Author Topic: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all  (Read 22477 times)

Offline newflvr

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #30 on: March 23, 2006, 03:10:24 pm »
Has she been on Rimadyl?  I know a lot of people don't like it and it can have a lot of side effects....but it did make Otis a lot more comfortable.  I only gave it to him on an 'as needed' basis, but it helped.

Please know that we are all pulling for both you and Zoey.  I just can't imagine anything worse than watching a pup in pain!  Our virtual arms are around you both!!!

Offline shangrila

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #31 on: March 23, 2006, 05:45:51 pm »
We have talked about surgery and we don't think that it is the right option for us. Besides the money (we really can't afford what we spend on zoey as it is, let alone two hip surgeries), we really don't want to put zoey through two painful surgeries and two painful recoveries. I would rather that she has a short but happy life than a long painful one.

The vet said they didn't reccommend rumadyl, but I felt like I had to give her something so we have been giving her a mild buffered anti=inflamatory and it really has made a difference. I am still looking around to see what alternative vets I can find in the area that might be able to help her.
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Offline BarkleysMum

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #32 on: March 26, 2006, 09:13:49 am »
This may be old news to folks that post on this board, so if it is please forgive this new kid on the block.

When I got Barkley, my vet recommended right away that we begin to give him one dose of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate each day.  Apparently it is known to lessen hip issues not just when they have already begun, but there were some studies (this was in 2000) that indicated it might also help to prevent hip and joint issues.

We've given him one every morning since 2000 (we just bought them at the human drugstore...ag ain, on the recommendation of our vet) and he has had no signs at all of joint issues.  He has a tiny bit of arthritis in one hip and his spine - but that's it.

It is so hard to watch your baby in pain.  My heart goes out to you.
Sandy
Newly owned by Anna Banana, kind of owned by Sheba
and always remembering Barkley - crossed the Bridge on May 19, 2006.

Offline longshadowfarms

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #33 on: March 27, 2006, 05:12:08 am »
A friend sent me this article yesterday that is SO GOOD!  I've really struggled to decide with Piper whether the good was outweighing the bad or not.  The more I read this, the more I realized how much pain she is masking.  It is time.   :'(

http://www.pet-loss.net/quality.html

Defining "Quality of Life"
by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.
 

Whenever one considers the painful choice of euthanasia, one is always advised to take the pet's "quality of life" into account. But what is "quality of life"? How can you determine whether a pet is still experiencing a good quality of life -- or whether its level of suffering is no longer acceptable?
That decision is individual to every pet, and every owner. Following, however, are some factors to consider when attempting to assess a pet's quality of life:

Mobility. An older pet often loses mobility. A dog may no longer be able to climb stairs or hop into a car; a cat may lose the ability to jump onto a bed or chair. At this stage, however, your pet may still be healthy and happy, and you can easily make accommodations for its reduced ability.

If, however, your pet can barely move, that's another matter. Can your pet get to its feet without assistance? Can it sit or lie down without collapsing? Can it walk? Can it handle basic functions, such as squatting on a litterbox? Does it whimper or growl if you attempt to move it? I've seen dogs so crippled with hip dysplasia that they literally had to drag their immobilized hindquarters across the floor; this hardly represents the "quality of life" I want for my pets.

Appetite/Eating Ability. Is your pet able to eat? Can it consume enough food (or digest that food) to remain properly nourished? Does it regurgitate immediately after eating? Is it unable to chew, or does it have difficulty swallowing? Does it enjoy eating, or do you have to coax every bite past its lips? A pet that is unable to eat or gain sufficient nourishment from its food is on a slow road to starvation.

Breathing. A number of illnesses, including cancer, can affect the lungs. When a condition causes the lungs to fill with fluid or foreign matter (such as cancer cells), a pet quickly loses its ability to breathe easily or comfortably. You'll notice that your pet may seem to be panting, or that it is laboring to breathe; often, you'll see its stomach or flanks "pumping" as it can no longer breathe with just the chest muscles. It may also experience wheezing attacks. If such symptoms occur, ask for a chest x-ray to determine the condition of the lungs. If the problem is due to an allergy, infection, or asthma, medication may help; if it is due to fluids that are the result of cancer or a heart condition, however, little can be done.

Discomfort. It can be difficult to determine whether a pet is in pain, as animals instinctively mask discomfort as much as possible. You can pick up clues, however, by watching its posture and expression. Does your pet's face appear furrowed or "worried", rather than relaxed and happy? Does it sit hunched or "hunkered" and tense, rather than relaxing and lying down? Lack of mobility can also be a sign of pain.

Another indication of pain is "denning." An animal in pain will seek a safe place where it won't be disturbed by other animals. If your pet has forsaken its usual territories or sleeping places for the back of the closet or a spot under the bed, this may be a sign that it is pain or distress and feels vulnerable.

A more obvious indication of pain is a pet's reaction to touch. If your pet responds to touch by flinching away, hissing, snarling, or even snapping, this is a clear indication of pain. Sometimes this can indicate a localized pain; if the pet doesn't want to be touched at all, however, it may indicate a broader discomfort.

Incontinence. Many pet owners feel terribly guilty over the natural annoyance they feel when a pet becomes incontinent. They feel they should be more loving, more patient. Incontinence, however, can also be stressful for the pet. As a basic survival mechanism, animals learn not to "mess where they sleep" (for the smell would draw attention to the location of one's den). When an animal can no longer control when or where it urinates or defecates, you can be sure it is not happy with the situation.

Mental Capacity. Older pets occasionally develop signs of diminished mental capacity. They may seem to "forget" things, such as where a toy is located or what a command means. Such a pet may become confused by its surroundings, and this confusion can develop into fear. (In some cases, this "confusion" may be the result of hearing or vision loss, to which both you AND your pet can often adapt.)

Happiness. Determining whether your pet is "enjoying" life is certainly a subjective decision. However, if you have been a keen observer of your pet's behavior and attitude during its lifetime, you are likely to be able to determine when it no longer seems "happy." You'll know when it no longer seems to take any pleasure from its food, its toys, its surroundings -- and most of all, from contact with you and the rest of its family. Most pets are tremendously easy to please; when it no longer becomes possibly to raise a purr or a tail-wag, you can be fairly certain that your pet is receiving little joy from life.

Response to Treatment. When a pet becomes ill, our natural response is to provide whatever treatment we can. This may mean tests, medications, even surgery. But drugs have side effects, repeated trips to the vet cause emotional distress, and more invasive treatments take a physical toll. Eventually, we may conclude that our efforts to treat a pet's illness are more stressful to the pet than the condition itself -- and that our efforts to save a pet's life are actually diminishing, rather than enhancing, the quality of that life.


Making a Decision
Assessing a pet's quality of life is an ongoing process, not a one-time decision. Initially, we're likely to attempt to compensate for the problems we see. Pain medication may relieve a pet's discomfort and improve its mobility. A change in diet may improve a pet's appetite or provide better nutrition. We may resolve that we're willing to clean up after a pet and carry it wherever it needs to go, for as long as necessary. But eventually such measures will cease to be effective. The process of assessing "quality of life" is really a question of determining (and deciding) when that point has been reached -- and what you intend to do next.

It is often tempting, at this point, to postpone a decision still longer by deciding to "let nature take its course." Before choosing that course of action (or inaction), however, it's important to understand that, as a pet owner, you have been thwarting the "course of nature" from the beginning. By ensuring that your pet has food and shelter and is protected from predators, you have already guaranteed that nature will not take its course. By providing medical treatment, you have prolonged the life of your pet far beyond what it could have expected if left to "nature." In nature, an animal that becomes too ill to obtain food or protect itself will perish quickly, though not necessarily comfortably.

Nor does nature necessarily offer an "easy" death even if you choose to let it "take its course" in the comfort of your home. An animal that cannot breathe easily, cannot eat or digest food properly, cannot control its bodily functions, and can scarcely move or enjoy human contact because of pain, is hardly dying "comfortably."

This is really what the "quality of life" issue is all about. By usurping nature's role throughout the life of our pets, we must sometimes also accept its role in determining (and bringing about) the death of a pet. To accept this, we may also have to accept that, in some cases, the quality of life we're really trying to protect is our own: That we're allowing our pet to suffer out of a desire to avoid the anguish we know that we will experience when it dies. And that, ultimately, is the most unselfish act of love we can offer: To end a pet's suffering, we must choose to accept our own.


Copyright © 2001 by Moira Allen. This column originally appeared on Allpets.com.
Daphne

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #34 on: March 27, 2006, 09:01:19 am »
It's a tough decision to make. 
Missy was 14.  She had a heart condition that suddenly got so bad she couldn't sleep, breath or move much.  As much as I loved her and wanted her to stay with me, I knew she didn't want to suffer, nor did I. 
There comes a time when they all must pass over to the bridge and a time that we have to let them go there.   It's a personal decision as to when you do that. 
Just knowing she had had a long and good life was comforting for me. I loved her too much to keep her alive on medications and watch her deteriorate more and more. 
On a strangely good note...having them put to sleep is a completely painless and peaceful thing.  I was in the room with Missy and will be with any other dog I have and it was a bitter sweet moment.  But it was peaceful. 
Like Dahlie said...waiting a day longer wouldn't have made it better for her...only me in a way.  It would have been selfish for me to keep hanging on to Missy.  I too know I did the right thing...and I will always have her with me.
Good luck with your decision. 

Offline jagersmom

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #35 on: March 28, 2006, 11:47:42 pm »
I've had to make the decision to send my "baby" to the bridge and I still cry about it. Stitches was 12 and she had dropped considerable weight. For a cat to DROP to 12 pounds...yeah something was wrong. Just after I got Jager I noticed Stitch was acting funny, drinking a lot of water, less active, etc. For the first 2 mos I assumed she wasn't adjusting well to the dog. I took her into the vet and she had dropped from 23 lbs to 18 but that didn't explain the drinking. She was tested and they found that she had diabetes. After spending a crazy amount of money on that vet visit and learning how to give her insulin injections everyday she got a little bit and then started rapidly declining. She could barely stand on her back legs at all, she just kind of slid across the tile. So I spent more money (which wasn't necessarily a bad thing because I got to be with her longer) to adjust her insulin and have her on prescription diet. then one day in nov she couldn't make it into her box. She wasn't eatting or drinking and just looked at me as to say "Mom....please." I could hardly call the vet to make the appointment. My mom left work to drive me to the vet. Jager just laid down in his crate as I was walking out of the house and let out a whimper. The staff was excellent and let us hold her for the whole thing. She growled at the dr which was nothing new (I don't particularly care for him that much either). She looked up at me one last time with her big gold eyes as if to say "I'm okay" and I lost it....kind of like I am now!

What everyone is saying though is true! Zoey will let you know and you'll know. "Mom knows best." Hopefully and from what it sounds like, she's doing well and you won't have to make that decision anytime soon. Good luck to you and Zoey and I'll keep you both in my thoughts.
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Offline BarkleysMum

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #36 on: March 29, 2006, 08:55:38 am »
Ok.  Today probably wasn't the day to sit and read all the responses to this question!  The article from Longshadowfarm s was very timely for me though.  I know that Barkley's time is coming ... far more quickly than I'm prepared for ... far more quickly.  I think we're probably talking days now...weeks seems like a luxury.  He is panting a lot at night now.  And when he sleeps, he's sleeping so soundly ... not even snoring, which he always did!  This morning he's already peed in the house once, and also came upstairs with me ... just sitting and staring at me ... which he never does.

I know it's the 'right' thing to do, but holy cow, it hurts to even to think about making that appointment.  This sucks.
Sandy
Newly owned by Anna Banana, kind of owned by Sheba
and always remembering Barkley - crossed the Bridge on May 19, 2006.

Offline DixieSugarBear

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #37 on: March 29, 2006, 09:13:19 am »
Sit and talk with him, he will let you know when the time is best for him.  Sending big hugs, we are here if there is anything we can do.

Lisa

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Sugar Bear - Great Pyrenees 4.5 yr.
Dixie Darlin - Great Pyrenees 4 yr.
Penny Lane - Great Pyrenees 2.5 yr.
Beauman - Great Pyrenees 14 months
Izzy - Great Pyrenees 14 month
Rosie - Great Pyrenees (at the bridge)

Offline nostaw

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #38 on: March 29, 2006, 10:01:31 am »
I am so sorry that you may have to come to such a heartbreaking decision, you have my sympathy and support. Annie our first Newf started with Cancer at 18 months. She had her jaw amputated and continued on in seeming good health till about 9 years old, when her thyroid started to fail and she once more started to develop cancer, this time in the chest. She was on her feet to the last but as her breathing got harder we took her to the vets for an x ray. we had spoken to the vet before taking her and had made the descision in conjunction with him that as she was sedated for the x ray, he would leave her sedated until the plates were developed and that if it was as bad as we feared he would increase the sedation until she passed away. On the 20 minute trip to the vets I got through 2 boxes of kleenex and was terrible when saying my goodbyes, I am still upset now recalling what it was like. There is no easy way through it, just tears and heartache and all I can suggest is that when the time comes, think of the good times. its not easy but a new puppy does help.

Andy
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lins_saving_grace

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #39 on: March 29, 2006, 10:04:18 am »
Ok.  Today probably wasn't the day to sit and read all the responses to this question!  The article from Longshadowfarm s was very timely for me though.  I know that Barkley's time is coming ... far more quickly than I'm prepared for ... far more quickly.  I think we're probably talking days now...weeks seems like a luxury.  He is panting a lot at night now.  And when he sleeps, he's sleeping so soundly ... not even snoring, which he always did!  This morning he's already peed in the house once, and also came upstairs with me ... just sitting and staring at me ... which he never does.

I know it's the 'right' thing to do, but holy cow, it hurts to even to think about making that appointment.  This sucks.
Making the appointment is hard.  I remember that.  I cried all day every day for the week before the Saturday I took Missy in. 
It's hard...so so hard. 

Offline longshadowfarms

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #40 on: March 29, 2006, 10:37:37 am »
Wish I had some ideas on how to cope.  It is so hard!  I think the only thing that helps me is knowing that they are not suffering any longer and knowing I did all I could to make their lives as wonderful as I could.  For me, an addition to the family does take away from the memory of the last dog, but it certainly does help you not to dwell on it too much.  Some people will say they can't bear to go through the loss again but I think the years of love and joy outweigh the months of pain of loss. 
Daphne

Offline Mom2Sadie

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #41 on: March 29, 2006, 10:43:25 am »
 
Some people will say they can't bear to go through the loss again but I think the years of love and joy outweigh the months of pain of loss. 

I totally agree with this. What is that quote about how we give our animals what time and energy we can spare and in return, they give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made. It's something like that anyway. They just give so much and ask so little in return.
Dear Lord,
Just for today, let me be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.

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Offline newflvr

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #42 on: March 29, 2006, 11:32:42 am »
I know it's the 'right' thing to do, but holy cow, it hurts to even to think about making that appointment.  This sucks.


Would your vet come to the house?  It is all so awful to even contemplate, but the peacefulness of staying at home might be just a touch easier.... :'(

Offline BarkleysMum

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #43 on: March 29, 2006, 02:32:04 pm »
Would your vet come to the house?  It is all so awful to even contemplate, but the peacefulness of staying at home might be just a touch easier.... :'(

Another friend suggested that as well.  I'm going to think about it.  Our vets are so awesome that I'm sure they'd do whatever is best for Barkley.  Having said that, he has been such a special friend of everyone at the vet's that I feel like they might like to be with him as well.  Thanks for the suggestion.  He's having such a good day today that I'm putting it aside for today.  One day at a time.
Sandy
Newly owned by Anna Banana, kind of owned by Sheba
and always remembering Barkley - crossed the Bridge on May 19, 2006.

Offline longshadowfarms

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Re: A question for those that have made the hardest choice of all
« Reply #44 on: March 29, 2006, 04:03:38 pm »
I had Thor done at home.  My own vet will not come to the house (I'm almost 45 min away anyway) so I went with our cow vet group.  They do handle dogs as well within their normal work, I just don't use them normally for my dogs.  Had not seen that vet before but she was wonderful and it worked out as well as it could.  I could not imagine trying to handle 150 lb of dead dog in and out of the car, plus driving while bawling my eyes out.  I was an absolute mess over Thor's loss.  With Josh and Piper, we went to our own vet, DH drove and helped move them to the car.  I really wish we could have done it at home but I'd kind of pushed my luck a bit with the other vet group last time since they aren't my normal vet.  I figured we could handle this one on our own and save them for the really difficult cases (big dogs).  It was kind of nice having my own vet do it but if given the choice, I'd take the home option ANY day, even if it was a new vet.  Piper was stressed a bit by being in the vet's office.  When she was young she liked going to the vet but the last few years she found it stressful.  That said, if the new vet was not pleasant, that could make it more difficult.  If you can manage to get your own vet to come to your house, that would be ideal but unfortunately it doesn't always work out that way.  If not, perhaps they can recommend a "come to your house" vet who would be good to work with.  I'm sure your vet will understand wanting it done at home if you can manage it. 

One day at a time is one more day of lovin to hang onto.
Daphne