Deciding if it's time...

cal_dreamerMarch 11, 2009

Hello everyone, I've been reading this forum for a while and am impressed with the knowledge and compassion here.

I have a 14+ year old Shiba Inu who looks like he's on his last legs. It's so hard to know what to do. He's slowly gone heard of hearing and partially blind. He has arthritis in his hips and seems to "blank out" occasionally. His tail won't stay up in a curl anymore. Last summer, he went into a sudden liver failure and almost died, but 3 days of iv hydration turned him around.

Last night he blanked out, and didn't snap out of it for a long time. Then he threw up some foamy white w/grass pieces. Now it seems like his back legs are so weak he can only take a few steps before sinking to the floor.

To tell the truth, I didn't think he would make it through the night, so we slept on the floor as I cried my eyes out. Today, he looks a little better and I'm giving him small syringes of water every 1/2 hour to try to keep him hydrated. He won't eat or drink.

I'm not asking for a diagnosis, just some guidance as I go to the vet tomorrow. I don't want to rack up huge vet bills for a poor, short quality of life. I'm also afraid of feeling like a murderer ~ I'm leaning toward putting him down ~ even though it rips my heart out.

Sorry this is long, but I know you guys will understand.

Wish us luck.

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cal - no curl in a Shiba is not a good sign. They are beautiful dogs and im certain you made your dogs life with you a great life. Putting a dog is not murder, it is a gift - a gift we can give our best friends when we know they are suffering beyond what life can give them. When they can no longer enjoy a tasty morsel or treat, when they can not great us with a tail wag or a stinky fart. It seems your buddys quality of life has gotten so very low that he can no longer even enjoy your presence. This is the toughest d*mn time in owning a pet.
We knew it was time for my friends cat last year, we took all the animals with us to the vet and when leaving the car, told all the other animals that it was time for Bear to go night night and to say goodbye. They all sniffed on hiim and gave him a lick and we sent him on his way to leave his suffering behind. Later that night someone mentioned Bears name and one of the Chihuahas put his head up as if to want to go search for his playmate. I said to the Chi, dont you remember that Bear went night night, the chi looked straight at me and then put his head down between his front legs and was pretty special. I hope you post after you decide to free your pet, and tell us how special he was to you and what his quirks were. My best to you...let me see if I can post the Rainbow Bridge saying. Stand by

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:37PM
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The Rainbow Bridge

Author unknown

Between Earth and Heaven stretches the glorious Rainbow Bridge. When an
animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to
the Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special
friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water
and sunshine and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour;
those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we
remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy
and content, except for one small thing: they each miss someone very
special, someone who was left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops
and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body
begins to quiver. Suddenly, he breaks from the group, flying over the green
grass, faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your
special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to
be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again
caress the beloved head, and you look once more into those trusting eyes, so
long gone from your life, but never absent from your heart. Then you cross
the Rainbow Bridge together...

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:39PM
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Yes it's hard to do. But think of it as your last gift to your pet. They look to you for their needs and at the end you are helping them to leave with peace and dignity.

Take someone with you to drive you home. Take care and sending you hugs.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:49PM
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I'm so sorry, and know exactly how you feel. Your sweet dog will let you know when it is time. My bestest dog ever let me know, and it was the most difficult thing I've ever had to do, but I knew it was the right thing. She had cancer, and deteriorated to the point that I couldn't bear to leave her alone to suffer through her cancer induced seizures all alone.

Below is a link about my sweet girl. I am so thankful that the end came at a time where I could be with her.

Here is a link that might be useful: Taco

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:54PM
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There are many ways to tell if it is time.

Someone once told me to think about your pet's top 3 or 5 absolute favorite things in the world. When s/he can't do more than half of them or don't enjoy those things any more, it is time. It can be anything- follow you around the house, favorite treats, play with a favorite toy, walks, car rides, whatever. If those things are not possible to do or not enjoyable, then what's the point?

We do not kill our pets, their disease does. We just end their suffering.

My heart goes out to you. My pets have all made their time painfully obvious, and although it has always been horrible and surprising, at least there was no decision to make really. I wish you, your family, and your dog peace.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:55PM
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Mazer, Thank you for your beautiful thoughts and support.

Yesterday he was walking the perimeter of the yard with his gimpy gait, trying to mark all his pee spots without falling over, today the spark is almost gone. He actually let me hold him on my lap - usually he hates being held.

Since his hospitalization last year he never really was the same. His coat is rougher, he has bald spots and repeated cysts on his front paws. As hard as it is to admit, he's old. I think this latest GI upset is the last straw.

I just wish this didn't hurt so much...

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 9:56PM
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cal dreamer I went through the same thing in October with my bully. She stopped eating and could no longer control her legs...I will tell you my story to hopefully make you feel a little better about your decision. My candy girl started seemed sometimes like her legs would just give out on her....other times though she would run and jump and it seemed like nothing was wrong. We thought she was just having problems on the tile now that she was older....we had been taking her to the vet regularly and we were never told that something was wrong with her spine. Well we took her back to the vet when she completely lost control of her bowels....keep in mind her slipping and the bowel loss took place in less than 1 month. The vet said that it might be time....I was not ready to hear that...she was running and jumping and most of the time was okay...the vet decided to give her a shot....this was on Monday. She seemed to get better...hubby was cooking for her ...if she didnt want chicken he went out and bought her anything else....we were doing whatever it took to make her eat and she seemed to be doing it....anything new she would gobble up...I had so much hope....well Saturday the vet only works half day. As soon as the vets office closed for the weekend she got bad. WE had to carry her so that she could go outside....and she still could not always hold it for long and would go in her panties (we had to get something). It seemed like she had lost all feeling in her paws....sometimes I looked at it and it was all twisted. The look on her face broke my heart. I would have given anything to save her the pain from the last couple days of her life...if had known the shot the vet gave was only to buy her a little time I would have let him take her that Monday. That last week of her life was extremely hard on all of us. WE cried all the time....well we tried not too because we did not want to upset her. We also slept on the floor with her because she could no longer sleep on the bed....As I am writing this I am crying remembering. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make....I still feel guilty...I mean so what if I had to carry my dog to the bathroom and so what if she went pee and poop in the house....and so what if we were constantly going to the supermarket to try new meats for her to eat...wasn't she worth it....and YES she was worth it...but would I want to live in her condition? The answer to that question was NO. I can only hope that if I ever deteriorate to such a condition someone loves me enough to do for me what I did for her. The guilt is still there though I'm not sure it will ever go away. The only reason I am not still a complete mess is because when I went into deep depression my hubby knew the only way to get me out was to get another pup. We got tootsie that same week. She was my life saver. The house was way too empty without a dog. And tootsie reminds me of candy all the time. She was a 10 month old who had not sold at her breeder because she had an infection in her tail when she was younger so could not be sold and we rescued her, she rescued us too :-) It was good to get an older dog for us because she was already trained in so many was nice not to have to deal with a puppy after having the best most perfectly behaved dog in the world :-) I babbled a bit but after writing about candy I needed to feel better. Hope this helps...although I'm pretty sure nothing will make you feel better.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 10:01PM
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You (all of you who replied, thought about replying, or who will reply) do make me feel better. It was easier with my collie many years ago - he had cancer and was obviously in pain. My Shiba has never shown pain: Cody is a real tough guy.

Me, I don't feel so tough. As a nurse, I see people die in the ICU all the time and feel blessed my dog has a more peaceful option.

Well he just got up and walked to the back door, of course, right as DH came in the front... "don't you think he's getting better?" Ugh.

Off to warm up some chicken and rice to see if Cody will eat a little.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 10:16PM
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cal d,

I cannot add anything here that has not been said, except I do feel for you.

Let me add one little thing that often gets lost here. When you are going day-to-day, keeping an animal alive, take a moment and think for whom you are doing it for: for you, or for Cody? What I mean is, think whether Cody has let you know it is time, and now you have to try to make the decision and let go.

Best of luck with your little guy.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 6:33AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I am so sorry...I will have to go this someday too and I can't even read about your baby without tears.
Our vet will come out to the house for a small extra charge- perhaps that would make it easier to avoid the stress of a car and vet trip?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:44AM
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I am so sorry.

I just lost my dear, sweet kitty a few months ago and it was so hard to make that decision. We waffled for the better part of a week before we *knew* it was time. Somehow you just know. As long as he wasn't in pain and still had some enjoyment and quality of life, we did what we could to make him happy and comfortable. When he was no longer interested in the things that made him happy, we knew we were just prolonging to prolong, and that wasn't right.

You will just know when that is.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 9:18AM
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    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 9:22AM
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Good morning everyone, thanks for your replies.

Cody woke up this morning and walked over to the cabinet, dragged his dog bowl off the shelf dumping the dry food all over the floor, and proceeded to vacuum up the kibble as fast as he could. (Newman's Organic Advanced) All the while, looking at me like "what's YOUR problem?"

This is the same dog who was almost comatose 24 hours ago, non-responsive, with his tongue hanging out.

We're still off to the vet to see what we can do for his hips, and any other easily-treated maladies. In my mind, he's still "comfort care only" but is not acting like he's ready to go.

Looks like he's back to being the grumpy old man of the house again. We'll see what the vet says.

Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers, it's really been a tough time for us.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 10:47AM
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It's hard. Sooner or later we are going to have to make that decision too, as our guy is also 14. We had a scare two weeks ago, where he was retching and coughing non stop, he was acting strange, avoiding the other dog, sleeping in a corner, etc. I thought for sure it was the end. He'd coughed a bit, maybe once a day or less for a bit. I thought, Cancer, heart, something I cried and cried. Called the vet, made the appointment to have him checked - and he stopped. They gave him pills for inflammation in his airways - and he's back to being our grouchy old man for now. I knew I'd be upset, but I didn't realize how upset until it became a real possibility.

I hope your old boy just gave you a scare and nothing more - and that you have some more time before that day comes. Hope the vet has some comforting news!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 2:57PM
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Sometimes they seem to come around....the Friday before we put Candy to sleep she actually jumped off the back stairs...I was not expecting it so could not stop her....she jumped and she ran and she was my candy again...less than 24 hours later though she could not stand again. I just don't want you to get your hopes up too hurts more in the end. For your sake though I hope your baby makes it through.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 3:15PM
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My almost 15 year old collie/shepherd mix has pretty bad arthritis. I had her on deramaxx and tramadol, which didn't make her better or worse. I switched to steroids a month ago, and she was also found to have low thyroid (fairly recent development). She is still having trouble with her back legs, but the steroids and thyroid meds have definitely made a difference. She is somewhat stronger, and noticeably perkier. Normally I would be against steroids because of long term side effects, but let's face it, she doesn't have a whole lot of time left. Throughout everything, her appetite has been fine.

No particular advice, just some options for medicine, especially the steroids. They did not change her eating/drinking/elimination habits, thankfully.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 8:00PM
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Thanks, all.

We're still not sure what happened, but I'm guessing maybe a liver issue set off by eating black widows or something else poisonous, but that's just a guess. He's eating and drinking like crazy to make up for lost time.

We did some blood work with a heartworm test and thyroid panel, started on baytril and flagyl which will hopefully help the GI, foot cysts, unknown possible infections, etc. We'll adjust meds when the labs come back. Maybe I'll ask about steroids if all this other stuff stabilizes. Unfortunately there is no fountain of youth available to fix the real problem.

No, I don't have false hope - it's just a matter of time before his time comes. But if he's relatively happy and comfortable he can hang around here for a while longer. :) (Our plans are to cremate him and sprinkle his ashes around the backyard, which has been his kingdom for 12 years.)

We may go see a holistic vet in town and see what she has to say. She specializes in geriatric care and uses lots of herbs, massage and acupuncture if needed. Just trying to make the best of whatever time we have left together.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 11:23PM
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WE also cremated our baby. We want to move....when I move I will sprinkle her ashes in our yard also....I was actually thinking about planting her under a fruit tree of some sort.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 11:33PM
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I know how hard this is, - we lost Bess last year. It was the hardest decision I have ever made. Some days she seemed fine, others she could hardly stand.The look in her eyes told me it was time. She was obviously in pain a lot of the time. The vet said her time had come too. It didn;t make me feel any better, but just knowing that we had given her one last gift helped a little. I realized later that had we kept her a while longer it would have been for our benefit and not for hers. It still hurts now, even though we have two new dogs. We had Bess cremated. I was going to sprinkle her ashes in the yard, but she is still sitting by my chair in the office, and still gives me comfort when I need it. Cal dreamer I hope your pet is with you for a while, and hope that this reprieve will help when the time comes.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 7:35AM
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I know this sounds stupid, but he will tell you when the time is right.

He will look at you and you will know.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 11:38AM
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Cal dreamer- did your dog just start the flagyl? My cat completely lost her appetite while on it last fall, to the point we had to force feed her for a couple of days, and she turned into a lethargic lump.

After reading about human beings experiences with the stuff, it seems it can make one feel really awful. It wasn't unusual for someone to comment "I'm on day 3 and I don't know how I will survive another day..." They say it can make your mouth (and everything you put in it) taste metallic. One person compared it to very severe morning sickness. Not that your dog will necessarily react that way, but that's a possibility of a side effect to be aware of if your dog begins to look sicker. At one point when kitty was on the flagyl, I thought she was done for she looked so bad, she was even starting to lose her balance and feel doughy toward the end of the RX (this is supposedly a bad reaction to the flagyl, but seemed not uncommon in my research). Two days after finishing the medication, she was fine and completely back to her old self.

Runswalken, this particular thread, where someone is very distraught about their dog-friend, is not the appropriate place to bring up such a distasteful discussion. It doesn't matter what you know to be true or not, this conversation isn't the place to bring up such things.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2009 at 12:18PM
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Cal, I don't know that it is always obvious (to the owner) when it's time. We put down a beloved dog once, and, even though it was painful for us to see her physical decline, and knew that she was in pain much of the time, we still loved just being with her, and being affectionate, and believed that she also still enjoyed it.

When our friends and family started asking us if we would consider putting her down, that was an eye-opener for us. We'd never really considered it, but a few months after that decided that she was suffering more than enjoying her life.

Surely your vet loves animals, maybe he will have an opinion. And if you have some true dog-lover friends, maybe they will express an opinion as well. We loved our dog and were guilt-ridden and sorrowful at the thought of putting her to sleep, but knowing that our vet and friends felt that it was in her best interest helped us to make a decision.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 6:28AM
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Cal, I hope that Cody is doing better. I am glad it might just have been a spider bite or isolated incident, just keep him happy, he will let you know when it is time to go.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 7:18AM
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My heart goes out to you.

I went through it 7 months ago with my 15 year old boy. The vet said it was time to let go but I couldn't. I struggled for 2 months. I could tell Eirn was uncomfortable but he still ate and begged for food. I also cried a lot while holding him.

I felt exactly as you said in your post "afraid of feeling like a murderer" . Then I realized how selfish I was to prolong his suffering but it didn't make it any easier. I had a hard time making an appointment for his death.

I prayed a lot and I even snuck him in the church and prayed on my knees, at the alter, with him next to me. I'll never forget how he set peacefully at my side. He was much stronger than me.

He's gone now but there's not a day that goes by that I don't miss him. I know I did the right thing, he knows it too. I will see him again someday - he'll be waiting for me.

You'll know when it's time.

((((BIG hugs to you))))

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 12:21PM
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