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esther5

When to put down 13 yo Shepherd-mix with hip dysplagia

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esther5   

I have 13 yo family dog who is some type of Shepherd mix, but a large dog approximately hundred pounds. He was diagnosed with hip dysplagia when he was 7 and underwent a surgery at that time to help him walk. He has been on heavy pain medication since. For the past three-four months, he has been suffering worsening mobility most likely due to his hip dysplagia with significant muscle loss in his hind legs. At this point, he is unable to get up by himself and unable to walk more than five minutes unassisted. He is also incontinent and suffered at least six falls in the past few days often while trying to go #2. 

 

The thing is, he still has an appetite and seems to want to go outside. We started using a make-shift harness in order to lift his hind legs. We are considering getting him a wheelchair for his hind legs. As of now, we have to monitor him constantly so that we can hear him whine when he wants to get up. 

 

He mostly sleeps all day, but considering his limited mobility and who knows how much pain he is in, we have been back and forth considering putting him down. However, this is our first dog, so we don't really know when it's time. I was hoping to get feedback from this community about your thoughts or experiences with dogs with similar situation. Any help is appreciated, thanks!

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Snook   

I'm so sorry that you and your sweet old boy are going through this. My dog is about to turn 15 and is my first dog, so I haven't yet had to make a decision about when it's time to give them their wings. Because of his age and some health issues this year, I've given it an awful lot of thought though. 

 

For me, I think if my boy could no longer stand up on his own and was falling down trying to toilet himself, especially with a history of hip dysplasia and the pain he's likely to be in now, I'd likely decide that it's time. I know many dogs manage successfully with a wheelchair when they can't use their back end but I think asking a very senior dog to try and manage that, especially such a large dog who would be trying to move a lot of weight with just his front legs, is probably too much. Have you had a conversation with your vet about the level of pain and quality of life your boy is experiencing? They might be able to give you more guidance about his physical condition than we can. It's awful watching our dogs get old and I really feel for you. 

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Scratch   

I talk about this with a lot of my clients, and this is usually what I say

 

first of all, it’s your dog, and your decision. 

that said, I ask people how they want to remember their dog? . Do you want the memory of your dog with a wag in his tail, a glint in his eye, or do you really want the memory of a tired old dog with mobility issues, toileting issues, etc who is flat & lifeless but just holding on?
also think about the level of control you’d like to have. You could decide on a day, and go about making it the best day it can possibly be, set yourself and the dog up for as gentle a passing as possible, with the best memories of the day as possible. That last run on the sand, that last lap of the park, their last feast of their favourite treats ....Or let the dog get to a point where there may be a medical emergency which will leave you with terrible memories of the last moments with your dog, where you’re forced to make decisions quickly and under stress. 
It would be lovely if they just went to bed and didn’t get up in the morning, but the vast majority of dogs don’t afford us that luxury.

personally, I’d take a proactive line, choose a date, make arrangements, choose in advance what you’ll do with your dogs remains, and set about making positive memories. 
I deal with a lot of clients who linger a bit longer than perhaps they should with these decisions, and there’s always regret. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone with real regret from taking control and making the best of the situation. 
It’s the greatest gift we can give back to our pets. 

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Yes, it is a deeply distressing and difficult decision to have to make.  I agree with Snook - I feel it is time for your boy to be released from his pain and disabilities.  
 

You have come to a forum where probably each and every member has faced this same sad and gut wrenching situation at least once and many (me included) have faced it many times.  IT IS NEVER EASY OR STRAIGHT FORWARD.  You will probably beat yourself up endlessly, whatever you do.  It comes with the territory of love.  
 

Many people say, “You will know when it is time.”  Most of the time, I would dispute this maxim, but from what you have told us, I really feel with your boy, it is time.  He can’t get up, he falls over, he is in pain.  

Just so you know, I am not speaking from a position of “you aren’t going through what we are going through”, I actually am in a similar situation, albeit easier than yours because my dog is tiny and she is not in pain.  She still gets around okay, and, like your boy, is still eating heartily, but losing weight and condition around her hind quarters.  She has degenerative myelopathy, she tumbles over, she gets caught in the furniture and gets what I call “the wanders” and goes around and around the place and if I didn't pick her up and cuddle her, she would do this for hours as her brain has been affected as well.  
 

It is so damned hard and I feel for you and your boy.

 

:heart:  :heart:  :heart:

 

 

 

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Rebanne   

Now is the right time. Large breed dog who is old and has had problems with mobility for 6 years. Eating is not always a sign they are happy. Dogs live in the here and now, they don't think oh tomorrow might be better, all they know is now and they rely on us to make decisions that is in their best interest.

It is a very hard decision to make but at all times the welfare of the dog must take priority. It will hurt you unbelievably but it will hurt more if you let your dog suffer. Dog people have a saying, better too early then too late. You have been lucky to get a large breed to 13 and he has been lucky to have you taking care of his needs so well. You have loved each other greatly, that is obvious, but it's time to left him go. 

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Dogsfevr   

When the over all quality isn’t there it’s time.

The fact you’re asking suggests you know it’s time .


We always say a day early is better than a day late .

 

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10 hours ago, esther5 said:

he is unable to get up by himself and unable to walk more than five minutes unassisted. He is also incontinent and suffered at least six falls in the past few days often while trying to go #2. 

For me , it would be now . This isn't 'quality of life'  for your boy. 
It's at these times we need to step back, and imagine what our dogs are feeling..every time they go to do something simple, like walk or poo, and fall over :( No enjoyment of living here . 
As said, reaching teen years is amazing... let him rest now ...

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esther5   

Thanks for everyone's support, I really appreciate it

 

I should add that my sister has offered to accompany him continuously, meaning having him sit a few feet away so that she knows when he seems to want to get up. She is also willing to hold him constantly with the harness while he walks around outside or gets water. She ordered a wheelchair so that he might be able to go on longer walks. In my honest opinion, I don't think its worth prolonging his distress. But I think he still enjoys eating and going on walks . Also, he hasn't had any falls today. 

 

If my sister can pick him up and carry him/use the wheelchair to help him walk throughout the day, is that enough to say his quality of life is worth keeping?

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Snook   
7 minutes ago, esther5 said:

If my sister can pick him up and carry him/use the wheelchair to help him walk throughout the day, is that enough to say his quality of life is worth keeping?

I would personally say no, as he would still be in pain and being able to struggle through managing those things with some help, isn't the same as a good quality of life. I realise it's easier for us to say to let him go when he's not our dog but it does sound like it's time. 

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esther5   
5 minutes ago, Snook said:

I would personally say no, as he would still be in pain and being able to struggle through managing those things with some help, isn't the same as a good quality of life. I realise it's easier for us to say to let him go when he's not our dog but it does sound like it's time. 

It's just difficult to assess his pain or show my family that he is in distress because when he is laying down, he looks completely normal., still panting and sometimes begging for food. Otherwise, just sleeps the rest of the day. 

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Snook   
2 minutes ago, esther5 said:

It's just difficult to assess his pain or show my family that he is in distress because when he is laying down, he looks completely normal., still panting and sometimes begging for food. Otherwise, just sleeps the rest of the day. 

Have you taken him to be assessed by a vet? A vet's opinion may help your family see that he's suffering. 

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esther5   
11 minutes ago, Snook said:

Have you taken him to be assessed by a vet? A vet's opinion may help your family see that he's suffering. 

Unfortunately, he is unable to get into a car and we think it would be very stressful to bring him to the vet. Also he hates going to the vet, and we don't want to put him through that. We tried calling our vet today but they don't offer any phone consults.. So we may consider paying for a vet to do a home visit, although its a hefty fee.

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Snook   
4 minutes ago, esther5 said:

Unfortunately, he is unable to get into a car and we think it would be very stressful to bring him to the vet. Also he hates going to the vet, and we don't want to put him through that. We tried calling our vet today but they don't offer any phone consults.. So we may consider paying for a vet to do a home visit, although its a hefty fee.

A vet needs to physically examine him, not just do a phone consult anyway. I think at this point that it's essential for him to see a vet asap if your family can't see that it's time and if the only way that can happen is by paying for a home visit, then it needs to be done. It sounds like it might have been some time since he's seen a vet if you can't get him in to a car? Is he on pain relief for his condition? 

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Rozzie   

Pay for the home consult. Worth it for peace of mind for you and doing the right thing by the old boy.

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esther5   
24 minutes ago, Snook said:

A vet needs to physically examine him, not just do a phone consult anyway. I think at this point that it's essential for him to see a vet asap if your family can't see that it's time and if the only way that can happen is by paying for a home visit, then it needs to be done. It sounds like it might have been some time since he's seen a vet if you can't get him in to a car? Is he on pain relief for his condition? 

Yes, he's been on pain medication for about three years now. We have tried alternate medications but he often has a sensitive reaction to a lot of medication such as liver damage, rash, and diarrhea. I agree that phone consult might not suffice. I talked to a vet today, and did not get much input. I'll try to schedule a home consult ASAP 

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1 hour ago, esther5 said:

If my sister can pick him up and carry him/use the wheelchair to help him walk throughout the day, is that enough to say his quality of life is worth keeping?

sadly, no... :( He is old, and his body is failing  . We often forget to keep dogs happyand healthy  for THEIR ENJOYMENT , not keep them alive for our benefit . It is selfish of us to expect them to struggle , just so we can have them around a few more weeks :( 

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Dogsfevr   
1 hour ago, esther5 said:

Thanks for everyone's support, I really appreciate it

 

I should add that my sister has offered to accompany him continuously, meaning having him sit a few feet away so that she knows when he seems to want to get up. She is also willing to hold him constantly with the harness while he walks around outside or gets water. She ordered a wheelchair so that he might be able to go on longer walks. In my honest opinion, I don't think its worth prolonging his distress. But I think he still enjoys eating and going on walks . Also, he hasn't had any falls today. 

 

If my sister can pick him up and carry him/use the wheelchair to help him walk throughout the day, is that enough to say his quality of life is worth keeping?

I dont want to burst your bubble but the dog wheel chairs aren't that simple.
They require front strength to pull them ,they will require atleast 2 people to get him in safely without stressing him & some dogs hate them & panic.

I have owned a dog that required the use of a wheel chair for about 6 months during that time we also did intensive exercises of his front to keep him in muscle tone & able to pull himself .
During his time of not being able to walk we also had to ensure no bed sores,no laying around to much incase of fluid build up & organ crushing .I was lucky he was a 12 kg dog .
HE HATED the Wheel chair with a passion as it scared him ,you cant leave them unsupervised in them incase they tip over & given his lack of body tone & condition will likely find the effort to get in the harness tiring so when it arrives make sure you take safe baby steps .You dont want it so stressed it has a heart attack for example.

Its hard when family members arent on the same page not in the sense of its time now but not respecting that the dogs quality is not there & decisions need to be discussed and made .
Given a pet its wings is a wonderful gift when the time comes after many years of unconditional love & asking very little from there humans in the scheme of things .This when the humans need to step up & be the owners that know its time ,they cant live forever & they shouldn't suffer for us .

It sounds like you have your head in the right place even though our hearts would say something else .
Maybe your sister needs the wheel chair to make that decision but just be careful the dog doesnt get caught in the middle ,its hard enough getting over the grief off a pet but from someone who made the wrong decisions the first time its harder to live with the regret off knowing you where selfish & the dog suffered for it .
As such know you apply a totally didfferent respect to this process & it is never any easier but knowing it was the right time makes it easier



 

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13 hours ago, esther5 said:

he still has an appetite and seems to want to go outside.

Eating and eliminating/being clean are instincts which are often among the final instincts to die .... they are not really a judge of a dog's QUALITY OF LIFE .  
the urge to toilet outside has been there for all his life ...his doggy brain will just keep on sending that message - he doesn't have the ability to THINK ...
"I am VERY VERY ill, my body will not be able to cope, I'll lie here and the humans will help   "
..his body will just continually fail, as it is so fragile and old. :( 

My Old Mitchell  became faecally  incontinent - was still happy , but stiff & sore , old, and covered in varying fatty tumours. He was embarrassed at his incontinence ..he would try and get outside, and not make it :(
For me, that was the turning point . We had a few good last days , letting him do whatever he enjoyed - chasing rabbits etc ... and then I let him go , a decision I have never regretted . I would have bitterly regretted having him bedridden and unable to enjoy the things he got a sparkle in his eyes from. That would have been heartbreaking for me :cry: He was in his teens , had been with me 24/7 for most of those years, and I miss him every day - BUT I remember him bright eyed and in the sunshine , eager for the morning's outing ....wagging his tail madly ...

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It may be your sister struggles with letting go - it's hard to know when the time is right versus too late with someone you love.

 

There is an online calculator to help you work out if your dog has a decent quality of life or is "just existing"

 

https://journeyspet.com/pet-quality-of-life-scale-calculator/

 

and you may find this blog post helpful to read, on knowing when it is time to let your pet go while letting it be a peaceful end.

https://www.chronofhorse.com/article/death-with-dignity-why-i-chose-to-put-my-horse-down-on-a-good-day

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Snook   
1 hour ago, Two Best Dogs! said:

It may be your sister struggles with letting go - it's hard to know when the time is right versus too late with someone you love.

 

There is an online calculator to help you work out if your dog has a decent quality of life or is "just existing"

 

https://journeyspet.com/pet-quality-of-life-scale-calculator/

 

and you may find this blog post helpful to read, on knowing when it is time to let your pet go while letting it be a peaceful end.

https://www.chronofhorse.com/article/death-with-dignity-why-i-chose-to-put-my-horse-down-on-a-good-day

Thank you for sharing these. I'm going to keep the quality of life calculator open for any time I feel like I need to reassess Justice's quality of life, especially now that dementia is taking a bit of a toll. He still comes out at 64 on the calculator, which has helped reassure me that I'm doing the right thing with trying to manage where we're at right now and that he still has a way to go before it will be time to consider giving him his wings. :heart:

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