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operate on an old dog? WWYD?

(16 Posts)
crispface Mon 03-Jan-11 20:00:14

My dog is around 13.5 and has always been in good health.

She has recently developed a problem with her feet whereby the nails peel off very slowly over the course of a week or more, leaving just the bleeding quick behind shock

Over 50% of the nails have now fallen off, and most of the rest are loose.

This condition causes her immense pain. She is on constant painkillers, but whenever she has a loose claw she is unable t go upstairs, walk on bumpy ground etc. Bearing in mind she always has one, if not two or three loose claws, this causes her a few problems.

Although she will have some respite when the new claws grow back, it is highly likely the new ones will peel off too.

The vet has asked me to think about whether it would be kinder to anaesthetise the dog and remove all of her claws so she can gain some mobility again and put her out of constant pain.

However I can't help but think that even though she is otherwise fit, happy and healthy, that she might die on the table DH thinks I am being irrational, which I probably am, but I really don't know what to do.

What would you do in this situation?

Maelstrom Mon 03-Jan-11 20:03:34

Well, I would rather die on the operating table than putting with constant excruciating pain that has the knock on effect of reducing my mobility.

I believe it would be cruel not to put her out of constant remediable pain just for fear of loosing her. I would go ahead with the operation.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 03-Jan-11 20:07:20

Hopefully one of the vet-type people will come along... it is difficult.

Is her heart in good shape? Has she been anaethetised before with no problem? Elderly people undergo GA pretty often (even with dodgy hearts) so is the risk that great?

Just a thought, are there any 'bootees' available which could alleviate the toe problem if you decide not to go ahead?

Vallhala Mon 03-Jan-11 20:47:34

Just my opinion - if the vet is happy with your dog's overall health and carries out the relevent pre-op blood tests etc then I would be inclined to go for it. My experience of a dog with bleeding, painful feet/claws comes from having had a Shep with DRM, which caused him to drag his back feet on the ground. HIs condition was incurable - had I been able to permit him to be operated upon to alleviate the pain I would have done so.

Re the boots, yes they exist but tend to be a bugger to keep on a dog.

That aside, are you confident that all avenues wrt cause and cure have been exhausted?

Poor little mite, I hope that her problems are resolved very soon and that she makes a full recovery, I really feel for her, and for you.

crispface Mon 03-Jan-11 21:07:07

thank you

She has an underactive thyroid, which the vets think is causing the nail loss. Though she is on tablets for the thyroid, the vet believes it will have little impact on the new nails - though we wait to see.

She has never been under any GA as ar as I am aware, apart from when she was speyed about 10 years ago, but before I owned her (she is a rescue dog)

I don't think any boots would stop the pain of lifting nails and any subsequent infection.

I have no idea why I think she would die, except that when her first nail lifted I got a feeling that she would die from this, and that feeling has just intensified whilst operation is mentioned. But I know it would be better for her to be pain-free.

kid Mon 03-Jan-11 23:41:40

Because she is quite old, I'd expect the vet to carry out tests to make sure her organs would cope under GA.
What is her quality of life like atm?
If she can manage on the painkillers, then fine. But if she is in constant pain, it would be kinder to get her nails operated on.
What a horrible decision to have to make. Good luck, I hope all turns out well for your dog x

Scuttlebutter Tue 04-Jan-11 00:55:14

Each dog is unique, and your vet will make a decision whether to administer GA based on the health of your dog, heart, etc. as well as weighing up the impact of not operating. As our vet is very fond of saying, "Old age is not a disease" - the overall picture is more complex.

If our vet recommended this, I would trust their judgement. Only you know the relationship you have with your vet and your confidence in their professional opinion. None of us like seeing them go under a GA, but the alternative here sounds awful.

frostyfingers Thu 06-Jan-11 17:19:49

We had an old spaniel who had an ulcer in one eye which despite treatment wouldn't heal. The vet suggested taking the eye out (dog was 13 at the time) particularly since she was in permanent pain, and that the benefit should she survive would be immeasurable.

She did survive, and adapted incredibly quickly (literally 2/3 days) and managed another two years on good form until sadly the other eye ulcerated and no more could be done.

If you have confidence in your vet, then you should take his advice, but be aware of the risks. If the dog is in constant pain, and unlikely to improve I would follow his advice, but bear in mind that the worst could happen.

KurriKurri Thu 06-Jan-11 18:27:14

My 13.5 yr old JRT recently had several teeth out under GA, they were hurting her and she is so much happier now they are gone. I was worried as you are, but couldn't let her go on being uncomfortable. And the vet did all the checks to make sure she was fit and well enough to survive the GA.

kormachameleon Thu 06-Jan-11 18:32:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hellymelly Thu 06-Jan-11 20:22:25

I agree with other posters,if it was major surgery then ,maybe not,but as she will recover fairly quickly then it does sound worth doing.Also if she is a rescue dog,then she may be a bit younger than estimated.Only one thing-I did know a dog whose nails peeled off like this,and I can't remember what the reason was that the vet gave at the time,but it did stop,and her nails grew back normally.May be worth waiting to see whether the new ones do in fact start to peel before going for surgery?

crispface Thu 06-Jan-11 21:58:18

thank you all. I spoke to vet today who looked at dog's blood results (she had lots of bloods taken to try and find cause of peeling nails) and said she didn't think surgery was a problem, obviously there is a risk, but that she (the vet) was confident as she could be that it would be ok.

She did suggest waiting to see how the new nails grow first though, and also whipping out some large fatty lumps the dog has whilst under anaesthetic, if we decide to go ahead with operation.

Helly, that is interesting and reassuring thank you.

I will post on this in future (if anyone is interested) to let you know what her new nails are like and any outcome of operation.

kormachameleon Thu 06-Jan-11 22:01:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KurriKurri Thu 06-Jan-11 23:34:59

Yes I'd love to hear how your dog gets on smile I have to say my JRT seemed to recover much quicker from her recent op. than she did when she had an op at about 5yrs old, - she was up and demanding food soon after we got her home (despite lack of teeth grin)

hellymelly Fri 07-Jan-11 00:02:04

Yes,good luck.I'd forgotten all about my friend's dog having this until your post,as it was a fairly short lived phase.It did look horrible though and must have been so painful,so I sympathise with your poor poochy.

MrsTucky Fri 07-Jan-11 02:06:18

just popped on here for 1st time in ages.....and I'd also go ahead and let her have the op, as hard as that is.
As animal lovers, we worry about them as much as we do our human babies, but we wouldn't let our child suffer if the doctor recommended an op, so why do we think twice for our beloved pets?!
If she's suffering pain in her day to day life, then that limits her quality of must let her have the op, for the quality it will will her. I don't mean to be harsh, and sound as if it's easy, cos I know its not. I have been in your shoes before...but do it for her xx

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