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When's the right time to say goodbye?

(17 Posts)
Sallypuss Tue 07-Jun-11 16:05:30

Our lovely lab x is c.12 years old (he's a Battersea rescue dog who we've had for 10 years). He's deaf and arthritic and, whilst he's on medication for the arthritis, he struggles to walk far and I think is in some discomfort. He's a much loved dog and has been so faithful to us but I fear the wag in his tail has gone and whilst he still eats well, he just lays in his bed all day occasionally making it to the living room of an evening but that's about it.

My question is when's the right time to have him put to sleep? Our vet told me that 'we'd know' when the time came but neither DH or I are sure sad.

Anyone being in a similar predicament and have any advice?

Imnotaslimjim Tue 07-Jun-11 16:08:36

If you're not sure, then it isn't time, yet

The vet is right, you will know

I lost my beautiful rotty to kidney failure 3 years ago, and I knew when it was her time. She'd been on 2 lots of anti-bs and painkillers, and perked up but once the anti-b's ran out she went downhill rapidly

So sorry you have to make this decision, you'll know when its time to do the right thing

Humphreythehamster Tue 07-Jun-11 16:11:41

Hi Sallypuss, sadly we are in the same position with our older dog, also 12. She has benign lumps all over her, constantly infected paws which need antibiotics and steroids to control. If we give her the drugs her paws clear up but she seems really unwell in herself and also make her incontinent. Without the drugs she seems in constant pain and is very reluctant to walk at all sad

LIke your dog she still eats well and wags but hasn't wanted to go out for weeks now, just lies in her bed and occasionally wanders out into the garden for the loo. I feel that we're not being kind by prolonging her life and that she would be better being PTS but DH disagrees and he said "he'll know when it's time". I think this means when HE is ready not our girl. Not sure this is helpful to you at all, sorry.

bumpybecky Tue 07-Jun-11 16:43:43

I'm so sorry sad

we had our 13.5 yo lab x collie put to sleep in January. She had slowed right down and was sleeping lots, but seemed happy enough. She wanted to go out for a (very slow!) walk until the tuesday, could walk only very slowly by the wednesday, wanted to stay in bed on the thursday and we had her pts on the friday sad she was leaking wee quite badly for the last 10 days or so.

Someone on here posted at the time that it's maybe kinder to make the decision a few days too early than a few days too late.

Have you seen the vet recently? if you think your dog is in pain it might be possible to increase pain meds to make him more comfortable

Scuttlebutter Tue 07-Jun-11 20:09:42

I would certainly go back to your vet and discuss the pain meds your dog is receiving. We have a 12 year old greyhound bitch with arthritis and her quality of life is excellent. Things you can do - ensure your dog is as lean as possible - every extra ounce is more strain on those joints. Keep them warm and out of draughts. Review diet (plenty of oily fish, eggs etc.) Supplements - canine prescription glucosamine (not the human formulation, as it's less easily taken up by the body) Is she taking NSAIDs? Ours is doing brilliantly with Previcox. Have you discussed Cartrophen injections with your vet? Some people have excellent results with it. Hydrotherapy - discuss with your vet - as a Lab, your dog may love this, and one of the things that's really important is to keep as much movement/muscle tone as possible around the inflamed joint. Pain meds - your vet can prescribe from a menu of options/quantities. Ours is currently doing well on codeine twice a day plus paracetamol. This is a condition that is not curable so you must actively manage it. Our goal is for our dear old girl to go with arthritis, not because of it, if you see what I mean.

Do you have a baseline Xray of the affected joints that you can review with your vet, to assess joint degeneration? We make sure our bitch has an X ray on the two occasions she's needed GA, to keep abreast of the progress of the joint.

Good luck.

coccyx Tue 07-Jun-11 20:16:07

i think their eyes tell you when its time
keep reassessing pain medication, to keep your dog comfortable.
wishing you all the best

Eddieshead Tue 07-Jun-11 20:16:16

I agree that you will just know. There will be a moment when you look at your lovely boy and he looks back at you and that will be when you will know.

Until that time comes, its definitely worth chatting to your vet about medication. There may be some improvements with changing the drugs he is on. Our girl - who is sadly poorly with cancer - also has arthritis and we have found both hydrotherapy and especially acupuncture make a huge difference. She is now on Tramadol as opposed to anti inflammatories, and is doing well from an arthritis point of view.

All the very best and sending you a very unmumsnetty hug.

mdoodledoo Tue 07-Jun-11 21:38:44

I do agree with the other posters - but I will also add that my own experience with a much much loved G.Shepherd who'd reached the grand old age of nearly 15 was that, with hindsight, I know I hung on for a few weeks longer than I should have - I waited for the time when I was ready to let her go and as a result I let the first point of kindness pass her by. I would encourage you to be really objective if you possibly can - it's the final act of love. Big big big hugs.

mareish Tue 07-Jun-11 23:13:43

We, as owners, have a duty to care for our pets all through their life & receive unconditional love & loyalty in return. As part of caring for them we have the privilege of being able to spare them unnecessary pain.
When I had to really concentrate on making a decision my old dog (14) was still mobile - but only just. He had been on painkillers for nearly two years & a variation of even an hour on the timing really showed toward his last days. He was soiling the bed at night because he hadn't much feeling left in that way (& he was so distraught when he realised). For a while, in his brain he was still a puppy but his body just couldn't respond. It was when I saw his brain had sort of switched from wanting to enjoy, to just surviving, that was when I read a sentence that really hit home for me.
"We have the choice to not let their last days be their worst days"

ATripperToTheLast Tue 07-Jun-11 23:34:07

Agree that you will know. I knew with both of my boys x

Joolyjoolyjoo Wed 08-Jun-11 00:31:26

Agree with your vet- you will know.

My boy is 16, and completely senile, doesn't really seem to know or care who we are sad. He pees and poos in the house if he feels like it. DH is getting very impatient. BUT Oldboy is happy, gambols about on his walks, loves sniffing and meeting other dogs, eats fine, no sign of illness. Bit stiff, but doing well on NSAIDs.

DH has been told in no uncertain terms that his time will come when he is ready (not DH- dog!) I know it can't be too far off, and am braced for him suddenly going downhill. It sometimes feels like it is hanging over you, doesn't it? IME (am a vet) there is often a "crisis" point- something that happens that makes it clear to the owner that the time has come. I thought I'd reached mine a few weeks back, when I found Oldboy asleep and caked in diarrhoea, completely unaware sad sad He had had a slight change of diet, however, and as soon as I put him back on his own food, he was fine. But I realised he couldn't live like that, if it had continued, not fair. I howled buckets, despite saying I was prepared, so not looking forward to the real thing. But I have great faith in owners making that decision- someone who has known and loved a dog for so many years will usually know better than me when the time has come. Wishing you all the best.

MotherJack Wed 08-Jun-11 00:41:20

Jooly sad

multitask Wed 08-Jun-11 08:11:01

Yes it is true, you will know. For us there were days we discussed that it was nearly the time, there were days were we thought she'd pass in her sleep. All the time though, we knew it was something we didn't want to do and were dreading it. When that day came, we knew, it was in her eyes, the look we will never forget, and on the day the moment we dreaded couldn't have come quick enough.. we wanted her suffering to end as quick as we could.. believe me when it comes you will not delay by one moment. It is the last kindness and something we can only do for our pets. There is a final peace that comes with knowing you made the right decision and the right time.

BabyReindeer Wed 08-Jun-11 11:18:46

I have had the experience with 3 dogs and deal with death at work (people) too. It is the same for all of us, except the dogs are lucky and we needn't let them struggle on to the very end. On the whole I think stopping eating is a good indicator that quality of life is poor, and if they lack mobility and give up eating it really is the kindest thing. While my old dog seemed to enjoy short walks and pootling abut in the garden I felt his life was worthwhile, but when he became too weary for that I decided it was time.

2T2T Wed 08-Jun-11 11:51:17

Why do we have to put dogs to sleep? Can't we just let them pass away? I don't understand. Not being argumentative, just don't understand. We don't put our grandparents down when they have age related illnesses.

MotherJack Wed 08-Jun-11 12:09:11

Yes, but there is a big ongoing argument to allow euthanasia, 2T2T. I'm sure my dad would have rather not have endured his last few months in this world if he had the choice.

We put animals to sleep when they are in too much pain, to end their suffering. The last act of kindness, as others have said is to allow a beloved pet to go.

Sallypuss Wed 08-Jun-11 14:10:16

Thank you all for your wise words - really helpful to know of others' experiences and the fact that the vet's advice is correct.

Such a hard decision.

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