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Older dog.

chessman
October 4th, 2005, 08:38 PM
Hello.
I'm posting here because I'm not sure where else to go. Perhaps I can give you a bit of history before asking my question. I'm sorry for the length and hope you bear with me.
My dog is a sheperd lab cross an is approximately 18 years old. Over the last few years he has battled arthritis as well as what was described to me as a degenerative nerve condition in his hind quarters which makes it difficult for him to feel what is going on. This has resulted in some "knuckling" of his back paws as well as defecating in the house. He is on both metacam and has taken cartrophen injections over the past several years. The vet and I assume the defecation is a result of him not feeling his back legs as he can still manage to hold his bladder to urinate until he goes outside.
A few weeks ago he developed ulcers which severely lowered his red cell blood count but it appeared we were able to treat it effectively as he seemed to recover. Over the last few days his condition has worsened slightly from prior to his ulcers and immediately after his recovery. He can no longer get up on his own. Where before I frequently had to help him up he could get up on his own after a minute. Now he can't get up at all. He still eats, however, if I put the food down away from him he won't try to get up to go to it. I need to help him over. He eats laying down but if his head falls over he makes little effort to get up to finish. He falls down alot. Where before he would lose his balance in his back legs he is now stumbling in the front. These conditions rather than being new seem to be just an deterioration of the same problems he's had before.
I'm taking him to the vet later this week. I'm hoping they say he is still worn out from his ulcer problem and is still recovering but I don't think that will be the case. His conditions have always worsened in the fall and then levelled of for the rest of the year. How do you know when it is time to let go? Sometimes I feel like I may be rushing into things and doing him a disservice by thinking of putting him to sleep. Other times I see an animal that goes through the motions of eating and sleeping and seems to derive no enjoyment from it and I feel guilty for holding on so long. The only walks he can go on are to the car when I drive him to work with me in the morning. I need to hold him up when he pees. I've never been in this situation and am just looking for advice from people who have lived with making this decision before. How do you know when it's time?

Thank you.

Prin
October 4th, 2005, 09:01 PM
This is just my opinion, but I think it's time. He's not independent anymore and it's probably humiliating for him. Usually, I say, "If he's happy and has quality of life, he's ok," but in this case, I think his quality of life is gone. Spend a day with him and decide. Sorry if I'm a pessimist, but he just doesn't seem like he is getting better or that he is enjoying himself. :( :sorry:

Lucky Rescue
October 4th, 2005, 09:06 PM
18? For a big dog, this could be some kind of record.

I agree with Prin. I think it's time to let him go. His life is becoming a burden to him, and I know you don't want his last days to be filled only with memories of suffering. I know I wouldn't to live this way.

We all know how very hard this is, but it's something we have to do for our old friends. I've had to do it many times.:(

I"m very sorry, but you must try to be happy that you gave your dog such an incredibly long life, filled with love.

Joey.E.CockersMommy
October 4th, 2005, 09:15 PM
You gave this dog a great life. 18 years you must have taken amazing care of him, I have never heard of a big dog living that long. I agree with the others its time to let go. You will be doing the right thing even though it will be hard. You can know that you've given him a great life.

StaceyB
October 4th, 2005, 09:22 PM
18 yrs, WOW, that amazing. You know your dog best. When it is time to let go you will know. It sounds like you are headed there. Most people wouldn't have done what you have with this dog. You must love him very much.

happycats
October 4th, 2005, 09:32 PM
I know how hard it is to make that decision, but look into his eyes, you will find the answer there. I am so sorry you are going through this, and ou know in your heart when it's time.

If quality of life is no longer there, it's time.
But know that you gave him a great loving life, and know that it's okay to let go, he understands.

My thoughts are with you during this very difficult time.

chessman
October 4th, 2005, 09:38 PM
Thank you for your replies.

I'm not sure if I wrote in looking for reassurance I was doing the right thing or desperately hoping someone would tell me there was a way out of making this decision. I know in my head it's probably the right thing to do but in my heart I've been holding out hope I could get him through anything. Up until before the ulcers and just after he recovered he could still get what he wanted without help. Whether it was food or just to get up and get comfortable. He might have had to struggle for a minute but he could do it. Now he can't. Which means either he is no longer capable of doing these things on his own or he no longer truly wants them.
When he had the ulcers I thought of putting him down then but the vet said he had a good chance of recovering from them. I thought that if I helped him through that I might give him a couple of months more so he could die without suffering with his last thoughts being the pain his body was going through with the ulcers. I guess it turned out to be only a few days. But a few more days, at least I gave him that. It wouldn't be right to wait until he was in that much pain again before letting him go.

dmc123
October 4th, 2005, 09:52 PM
With tears I write this.....you have loved this dog and he knows it. Be there with him and tell him it is ok as you show him the way to the rainbow bridge.

My heart goes out to you and your much loved pet.

Diane

pamha
October 4th, 2005, 10:31 PM
Poor old fella. Sounds like you`ve done everything possible to give him good quality of life, but it comes to the point for all of us where its just not possible anymore.
Hope you are able to find peace within yourself to take care of his last need. :sorry:

justncase
October 5th, 2005, 04:24 AM
Chessman, i don't know where you are located but if you are located where you can get the product mentioned in the two testimonials below , you may want to consider it :

Paralyzed dog recoverd use of hind legs "I must say before I received the Transfer Factor Plus I was really anxious and I would afraid that my Ridgeback dog, Linkin, would give up. As soon as the package arrived from England I started giving Linkin 2 tablets a day for the first 3 weeks.
He has improved in leaps and bounds and it is hard to believe that some 4 weeks ago he could not walk by himself and could hardly move around at all. I had to carry his hind legs with a towel around his waist otherwise he just could not get around.

After two weeks on TF+, he started trying to get up onto his hind legs. It was difficult and heart breaking to see him struggle but he was trying. After four weeks on TF+, he managed to walk around even though he lost his balance and he hind legs would give way.

He is now walking and running around, although still a little wobbly, and he also tries to jump but does not always succeed. It is absolutely fantastic to see the improvement from week to week." Antoinette Kean, South Africa

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"My family has an 11-year old German Shephard mix that spent six days in a traditional vet's office because he could not walk anymore.
After the Transfer Factor and flaxseed oil( best when whipped together with low-fat cottage cheese) , this dog is now walking, frisky and in good spirits." Richard English

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In a book called The Last Chance Dog by Seattle holistic vet, Dr Donna Kelleher, DVM she writes of two cases. One was a German Shepherd who had degenerative myopathy and in her words," the worst case of arthritis I've ever seen". The dog was completely down in the back legs and the owners had to carry him all over. Dr. Kelleher used acupuncture(www.ivas.org) - 5 treatments along with dietary changes( less meat, it adds purines to the tissues making them stiff), and supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, alfalfa, etc. The dog was running around before the five treatments were completed. Dr. Kelleher also used the same treatment for a smaller dog who was paralyzed from the neck down and the dog recovered before the five treatments were completed. Then all that was done after that were preventative acupuncture treatments every so often.
Does your dog have degenerative myopathy because I have more info on that? Also, for any and all nerve damage, one vet swears by using the homeopathic, Hypericum 3x. You may wish to see what a holistic vet has to say about your dog's condition before you come to the conclusion that you've run out of options ( www.ahvma.org/referral/index.html ) . There are also specific conditions that German Shepherds are prone to thata can be corrected homeopathically( and you say that your dog is a shepherd lab cross).
Lastly, one vet had this to say " old Alsatians can develop paralysis of the hindquarters overnight due to osteosis of the spinal meninges. By giving Nux vomica 6x at hourly intervals it is possible to avert paralysis that would inevitably lead to euthanasia. This treatment will cause the paralysis to disappear as quickly as it came and will allow the old dog to enjoy a good pain-free period in which he can walk normally until the second bout which may not follow for several months." At the 6x strength the dosage is usually one tablet or 5 globules dissolved in the mouth(under the tongue is best). No food or water for about 45 minutes afterward. Nux vomica is a homeopathic available at any health food store.

doggy lover
October 5th, 2005, 05:42 PM
Chessman you are very lucky to have had 18 years with this loving dog. Last year I had to put my 9and a half shepperd x BMD to sleep due to bone cancer. Yes they could amputate and so on but his back legs were starting to get weak, we live in a three story town house and he would never been able to get up the stairs. Our vet said at most he would give him another year tops, so to put him through the surgery to end up with more cancer or never being able to run up at our cottage or spend time with the whole family for the stairs, we decided it was better for him to be pts. I still really miss him,but I know that we did the right thing for him and he knew it was time to say goodbye you could see it in his eyes. Its the hardest thing I have had to do but it was so peaceful in the end I kissed his head and said goodbye. You know what the right thing to do is, its just the hard part of doing it. My thoughts are with you, don't let such a loving pet suffer too long. This is a pic of Travis a few days before he was pts, it was our time to say goodbye, enjoy your last days.