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What would you do - surgery or euthanize? (Young dog)

(62 Posts)
ThunderboltKid Thu 14-Mar-13 21:07:22

OK, bear with me as this may be long and rambly as I'm quite upset.

FluppyDog is an 18 month old English Springer Spaniel (working rather than show). She is incredibly hectic - obviously this is typical for a springer, but she is definitely at the more extreme end of the scale.

She currently has two issues which may or may not be related (vet and behaviourist both unsure).

1. Urinary incontinence (started about 7 months ago)
This occurs when she is 'at rest' and basically just leaks out of her. It can happen 5-6 times a day. It is so bad that she has suffered with urine burns and cystitis. (Because of months of trying various treatments which didn't work; not because I just ignored it)

After trying various hormone medications, today she had x-rays & ultrasounds done which confirms that the incontinence is a defect with her bladder rather than just spay incontinence. The bladder is positioned in her pelvis and therefore not enough pressure is being placed on it.

The only option is surgery.

2. Dog agression
My gorgeous FluppyDog suddenly started being agressive to other dogs about 5 months ago. Before this she LOVED playing with other dogs. Now she attacks them for no reason and with no warning. A couple of days ago she drew blood for the first time sad

We are working with a dog behaviourist who is helping us with techniques to try and manage her behaviour, but even she is a bit flummoxed.

- The surgery only has a 50% success rate
- Recovery from the surgery will require 14 days bed rest which I have no idea how I am going to manage. (FluppyDog HATES crates; she will literally scream and throw herself against the side to get out)
- Surgery could be effective but if dog is not properly rested she could stretch or tear the sutures and therefore become incontinent again
- We have so far spent £1500 on investigations and our insurance limit is only £2k
- I have a 4 month old baby and am really struggling to walk the dog using the techniques the behaviourist shows us (baby in sling already - has already been caught in the middle of a dog fight)
- Our dog walker had to let us go at the beginning of the week because the aggression got out of hand
- The behaviourist and vet are suggesting using medication on a longterm basis to 'sedate' her to try and reduce the aggressive issues and her hecticness

Ultimately, I just really want my FluppyDog back but I just think that her quality of life will be rubbish; particularly if this operation is unsuccessful. I worry that I can't give her the amount of training she needs to help her overcome the aggression and the thought of having her constantly sedated just sounds awful.

I'd really welcome some other opinions...but please be gentle; I'm finding this really tough sad

foolonthehill Thu 14-Mar-13 21:26:17

Oh dear I am so sorry, what a terrible position to be in.
I can't imagine how you are feeling just now, especially with your new baby.

I am likely to be in the minority here but I think I would not go down the surgery/sedation route. I can only imagine that a dog who lives in in the moment would find all this intervention terrifying. Different if the pup was a couch potato but how would you keep her/him still? And all for only 50% chance of continence.

I wonder if the aggression is linked to feeling so rubbish on the cystitis/skin/meds.

I would not blame you at all if you felt that this was the end of the road for you and pup.

I am no expert however, have just had a few dogs who really suffered at the end because intervention went too far and did not work. I am sure others with happier tales might think differently. but you also have to consider your own ability to love and care for pup through this ordeal in the context of your family.

My own Springer (rescue) is here with me as I type, I love her to bits, but I can't imagine how she would cope with what you are describing.

Much love to you whatever you decide.

piratecat Thu 14-Mar-13 21:31:12

i haven't any sound advice or experience, but as a pet owner and lover of mine i can only think you must be going through hell. You have done so much for this dog, investigation wise, both physically and behaviourally. All with being heavily pregnant, and now you are a new mum.

I hope that there is some good advice/support on here for you. xx

needastrongone Thu 14-Mar-13 21:42:21

I just second the good wishes. Life must feel bloody hard work and incredibly stressful at the moment. I hope someone with experience is around. Do what's right in the context of your whole family.

Good luck. Take care.

tabulahrasa Thu 14-Mar-13 21:44:16

Crate rest doesn't have to mean in a crate... Just, staying still. Most of monster puppy's 3 week crate rest was actually spent in a corner of the room penned in by the couch, coffee table and kitchen chairs we took turns to sit with him - which meant I mostly sat with him. Sometimes I put him on the lead and just kept him beside me that way.

He is crate trained, but he wasn't having it that he should stay in there when we're in and it was easier to have him out than using his just operated on leg to try and open the door.

seeker Thu 14-Mar-13 21:49:24

I would go for PTS.

Dogs have no sense of time or understanding of the future- she can't, as a person would, think "I am going through this crap time- but it will get better". All she can understand is "life is crap". I think that often the kindest, most responsible thing is to PTS. Others will not agree. But that's what I think. And also, you've had enough. And (sorry) your human family comes first.

pigsDOfly Thu 14-Mar-13 21:52:16

This is an awful position to be in, but ultimately you have to put your family first.

Quality of life is all important for a dog and like foolonthehill my first though was that the aggression could be the result of the pain and discomfort.

Clearly you've done all you can for your dog. A 50% chance of the surgery succeeding is not very great. The amount of time and supervision required to make the surgery completely successful makes it sound almost impossible to do.

I too think that maybe the kindest thing is to let your pup go. Her quality of life is poor and life isn't making her happy. That's surely is what it's all about for any dog.

Whatever you decide will be the right decision. Reading between the lines I think you've already made that decision and for what it's worth. I think you're right.

Take care.

tazzle22 Thu 14-Mar-13 22:03:45

another sympathising with you ........ what a stressful time and such a hard decision.

My opinion ..... well I have a springer x collie so know just how difficult it will be to rest her after ! Mine had surgery on her hind leg end last year ( torn cruciate ligaments) and we had 3 months of controlled activity before we could let her off the lead. Keeping her resting was hard and she is a lot older ( 8 years old) and a rather biddable beasty really.

I also had a young collie when I had a baby and used to walk out with baby in sling .... but she was incredibly obedient and biddable with no issues with other dogs....... I could let her off the lead and still and that took enough attention with training thrown in !

the post op period in itself sounds like it will cause the dog a lot of distress which would be hard wnough without a 4 month old baby..... and once she is a little fitter you may struggle to give her the amount of excercise she needs with being kept on a lead because of the behavioural issues and perhaps frustration ...I know my dogs pleasures lie around quartering the ground nose down and running full pelt covering 10 times the distance I do !!!!!!!

I would also wonder how she would cope with a crawling / toddling babe in the future if you dont know what is setting her off with other dogs ?

Really sorry you are experiencing all this ... have a (((0))) if you want one.

tooearlytobeup Thu 14-Mar-13 22:24:51

I really dont have any advice, I just wanted to say I am so sorry you have to make this decision. What has your vet advised?

We got our Springers around the same time, and I know how hard I would find it to keep mine still after an op. Could she be sedated for this part? I think in your position I would feel I had to give it a go, but we dont have agression to deal with and a new baby.

catsrus Fri 15-Mar-13 02:49:07

I think you are in a very difficult position. I've had a dog aggressive bitch and it requires every second of your attention when you're out with them. I also echo what the other posters have said - putting a dog through the surgery and recovery period with only a 50:50 chance is a hard choice.

I made the decision to PTS (on the spot) a totally wonderful dog a few years ago as he had a back injury and I knew what the process of surgery and recovery would do to his quality of life with little promise of success (large very active breed) I was devastated, but the vet was lovely and said if it had been her dog she would have made the same decision. I watched a friend go through surgery with her collie only to have to let him go a few weeks later - those few weeks were awful for him and her, he was miserable. In retrospect she wishes she had not had the surgery. I think it might be best to let him go rather than put him, and you, though any more.

BookieMonster Fri 15-Mar-13 03:27:03

flowers DDog1 had bilateral TPO surgery on her hips when she was a puppy with between 8 and 10 weeks complete confinement for each hip (the surgeries were done one hip at a time). It was very hard, both on her and us. We had to take her out with a sling under her back legs every four hours to go to the loo and find ways to keep her occupied and stimulated but still while she was awake. If she got too distressed, we were able to give her a tranquilliser.
Anyway, my rambling point is that, although hard work, you can get through major surgery however you need to be absolutely sure that it is worth it. DDog1's surgery means she is now hip sound and will not go through the horror of osteoarthritis which she would have definitely developed without the op. Beyond the obvious risks of surgery, the op has a very, very high success rate and her quality of life after the op was significantly higher than if we had not gone through it.
I'm not sure if I like the 50/50 odds and it sounds as though she is in a lot of distress. I'm so sorry you're going through this.

thewizenedone Fri 15-Mar-13 08:27:45

What a horrible position to be in. I have experience of the urinary incontinence. We had a boxer with exactly the same issue. We chose surgery. She still leaked but not as badly. She was about the same age as yours when operated on. As she got older funnily enough the leaking reduced until stopped altogether.

thewizenedone Fri 15-Mar-13 08:30:01

Should say i realise this doesnt help with secondary problem but thought I would post re the surgical aspect as might help. Believe the surgery is called colposuspension (sic)

CuriousMama Fri 15-Mar-13 08:36:07

thanks No real advice. We hung on to our boxer for too long tbh so not the best to advise. Really feel for you.

BOF Fri 15-Mar-13 08:40:23

I'd euthanise too, terribly sad though it is. I do feel for you brew

mrslaughan Fri 15-Mar-13 09:18:00

It is horrible situation. Without the emotional attachment , I can say I would PTS,...... However for an Animal I have raised I would find that incrediably difficult.
But your human family has to come first - the aggression alone would be very concerning, ESP as it is bad enough that your dog walker can no longer cope.
I also would be worried about when your baby is moving.
Then on top of this the operation, which doesn't have a high success rate.
It must be heartbreaking - but I would euthanize.

sleeton Fri 15-Mar-13 23:02:52

I would give her a chance.

When he was just one year old, I had to restrict the movement of my Springer post-surgery for two months!!! He got through it just fine, just one day at a time, and so did we. That was ten years ago and he's still sitting beside me now. He's never looked back.
... Almost! I say he's never looked back, but we too also went through an aggression thing. I was at my wits end, and was ending up muzzling him, when I met a fantastic trainer who explained to me that - if allowed - the breed will climb up the pecking order, taking on all the responsibility of the pack (family), but that the very responsibility they grab makes them nervous and ultimately aggressive.
I was given lots of (easy) techniques for dealing with this and, I promise you, within two weeks there was already a big difference. I had to be diligent about the techniques, but none of them were difficult, and very soon the whole aggression thing became a thing of the past.
He has been and still is a great dog!

I'm not saying your dog's end result would be the same, either surgically or over the aggression. Nor am I saying I'm an expert, as I'm sure many here are ... I'm just a dog owner. Still ... in your shoes ... if I could, I'd give her a chance.

Good luck, whatever you decide.

idirdog Sat 16-Mar-13 09:36:50

Without a second though surgery. You have a young dog that after surgery stands a good chance of having a happy healthy live. Crate rest will not be for ever and it will be easy to teach the dog to relax in the crate. There are 100s of crate games and ways to keep the dog busy while on crate rest.

Re behaviour reactive dogs can be turned around and managed very easily. However I do know how you are feeling one of my earliest dogs was reactive and was at first a nightmare. I spoke to some positive trainers , worked out a behavioural plan and this dog has become a dog in a million. The bond between us is fantastic as he realised that I was on his side! Since then I actively choose reactive dogs to rehome and have a houseful of 5 reactive dogs that were deemed unsafe for homing. They live together and I walk them together and live is good smile

With correct behavioural plan which is usually very simple and stress free for you and the dogs you can change any reactive dogs live to one of calm and peace.

You must give your dog a chance and not just give up on them - everything you have mentioned can be improved for the better.

PM for advice re training if you like or contact APDT - the methods they advice will be fine to use with a baby in a sling and will not put anyone in any danger at all.

idirdog Sat 16-Mar-13 09:37:15


seeker Sat 16-Mar-13 10:17:00

You know that the crate rest and pain are not forever- the dog doesn't. For the dog, that is just how life is. Just imagine that- and be kind and responsible.

foolonthehill Sat 16-Mar-13 14:10:48

"after surgery stands a good chance of having a happy healthy life." at the best a 50% chance not insignificant but also not statistically huge.

WishIdbeenatigermum Sat 16-Mar-13 14:31:01

Another vote for pts, I'm afraid. Dogs have no concept of time and she's suffering now. The surgery, which might not work, will be traumatic as will be the rest afterwards. She won't know you're trying to make it better, just that you're restricting her and that she hurts.

tabulahrasa Sat 16-Mar-13 14:45:22

Crate rest is only traumatic if you're talking about putting an uncrate trained dog in there and leaving them to it...

We did 3 weeks of it and my puppy wasn't upset by it at all, he's a very lively 7 month old (at the time) and while very constraining for me, he was fine with it. He had his fill of kongs and chews, perfected his play dead position and look at me, I spent a lot of time teaching him the name of some of his toys, anything he could do lying down in fact...he spent very little time in his crate and he is crate trained.

Yes it was hard work and yes I can see that it might not be feasible as it's not possible for everyone to spend all day with their dog - but it's not torture.

Allthumbs Sat 16-Mar-13 14:52:34

I'd probably PTS. You've tried harder than a lot of other people would.

No doubt you'll get plenty of doghouse regulars coming along soon to tell you that you're evil and that if it came to it they'd make themselves and their family homeless rather than give up on an animal, but bear in mind they're a bit, erm, extreme.

HindsightisaMarvellousThing Sat 16-Mar-13 15:03:48

I'd PTS too. I'd be incredibly upset about it and blame myself for a long time, but I'd do it.

The issues you mention are absolutely grinding to live with on a day to day basis, your finances are an issue and you have a young baby. Difficult decision to make, but to me the answer is clear.

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