So if your dog had a brain tumour - when would you euthanize?

(62 Posts)
hmc Sun 05-Jan-14 15:41:22

Dog is a 7 year old Bernese Mountain Dog and they are not long lived, rarely reaching double figures sad

Vet said brain surgery wouldn't be advisable.

At present she is fairly happy, does not display any obvious signs of pain or discomfort, still eating etc

Her main problems are knuckling on her right side which can make standing difficult (she's broadly okay when up though), and her right sided weakness means it is difficult to jump into the car boot (she is huge so lifting her in is getting very troublesome). She seems to have quality of life at the present and obviously we love her....although she is not as full of joie de vivre as she used to be. She still enjoys walks but tires quicker.

Ultimately she will be incontinent and unable to stand, walk at all which would be the obvious point to euthanize

However I wonder if we are being selfish. How can we possibly know that she is pain free? She might be having awful headaches ?!?! Vet seemed to think that we'd 'know' if she was in pain, but I am not so sure.....

I wonder if we are being cruel in not euthanizing her now

hmc Sun 05-Jan-14 15:52:50


noddyholder Sun 05-Jan-14 15:57:08

My cat had an oral tumour in September. The vet said we would know when he had had enough and we did tbh. It was very hard but one day he was just looking at his food and made no attempt to eat it and just looked at me. sad We had him several weeks after diagnosis even though i was convinced he would last until xmas with steroids and my ds would see him when he got home from uni. But although he muddled along a bit initially it soon went downhill. I wish I had taken him sooner and if I had another cat with this I would do it straight away. I was concerned about headchaes like you and vet couldn't reassure. I think you will just see it I didn't think I would be able to tell but it was obvious. So so sorry it is very hard and I am still not over it. Much love to you xx

hmc Sun 05-Jan-14 16:03:05

Oh noddy - and much love to you too. So sorry about your cat - am sure you're still feeling it, its very recent and animals are such a presence in your life; they animate your house (pun not intended!) and make it home sad

Thank you for being so frank - so...and forgive me for pressing you on this, in hindsight would you have had him put to sleep prior to that day he refused food and just looked at you, or do you think he was okay before then and doing alright? I guess that it a really hard question to answer and I am sorry for putting you on the spot

RandomMess Sun 05-Jan-14 16:06:37

Urgh, horrible horrible decision.

I would euthanise sooner rather than later, hardest thing is that the decline could be very slow so how do you say enough is enough sad

hmc Sun 05-Jan-14 16:11:21

That's my feeling Random - its better to do it sooner

noddyholder Sun 05-Jan-14 16:15:12

I wish I had done it sooner sorry

PetiteRaleuse Sun 05-Jan-14 16:16:13

I would do it sooner rather than later. My vet says dogs and cats are good at hiding even severe pain. I'd pts as early as you can bear it and spare him later suffering. Very very sad thing to have to do. flowers

hmc Sun 05-Jan-14 16:19:29

Thank you Noddy - your honesty is appreciated, as is everyone else's

I want to do the right thing for her, she's a lovely girl. Will talk over some more with dh and prepare the children (who already know she is 'life limited')

lljkk Sun 05-Jan-14 16:37:16

I would put her down before she was chronically incontinent. That would make our relationship unpleasant and be a no-go area for me. Other things you talk about don't sound like too much of a problem for either of you yet.

minkersmum Sun 05-Jan-14 16:50:48

So sorry about your predicament.

I think you would see signs of pain. Grumpiness, serious lethergy, subtle changes in personality.

I think when I saw signs I'd euthanise then.

I had to have two dogs euthabised in past few years. One very old but the other was my great dane who still had the mind of a young dog but unfortunately not the body as is typical with large breeds.
She was 10 and had been faecally incontinent for 18 mnths prior to having her pts. It was hard. I coped as long as I could because she was still healthy and happy otherwise but when getting on her feet or lowering herself to lie became impossible without assistance, i knew enough was enough.

Terribly hard to make the decision. I had the vet come to our house so it was very peaceful, something I'd recommend if at all possible.

It broke my heart but I found comfort in knowing I did my very best for her. She was loved and cared for and I gave her the best life I could.

The time running up to making the decision was the hardest.

Sending you a huge hug.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 05-Jan-14 16:54:05

Hmc I'm sorry to hear about your dog. There is no wrong time for you only the right time for your dog, your family and you. You have the luxury of making a plan and having it really right for you. Often we vets do home visits for planned end of life so that everyone who wants to be there can be in our own home.

ParsingFancy Sun 05-Jan-14 16:56:26

In the meantime, would a ramp or step help her into the car?

hmc Sun 05-Jan-14 16:58:12

I didn't know about the home visit option - that we be much preferred to having to walk back through the vets waiting area where people would see us in bits and all over the place.

We could have a grave already prepared in the garden (I can't believe I am thinking about this!)

hmc Sun 05-Jan-14 16:58:53

Parsing - we've tried a ramp, she can't get purchase on it and sort of slides off.

hmc Sun 05-Jan-14 16:59:50

Thanks for the hug minkersmum

mistlethrush Sun 05-Jan-14 17:02:55

We lost our last dog in October 2013 - she had bone cancer and went downhill very rapidly over the three weeks since initial diagnosis. We perhaps left it a day too late - but certainly not more than that - she had still managed to go for little short walks until that day. We got the vet to come to us.

furbaby Sun 05-Jan-14 17:08:12

I am so sorry that your darling dog is unwell .
I do think they let us know when time is right .
our darling dog was put to sleep in may and I know that we did it not a minute too soon or a minute too late .
up to the day he was put to sleep he took his pain killers with no fuss at all , but on is final night with us he was very restless all night and refused pain killers .
When the vet arrived at our house to do the deed he greeted the vet like a long lost friend .
I miss him so much but do feel I did the best for him .
I do hope your darling dog has a bit longer with you but I am sure you will know when time is right thanks

furbaby Sun 05-Jan-14 17:12:09

Ps I also think vet coming to the house is best , doesn, t cost that much more but its important for them to be as relaxed as possible .
our darling boy was on his favourite spot on sofa with relaxing music playing , so much nicer than a busy vets surgery .

Costacoffeeplease Sun 05-Jan-14 17:22:14

I think you will know - we have a dog with a brain tumour, she suddenly went blind one day after 7-10 days of being grumpy, wanting to stay under our bed in the dark and not wanting to eat - but that was over 2 years ago and on a high dose of steroids, she's ok and has a good quality of life. We have tried reducing her medication but it very quickly becomes obvious that she's in pain as she becomes grumpy and doesn't want to play with our other dogs/cats, so as long as she wants to eat, play, go out for a walk etc, we'll keep her going. Good luck

ParsingFancy Sun 05-Jan-14 17:26:47

Poor thing. Wishing you much strength for when you decide the time is right.

MeMySonAndI Sun 05-Jan-14 17:32:32

Let her go. She is not going to get better and her future only holds more pain.

I think sometimes we wait not because we think that is in benefit of the pet but because we are not ready to let go. :-(

noddyholder Sun 05-Jan-14 18:41:51

I agree memyson My cat had been with me through dialysis transplant everything and I couldn't see life without him

EasyToEatTiger Sun 05-Jan-14 19:25:13

We recently had one of our oldies PTS. I'm so sorry you are going through the same awful realisation that our beloved dogs don't last forever. You will recognise the indignity your dog feels about incontinence before it happens. Our oldie was ok really until his final hour. It happened very very quickly, which was the shocking bit. I hadn't expected it to happen so soon. The vet came to the house which was lovely and he died in my arms with the family around. Dear lucky boy.

bakingtins Sun 05-Jan-14 19:42:18

My dog was euthanased in September, 2 years after being diagnosed with a brain tumour affecting her cranial nerves. We were initially given a v poor prognosis by the neurologist, but the tumour was not biopsied because it was inaccessible (base of brain) She never developed any of the signs of one sided weakness, poor awareness of where her feet were or seizures that we had been warned about, and in the end was PTS for a completely unrelated reason. I guess it was much less aggressive than initially suspected. She lost all the muscle from one side of her face because the nerves weren't working, and I think she did have some neuralgia (nerve pain) which acupuncture seemed to be the most effective treatment for.
Think about mobility and enjoyment of walks, ability to rest in comfort and sleep normally, how interactive the dog is with family, appetite, continence, ability to control any pain. If you start to really struggle in any of those areas, it may be time to say goodbye.
flowers it's a tough decision.

Blistory Sun 05-Jan-14 19:54:27

I'd wait if she still has a good quality of life and was still able to get enjoyment from her usual activities but would scale them back a little if causing problems.

I've put a dog down too soon and it still haunts me whereas with others pets it was true that I would know when the time was right and have no guilt about that whatsoever.

It's a tough decision - sorry you're going through this.

Blistory Sun 05-Jan-14 20:00:08

Just as an aside, the life span for a BMD should be about 12. It's only the high incidence of terminal cancer at a very young age that brings down the average life span. A dog without cancer/health issues should easily make it to 10 plus.

hmc Sun 05-Jan-14 20:37:14

Thanks everyone - I've read and reflected on all the posts. Truly sorry for all of you who have lost treasured pets and thank you for relating your experiences.

minkersmum Sun 05-Jan-14 20:45:31


minkersmum Sun 05-Jan-14 20:53:46

Oops sorry dd2 bumped me there!

Hmc good luck with whatever you decide. Personally I think you will know when the time comes.

I can't say just how much better it feels having the vet come to your own home. Much less stressful for your dog too. I spent the morning with my girl and had a last walk etc. Then put her bed infront of the fire. I held her while the vet pts.

I didn't bury my dogs in our garden because it was winter (with both my girls) and ground was too hard. Plus I worried about feeling I could never leave our house if we decided to move. The vet took both mine away and they were cremated. There is an option for general cremation or individual cremation when you get the ashes back.

Take your time deciding. Enjoy each moment. Try not to have the grey cloud hanging over you although I know it is hard. Saviour each day you have her.x

ILoveAFullFridge Sun 05-Jan-14 21:02:18

I had a boxer dog, who I had to euthanise for quite possibly the exact same reason. It's true, IME, you do know when the time has come. For me it was when he lost his joi de vivre. If you know boxers, you know that they have shed loads of goofy personality, willing and eager creatures. It was clear as glass when he was bewildered by the effects of the tumour, and when he got used to them and coped. Incontinence hit him very hard, it wasnt severe , but it clearly upset him. That was when he began to be miserable.

In a way, I think I left it one day too late. But it's not a decision you can take lightly, especially when there are other family members involved.

The vet came to our house and I held our big slubberdegubblion while the vet gently helped him leave us.

It's very tough.


hmc Mon 06-Jan-14 20:14:01

Some very sad (and moving) tales of loss here - thanks for sharing them, they've have helped me look at the situation and reflect on what is best. Sorry for all of you who have been through this before me and grateful for your advice.

I'm trying to be as objective as possible and I think it is too soon to have her pts at the moment - she's mostly cheerful (although more lethargic than before), enjoying walks (although slower than she used to be) and never fails to wag her tail when she gets attention, and she's enthusiastic when we have visitors. We are buying her lots of treats whilst she still has an appetite - pigs ears, bones etc. I absolutely will not let it go too far though - she comes first before any desire on our part to keep her with us. If things change for the worse I will pts and not delay it.

Thanks again

My eldest lab has just been PTS because of the exact same problem as your dog has.

She also was knuckling, couldn't jump into the car, was a bit wobbly and was becoming increasingly incontinent.

I wanted her PTS before she really suffered - and think I got it about right. She was happy, bright eyed and loving food (steroids!) and enjoying her walks until the end. I chose to have her PTS at the vets - I've had two dogs PTS at home in the past, and still can't the image of them on the carpet in the sitting room out of my head. I also hated seeing them carried out of the house.

The vet is right, I think. You will know when the time is coming closer - I have every time I've had to do it. Somehow the light changes in their eyes.

hmc Mon 06-Jan-14 23:36:14

May she RIP daisydot sad

I have a friend coming over for coffee on Thursday who hasn't seem my girl for a while - I might ask her what her perception of my dog is (whether she seems subdued etc)

Noodles123 Tue 07-Jan-14 15:47:20

I think you will know - we lost our Rottie on Christmas Day, he had lived a full year post diagnosis of bone cancer which is pretty rare, he was an amputee (lost his RH to the tumour) but he was happy and content for that whole year, the first time he struggled to get up off the sofa I knew time was limited but he actually went downhill physically quite fast. Within a week he was not able to get up off his bed unaided although once up on his feet could potter around the village green, we did that with him for the last time on Christmas Eve, and within 24 hours of that even when helped up, was struggling just to get into the garden, and at that point the decision was straightforward. I think when they say better a week too soon than a day too late that is very true tbh, he wasn't showing any signs of distress/pain, and vet believed he may have had a spinal stroke. Either way, hard as it was, I haven't questioned the decision once since. Best of luck with your girl.
Also as an aside, we did take him to the vet as he always loved going to the vet and got loads of attention from the nurses and treats etc when we got there and actually I think he would have been more upset/disturbed if a vet had come to us.

hmc Wed 08-Jan-14 10:30:54

Sorry to hear that Noodles. Glad though that you are happy that you did the right thing by your dog.

hmc Fri 31-Jan-14 14:50:03

Resurrecting this thread as I might need a bit of hand holding. Have booked the vet to attend Monday lunch time to euthanize Belle. She has got worse the last 48-72 hours - managed a walk on Thursday but fell over x3 and had to be helped up. I haven't dared take her for a walk today and don't think I will dare to again unless I have dh with me (weekends only), since if she collapses and can't walk 1/2 mile back to the car then how in the world would I deal with that ?!?!? (she is 45kg)

It's hard because she still eating a bit (not quite the usual appetite but still enjoys a bone etc) and wags her tail if you give her attention...but, she can't get up unaided and even then often collapses again. Other times she can walk a bit when she gets going. After her walk yesterday she collapsed in the hall and didn't move for 8 hours - she didn't even willing move then but I forced her out to have a wee. When the little dog pinched her bone from her she barely reacted. She looks so well though (even though she isn't) - she has a young face

I am doing the right thing aren't I? It's this whole playing God thing which is tough

hmc Fri 31-Jan-14 14:51:21

And she keeps confusing me - I put her out for 10 minutes this morning and after initially wobbling she walked around okay for a couple of minutes ....

hmc Fri 31-Jan-14 14:54:22

Her photo is on my profile. Please feel free to admire her ;-)

Sorry, am rambling a bit. The painter and decorator is here and he has had to put up with me mithering on about it all morning

dietstartstmoz Fri 31-Jan-14 15:01:11

See how she gets on over the weekend. It sounds like it could be time but she may rally over the weekend a little. Its so hard. Our lovely dog was pts following kidney failure but he had had heart failure for 2 years also. He was only ill for 24hrs with his kidneys but he didn't get off his bed and didn't want to eat. We had a lovely last night with him. Lots of cuddles on the sofa and he stayed in our room that night. Your vet will advise but it is the right thing to let them go before they suffer. Have lots of cuddles with your girl this weekend.

AnAdventureInCakeAndWine Fri 31-Jan-14 15:03:03

Your photos aren't public, apparently.

It does sound as though you've got it about right; give her some extra treats and cuddles over the weekend.

MrsDeVere Fri 31-Jan-14 15:03:22

You are doing the right thing.
I used to be a veterinary nurse and so many people kept their pets going for too long.
Its something we can do for our animals.

I know its very hard but she isn't going to get better. Only worse.


hmc Fri 31-Jan-14 15:11:47

Sorry I'll sort that out when I get back from school pick up re the photos

Thank you MrsDeVere - it helps to have a Veterinary nurse tell me I am doing the right thing (can't help but have doubts)

hoppinghare Fri 31-Jan-14 15:19:13

Any seriously ill dog or cat I have had has made it very clear when they are feeling terrible and in pain. Your OP makes it sound as though your dog is fine at the moment. Ours have sat around looking sad and whimpering continuously when they are in pain.

Hope you are all okay.

MrsDeVere Fri 31-Jan-14 15:58:42

hopping the OP's dog has to be forced to move.
She is not 'fine'

hmc Fri 31-Jan-14 16:46:34

To get her out to the garden I usually have to get on hands and knees and push her / slide her along the floor in her prone position to the doorway - she then shakily gets to her feet and staggers out

Bless you. You are definitely doing the right thing; she does not sound at all fine. Her quality of life is not so good, is it?

If mine were sitting around whimpering, I would knew I had left it too late. The last thing in the world I would want for a dog I know was terminally ill would be for it to be in pain. That is why we have the privilege of being able to prevent further suffering.

GoofyIsACow Fri 31-Jan-14 17:57:02

You are doing the right thing OP.

Sorry you are going through this sad

hmc Fri 31-Jan-14 19:57:12

Thank you - I need to hear that it is the right thing to do x

hoppinghare Fri 31-Jan-14 22:31:02

Mrsdevere - I read the original post and then responded. It said she had trouble jumping into the boot. That she was still going for walks and that she showed no signs of pain or discomfort.

LackingEnergy Sat 01-Feb-14 22:21:48

I've always believed better a day or month too soon than a day or hour too late which pissed my old vet off no end when I had my old girl pts with kidney failure, the beginnings of arthritis, starting to go blind and deaf and some form of doggy dementia. He thought she had another year left in her but if you saw her day to day life you'd think a month or two of a very low quality of life left in her. I wasn't prepared to let her live longer in pain/confusion while I got my head around letting her go. She was my priority, my grief/need to keep her with me had to come second and will always come second when I have to consider my dogs quality of life over their quantity of it.

If she'd stayed until I had to practically carry her to the vets, yes I'd have had a few more months-year with her but would it really have been her? Or just some old fluffy shell of the rescue dog that no one but me had wanted snuggled into my lap when we said our final good bye.

Hugs thanks

hmc Sat 01-Feb-14 23:37:56

Thank you LackinginEnergy - I agree emphatically . Your vet didn't sound too helpful which must have been hard! - whereas mine at least has basically expressed what you just have, which has been supportive

The kids have been sketching her today and she's had a good day for her (enjoying all the love being lavished on her). She is too disabled to climb the stairs but tomorrow evening on her last night we are going to take air beds downstairs and cuddle up with her

canthelpbutthinktheworldismad Sun 02-Feb-14 00:09:27

hmc, this thread has had me in tears. I am currently going through something similar with my lad. He is only 6, a lab so very young still. he has inoperable cancer. he has been given a year, but I think that is quite optimistic. He is on painkillers amd seems fine! but he missed a dose and was not able to have another for 24hrs ( unsure if he or other dog ate it so couldnt risk giving him another! ) we didnt realise how ill he was until we missed a dose. He was obviously in pain and very sore. we thought that we were at the end.
thankfully he picked up when pain killers kicked in. when he is all dosed up he is his normal happy self. you would never know anything was wrong.

it is a really tough situation. do you risk doing it too early, and spend for ever worrying that he could have gone on for a few more weeks. or do you risk doing it too late and spend forever regretting that they were left in pain for too long.

god knows it breaks my heart to have to contemplate it. you must trust that you know them well enough to know when they have had enough.

for us it will be when he cant/ doesn't want to play ball. playing ball is his most favorite thing in the whole world. when he cant do that, then we will know that it is time for him to play ball in heaven.

I wish you and your family all of the love and strength in the world. honestly I am sat here with a huge lump in my throat and tears on my cheek. I feel your pain, as much as I wish I didnt. sad sad sad thanks

hmc Sun 02-Feb-14 17:53:46

Sorry that you are going through this too canthelpbutthink. I really hope that your boy carries on and keeps loving his ball games for as long as possible - wishing you all the best over the coming months

Dinnaeknowshitfromclay Sun 02-Feb-14 18:11:35

Sorry if I missed you saying this but is she on any pain relief of any sort? My employer (vet) would probably put your dog on steroids as she is life limited anyway. He would certainly consider Tramodol (pain relief that works directly on the pain receptors in the brain) probably too.
It's a huge question and a very good one. I have been a vet nurse for decades and I have seen both ends of the spectrum, being euthanased too early and far far too late. Cats tend to cover pain more than dogs and in general the further down the food chain animals are the less they give away. I would observe her sleep patterns. If she is significant pain she would not sleep well and if she had a headache she would be likely to press her head against hard objects or the floor although IME they only do this with severe pain (of course it's hard to tell what with them not being able to tell us and all). If in doubt go for earlier for your own peace of mind. Dogs live in the moment and if you keep your voice light she will have little or no inkling of the reason for the visit and keeping her for a few more days or weeks when presumably she has no real appreciation of the passage of time would be wrong of course. You will do the right thing. I can tell that by the fact that you have posted about this and your post your are an ethical and thinking person. I find the longer I am in the job the harder this is. It is not something vets or nurses 'get used to'. I cry a lot when clients have this done which is pathetic I know and have an ancient old dog I brought home from the vets as a stray when he was 4 weeks old and it is going to half kill me doing it but I will opt for sooner rather than later when he is on that slippery slope. Bless you and good luck. If only they lived forever eh?

kilmuir Sun 02-Feb-14 18:16:39

Treasure all those memories.
Its a horrid decision but probably the most important one as her owner you have to make.

BarkWorseThanBite Sun 02-Feb-14 21:18:14

Am reading with tears in my ears hmc. How absolutely devastating for you and your family. Your strength and your love shines through.

You and your family will be in prayers tonight, and I will be giving my little Louis an extra hug when I tug him in tonight.

hmc Thu 06-Feb-14 11:50:00

Just acknowledging the later posts with thanks.

We didn't get her PTS on Monday - my dd was admitted to hospital as a surgical emergency on Sunday evening with acute appendicitis, and operated on Monday morning. She was discharged next day with instructions to rest for a week so we were able to reschedule Belle's euthanasia for yesterday.

It was a relief when it happened - she had gone down hill rapidly after the middle of last week and was weak, not eating much, unable to take more than a few steps and barely wagging her tail any longer. But now the sadness has hit us and its like an avalanche of misery sad

Am sure we will recover in time and I am aware that others have far greater losses to contend with (close family etc) but to be honest its surprised me how gutted we are (am emotionally unintelligent sometimes!)

jeniz Thu 06-Feb-14 20:32:55

So sorry for you,I had my old girl pts on October exactly 5 weeks after she was diagnosed with a brain Tumour.She was fine on medication till the Monday night when she started bring very sick.She purked up on the Tuesday after antibiotics from vet.
On the Wednesday she couldn't get up the look she gave me told me it was time.She was pts that morning at home.
I still miss her everyday but feel she is still with me
Its hard to say goodbye to our faithful friends,but we love them so much we can't see them suffer.
Sorry again so hard.

intheround Thu 06-Feb-14 20:42:19

My rule of thumb is if the bad days are outweighing the good days then it's time to let go.
I had a little dog with a brain tumour. It affected her eyesight and she gradually went blind. She coped ok with this but then she had "absent spells". One day she just stood in the corner with her head on the wall, and that was the day we decided to have her put her to sleep.
It's never easy though.

coffeeinbed Thu 06-Feb-14 20:46:33

A dog is close family.
Of course you're sad.
Sorry about your girl, you did the best for her.

MoominIsGoingToBeAMumWaitWHAT Thu 06-Feb-14 20:57:49

So sorry sad we had our gorgeous collie PTS in 2009. He had a brain tumour but hid it so well, he was so intelligent but such a daftie at the same time and never let it slow him down. One morning I was giving him a fuss and he bit me - not only breaking the skin but going right through. The doctor said if I'd been a couple of years younger (was 14 at the time), I'd have lost my index finger.

He was so guilty you could tell, he didn't want to come back in the house, he was just so upset with himself sad that, combined with the fact that we had my younger brother and sister to think about, was why we decided it was the right time to have him PTS. He couldn't live with himself sad It was horrendous at the time but now we know we did the right thing for him, and we have so many happy memories of him.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now