How do you know when it's 'time'?

doucanoeJune 16, 2011

Sure don't want to bring anyone down, but I just don't know what to do.

My 13 year old German Shepherd is declining, and rapidly.

He has severe arthritis in his knees, has been on Rimadyl for a long time. And for a long time it worked well. Over the last several months he has so much difficulty getting up, and now I would say at least 75% of the time we have to go lift his back end so he can get up. We built him a ramp so he can get down the four front stairs, but recently he falls when he gets to the bottom. He poops while he walks because it is so painful/dificult for him to squat.

He has always had a good appetite, but over the past week he refuses to get up to eat. We got thim to eat last night but he had gone at lest 30 hours w/o eating before that.

He has been having poo accidents, both in the house and on the porch. He doesn't run or play anymore, pretty much just lays around and sleeps.

He has been licking/chewing on his legs. Not to the point of hot spots, but to the point of some irritated skin. I have been applying a cortisone cream to the sensitive areas, that helps a bit.

On the flip side, he is still loving, sweet, and looks forward to his nightly cuddles.

I know I am going to have to make the dreaded "decision", but when will I know he has had enough. I wish he could tell me.....



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So sorry you have to face this. It is difficult.

Found this thread from the past.

Here is a link that might be useful: HOW TO KNOW...

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 9:33AM
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This sounds so much like our last dog. We just now adopted a puppy and it's been over 7 years. Just couldn't get over it. When I came home to my poor dog down on the floor, not able to get up, she had defecated and who knows how long she had lain like that, well that's when we finally realized, and I'm sorry we let it go for that long. And she had a good appetite until near the end. It's your decision and it's a hard one, but I hope when the time comes for this little one down the line that we don't let it go so long.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 12:28PM
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When's the last time the vet saw him and did a blood panel? I'd take him in for a checkup, discuss other med options and ask for the vet's honest opinion on your dog's prognosis. Your dog may need to try a different pain med or possibly have the Rimadyl dosage increased.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 1:00PM
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Sorry you are going through this ... both of my dogs told me when they had enough ... they wouldn't get up. That's when I knew they were in enough pain that is was time to let them go ... a very hard thing to do.

Personally, I think your dog is in pain and it's time to let the vet see him and maybe let him go. He's going to want to please you and snuggle with you right to the very end.

How I wish it was easier for all of us!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 3:06PM
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spedigrees z4VT

I'm sorry and I feel for you in your dilemma. Our last two dogs went into similar declines but it was easier because I am retired now and was home with them all the time. We had to help both the collie and sheltie up by lifting their back ends. When our collie finally could not stand even when helped to his feet, we knew it was time and my husband carried him to the car, and at the vets they used a stretcher to bring him inside and put him down.

My sheltie went into some sort of respiratory distress at the end, and collapsed, and we knew that that was the end for her. I asked the vet about treating her but he gave her a very slim chance of recovery, so it seemed kinder to let her go, than to leave her alone at the vet hospital hooked up to machines when in the end she would not likely survive.

It is a hard decision and much depends on the circumstances. My old collie in the past's legs kept giving out on him and he would cry in distress unable to rise. I was afraid this would happen while I was at work and so I brought him in to be euthanized while he was still ambulatory.

I figure if my old timers are still enjoying part of their lives and are not in acute pain, they still want to live. I had to feed my last two dogs by hand because they could not eat comfortably from their dishes at a certain point. I also had a small water dish that I offered to my sheltie while she was lying down, so she did not have to get up to drink. Both received sub-Q fluids that seemed to help them, and also helped their appetites. The collie had a malignant fast growing tumor that began to interfere with his urinary system and at the end urine just ran out of him while he slept. I covered his beds with waterproof plastic tarps and covered that with washable soft blankets and quilts. I think both wanted to be with us and continue on until both went into final health crises.

It is a hard decision, and there is no easy answer, but it sounds as if your dog still is enjoying your company even though his active days are behind him. In his dreams he may still be running and playing as he did before.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 6:10PM
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For us, it was the look in her eyes that told us it was time. The day before had been a better day than she had had in a couple weeks. She had even played with me like she did when she was a puppy. We even were considering the surgery that doctor had said MIGHT give her a few more months of a reasonable life. The next morning she was where we had left her the night before and couldn't get up, even with support she couldn't potty. Her eyes told us she was tired of the battle and pain - she had been panting for a long time as though she was in pain and now the meds weren't touching it. We spent the morning with her and our vet had us bring her in to a part of the clinic where we wouldn't have to go through the waiting area. We stayed with her till it was over. 51/2 years ago but I'm crying as I type this. Chelsea was a Brittany and lived 14 years. Our babies now are 5, but it took 2 of them to fill our hearts.

Good luck - its never easy - they are our babies.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 3:59PM
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Although some will think this is wacked, I'm going to tell what happened a few months after we had to put our darling down. I read the link to the Rainbow Bridge on a previous post and it brought it all back to me after 7 years. About 4 or 5 months after we had to put our beloved dog down, I dreamed that I was walking on this beautiful country road. Suddenly I saw her running up the road, in full health and energy like she was when she was a 1-year-old! She was so happy and greeted me with such joy. After the initial leaping and jumping up and kissing, etc., I noticed that she was looking back down the road and then looking back at me with this look on her face of excited pride, like she was trying to tell me to look. I looked down the road and here came 2 beautiful puppies about the same age as when we got her, looked just like her. She had such a look of happiness - you see, she was spayed at 6 months and of course never had any puppies. Then she ran off with her loved ones and I woke up. It was like she had to visit me in my dreams to let me know that where she was she was so happy and I shouldn't worry or grieve over her ever again. I still think about her and how hard it was to put her down but I know that what we did was best and that she is fine now.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 4:56PM
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Thanks for your responses and advice.

Mojo has seen the vet recently and they did up his dose of Rimadyl. Hasn't seemed to help at all. We tried Tramadol, too but saw no improvement.

I don't know if he is in pain or not, but I suspect he is. To what degree I have no clue. I have RA myself so I can kind of understand what he feels.

We have to help him get up nearly all the time, now and he has trouble walking, too.

It's sad because his mind is sharp as a tack! He still "guards" the house; lays in a place/position where he can see the front door or down the driveway, and alerts us if someone is coming. And he dreams he's chasing bunnies or some such critter because he "runs" in his sleep! It's so cute!

It's his quality of life that I am concerned about. Dreaming of playing and actually playing are two totally different things.

I think I will call the vet tomorrow just to ask some questions. I also need to find out if they will come out to the house to do the "deed" when the time comes. I want him to be comfortable and in a place he loves when he goes.

So many of you say you just knew....I hope I will just know when he's ready.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 4:58PM
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I hate this time of owning a dog. I have to say if you are asking the question, you already know the answer...Having a big dog like a German Shepherd live to be 13 is an acomplishment. You should be proud to have had a large dog for so long.
German shepherds are notorious for having spinal stenosis, which makes the arthritis and mobility issues even harder.
My thoughts go out to you. Sounds like those paw prints made some deep tracks on your heart.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 7:32PM
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I would say if you are asking the question, then its not time yet. Your dog will let you know when. Just make sure you are listening.

He will look at you in a certain way and you will know immediately. Its a special moment.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 12:03PM
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Linda, I don't have any words for you other than what has already been written, but I just want you to know my heart breaks reading your posts. You know I lost my beloved Duke at 13 last October and I will grieve for that dog forever. He was so special. It sounds like your dog is nearing the end stage so just cuddle with him and enjoy every minute together you have left. My thoughts are with you.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 12:26PM
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Thanks all.

I did talk to my vet and they will come to the house when it's time. I feel better knowing that he can be at home until the end.

Duane I do remember when you lost Duke and how sad a time that was for you. Thanks for understanding.

Seems like all we can do now is just wait and be patient with him and his special needs.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 12:47PM
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