Aging and Aching Dog... How do you know it's time?
Lots of knowledgeable dog lovers post here... I need your advice. Elsie is a nearly 14-yo yellow lab that we rescued when she was 11. Her long-time owners took her to the pound because they didn't want to deal with her aging issues. We rescued her, but decided before even getting her, that we would not do any "heroic" surgeries should the need arise as she would most likely not survive the invasion. She came to us with some stage of laryngeal paralysis, many fatty tumors, and probably having had mild strokes as one side of her face shows the same signs you see on a person with the features drooping. Oh, and she's deaf and mildly arthritic. And came to us with mild separation issues and some incontinence.
Fast forward a couple of years... everything is continuing on the path of degeneration. I'm home during the day, so I can get her out a couple of times each day, though she "leaks" constantly. If I leave the room and she doesn't see me go, she keeps barking until I get her and show her I haven't really left. She still goes for a walk every day, but between the wheezing from the paralysis and the hobbling from the arthritis, she can't get too far, but her tail wags happily every step of the way. Though more and more, her legs just give out on her after a very short time. She's been to the vet regularly for checkups, is only taking Glucosomine Condroitin (not sure if it's helping much at this point) and once last year, the wheezing got so bad (like a really bad cold), they gave her antibiotics and steroids and that brought things back to normal. She has a wonderful appetite (of course, she's a Lab!), has no weight issues, and blissfully sleeps a very large part of the day.
I've never had to euthanize a pet. What do I look for to know if/when it's time? I don't want her to suffer just because I can't let go. Mostly, as long as she seems to have a good appetite and breathes reasonably well and the wagging tail keeps going, I figure she's doing OK.
What else should/could I be doing at this point? What signs should I look for to tell if she's in too much pain? I just need advice, thanks.