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Your thoughts re: aging/ill dog appreciated

due2relax
October 31st, 2006, 07:14 PM
Hi ...I am having a bit of angst right now and need some thoughts from others...My shih tzu turned 18 last Sept...He was always in good health aside from chronic eye problems, and I have used an antibiotic and cyclosporin for years...He got cataracts around age 14 (vet said forget surgery at his age) and is now blind...He also had chronic ear infections which was treated with daily doses of ototsporin...he also seemed to lose his hearing eventually..Around Jan of this year he had a bad ear infection again and when I returned to the Vet a sub vet did a culture and found a staph infection..we switched antibiotics and when the swelling went down...lo and behold he had a tumor in his ear (Again, too old to operate)...well the ear infection cannot be cleared up and the discharge is quite horrible...But worse than that...he began to have blood in his urine...this was diagnosed as an e-coli infection and he is now on antibiotics indefinitely...The thing is that the infections are not seeming to clear...he is now walking in circles...falling down...sleeping a lot...getting lost if he goes behind the door...BUT he doesn't seem to be in pain...he is eating and drinking...He does now miss the paper when he urinates or defecates...but he tries...I was concerned about septic shock and my vet told me if that happened it would "be over in a couple of hours."...my children (grown) are telling me it is time to let him go...the vet is saying his heart, lungs and lab work are great!...(He is also getting many other large tumors over his body and his weight has dropped approximately 8 lbs). Please post your thoughts of what you would do if this were your baby....I appreciate any and all responses...

thank you for your time in reading this

bmerc
October 31st, 2006, 07:32 PM
This must be very difficult for you! Antibiotics can take a real toll in animals as well as people. They throw the system completely out of wack, and often just when one condition clears up you find another. I don't know how many of the symptoms ( stumbling, missing paper) are related to the antibiotics. I am confused about the lumps,weight loss and normal blood tests. I would expect that if there is a malignancy in the tumors the white blood cell count would be higher than normal. Are the tumors benign? At the age of 18, they would probably be inoperable (too hard on the body/ high risk). So medically I can not give suggestions. All I can say is that when the time is right, if you're considering euthanasia...you'll know. 4 years ago I lost my father suddenly of a massive heart attack. Two days prior to his death he was at the vet with my dog. She had a clean bill of health. She was a Shar-Pei, 11 yrs old with some health issues (enlarged heart, bowel issues) The vet never probed further because she was vicious to him, needing to be sedated for vaccinations. A week after my dad died her health plummetted. She went to the vet and had stoomach cancer. On meds she had a few months maybe. The meds took a terrible toll on her. She became incontinent, and she was in pain. She shuddered with every breath. It was my call what to do and I couldn't have her suffer. When she went to the vet for the last time she put up no fight. Its like she knew. It was the hardest time of my life losing my father and best friend within 2 weeks but for her it was the right choice. Give your dog time, do all you can and follow your heart.

the gang
October 31st, 2006, 07:44 PM
i agree what has been said, my heart goes out to you but i think it may be time to say good bye, they come into our life with smiles they have to go out with no pain ! sometimes we want to keep them around forever, i know i did with my cocker of 12yrs which i had to put down 2 yrs ago with cancer, it broke my heart !!!and as i look back i kept her too long, so my thoughts and prayers go to you and your family ,you will do whats right for you and the pup.:sorry: :grouphug: brenda and the 4 pins.

due2relax
October 31st, 2006, 10:09 PM
Thank you for responding...BMerk ...The vet has not told me or suggested that any of the tumors, including the one in the ear are malignant...first test was dx staph in ear....then ecoli in bladder which he says is lowered immune system...

I did have to have the female 13 yo put to sleep because she had kidney disease and destroyed her parathyroid...for one year I ground up supplements and made her food...she declined rapidly was hospitalized several times and had IV's...I visited her every day at vets and it was heartbreaking...she wanted to be home...I knew it was time when I came home blood everwhere...she had vomited it...The vet wanted to hospitalize her again but I couldn't keep doing it...This is different...he is not having major crisis or in pain (except when I have to touch his ear to open mouth 2x daily for meds). Maybe I am afraid of sepsis and having to watch if he goes into shock...(vets are never open during crises, did you notice?) But again,thank you ....he of course is like one of the children...

:}

Frenchy
October 31st, 2006, 10:51 PM
I'm so sorry you have to go tru this but please,put him out of his misery. I know you love him so much and it hurts but we have to let them go someday , before they suffer too much. I don't think your dog as much quality of life anymore :sad: I don't mean to sound harsch. I just had to make the same decision a month ago.

Hunter's_owner
November 1st, 2006, 09:03 AM
Sooo sorry to hear your story. It really is such a hard decision to make.
I guess only you can make the decision, but realize that you are only doing what is best in the long run. My thoughts are with you as you go through this:sad:

bmerc
November 1st, 2006, 01:15 PM
If it were my baby I would get him through the antibiotic trials, see how he is doing and rate his overall quality of life before I make any decisions. My Shar-Pei had benign tumors which would appear, and apparently skin issues were just part of the breed. The lumps may just be a cosmetic thing, not a cause of suffering. If bloodwork is great, and the pup is eating, drinking and voiding normally the meds may be part of the problem. I am not one who is quick to euthanize you want to be sure you're in a place where you can feel comfortable that you made the right decision. What did the vet advise? Stay strong they are our furry babies!

Barb

jawert1
November 1st, 2006, 01:24 PM
Look at the quality of his life, not the results from the vet. If this were you, would you prefer to suffer - having continual ear infections, tumours popping up all over your body, falling over, sleeping most of the day? At 18, all you can do is make him comfortable and healthy, and it sounds as though he's neither. I'm sorry for the tough love, I'm sure you've looked at all options and have thought this through, but I think you know what it is you need to do for him :/

OntarioGreys
November 1st, 2006, 06:17 PM
The decision can be difficult,

...BUT he doesn't seem to be in pain...he is eating and drinking...He does now miss the paper when he urinates or defecates...but he tries..

So far that sounds good, older dogs can become incontinent just like people, as long as he still enjoys eating it means he still feel well, if he was in a lot of discomfort his appetite would diminish. Memory loss is simply part of the aging process some dogs start getting lost at half his age. Even at 40 I found myself walking into a room a couple of times and would forget what I wanted from in there, and most people when they hit their thirties would rather call it a night rather and get some shut eye than party half the night, so forgetfulness and slowing down does not mean we are ready to kick the bucket. Vision and hearing in people starts to deteriorate around 40. Dogs tend to be able to adapt and cope better than people to loss, he has learned to rely on vibrations and smell which has allowed him to continue to function.

So the question to ask is .... Does he still find enjoyment in life? So far it sound like he still enjoys mealtimes, does he enjoy attention, be it scritches, pets, maybe going out somewhere, basking in the sunlight. does his tail still wag
When he stops looking forward to little or simple pleasures, and becomes depressed and despondant, it will be his way of saying it is time.

coppperbelle
November 1st, 2006, 08:17 PM
I am sorry that you are having to make this decision. It is so difficult, I know. A few years ago my old girl made the decision for me. She became so ill, so fast that she was barely able to lift her head. What I realized is that my vet took clues from me. When he saw how distraught I was he told me that he could give her medication that would prolong her life. When I asked him what kind of quality she would have and for how long she could live he was honest with me. When I mentioned euthanasia I knew this is what he would recommend although he didn't come right out and say it. He gave me both options and allowed me to decide. I couldn't watch her suffer any longer and made the difficult decision then and there. In all honesty I think I knew before we went that morning.
Many family members and friends told me afterwards that they had seen how she had aged and knew her time was coming. I had my head in the sand I guess and never saw it so when she got sick I wasn't prepared.
I think that it all has to do with quality of life. If you find that your old guy no longer has quality of life and/or is in pain then I would end his life peacefully.
Take care

due2relax
November 1st, 2006, 11:06 PM
Again,I want to thank you all for your thoughts and time...I guess I am unsure of what "quality of life" is to the boy...He does eat...he does not fly toward his food with joy as he used to but he does eat and drink...does he wag his tail when I come home as he used to...no..he can't see me...he really can't go for walks anymore because he falls down...I hold him and pet him as I used to and he will sleep on my lap...but he doesn't really respond to the petting and sometimes pushes my hand away from his face or paw or tummy because I accidently touch one of the tumor/growths....three of the growths bleed without any reason at times...He sleeps in my bed as he has done for 18 years and he sleeps well...in fact when I am home I realize that he sleeps most of the time...when he isn't sleeping he is circling...banging into closet doors and things that have always been there...He was well adapted to his blindness...and this may be the effect of the antibiotic?...When I asked the vet when I should have another test for the infection...he left it open ended..."He will be on them forever"...So I didn't really get an answer...Should I have another test? Should I keep him on the antibiotics indefinitely? What about the ear infection of staph that drains? The Antibiotic is not helping that at all...it has a horrible odor and is a brown drainage...I keep it clean as much as I can and put some Thuja-Zinc oxide...He is on Cephalin 2x daily. I don't even know if the ear infection is contagious to humans? I am thinking of euthanasia of course...but being no spring chicken myself I understand the changes we go thru...My children see his deterioration better than I do I think...that is why I am here...this is a hard and terrible decision to work out..He has been with me longer than my children lived at home!...Well, you all probably know exactly what i mean...thanks again

badger
November 2nd, 2006, 03:56 AM
Oh this must be so hard. Until that bond with our animal is in danger of being disturbed, we don't realize how strong it is. Your vet is being incredibly delicate but basically I think he is telling you that she will not heal.
If food is a chore, walking impossible and being touched causes her pain, I would say her quality of life is pretty minimal. But you know her best.
When you decide, why don't you ask the vet to come to the house, so your dog doesn't have to make the trip and can die in familiar surroundings. It also might be more comfortable for you.
My sympathies.

due2relax
November 2nd, 2006, 11:14 AM
Badger...thank you
I think my vet has always been unclear or not direct. He did take care of my other shih tzu also as I wrote, but in retrospect I realize I should have taken care of her earlier...I just kept following his advice and she was hospitalized so many times...I believe he is quite conservative and would prefer the animal pass on naturally...Unfortunately, with the scope of the infections my boy has, I am fearful it will not be an easy passing for him, unless I take the initiative. I do not know if my vet would come to the house and do the procedure...I took my girl dog to him...stayed through the procedure and brought her home to bury her. Have you ever had an animal euthanized at home? Could you explain how it works more thoroughly? You have all been so kind...and I think making me face reality...One post especially referred to how I would feel with the raging infection that doesn't seem to abate...and another asked about the possibility of depression in my boy. Now that I have had the feedback I realize that he probably is depressed and while maybe not in extreme pain...he certainly cannot feel "well." I cannot stress enough how much this board is helping me think about things...

To all of you :}

badger
November 2nd, 2006, 01:47 PM
Although I have never had the experience, several people have posted on the board that it is far better for everyone, if the vet agrees. All s/he has to do is bring the drugs. The dog is in familiar surroundings, no barking from the waiting room or the clatter of metal on metal.
I really feel for you but you're right, a 'natural death' in this case will probably be an increasingly painful one.

hazelrunpack
November 2nd, 2006, 02:42 PM
We've had dogs put to sleep at home. They greet the vet as special company come to see them, and I'm convinced it's much easier on the dog to be home. You're in your familiar surroundings, which is a comfort to you, and the animal has to feel that, too. It's definitely the way to go if your vet will agree.

(Our one exception was an extremely gregarious setter we had who just loved visiting the vet. It was one of his favorite places to go becauseafter a lifetime of medical problems, he knew everyone there. So we brought him in to the vet when it was time. If your dog doesn't like the vet's office, though, definitely inquire about a home visit.)

So sorry you're going through this. It just never gets any easier.

Hunter's_owner
November 2nd, 2006, 02:46 PM
I had it done at home as well. I made it much easier as our dog hated the car and would cry and whine the whole time. Just the thought of her having to go through that at that point was unbearable. So the vet came in and did it at home. Again, so sorry for what you are going through :sad:

coppperbelle
November 2nd, 2006, 08:44 PM
Judging by your description I think he has very little quality of life left but that is my opinion. Dogs have a high tolerance for pain so even though you don't think he is any discomfort he may be. With all his problems he cannot feel very good at the very least.
I really suspect that you know what has to be done but are having a difficult time saying it. I have been there and understand completely. Don't feel guilty because you have done everything you can for him. Your last gift to him will be to end his suffering and allow him to go peacefully.

Take care

Linda