Struggling with the decision when to euthanise.

(32 Posts)
Nightowlpossibly Sun 24-May-20 05:20:23

My dog is almost 14 years old, he has slowed down a lot in the last year, due to arthritis, but has been generally healthy throughout his life.
In early January he had idiopathic vestibular syndrome. He made a good recovery and was back to his normal self. However in April he had another bout
Of vestibular syndrome but with slightly worse symptoms than the previous time. Started to get better but didn't quite return to normal before he relapsed again.

Vet has now diagnosed a brain tumour and prescribed steroids to possibly shrink tumour and keep dog more comfortable, but was unable to give us a timescale as to how it would progress, only that it was palliative treatment. We know we will have to euthanise soon, vet says we will just know but I'm not sure we will, and am worried we will leave it too late or do it too soon.

Dogs current quality of life positives:
Still interested in food and drinking, possibly more ,due to steroids
Enjoys treats
Able to go to toilet outside no accidents in house (which vet said would likely happen)
Still likes to be petted and interacts with us but in much shorter bursts
Doesn't appear to be in pain no whimpering, or whining.
No seizures so far. Which I believe is a common symptom with the brain tumour.

Things I am concerned about: spends lot of time sleeping.
Struggles to get up from lying position looks like a big effort to do so. But does just about manage to.
Is very wobbly, stumbles and falls some days. back legs seem weaker.
Is lethargic a large part of day and looks really tired sometimes, but has periods of time where he seems brighter.
No longer going for walks as too wobbly, only goes out into garden for toilet.

I am really torn, about whether his current quality of life is enough, or whether we should euthanize sooner. He was diagnosed a month ago. And Is gradually declining. I am so stressed and worried about him, as some days I feel it is time, but then he seems brighter and I think maybe not quite yet. But I know he isn't going to get better. I worry the point will come where he is unable to get up at all. We are heartbroken but trying to enjoy the time we have left with him. I just want to do it at the right time and be certain it is. Does anyone think the the time could be now.

OP’s posts: |
Girlintheframe Sun 24-May-20 06:18:42

I think it's very personal to you and your dog.
We didn't have our lovely lab put down until we saw he was in pain. Up until then he had still been enjoying his food/walks. He always appeared happy until the last day. The final day he wouldn't eat/wouldn't settle and generally struggled. We could just tell it was time.
We had the vet come to our house to euthanize which made it a bit of an easier experience for us.

Knocksomesense Sun 24-May-20 06:25:40

I lost my 3 year old dog 3 years ago now. For him it was very quick and sudden so we didn't have the choice.

That said, I've seen my dad nurse several elderly dogs and based on this I would say rather a day too early than a day too late.

LesleysChestnutBob Sun 24-May-20 07:27:27

I personally wouldn't wait until you have no choice or you can see he's in pain. I would give him a couple of really good days, maybe take him to his favourite place to just sit with him (as long as it doesn't involve walking too far). Give him lots of fuss and love, take lots of photos and videos and stuff him with treats.

I wouldn't wait until the very last moment or wait for the time he's in pain - dogs are pretty stoic creatures. I think the fact he spends most of the day sleeping and is lethargic means it could be time. Our last family dog was put down on a day like that, she was still eating and drinking but very very wobbly, almost blind, lots of lumps all over her and struggling with incontinence. We fed her a KFC and then she was taken to the vets and it was very peaceful at the end. She was still a happy little dog and greeted me at the door with lots of barking but her bad days were starting to outnumber the good

Ask the vet to give your dog a sedative before the final injection as well, that will make it easier all round. I'm sorry you're having to make this decision though OP flowers

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Sun 24-May-20 08:25:06

Our metric is, what do they have left out of the things that have them pleasure.

When our old dog was down to eating, having a potter and a sniff, and sunbathing, we called time. It wasn't enough when stacked up against the things that were wrong: hearing largely gone, eyesight likewise, balance shot, and on heavy pain meds which didn't always seem to cut it.

I was speaking to someone the other day who a dog PTS after long-term illness and she said, 'Looking back, I shouldn't have done it to him, I shouldn't have kept him going so long. I knew he wasn't going to get any better and it wasn't fair to put him through it. I won't do that again.

But it is such a tough decision. We love our dogs and don't want to lose them - and also don't want to cut their lives needlessly short. flowers

GCAcademic Sun 24-May-20 15:30:30

I had a dog with exactly the same thing (vestibular syndrome, later diagnosed as brain tumour). In the end she had an absolutely awful, prolonged seizure and we had to rush her to the vet to pts. It was really quite harrowing. She was still going for walks and eating as usual the day it happened, and had not had any seizures prior to that point.

That was a couple of years ago. By contrast, last week, we made the decision to pts our other dog who had cancer and was starting to decline. He might have gone on for a few days or weeks longer, but we decided that we did not want another harrowing emergency scenario, particularly in the current situation where our vets are not allowing owners to be in the room with the dog during euthanasia. It was a tough decision but I’m now glad we made it. We were able to arrange for a vet come to us to put him to sleep, he was oblivious to the fact that she was a vet, and his last moments were happy and relaxed, playing with us and the vet in the garden. I know that everyone says better a month too early than a day too late, but it is so so true.

We always know as dog owners that the awful day is going to come, and whenever that is, we will never feel that we have had enough time with them. We will always wish that we could have a bit longer. But once the quality of life is not there, once the bad phases outnumber the ones when the dog seems happy, then it is time.

BibiThree Sun 24-May-20 15:33:53

I always think it's better to do it a day too early than a day too late. If he is sleepy, finding standing and walking uncomfortable, I'd say the time is near.


DramaAlpaca Sun 24-May-20 15:34:47

I'm so sorry, I know from experience just how hard it is, but in your shoes I'd do it now flowers

As someone else said, it's always better for the animal to do it a week too soon rather than a day too late.

NiceTwin Sun 24-May-20 15:45:52

I would say his time is pretty much up from your list of worries.
Our old dog struggled to get up, I should have taken her sooner. The vet said she was exhausted.
Made me feel terrible sad

Clymene Sun 24-May-20 15:52:24

I think his time has come quite honestly. I would do it before he is in pain or has a seizure - you don't want that to be your last memory of him and now you can say goodbye while he still has his dignity and still recognises you and gets comfort from you.

I'm so sorry - such a terribly hard thing to do flowers

Elieza Sun 24-May-20 16:06:23

My vet told me my furred companion would tell me when hed had enough. He was right. It was obvious.

Up until then he’s been fine, just stiff and slow but content and pain free.

Then he stopped eating and just wanted to sleep, so that was time.

OtterBe4 Sun 24-May-20 22:44:51

I have 4 dogs, always had multiple rescues & have obviously lost a few.
A day early is always the best way, if he's struggling to walk, it's time, I lost one of mine two years ago to cancer, the vet left the decision to us, when I saw the weight falling off her even though she still managed a good walk each day, I decided to let her go and remember her as the dog I loved with her fiesty spirit rather than see her diminished.
Your boy has had a good life and I'm sure is loved to the moon and back, let him go with dignity.

TARSCOUT Sun 24-May-20 23:07:18

Oh it is just such a horrible time. Our seconf last dog had some sort of stroke and it was horrific. If I could have ended it for her myself I would have. Our last dog I would have PTS at least a week before we did. When the final day came I knew for sure.she was done. I am sorry but that age and condition, I would say do it when you are in control of his destiny. So sorry OP.

Poppinjay Sun 24-May-20 23:41:48

Our vet said better a couple of weeks too soon than a day too late. It's so true.

Our JRT was running around, wagging his tail and enjoying treats when he went. He looked fab but it was partly the adrenaline caused by the visitors ( vet and vet nurse). The periods of activity we getting shorter and I could see signs of discomfort.

I couldn't bear to think of him being in pain for hours before he died, never mind days. My 16YO DD2 was his soulmate and made the final decision. She got it right and the vet told her she was glad to see him still excited and happy to see people.

He had a morning of delicious treats, including lotus spread, which he adored, and cuddles. We got him as a rescue and he had had a tough start to life. We were happy that we made the end a happy one.

Nightowlpossibly Mon 25-May-20 09:02:29

Thank you for the replies and sharing your experiences with your own dogs, some of them really resonated with me and confirmed what I had already been thinking
and feeling, but was finding hard to accept.

As it happens after posting this, our lovely boy had a bad day, and has deteriorated a fair bit. His legs are getting very weak. . This has now made the decision for us, and I will be calling the vet today. I know now is the right time. And we are definitely doing right by him, But I feel really sick right now. My heart is breaking, after 14 years I cant imagine our lives without him.

OP’s posts: |
userxx Mon 25-May-20 09:09:47

It's the most heart wrenching part of dog ownership but you are doing right for your boy. It's the final act of love and kindness.

You've clearly given him a wonderful life to get him to 14, he's been a very lucky dog.

bloodylongdrive Mon 25-May-20 14:07:06

I believe we owe it to our animals to do the right thing and they are relying on us to not let them suffer. We put our much adored dog to sleep at 13 1/2 he had a signification disease that would have required significant input from us and as the vet said we were probably only prolonging his life by 6 months as he was already old for the breed. He wasn’t particularly ill on the day we did it so there was no hurry. Our lovely lovely vet gave us a quiet time to come to the surgery, she had no other appointments so she gave us all her time and attention we entered and exited by a separate exit and they the took us to a special room and told us today when we wanted the injection that finally stopped his heart no hurry, we then stayed as long as we wanted. In contrast another dog I had become suddenly very ill and had to be euthanised it was dreadful he was screaming agony. he bit me when I tried to help we waited 30 mins for a vet and nurse to come up out to our home as it was out of hours andit took a vet a day nurse to hold him and they couldn’t raise a vein. The first one may have gone a few weeks before his time but we took him on his favourite walk and he wagged his tail and ate his favourite treat right up until he was fully sedated.

Clymene Mon 25-May-20 18:28:44

I'm so very sorry @Nightowlpossibly. It is a terribly hard thing to go through. thanksthanksthanksthanks
They bring us so much joy but their lives are so short hmmsad

Clymene Mon 25-May-20 18:29:38

I don't know what that hmm is doing there. Typo blush

Poppinjay Mon 25-May-20 22:25:40

So sorry, OP. You're doing the right thing flowers

SimplySteveRedux Mon 25-May-20 22:49:04

I lost my darling Shih Tzu suddenly three, almost four, years ago and I would have much preferred controlling the circumstances. I miss him every day.

Our other dog is a feisty, super resilient, Yorkie, he's around 15/16 now, with no apparent problems, yet as the years go by we're certainly keeping a closer eye on him.

So sorry OP, so very sorry.

Nightowlpossibly Wed 27-May-20 03:44:26

Thanks again for replies and advice.
Our beloved boy was PTS yesterday afternoon. I believe we timed it just right. He went with peace and dignity surrounded by his loving family
As due to social distancing, it was took place in the garden of the vets on a blanket in the sunshine. I am grateful for all this but my heart is breaking.
And our home seems so empty! Cant stop crying its so raw.

OP’s posts: |
GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Wed 27-May-20 08:03:20

It sounds as if you timed it well. All I can offer you is that it does get better. flowers

Kirigiri Wed 27-May-20 11:33:26

I'm so sorry Nightowl

They are so precious and I wish they could be with us longer. You'll always miss him but you did the best thing by him and as someone who had to have their little angel put to sleep earlier in the year I promise you it does get easier xx

lorisparkle Wed 27-May-20 11:41:36

I am so sorry, it is always such a heartbreaking decision and even though you definitely did the right thing it still hurts so much.

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