Dog ate chocolate?

ask a vet

Time for euthanasia?

Species: Dog
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Age: 11-15 years
My dog Juliet is 12 1/2 years old. She is a black lab with Addison's disease which has been well controlled for many years. She is currenty on Florinef (0.1 mcg - 5 tablets twice a day and on prednisone 7 1/2 mg. / day).

She also has severe arthritis of the forelimbs (elbows). She is on metacam once a day, and earlier this week I took her to the vet and he injected her elbows with hyaluronic acid and cortisone.

Last summer she developed a neurodegenerative myelopathy, which began with weakness of her back legs, and she is now unable to walk more than a few steps. I bought a rear-leg wheelchair for her last week, and have been trying to accustom her to it, after asking the orthopedist to help fit it properly. However, she doesn't seem to be able to walk in it. I know that it can take time for dogs to accustom themselves to the wheelchair, but I think that her elbows are still too painful when she walks on it. She won't take more than a few steps, then her legs start to shake and she won't move.

When she isn't using the wheelchair, she can, with help, ascend the steps to the house (13 steps), and even go up the back stairs, which are wider, by herself, though slowly.

She is not yet incontinent, but I am wondering at what point the decision should be made to have her euthanized? She still wags her tail when she sees us, and eats well. But I don't want her to suffer, and I don't know how much she is suffering (when she was diagnosed with Addison's disease, a few hours before she went into shock and almost died she was still looking cheerful and wagging her tail, even though she was in renal failure).

She also gets recurrend UTIs, and when she gets them, she begins to vomit, and needs extra prednisone.

My family has plans go to go Hawaii in March. Up until now, we have had someone I trusted to keep an eye on her. That person has passed away, and I think it would be too hard to have Juliet in the vet for the week we are gone. I am also concerned what will happen if she becomes ill, or dies that week. I will keep looking for someone to care for her when we are gone.

How does one know when to end their dog's life? I always thought I would never consider euthanasia, but I am now wondering if that is the best thing for her.

Sincerely,
Katy Broner


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, it sounds like poor Juliet has been through so much!

I would agree with you that she is likely not using the wheelchair because of the arthritis in her elbows. Elbow arthritis can be extremely painful.

I have a few criteria which help me to decide when it is time for euthanasia:
  • How is her appetite? If the appetite starts to suffer this is a sign that she is not feeling well.

  • Does she still enjoy the things that used to give her pleasure in life?

  • Does she look like she is enjoying life much more often than she is not?

  • Are we keeping her alive for our sake or for hers?



In my experience, most of my clients who have dogs in similar situations just seem to know at some point that it is time for euthanasia. I commonly hear people say, "We woke up this morning and saw her eyes and knew that it was time to say goodbye."

With what you have described of Juliet's condition, it sounds like at any time you could make the decision for euthanasia and no one would disagree for you. But, you have to be sure that you are ready.

Dr. Marie.



Check out our dog age calculator and cat age calculator.

Want to receive pet coupons, vet advice and info on new pet products in your inbox?

* indicates required

We'll only send you great stuff, never spam. Unsubscribe any time.

Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Dear Dr. Marie,

Thank you so much for your advice. I was wondering: she is such a cheerful dog, that it's sometimes hard to tell. Her tail is almost always tucked between her legs (has been for over a year now), but she does wag it frequently. She seems to like company, but not being touched too much. I always said that I would never euthanize a pet, but now I'm so conflicted.

Sincerely,
Katy Broner


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It's never an easy choice Katy. With everything that you have told me so far, it sounds like the time is very near.

It sounds like she is painful especially with her elbows. But, dogs will do all they can to hide that pain.

I'll repeat though that most of the time my clients just know when it is time.

I hope your decision making gets a little easier.

Dr. Marie.



Search for similar questions:

ask a vet

Popular questions...

Best cat foods. One cat is 13 pounds and 7 years old. He is heavy, but it doesn't look or feel like... (2980 views)

Large liver and spleen. Male cat 10 yo & neutered has enlarged pancreas and spleen, slightly enlarged liver.... (16028 views)

dog with bumps on head My dog has 2-3 little lumps on her head, She is smooothe coated, You can feel them... (21697 views)

Infection on leg. My dog has been licking his inner thigh to the point where it is very red and there... (14749 views)

Limping, trouble breathing and then dog died. Dr. Marie, My dog died this evening and am looking for possible causes. I did not... (10419 views)

Peeing on clothes. My old cat seems to be healthy, he eats well, is blind in one eye but that doesn't... (3914 views)

Shaking, Limping dog. yest. my dog was laying down inside my garage later on i noticed that she was... (19110 views)

Itchy spot on thigh. my dog has started scratching his inner hind leg on one side and he licked and... (3689 views)

Lump on dog's neck. Hi Dr Marie We have a 4 year old female mixed breed dog. Two years ago she had a... (16887 views)

Thumping back legs. My cat started throwing up Sunday. Yesterday he started thumping his back feet and... (16813 views)

See all questions...

Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.