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MishathePooh
29th February 2008, 04:36 AM
I've read the When to PTS article in the health library. I know nobody can tell someone when to PTS, but how did you personally know?

My partner has a 15yr old Samoyed/Husky or Malamute mix. His hind end doesn't really work too well. He is incontinent with his poos and can't get up on his own. His back end muscles have all atrophied. On the other hand, he hobbles around the backyard several times a day, eats fine, drinks and enjoys attention. His only diagnosed problem is severe arthritis which is treated with rimadyl/tramadol as well as cosequin and msm. I always figured dogs would stop eating or moving altogether, but his situation shows neither but his quality of life has decreased quite a bit since his spritely days. Any words of advice?

Barbara Nixon
29th February 2008, 11:59 AM
I go by the eyes. I made a decision about Izzy, who had advanced mvd, one Saturday when his eyes looked far away. I was goung to let him have the weekend, but he went out for a wee, that evening and never came back.

Of my other two, one had a facial cancer and I took the vets advice. I probably would have let him go earlier, fearing that the non-painful condition could suddenly turn, but the vet assured me he would let me know when it was time )ie as late as possible before discomfort) and he did. The other had pyometra, at 14 and had a bad heart, so was a bad anaesthesia risk (this was 20 years ago). hence there was no choice.

Some time a go, a vet said that still eating is not necessarily an indicator of a good life quality, as eating is a basic instinct (though many dogs don't eat when sick). Also , a wagging tail is no indication. There have been rescue/vet programmes on tv, where a dog with terrible injuries is wagging its tail.

Charleen
29th February 2008, 12:20 PM
It is so hard to know when it is time. I have had to make the decision twice. Both times I wrestled with the idea for quite a while and it always came down to when I thought the dog's quality of life was really declining.

With my cocker spaniel, Casablanca, she had kidney failure. I lived with it for a whole year. At the beginning she was drinking more water and peeing more. Then she started to have pee accidents in the house. Still in every other way she was fine. She loved playing fetch with her tennis ball. And continued this game, even as her kidney failure continued. I finally decided it was time when it seemed that she constantly wanted to drink water and then of course had to pee and couldn't hold it. Up until the day I had to put her to sleep, she still was game for fetch. It was SO hard a decision. She lived to be 12 years old.

The next time I had to face this decision was with my basset hound, Humphrey. For many years I had her on Cosequin because her back hips and legs didn't support her well when she was walking up and down the stairs. She definitely slowed down, but she was such a trooper. At 14 years old, she still wanted to go on a hike with me. She was slow, but she kept on trucking on a 6 mile hike. Then 3 months later, a dog bit her muzzle at doggy daycare and she needed to be stitched back up. I thought about if this was time and decided it wasn't. So I had her fixed up. Her stitches healed. But then 45 days later she started throwing up for 2 days. I looked at how sad she was and I decided it was time to PTS. I didn't want her to suffer anymore.

There is guilt in making this decision. In the end it comes down to what is best for the dog, but it doesn't make it any easier.

toblerone
29th February 2008, 08:55 PM
This is a question that I wrestled with for two dogs. For one, Toby, I found the article that you mentioned invaluable. He was almost 16 and was really failing. It helped to have the clarity that I found in that article. The second dog, Gizmo, I did not have PTS but wished that I had made the decision. If you want to read more about my observations made after he died you can see them at:

http://web.mac.com/margaretalexander/Gizmo/Observations.html

Basically, I didn't want to see that he had reached the end of his life. He was our first family dog and our first cavalier and I wanted more than anything for him to continue to live. It took a many weeks for me to stop beating myself up for not making the decision for him, as a last gift.

In every case I think the situation is different and difficult. The most useful thing I found was to feel supported in my decision and to know that I had done what I felt was best, even if I later regretted it.

Margaret

luvzcavs
1st March 2008, 01:49 AM
I have never faced this yet so say this with no background on this extremely difficult issue. I am hoping very soon something in the world will change and my beloved babies will become immortal (only if they want to of course) as I struggle to imagine myself having the strength to go through this ????? But I always think if a doggie is comfortable, can eat, drink, move and toilet independently then they are doing ok regardless of age or how long these things may take due to health issues however if they lose the ability to do any of these things for themselves I think their quaility of life is affected and possibly their dignity especially when incontinence becomes an issue as this would be distressing for the poor little love ? I think then it is time. I would like to think these are the rules I am able to live by when the time comes ? But it is such a personal journey between owner and companion and so judgements can't really be passed deep deep down in your heart I think you'll (he'll/she'll) know when its time ?

:hug::hug::hug::flwr::flwr::flwr::hug::hug::hug:

MishathePooh
1st March 2008, 05:03 AM
Thank you so much for the responses. They all have been really helpful.

Margaret, I read your Gizmo thoughts and my heart goes out to you. I have never made this decision for a dog, but I had a rat that I somewhat regretted waiting too long to PTS. He and I were so attached though; I almost felt like he was holding out for me for a bit longer even if he was uncomfortable. I have solace in knowing he is at peace with his brothers now. Rats and dogs are so different in their "signs" though, which is why I asked the question here.

Bridam
1st March 2008, 05:46 AM
I've read the When to PTS article in the health library. I know nobody can tell someone when to PTS, but how did you personally know?

My partner has a 15yr old Samoyed/Husky or Malamute mix. His hind end doesn't really work too well. He is incontinent with his poos and can't get up on his own. His back end muscles have all atrophied. On the other hand, he hobbles around the backyard several times a day, eats fine, drinks and enjoys attention. His only diagnosed problem is severe arthritis which is treated with rimadyl/tramadol as well as cosequin and msm. I always figured dogs would stop eating or moving altogether, but his situation shows neither but his quality of life has decreased quite a bit since his spritely days. Any words of advice?


We had a doberman with wobbler's disease. One day, the steroids stopped working and she couldn't stand. She sat there, fully aware, but was distressed by her inability to control her legs. It was hard because she was still mentally all there. Nevertheless, quality of life was gone and the hard thing had to be done. You'll know inside when the time comes. Good luck.

Karlin
1st March 2008, 06:30 PM
Having a vet(s) whose opinion you trust makes a big difference too.

I think many people hang on to a loved pet longer than the pet might wish to struggle on because the human side cannot bear to let go. I sometimes think about how I'd feel -- we all know people who feel they are exhausted and are ready to go when they are in pain and very ill.

I had a cat with felines AIDS virus and she had become very thin very quickly and incontinent (usually FIV cats can live many years quite normally and I'd never pts a domestic cat simply because it is FIV+). My vets -- two women whose opinion I trusted and who both have cats -- both said they felt they would make the choice to pts as that point even though she would perhaps be nursed back but would inevitably have a similar episode or a different problem before long as she was in a quite weakened state from the progression of the virus. Tanis explained that being incontinent is deeply psychologically disturbing to a cat as well, on top of her illness.

They both said they would choose to let her go now while she was very ill but not in deep pain rather than prolong things until she suffered further. I took their advice and let Maisie go while I held her --it was so sad but comforting to be there with her (which I strongly recommend to anyone -- I think it really helps on both sides to be there rather than leave this to someone else, and helps your own grief and healing afterwards to have been there at the solemn moment of passing. And I think it is the contract we make with them when we bring them into our lives. I cannot any more imagine not being there for a child or parent's passing than I can one of my loved animal companions. It is a way of honouring, respecting and loving them. And yes I bawled my eyes out in front of all the vets and vet techs so at least I can never be embarrassed in front of them now. :flwr:).

But to return to your main question -- I balance how the animal seems to be coping with what my trusted vets say and my gut feeling; it is never an easy decision and takes balancing a lot of input, for me. Some incontinence and stiffness wouldn't be an issue for me with a dog as long as the dog seems to greet each day and enjoy it. Just like humans I think most dogs don't feel that just because they are not leaping around in their dotage that they want to not be here at all! If the dog is happy each day to be there and gets around OK enough to do its business etc -- then I'd be inclined to let him enjoy his retirement if he doesn't seem to be in deep discomfort or severely compromised and also -- that you can manage his condition.