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When to make the decision to PTS small furries

(17 Posts)
RattieOfCatan Tue 20-Sep-16 12:36:36

I hate making this decision, hate hate hate it. The three times we've had to do it with our rats before it was very much a case of "This really is the best decision for this rat, anything else would prolong suffering." and it was obvious.

Our old boy is Very Old. This is Mr Fridge Rat (for those who remember that saga!) who we got as a baby in January 2014, the same one who has had respiratory problems for his entire life. He's been slowing down for a while but has been happy, has had a tumour on his balls since March which we thought would make things speed along but that seems to have sorted itself out (?!), Hind Leg Degeneration started setting in a while ago but he was still able to get around very happily and he's still been full of energy and eating for Britain.

Now he really is old and frail, last week he looked horrendous and I genuinely thought it'd be a week (or two at most) before I was taking him to the vet for one last time, at the most. His legs really aren't working any more either. I needed to get him some Baytril as he was having a respi flare up and discussed some end of life care type things with the vet whilst I was there, basically about keeping him comfortable for the next week or so until it was time. But within a day of being on the Baytril he was back to his perky self, still struggling with his legs but perfectly happy dragging himself around and is now putting the new boys in their place (unlike our other old boy who gets groomed by the bigger of the babies and squeals about it!)

It feels wrong to be thinking about having him be PTS when he's just so happy still, definitely not in pain, still comes rushing to the cage edge for treats every time we open the cage, still enjoying snuggling on the sofa near to us, etc. Every day I wake up and check them, yesterday he wasn't moving and I had a moment where I was thinking that I was so glad that he'd passed away peacefully in his sleep with his cage mates cuddled up to him, but obviously he wasn't dead otherwise I wouldn't be posting.

I feel really guilty for thinking it but equally, I feel like we're at a point of waiting for him to pass away, which does makes me sad obviously but I'd rather he passed away whilst at home in his comfort zone from generic old age as opposed to at the vets. And if we do have to have him PTS, when do we make that decision? Is it unfair of us to be keeping him alive now with the HLD at the point it's at? We're cleaning out the cage every 3-4 days at the moment to help keep him clean and the fact he isn't bothering with the toilet corner and is flinging food around at all hours makes it messier than it usually would be.

We have five of them over the age of two now, I can see this dilemma occurring a few times over the next 6-12 months sad

Cherylene Tue 20-Sep-16 12:49:10

It is a difficult one. If they are obviously suffering, then it is an easy decision. Most of mine were not used to being packed off to the vets, so I was not happy putting them through it. I therefore did my best to keep them as comfortable as possible and let nature take its course. After several roboruskies, gerbils and two rabbits, I have had enough of small pets, because no matter how well I look after them they die sad

Every one of my DGM's pets was PTS. She had no regrets. I think it may be best to be decisive [indecisive emoticon]

RattieOfCatan Tue 20-Sep-16 14:13:14

That's the problem, being decisive! In the past it has been 'easy' in the sense that they are obviously suffering, one had a cystic tumour that burst and she was obviously miserable and ready to go, one was around 3yo and had pneumonia and had done amazingly to get so far with only one other vet visit in her life before the pneumonia set in and the third was refusing meds and becoming very distrustful, so with all three it made sense.

But Howl is being stubborn and he's still his usual self really, just less mobile! We're amazed he is still going tbh! He's currently stuffing his face and scattering food everywhere to get to the bits in the bowl that he likes hmm grin

Cherylene Tue 20-Sep-16 14:33:12

We had an elderly dog that had constant kidney failure problems, bind, stunk to high heaven and was incontinent. He was hard work to look after, but liked his dinner and lying in front of the fire, so we kept looking after him. After a couple of days of him being off his food (different to his normal kidney failure off-days), we decided that his time had come. He died before we got him there.

However, with my gerbils, one was off-colour, they fought and had to be separated. He got very ill and swelled up and I expected him to die, but he didn't. Before that, all the gerbils I had died quite suddenly. Every day I debated about taking him to the vets. He did die after a couple of weeks, but I regret not taking him.

Howl sounds more like my dog. Kind enough to let him go on his own, if you can give him the time and attention needed. But if not, it would not be unkind or uncaring to take him to the vet to be PTS. It sounds like he has had a good life smile

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 20-Sep-16 21:48:04

I remember the Adventures of the Original Fridge Rats !

It is a tough call, especially when as you say they look like they're heading for the Bridge one day then all "WayHey" the next.
You don't want to dispatch them when they've still got precious,quality life but you feel guilty at keeping them going.
There's no answer is there and retrospect is a fine thing.

Out of our three boars who are residing in the Pet Semetry , GP2 died in my arms hours after a vet visit, GP1 died in his Pighouse hours after a day grazing,a cuddle,supper and breakfast. GP3 was the only one I had nagging doubts about, but he was young and big and there was a good chance he might recover (and he was DD pig and she wanted to try) but I 'knew' he'd die that night or the next day (he'd had fluid,antibiotics all manner of fibre and feed) but died the next morning.

Looking back, none of them suffered , I can console myself with that fact, they were either with us or their cagemate.

The quality of their last days is probably one of the only things you can control, luckily guineas don't tend to hang about.
I'd rather send them on their way to The Bridge a day early than have their last day in pain sad

Rattie your rat babies like the vet I think so if you did take him to be PTS the experience wouldn't be as traumatic for him as it is for you.
I know what you mean about when you have a number of animals , we have our 5 (very healthy) piggies but I am painfully aware that one day, we will lose the next one.
The price you pay for loving these little mammals.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Tue 20-Sep-16 21:54:26

I'm dreading when GP6 goes (our neutered boar) he is definately DD numero uno pig, thick as mince but lovely with it.
I hope our piggies follow in the pawsteps of Evil Edna who I had when I was 12-13 (I used to watch Willo the Wisp)

Evil Edna was the most uncuddly guinea pig ever but followed us round the house like a little dog. When she died she lay in the middle of the dining room floor , on her side.
My Dad said "Oh, Edna's dead" she was without fuss or ceremony (no cuddling Edna as she snuffled) she was Well-To-Dead.

EastMidsGPs Thu 22-Sep-16 18:27:19

I'm dreading when Bert goes too I so 💖 him.
Most of our piggies have died at home, mainly of old age after a steady decline. Sophie waited until we were on holiday, spent a lovely day sunbathing in the Norfolk sunshine and died in the night.
Squeak died one Christmas morning which rather ruined the day confused
Nevie died in my arms in the vet's waiting room and Lulu had to be pts .. I was so distressed, even tho I'd taken her with the decision already made, they had to make me a cup of tea and phone DHblush

I think in a way with piggies it is a bit easier as they often do just go into a decline and die quickly once they've made up their minds. I always think you sort of know when their quality of life is very poor.

When an early slave with not much experience, a piggie developed an abscess in her side from a cage mates bite. We used a posh expensive vet in those days, she was operated on, spent days there 'on a heat pad ' came home with stitches and a plastic cone. She still managed to get dirt in her wound and to bite the stitches, she went back for another op to remove the dying wound tissue. She died during the op. This is a death I really regret, I would never ever go down the same road again. She had a miserable last few days of life simply because I wasn't strong enough to say to the vet No.
And of course I didn't know of Mumsnet to ask advice.
Sometimes you just have to take the decision.. it comes with loving the little critters smile
Having said all of this I am dreading the decline of these two. They really are lovely,funny,gentle amenable little things. Their personalities complement one another .. they are a couple of my very favourites

fortifiedwithtea Thu 22-Sep-16 22:35:46

Rattie I don't think Howl is ready to go just yet. Take it day by day and I'm sure you'll know when its time flowers

I'm facing this with Shai (aka Naughty Girl) I'm convinced she has Cushings. I will be very sad when she goes because she is the last guinea pig who knew Todd (aka Old Boy) and it will leave me with a dilemma over Millie, who is even older. My heart says keep her as an only pig; she's 6 in February. But I could return her to the rescue to live out her days in their sanctuary for elderly piggies where she will have company of her own kind. I am not allowed by my family to have anymore guineas sad

The best end ever was Smartie's; DH gave him his dinner and I found him dead next day still with a cabbage leaf in his mouth. Literally here one minute gone the next. Think he had a massive heart attack and knew nothing about it.

RattieOfCatan Fri 23-Sep-16 09:10:26

Sorry, I didn't mean to ignore the thread blush

Howl has now decided that I'm awesome and DH isn't, which DH takes as a sign of him being fine still hmm grin At least one of my 9 is a Mummy's Rat! The rest all prefer him!

We are keeping a close eye on him still, DH has said that if at any point I feel it necessary to take him to the vet whilst he's working he's fine with that, which was a worry of mine as I wouldn't want him to suffer so that DH could say goodbye.

70 we've just moved and have a new vet so they don't really know the new ones yet, the vet I've seen with Howl and Ben was really good though. A lot of the practitioners seem to have additional small animal qualifications (no rodentologists though) but she's the one I've seen both times as Howl's companion Ben has had to go twice to change meds, and Howl came with us the second time for more baytril. He didn't seem too impressed with the trip though, he crawled underneath the cat/dog scales and promptly pissed everywhere, soaking himself and us when we cleaned him up!

fortified We had the same issue with Howl when his brother died last November, admittedly he wasn't happy being alone and very luckily a woman local to us had an old neutered boy who was living with some girls who she said that we could borrow until Howl passed away, we expected both Howl and Ben to have died by the time we moved to Essex at the beginning of this month so we were very surprised to have them both! We then got the younger boys to keep Howl company when we gave Ben back, then Ben's owner said we could keep him, so we have all four boys grin

Howl's HLD is definitely getting worse day-by-day now, but he is still being enthusiastic so we're seeing how he goes.

Stillwaitingforthesummer2come Mon 03-Oct-16 16:17:41

Making that decision is just horrible. We're at that point with gp3. He seems happy enough but only eating as I'm feeding him. Is it right for me to sustain his life? In the short term maybe, but we're looking at weeks and weeks of syringe feeding - who knows it may never be able to eat independently again. But I can't make that call yet when he seems chirpy once fed, and like you said, just less mobile.

RattieOfCatan Tue 18-Oct-16 15:10:14

Thought I'd update. Howl is still going shock He's not being medicated at the moment but still seems relatively perky, he seems a lot more tired though so I'm still hoping that he slips away peacefully in his sleep.

Ben, OTOH, is sounding awful, the three meds we've tried aren't touching his chest problems, so we've decided to leave it until he seems to be suffering now. Not a decision I'm enjoying as he sounds awful but he is still very happy and active and not struggling to breath right now.

I don't think we've got very long with either of them and I do keep hoping that we'll find them snuggled up with the baby boys having slipped away in the night, but I think it is going to end up being a case of making a decision soon and going to the vet. It doesn't help that I'm 38 weeks pregnant and we never expected to have either of them at this point still! I'm really concerned that something will happen whilst we're at the hospital and that we'll be unable to do anything about it or that we'll be longer than planned and that the cage will get really messy in the meantime, but we'll see. I'm still having to clean out their cage much more regularly than we thought I would be and we're not sure how I'll manage it with a newborn as well as DH is working bloody long days! But we've switched back to fleece with them and I'm making fitted liners for their cage which I hope will help, given that we'll have the inevitable mass runs to the launderette to dry things I figure that fleece liners just add another bit to that chore!

RattieOfCatan Thu 20-Oct-16 11:35:24

It seems that I spoke too soon. This morning we woke to a very wheezy Howl, gave him some baytril to see if he perked up but he has that look on his face that just says "I've had enough now." I've booked him in for the vet this evening so that DH can come too, but he's definitely ready to go now, my poor old boy. We've been having cuddles all morning but I've put him back into the cage for now so that he can drink, eat and spend time with the others. I'll get him back out for more cuddles a little later.

fortifiedwithtea Thu 20-Oct-16 17:34:45

He's an amazing age and you know him best. If he has that look, then its time. Hope he passes easily flowers

Millimat Thu 20-Oct-16 21:39:14

sad looks like gp3 week be joining him. He's giving up, going to vets tomorrow.

EastMidsGPs Fri 21-Oct-16 06:18:24


RattieOfCatan Fri 21-Oct-16 08:45:43

We didn't go in the end last night as he seemed to perk up a little with the meds I gave him in the morning and I didn't want to make the decision prematurely if it was just him needing meds (though I didn't think it was tbh), but we will be remaking the appointment for this evening as whilst he was 'okay' last night and even hints of his normal self were there, it was definitely just delaying the inevitable and I don't think it's fair. He really is ready and I think that DH just needed to see that for himself.

I'm almost certain that he wasn't in pain or anything (had he been I would have insisted on going last night), I was actually hoping that he'd pass peacefully overnight to avoid the stress of the vet for him, but he didn't, so lots of cuddles today again, DH is home early and I'll book him in for one of the last appointments if I can.

Sorry to hear that Millimat flowers We have our other old boy Ben who won't be far behind and one of our girls is all lumpy so I don't think it'll be long before we need to make the decision for her either sad

Millimat Fri 21-Oct-16 19:35:12

GP going tomorrow instead now. rattie I'm like you, hoping he'll pass peacefully in the night - at least that way the decision has been taken out of your hands.

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