her to live inside (I adopted her when she was 8 and she was an outdoor dog) but she was stressed out walking on the hardwood floor and couldn't get up. And now that she's incontinent she is in the big backyard. (Although big or small she just pretty much sits in one area all day because she can't move). She literally goes potty on herself and drags it all around the floor and because she's a hairy dog her lower legs and hair and near her tail is dried urine and feces no matter how many baths I give her. as I write this it sounds pretty bad and maybe it is. I just see that she still is mentally sound and gets excited to see us and barks at other dogs and is still "there" mentally and thought that hanging out in the sun and looking at birds and what not still allows her to live. I dont believe she is in any pain but maybe loneliness.

I believe her time is soon and depending on my family's schedule, I think it's time to think about a date to bring her in.
 

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I know this is a hard thing for you and my thoughts are with you also. Ive never had to put a dog to sleep for Abbi went at home one her own, but we were prepared to. If the dog is not in pain and seems to be in ok spirits maybe you should give her a little longer. If shes going to the bathroom on herself try and keep her as clean as you can. As people age (of course euthanasia is illegal) and can no longer take care of themselves we don't put them down, we take care of them until its their time to go. I say keep her comfortable and love her until you make the decision or she decides its her time to go. IMO, as I stated, I think as long as they aren't suffering they should make the decision when they want to go
 

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Dogs do everything to hide their pain. The signs of pain are often very subtle; maybe eyes that squint or a twist of a muscle. Why would you wait until they are more miserable?
 

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Dogs do everything to hide their pain. The signs of pain are often very subtle; maybe eyes that squint or a twist of a muscle. Why would you wait until they are more miserable?
Very true. My Golden Retriever had cancer. Other than not being able to walk him as far, he seemed alright to us. I took him for a walk one day and he just collapsed on the sidewalk. His breathing was loud and he was gasping. The vet came to pick us up and bring us to the clinic where I put him to sleep. He would have died in minutes anyhow but I wanted to end his suffering. They're so good at hiding their pain. We didn't see the signs and my father was shocked to find out when he got home that evening that I had to put him down.
 

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You have already seen that her quality of life is not good. That's why you are asking this question. For her an extra day in pain is not a bonus.
You're the best judge of her quality of life. And there are a few "scales" on the internet that you can read to help you judge. Neuro issues are strange - and they can be completely without pain.

Know that a dog who can't walk CAN have a pretty good quality of life if they're a dog that can appreciate it. Not all can. And that quality of life comes at a direct cost to yours, which complicates the matter.

It's not an easy question. The fact is that you've probably already gone far above and beyond most pet owners.
 
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