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my old boy can hardly walk but the vet says he's ok

(14 Posts)
everymummy Thu 09-Mar-17 11:58:32

First of all I would like to say that I really like and trust my vet who is very kind and experienced with older dogs and knows my dog well.

I took my nearly 14 year old American pitbull/mastiff cross in to see him. He is a very large dog (used to be 47 kilos but now 42). He is a tough old thing. I got him two years ago when a friend couldn't keep him.

He had his knees replaced when he was 5 and has always had problems with his back legs. We have him on cymalgex and supplements. Without the antiinflammatory he can't get up.

Now his front leg and hind leg (both on the left) are very weak and he walks badly and slowly. But he desperately wants to go out all the time - watches me like a hawk for signs of shoes being put on. It takes us a while but we hobble the twenty yards to the park. I have to carry his back end up the steps.

He eats well and is excited and happy to go out. His body and organs are healthy, but his legs just aren't able to carry him.

I was open with the vet because I want Ddog's last days to be about him, not me wanting to keep him going. He is very old. However, when I asked if pts would be a kinder option the vet said absolutely not, this dog is not ready for that. Ddog was wagging his tail and catching treats like a pro and looking great as his physical condition is amazing (he has a raw food diet and supplements).

I went into detail about his mobility problems and the vet gave him a cortisone jab in the leg and said we can go back for tramadol if that doesn't work, and that he would probably live another 6 months.

I feel so sad for him when we go for a walk.

I would love some advice.

BlueKarou Thu 09-Mar-17 15:06:38

That sounds really hard, I'm sorry you're going through this extra layer of difficulty at what could be a really sad time.

Would you be able to get a second opinion, from a different vet in that practice, or from another practice? Alternatively, would it be worth taking a video of your dog struggling, in case the vet hadn't seen the severity of his lameness. My mum's dog recently had a problem with her breathing, but only when out and about, so they recorded it to show the vet.

Whitney168 Thu 09-Mar-17 15:23:55

Actually, you don't need to justify yourself to your vet.

Discuss your dog's condition with him, give a fair but short-term try to any 'cures' that my be suggested perhaps - but YOU are the one who lives with and loves your dog, and you are the one best placed to know when you don't feel he has sufficient quality of life.

That said, from your description above, it does seem as if perhaps your boy isn't ready yet, if he has a good appetite and is keen to go out. Could you perhaps look at something like this to make it easier to help him?

everymummy Thu 09-Mar-17 16:17:27

Thanks for your posts, BlueKarou and Whitney - the idea about a clip of him walking is a good idea. I will get the vet surgery's email and send it over.

I'm due to call in a few days to get a tramadol prescription if the cortisone injection hasn't helped, which I don't really think it has.

I think the other vet in the practice would say the same and to be honest, I do respect his opinion (I saw the chief vet). Ddog definitely wants to live and is still enjoying lots of parts of his life, but the bad bits, when he's out walking, are really bad - he is clearly in pain. So it's offsetting his enjoyment against that pain and adding in the fact that the condition is worsening noticeably from month to month.

I'm also concerned that the tramadol will zonk him out - I don't think he'll like that.

Re the harness, Whitney we already have the front harness and I support his legs in his legpits (or whatever they are called) when he's going up the steep steps out of our house.

However, he still can't manage the internal steps from the kitchen to the ground floor, so that means he sees us come and go, often carrying food, and can't follow, which isn't very nice for him. But I have the kids etc running all over the house - i can't sit with him downstairs all day.

He has had a good day today though, I took him to my park workout and let him sit there for an hour watching the world, rolling in the sun, etc.

I feel philosophical about his last days, he was old when I got him so I've always known he could go. I really believe that dogs shouldn't suffer at the end of their life.

Poor old boy.

Whitney168 Thu 09-Mar-17 16:24:55

The most useful bit of advice I've ever heard about having a dog PTS is 'better a bit early, than too late'.

It is so difficult to make that final decision, particularly when a dog is up one minute, down the next.

Again, I reiterate that you are the one that knows your dog. You've given him a good life, and if you feel that the balance is now tipping then just be firm with your vet and ask him to let him go in peace. They do need to offer options, but if you feel it is not the right thing for your dog, then refuse them. flowers

Whatslovegottodo Thu 09-Mar-17 16:35:12

Lovely dog OP. lovely you took on an older dog.

Practically things like rugs on slippy floors so he can grip and ramps for steps so he can manage and save your back!

Do the supplements he is on contain EPA (Omega 3)? It's found in fish oil supplements (like grizzly bear salmon oil or Yumove advance) that is the one supplement that is clinically proven to help with stiff joints so certainly worth adding in if not.

Would you be in a position to try a physio vet who could offer things like laser therapy to help with pain relief and hydrotherapy treadmill / water based exercises?

Good luck and enjoy the time with him.

BlueKarou Thu 09-Mar-17 16:40:43

Oh he's a beauty.

I've always held to the idiom 'better a week too soon than a day too late.' You know when you boy is suffering, and you know what he was like before, so you really do know what's best for him. Hopefully pain management will give him a renewed capability, and some good quality final months.

Give the tramadol a go, see if it makes a difference. Then, if it doesn't give any sort of improvement or reprieve from the pain, that's when to go back and insist they do what needs to be done. The vets should understand that 6 months of pain and reduced quality of life is not acceptable, but they will want to help, and it's up to you to know how much medical intervention you're happy with, and when is the point to say 'no more'.

Wolfiefan Thu 09-Mar-17 16:43:40

I had a cat on tramadol for severe arthritis. It didn't zone her out at all and she did really well on it. I would say it's definitely worth a try.

villainousbroodmare Thu 09-Mar-17 16:44:33

Is he already on some form of anti-inflammatory medication? Non-steroidals like Rimadyl or Onsior would usually be the first option, followed by Tramadol.
I don't think you necessarily need to switch vets. I would stick with the person who know, who knows you and your dog.

carefreeeee Thu 09-Mar-17 18:46:54

I would try non steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAIDS, eg. metacam, rimadyl), (only from the vets not human ones obviously!) and joint supplements if not already on them (again from vet) before going for euthanasia. NSAIDS help most arthritic dogs hugely and you will know in a couple of days if they will help your dog, so definitely worth a go if you haven't tried them already.

Whatslovegottodo Thu 09-Mar-17 20:14:03

The OP mentioned her dog is on Cimalgex, which is an NSAID.

everymummy Thu 09-Mar-17 21:33:37

Thanks for all your posts! it has helped me greatly to read them.

Amazingly, it seems the cortisone injection has helped - he seems much more active and is going up and down steps where usually he would wait for me to hold his harness. This is quite unexpected as the vet said it was an outside chance (and not really meant to combine it with the anti-inflammatories).

I'll get him the tramadol in a couple of days.

Looks like he's still in the game!

TheoriginalLEM Thu 09-Mar-17 21:40:41

Am pleased to read your update. IT WAS DEFINITELY worth a try with the steroid injections but remember this IS YOUR dog and whilst the vet is using their knowledge and experience they are only seeing a snapshot of life for your dog. Your instinct will guide you for when the time has come but for now enjoy his new lease of life,long may it last

carefreeeee Fri 10-Mar-17 10:09:05

Sorry - missed the cimalgex bit in the OP. Glad to hear he's doing better anyway!

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