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Old labrador, when to let go ?

(34 Posts)
Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 13:04:35

My poor old lab is 12.5 years old. He is unable to get up without help due to problems with his back legs. He is on anti-inflammatories for this, but they aren't good for his stomach.

So far he is reasonably reliable with knowing when to get up to go out to go to the toilet, although sometimes that doesn't happen, probably about 3-4 times per week. He can't go on walks any more, because he can collapse and is too big to carry.

He is very lumpy - he had a cancerous growth removed a couple of years ago, successfully, but we are being advised not to bother checking the others as surgery isn't really an option. He is deaf as well, and although he can see, he has cataracts and a further tumour in his eye which is bothering him.

We live abroad and the vets here seem to think that as accidents occur more frequently, doggy diapers are the way to go etc etc.

While his appetite is not too bad, he is not the same dog at all any more, and it is heartbreaking to see him.

Because we live abroad and come home fairly regularly to see our family, we have to put him in kennels, and I worry that he doesn't get the full care he needs there. I have just booked him in now for a few days in August as we need to go to a big family party, and I worry that something will happen to him there.

When will I know the time has come to let him go ? I am so sad for him, and I can't see that he has much in the way of quality of life now.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Mon 17-Jul-17 13:08:45

My heart goes out to you, must be a devastating decision to have to make.

I have labs who are getting on a bit now. We're ok at the moment though. I thought the time might come when they aren't enjoying their food and and a nice snooze in the sunshine. And their cuddles, Is he still enjoying that kind of thing?

twoheaped Mon 17-Jul-17 13:11:35

Sounds like his time to go should be now.
My old dog soiled her bed once and I gave her the benefit of the doubt as it was really deep and I figured she may have got herself stuck.
The next day, she didn't get up to greet me when I got home. I took her to the vet that night.
She deserved better than to be lying in her own shit.
I knew her time was close, I should have taken her a week earlier sad.
Better a month too soon than a day too late.

Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 13:15:04

Thanks ThroughThickAndThin - it is hard to say whether he is all that happy at all - whenever he finds himself in a different place to me he barks to get up and then comes and sits by me, if I go out to the garden, he will bak again. Then if I come back again, off he barks again!.

He still enjoys his food though although he grazes more rather than wolfs it down now.

Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 13:16:33

twoheaped - so sorry, it is heartbreaking to see them like this. My kids are not ta home any longer and they think I am being unreasonable and that he is fine, but they don't see him every day and still think of him the way he was a couple of years ago.

GinGeum Mon 17-Jul-17 13:22:34

He sounds just like PIL's job who sadly passed away (age 14) a few months ago. He too was lumpy (although didn't seem in pain from any of it) and needed help getting his back legs up. He used to slip and fall a lot because his paw pads were so smooth. It was really sad! He was like that for a good few years though. He didn't like being alone (and would bark until someone was around) but was happy and relaxed laid down with someone in the same room.

He did decline and it was obvious. I remember spending one day over at PIL's lying on the floor with him, with my arms round his neck. If I got up, he would bark and bark and bark until someone touched him again. It was like a switch. The following day, he couldn't stand up at all. We'd give him the usual help with his back legs, but he'd just flop straight back down. That was the day we made the decision and the vet came out that afternoon. There was a real clear moment when he went from being an old, slow dog, to being an unhappy, frail dog.

Blodplod Mon 17-Jul-17 13:23:35

I second the 'better a week too early than a day too late'. Personally, for me, I would not be happy my dog going into kennels based on the information you have provided. I wouldn't go to the party and stay with him.. it sounds to me like he's getting a bit confused when you're not there with him as well. Personally for me I would prefer to see my dog go to rainbow bridge with dignity intact and without any dramatic endings (collapsing or organ failure etc). It's really hard, but I think by you asking this question you're already obviously thinking this could be the time. Good luck, it's the bravest and kindest decision we can make for our pets, but we must remember to put our feelings aside and do what's right for the animal.

Alittlepotofrosie Mon 17-Jul-17 13:26:26

Im really sorry but i think its time. If he can't get up on his own, is having accidents, is deaf and is going blind and can't go for walks because he collapses, i certainly wouldn't put him in kennels, he must be so confused. I think it might be time to say goodbye to him whatever your kids say, he's not their dog. They probably dont want to accept he won't go on forever.

villainousbroodmare Mon 17-Jul-17 13:29:20

I'm a vet. I put an animal to sleep most days. In my opinion, most owners wait too long. It is our privilege to be able to release a chronically uncomfortable animal to a peaceful end when we can predict that all that is in front of them is more pain and a decline into confusion. I would not put your lovely old dog in kennels if I were you. I would let him go now.

Monkeynuts81 Mon 17-Jul-17 13:30:24

As the owner of a Labrador I really sympathise with you.. I will be a mess when I start thinking it's Hectors time.
As well as being 10 days overdue a baby and at home, the day job is being a vet.
Have you tried all the anti inflammatory options?
What country are you in?
We often add in a opiod like Tramadol once normal non-steroidal ones aren't doing job..
If he is on everything and still struggling then maybe time to think about his dignity and give him the peace he deserves for being such a loving companion all these years.
Take care

Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 13:34:08

The problem I have is not so much what the kids are saying, it is the blooming vets here. They keep coming up with solutions - more anti-inflammatories, eye drops and refuse to discuss the endgame! That could also be because my language skills are not really up to it though.

I have no option but to attend the party so I need to go. But he is very used to the kennels as due to our life here and need to go back home every couple of months he has been going to them regularly and happily over the past few years.

I guess I just needed somebody else to tell us that the time is right now, not sometime in the future. sad. They don't really tell you this when you get the puppy, do they? Although my brother had a retriever and we saw him go through the same before we got our dog, so I should have reliased.

Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 13:35:24


Thank you so much for posting that. I think you are right.

Thank you everyone, I am crying as I am typing.

Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 13:37:40

Monkeynuts, we are in Belgium.
The anti-inflammatories are called Cimalgex. He has had some others, but I can't recall the name.

WeeMadArthur Mon 17-Jul-17 13:37:55

This was me last month, same aged Labrador, creaky back legs, having accidents because he wasn't getting messages though to his back end. If you folded his paw over so he was standing on it (not very well described I know) he had no idea he wasn't standing normally. He had been to the vets for blood tests and apart from the legs everything was fine, happy in himself. The last straw for me was one day he woke up and he was limping on one of his front legs as well as having dodgy back legs. He couldn't stand up by himself and, where we had previously heaved him off the floor and he would totter happily off, us trying to lift him was obviously causing him pain. He spent most of a day sat in his bed unwilling to be moved and then when I came home for lunch he wasn't interested in eating. We phoned the vet for an appointment that day. He had to be carried into the car then out of the car on his bed. It was such a hard decision to be made but I didn't want his last days on earth to be spent in pain, or up to the eyeballs on medication and still struggling to move. Having looked after him since a tiny puppy it's heartbreaking to make the decision to have him put to sleep but if anything it would have been better if we had taken him as soon as the front leg went but we were hoping it would get better. You have all my sympathy, it's so hard to lose them, but we have a duty of care to put them first. flowers

villainousbroodmare Mon 17-Jul-17 13:43:14

I am so sorry for you. It's so hard for you to make it easy for him. I understand. I am also sorry that you find your vets are pushing this and that at you.
You know, you don't (or shouldn't) need to persuade the vets that this is the only reasonable course left. I sometimes have clients make appointments to discuss an animal where we talk about options and quality of life and then together decide on euthanasia, either then and there, or in the immediate future. Then there are other clients who simply request an appointment for an animal to be put to sleep. If I feel it is a valid decision, I don't argue with them, I support them.

Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 13:43:30

Oh I'm sorry Weemadarthur -currently our boy still has the use of his very strong front legs, but I do see him from time to time struggling with them as well.

Another problem for us is because we are abroad temporarily, we are living in a rental, and all the floors are hard floors. Which means he slips about all the time. I have rugs as far as possible but he always wants to be on hard floors for some reason, so ends up with no purchase at all.

When you write it all down, it seems easier to make the decision.

disastrouslee Mon 17-Jul-17 13:59:19

My sympathies OP, I too agree that now is the time.

My lovely old JRT was PTS last March after a very short illness (about 15 hours) - before then she was a perfectly happy and pain free little dog, although in hindsight there were signs that not all was right. I got up one morning and she'd soiled herself and struggled to go outside. I could see in her eyes that she'd had enough, and she was PTS 2 hours later.

Her brother is still with me, he'll be 15 in a few weeks time and I decided about 4 years ago that they would never go to kennels again. Nowadays I get family or a good friend to dogsit instead. He is a relatively healthy dog but I'm still always looking for signs that it's time for him to go. It's truly the most loving act there is.


Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 14:05:12

disasrouslee - thank you for posting too.

Poor you , your poor JRT. At least you still have her brother.

The kennels really are the only option for us, I think it is the thought of that that has helped to focus my mind and stop ignoring what is happening here.

TheHodgeoftheHedge Mon 17-Jul-17 14:09:25

You have all my sympathy having had to do this before and will no doubt have to make this decision again in the not too distant future.

I try and take the rule of thumb of are they happy - do things still give them pleasure and do the good days massively out way the bad. If the answer is no to either....

Could you change vets? Is that an option?

WeeMadArthur Mon 17-Jul-17 14:13:35

If anything, the decision was made easier by seeing how the last days of the dogs we had when I was a child were handled. Our first dog was having mini strokes and died in the living room, and the other was my grans dog who we inherited when she died and I think my mum felt that he was the last link to gran. He was little more than a rag by the end, no idea who was in the room, and I had a real argument with my mum about needing to take him to the vets, eventually having to get my brother to step in because she wouldn't listen. When we took him to the vets the first thing she said to the vet was "WeeMadArthur is telling me to kill the dog!" which was nice, but he really had nothing left, couldn't walk, barely ate, passed almost as soon as the anaesthetic went in. I was determined that I would never do that to my dogs. Strangely my mum now has a false memory of our first dog passing, when I told her about Ddog she said that of course you have to do the right thing and have them put to sleep just like she did with hers.

Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 14:21:13

Thehodge - its difficult to say whether he is happy or not. Currently he is sleeping fairly peacefully out of the sunshine, he can get a bit overheated.

Maybe I can see if there is another vet, I will have a chat with my husband and kids - am on my own at the mo, as my OH is off travelling, so I couldn't get him there anyway.

And I would not be popular if I didn't leave enough time for my children to see him one last time.

I think its all just a bit complicated because we are abroad.

Oh Weemadarthur - your mum, bless her, probably didn't want to let the dog go because it was her mum's. Such a shame.

Oliversmumsarmy Mon 17-Jul-17 14:21:28

I know not quite the same but my 20 year old cat last year had difficulty with her back legs, really wobbly, kept falling over as they gave way, couldn't use the litter tray.

Vet suggested Cosiquin. It has been the making of her. she can now jump on to the sofa, climbs over things to get to places. They do it for dogs as well. I don't know if it would help.

i got it on line from Amazon

Motheroffourdragons Mon 17-Jul-17 17:42:07

That sounds interesting, Olivresmums, I'll have a look, thanks.

Monkeynuts81 Mon 17-Jul-17 20:49:19

Sounds like they are on right stuff
The cimalgex is what we call a NSAID (non steroidal anti inflammatory drug)
It's like paracetamol or ibuprofen..
But it's specially designed to be safer in dogs. There are lots of cousins of this drug available for dogs.. might be worth trying a different one..
Cosequin is a joint supplement (glucosamine and chondroitin) it's a good supplement and can help early arthritis/joint problems. Unfortunately very rarely a wonder drug, but it's never going to do any harm. Again there are lots of different versions available so this might actually be what the other tablet you mention is.
As I mentioned you can also add in opioid to this mix.. maybe worth asking about..
You will know when time comes, it's hard, but you will just know. Don't worry about kennels they will be fine.
Take care x

Cocobananas Mon 17-Jul-17 22:05:49

Huge sympathy OP, our lab lived to the grand old age of 16 but they are a stoical breed and we kept debating quality of life a lot during her last six months. First it was, as long as she is enjoying her food and pottering around...then it was as long as she enjoys lying in the sunshine and we went downhill quite quickly to oh she doesn't want to soil her bed and then to " off her legs" ...never again, loved her deeply but firmly in the better a week too early than a day too late camp.

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