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View Full Version : When to euthanise/put to sleep?



Benjamin4
7th November 2009, 06:48 PM
I'm new to this forum and very happy to have found this site. I am a vet tech in MA and my Cavalier, Ben, was diagnosed with SM 3 weeks ago. I brought him for a neuro consult when his symptoms got to overwhelming for his usual vet to handle. Ben has a head tilt to the left, walks tilted to the left, has full facial paralysis on the right side, partial on the left side, and shows almost all the signs of SM. We started him off on medications including lasix and gababentin. He was so sensitive to the lasix that the neurologist decided it wasn't worth the discomfort he was having to keep him on it. We've started to try Pred instead. His symptoms of discomfort have been worsening with each week. He doesn't sleep much anymore. He just lays there with his eyes open. He whines all through out the night. He's a mess.

I just dont know when enough is enough. How much suffering do I let him go through? As a vet tech I see people not electing euthanasia just to keep themselves happy and I don't want to be that kind of person. But I dont want to end his life prematurely either.

Any advise?

-Ashlee

Karlin
8th November 2009, 02:02 AM
Hi Ashlee:

Welcome to the board and so sorry to hear you are going through this.

To be honest: I think he sounds like he has very little quality of life if he lies unsleeping with his eyes open. In your shoes I would either investigate surgery immediately (and I do mean immediately -- this sounds very urgent) or let him go. He sounds in significant pain. I am so sorry.

Is your neurologist aware of this level of pain and what has s/he recommended?

There is a good article pinned at the top of the health Library section on answering the question of when to let a dog go that has helped many with that decision. A dog has no fear of dying but I think if each day is filed with pain, then each day is probably filled with some level of fear for the dog. In such a situation I would give that dog peace and remove that terrible burden.

Gem
8th November 2009, 10:44 AM
Im so sorry your going through this but I agree with Karlin. Sometimes the kindest thing we as pet owners can do is let them go. *ng*l
thinking of you at this difficult time whatever decision you choose

Nicki
8th November 2009, 12:11 PM
I'm so very sorry Ashlee, it's very difficult to be faced with this decision.

I too suspect that Ben is not enjoying his life - it's very hard for you but I know you would not want him to suffer. Try to think about the things that are important to him and whether he can still enjoy them - walks, cuddles, eating...




If you know that this is just a temporary phase and he will get better, then that is different, but if this is now his quality of life forever...then I'm sure you would not want to remember him miserable and suffering.


I think I would speak to the neurologist first thing tomorrow.

So very sorry that you have to face this...many of us have had to make these decisions for our beloved companions, and it never gets any easier - but in time it is a comfort that we could release them from their pain and suffering.

sins
8th November 2009, 12:13 PM
Hello Ashlee,
I'm so sorry to hear about Ben's illness.
Only you can make the decision but truthfully,If it were my dog I would make an appointment with the vet and set him free from his pain and let him pass with dignity.
There's nothing to be gained by either of you by prolonging things and I know this is very upsetting and stressful for you.
Sins

Benjamin4
8th November 2009, 12:44 PM
Thanks everyone for your support. I don't know yet what I am going to do. I already spoke with the neurologist last week and as I am not electing surgery he didn't have much to tell me other than what I am already doing. I'm sorry but I think I accedently posted this twice thinking it did not get posted the first time.

I agree with all your opinions. If I do put him down it will be at the end of the week. I don't think I could work at the hospital for my work week if I did it Monday. But I don't want to cater to myself so I just might have to deal.

-Ashlee

Margaret C
8th November 2009, 01:33 PM
I'm new to this forum and very happy to have found this site. I am a vet tech in MA and my Cavalier, Ben, was diagnosed with SM 3 weeks ago. I brought him for a neuro consult when his symptoms got to overwhelming for his usual vet to handle. Ben has a head tilt to the left, walks tilted to the left, has full facial paralysis on the right side, partial on the left side, and shows almost all the signs of SM. We started him off on medications including lasix and gababentin. He was so sensitive to the lasix that the neurologist decided it wasn't worth the discomfort he was having to keep him on it. We've started to try Pred instead. His symptoms of discomfort have been worsening with each week. He doesn't sleep much anymore. He just lays there with his eyes open. He whines all through out the night. He's a mess.

I just dont know when enough is enough. How much suffering do I let him go through? As a vet tech I see people not electing euthanasia just to keep themselves happy and I don't want to be that kind of person. But I dont want to end his life prematurely either.

Any advise?

-Ashlee

I am so sorry you are facing this. It is everybody's nightmare

You do not say how old Ben is? I made the final decision when my eleven year old Monty started whimpering, but he was old enough for me to feel that he had lived a fairly full life

You have described a dog in significant pain. Even if something can be done to ease him immediately, he is probably going to be left with considerable neurological damage.

How long has he been on the preds? In my experience steroids usually effect a rapid improvement if they are going to work.

We can never know for sure that we have made the right decision, that there was not another drug that may have made the difference, given our pet more days, weeks, or months.

I have regretted keeping dogs alive too long. I can hardly bear to think of them now.
I really do believe better a day too soon than a day too late.

harleyfarley
8th November 2009, 02:22 PM
If it helps at all, with my animals in the past i try to imagine i am that animal and what would i want to happen, carry on with the pain day in day out, sometimes we are selfish because we cant bear the pain of loseing them, if its just going to get worse then is it fair on the dog. di

Karlin
8th November 2009, 02:22 PM
If you are going to wait a week then I think he must have his pain meds increased to give him some level of comfort. You truly are describing a dog in a severe level of pain. If you are not considering surgery and he has declined for weeks on the mix of medications, including prednisalone, then he must be very badly compromised by the disease.

Please try to be brave and do not let him continue in this condition for 5 more days in his current state. Or get the medication that will ease the remaining days so that he isn't suffering in this way.

I am not sure if you have read human accounts of the searing pain that accompanies this condition; but reading this might help:

http://board.cavaliertalk.com/showthread.php?t=17637

It is a hard place to be in, but I really think your much loved companion shouldn't be left to deal with this type of pain for several more days.

Clairelou
8th November 2009, 03:58 PM
I echo what Karlin has said, please don't leave him until the end of the week.

A natural reaction to pain is to 'moan/whine/vocalise'. We've all banged something at one time or another and what do we do - ow - for about a second or few!

I suffer from endometriosis, I swear you would not believe such pain could exist nor be SO extreme, it's in a different league to dropping a brick on your foot, trapping a finger in the door etc etc - it's continuous and unremitting. When I am like this I 'vocalise/whine/moan', continously and unremittingly until my pain med kicks in! I don't cry, I'm in too much pain, I moan, whimper in sheer despair. How bad is my pain before I vocalise - completely, utterly HORRIFIC. If my pain meds didn't control this hand on heart I would not want to be here.

Dogs naturally keep pain to themselves to avoid signs of weakness to others.

I know this isn't what you want to hear, but at the same time I couldn't let this pass without adding my own experience, ok I'm not a dog, I don't have SM but as they have no voice will we ever know? I hope you don't feel offended by me making comparisons between 2 completely different conditions and species, just wanted to give my own personal experience of how bad pain gets before one 'vocalises/moans/whimpers' - this is HELL!

Sorry this is so strong.

Benjamin4
8th November 2009, 04:36 PM
Your right, i know. I guess I was just expecting something more like I see on the videos with them yelping uncontrolably. I think he just deals with it differently.

harleyfarley
8th November 2009, 05:39 PM
They do deal with pain very well ben, its all about quality of life, and if you are sure there is not going to be any improvement it does sound as if he really has had enough, but you are the only one who can make the choices on his behalf you know him best. di

Bet
8th November 2009, 05:56 PM
Hope you will , Thanks.

Louise1823
8th November 2009, 06:40 PM
My heart is breaking reading through your post about Ben, and I can't imagine what you must be going through.
I don't have any words of advise, but just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you at this terrible time, and I hope you can come to a decision on whats best for Ben soon.
My Mum had to have her dog PTS only a few weeks ago and she faced the same dilemma. After she had let him go, I printed off some pieces from the Library on 'When is it time to say goodbye' http://board.cavaliertalk.com/showthread.php?t=8819, and I think it helped to give her some peace of mind.
Will be thinking of you, gentle hugs to Ben :hug:

chloe92us
8th November 2009, 08:38 PM
I'm so so so sorry you're going through this. What a hard choice you must make. I think you know in your heart that it is the right time; otherwise I don't think you would have asked.

I went through this last year and by the time I posted here asking "how do I know"...I already knew it was time. I tried once, and decided against it once I got to the vet's office, thinking "oh, she's good today! Maybe it was just a phase! Thank Goodness!" . However, I was back 3 days later and I should have just done it the first time. She had a terrible morning that 3rd day and I wish I wouldn't have made her go through it.

Big hugs to you. It will be so hard, but Ben will thank you for it. If he is not sleeping and moaning through the night, he really is in a lot of pain.

heather r
8th November 2009, 08:46 PM
Hello Ashlee; I've just read your sad posting.

Like several of the other postings, I would recommend either quick surgery if vet can convince you that Ben will be much better. If not, I would put him to sleep. Our last golden retriever was slowly dying from kidney failure. I convinced myself that as long as she was eating she was okay. Well, she kept eating to the end but the last night her back legs, kidneys and colon gave up. I wished that I hadn't waited those few extra days. She didn't complain but I know that she must have been in pain.

Having been there several times I wish you peace with your decision.

Heather R

Nicki
8th November 2009, 09:27 PM
I know this is so very hard Ashlee - I've had to make this decision three times in a year recently, all Cavaliers - and I'm still trying to get myself back together. BUT you have to do what is right for them...or you will always feel bad, and I'd hate for that to happen.

You might want to look at this http://www.naturescornermagazine.com/help_companions.html


Coud you possibly take a day or so off work - I really don't feel it's fair to leave a dog in such severe pain for this long.


I have neuropathic pain - it is the most excruciating pain you can imagine, and I know that our beloved companions must suffer terribly sometimes. Sadly they are very good at hiding their pain, but we have to be aware of that.

pippa
8th November 2009, 09:47 PM
Thinking of you......:(

Karen and Ruby
8th November 2009, 10:57 PM
I am so sorry you are having to make this choice- I think about it every day how I will cope but deep down I know that Ruby deserves more.
They give us so much in their lives and in the end all we can do is help them pass peacefully and with their loved ones x

You are both in my thoughts

Kathleen
11th November 2009, 02:48 PM
Our thoughts are with you.