March 17th, 2010, 10:48 AM
Is it time for Euthanasia or Not?
Max, my eleven year old chocolate Labrador has several serious health problems. He is a diabetic with cataracts. He's gets two injections of insulin a day. And we do daily eye drops in our constant battle against eye infections cataracts cause. (I can't afford thousands of dollars for cataract surgery) The vet believes he has tracheal paralysis too. I'm not sure if that's the same as LP. He has a hoarse bark, pants a lot, wheezes and sometimes sounds raspy. Last summer the heat was almost unbearable for him. The vet thinks it will be worse this year IF we have another heat wave. She also thinks he only has about six months of life left in him at best anyway.
Recently Max developed ulcerated anal histiocytomas. I can't believe how fast they develop! He has one now that makes a "bloody" mess and two more the vet found developing in the same area. His vet said they have to be removed surgically or they will continue to grow bigger and the heavy bleeding will get worse. (Already I won't let him on the carpets anymore because the large amount of bleeding.) She also said he should be neutered to help stop more from developing (something to do with hormones). The surgery will cost about $600+ but she's concerned about his breathing problem and is not sure how well he'll do under anesthetic.
Meanwhile, Max is still a dopey stubborn Lab. He sleeps a lot but is wagging his tail and still enjoys his food.
My question is: Am I doing the right thing if I put him down now? He may not survive the surgery but if he does will the breathing problem end up being a worse fate?
I'm leaning toward yes it's time but I don't know if I'm right or if I can handle the guilt. I live alone so I'm stuck making this decision by myself. I know some will say "you'll know when it's the right time". But I don't know!
What would you do?
March 17th, 2010, 10:59 AM
I'm sorry you're going through this, Susan Mary. Only you can tell how he's doing--if he's still enjoying life, doing favorite things. Does he still eat and drink normally? Want to play?
Just keep in mind that if you make the decision with love and with Max's best interests in mind, you can't go wrong, no matter what the decision is. You can only do the best you can and it will be fine. :grouphug:
You might want to sit down with your vet and have heart-to-heart with her. She might be able to help make your decision.
:goodvibes: for you and Max!
March 17th, 2010, 11:02 AM
This is always a very difficult decision and heartbreaking topic. I am so sorry that you are faced with this.
Personally, I always lean towards the quality of life. If he is suffering, then you have your answer. If you are really uncertain, ask your vet for an honest open discussion and his/her opinion. Ask this question to your vet: If this was your loved one, what would you do. Use the word 'loved one'. If your vet is a sensitive vet not looking for an extra buck - you will get an honest answer.
I cannot advise on what you should do. Look deep inside your being..the answer is there.
Whatever you decide, please know that you are not alone. We at pets go through these decisions everyday. We all know what it is like to prepare, fight or loose a very cherished member of our family. Together we help one another out in our times of need.
Best to you.:grouphug:. Make peace with whatever decision you take.
March 17th, 2010, 11:22 AM
As I start writing this, Max is lying on his back wagging his tail. He enjoys life for the most part. His big concern is being close to me. He can't play anymore because he can't see. He can't even go off leash outside. I have to stay on the same paths always or tell him where to step. He trips at curb etc it you don't warn him.
I asked the vet about these matters. She is as much as a wimp as I am. (She reminded me of how she keeps doing brain surgery on her own dog trying to save it.) All the vet said was that she had "concern" about doing surgery because Max isn't a good candidate because of his compromised breathing. She also said she didn't think he had more than six months left anyway. That's all I could get from her.
I'm leaning toward euthanasia because surviving the surgery will mean his death, if natural, will continue to deteriorate and likely be by suffocation within six months. Not a nice way to go!
The more I write about this the more confident I become about euthanasa him but I know I'll be second guessing myself later.
Now he's choking and gagging because of the breathing problem.
I'm so bad at this!
March 17th, 2010, 11:27 AM
FYI histiocytomas looks like this:
Max isn't this bad yet but it will get this bad without surgery.
March 17th, 2010, 11:41 AM
Susan Mary - you are not 'bad' at this...you are torn and confused.
Let me give you my own personal experience.
4 years ago, my rottweiler was diagnosed with cancer. I had surgery after surgery to try and stop it from spreading. It went into remission for a short period and then it reappeared...this time there was nothing I could do and had to accept the fact that the end was near. I went to my vet and asked how much time without further intervention. He gave me 1 month with meds. He told me to enjoy this time with him but regardless of his level of energy and 'masked' health..he will deteriorate.
Keep in mind that with the surgeries - it did buy him 2 years.
1 month later, Ben died. I did whatever I could and in the end, he was being called to cross the bridge. I knew that morning.
All this to say, you will do whatever you feel is right.
Ask the vet if there is anything that can keep him comfortable if infact this operation will only buy him a few months. Keep in mind about the recovery time and if it's really worth it.
I wish I had the magic word or answer for you. I am so sorry.
March 17th, 2010, 01:00 PM
Susan Mary, you have my sympathies right now. I do not envy you this decision. I cannot read between the lines, but I feel your vet is telling you that you may well lose your boy if you go with surgery. Even if you do the surgery your time left with him will be very limited. Is the risk of the surgery and the subsequent recovery time going to be worth it in the end to your boy Max?
I too have a senior dog (Shadow and Akita X). Her health is failing. I know that I will not put her through surgery to prolong her life for my benefit. She has had a good life and when her time comes I will send her to the bridge with dignity and all the love in my heart and soul. I know I will never be prepared for that day, but I know in my heart that I will do what I have to do for her sake. I owe her this much.
I agree that it's hard when people say "you will know when it's time" but I think you will and do know the answer to that. If your boy only wants to be with you, but already he's not allowed on the carpets how hard is that on him? In these his final days he does not deserve to be separated from you for something he cannot prevent. Bless his heart.
I wish you the best during these difficult times. Know that we all know what you are going through and are here to offer you any help and support that we can. Be strong for yourself and for Max. He has given you his life and now it's your time to help him. :grouphug: Be strong.
March 17th, 2010, 06:53 PM
Thank you all for your input.
After weighing my choices I've decided not to have the surgery done. I talked to the vet about my decision and she said "you are not making a mistake." I feel a lot better now.
The point that made the decision easier for me was the surgery would not make a difference to Max's limited life span. (You guys helped me with that part)
The vet stressed that I shouldn't feel rushed. She said I should take it day by day and decide accordingly. She told me he wasn't in pain but to watch out for depression. She made arrangements with me, at my request, to prepay the euthanasia fee. I wanted to be able to go straight in and out.
Try not to judge me too harshly but I can't participate in this.
My dog knows these people very well. He's diabetes causes him to be at the vet's often. The receptionist also his groomer/handler will stay help him throughout the ordeal. She's the one who helps him through the glucose curves for his diabetes. I think this will feel the most normal for him.
The vet assured me that she uses a very high dose of sedative prior to the ordeal. "It is quick" she said, "he won't feel any pain."
I'll take her advice and take it one day at a time. I suspect it won't be long though. Histiocytomas develop rapidly and are very messy. I understand why the vet warned me the dog might become depressed because of them.
March 17th, 2010, 09:06 PM
I'm glad you talked to your vet :grouphug: Now it's time to cherish every minute you have with him and help both of you enjoy the time he has left. :goodvibes:
I'll be thinking of you both! Please keep us posted on his progress, and if you need an ear or a shoulder, remember we're here, k?
March 17th, 2010, 11:16 PM
One day at a time is a good thing. That is all we can do. :grouphug:
March 18th, 2010, 08:19 AM
Susan Mary, I feel for you. Been thro this many times, and I've had a pet put down too early and too late. For me having one put down too late because I couldn't let go was far worse as far as "guilt" was concerned for me and my pet suffered more because of it.
Here's a couple of websites that you may find helpful in making that final decision for you Lab . It's always a hard decision, and never gets easier. So sorry..... :grouphug: