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Possibly hip dysplasia.

Species: Dog
Breed: llapso apso/cocker s
Age: 2-5 years
Dear Dr. Marie,

I recently had to put my dog down as he was only two and a half years old and he was ill. When I purchased him as a puppy I was not too familiar with his history as I purchase Charlie through a private owner. However, when we did bring Charlie home we had to have him treated for a bad case of fleas and overall his health was okay after being examine by the Veterinarian. Charlie’s first year was difficult as with any puppy, as we did have severe aggression issue’s and it was only until he reach the age of two did he seem to calm down a little bit with his aggression towards people and other dogs. However, it was during the month of January of 2012 that we notice a slight change in Charlie’s behavior as he started to favor one side when he would try to get up and this wasn’t all the time. In the meantime, Charlie was still the playful dog that he was and he still had his big appetite and it was not until April 2012 that I notice he was not his playful self and he was having a hard time with getting up as it was getting difficult for him to get up on his hind legs, as he began to favor his right side in getting up from the ground. I took him to a Veterinarian and I was told he had hip dysplasia and he was prescribed previcox once a day. The previcox seem to help him in the beginning and then a few weeks later his health begin to decline. For example, he began to yelp while lying down and he would go and lay in the bathroom until it was time for his walks or to eat. Again, I took him to the vet and she said she could not do x-rays as she was afraid he would not wake up if we proceeded with doing the x-rays. However, he was tested for Valley Fever and had blood work which all came back negative. Again, I was advised to continue giving previcox and other pain meds that she prescribed and come back in ten days. Within those ten days Charlie health began to deteriorated as he was not interested in eating and getting up to walk was more difficult and when he did eat (it was difficult for him to move his jaw) as it appear difficult for him to chew his food. One of Charlie Jacks favorite food was a burger (plain) from McDonalds which was his favorite treat! Up to the end he would eat only his burger until the last day when he didn’t want to eat at all. There were other symptoms along with the difficult walking, as he constantly would rub his head against the furniture which I found odd and there was a day when he had his whole body arch up as if he was in pain with his back.
Last Wednesday, I decided it was best to end Charlie Jacks pain and I knew it was time for him to be put down. This was the hardest decision for me to make as it was very difficult to take care of him and to watch him suffer. However, Charlie Jack was my daughters dog and I have been the one taking care of him during his illness and I grew very attach to him. For this reason, my biggest regret is taking him to the Maricopa County Care and Control and leaving him there to be put down. I thought he would be put down that afternoon as I took him in the morning. However, I soon learned that he had to be seen by their Veterinarian, and they would decide if he would be put down. After being seen by the Veterinarian, it was determine that he either had cancer or hip dysplasia and he was on the list to be put down. It was horrible to go through this without knowing what was wrong with him, and I have this horrible sense of abandonment leaving him at the Animal Control Shelter as I now wish I was with him when he was put to sleep. In the end, never knowing what was truly wrong with him is upsetting as I did take him to the vet many times and Charlie’s health continued to decline. Furthermore I never knew that young dogs could have cancer as well. Overall, I know in my heart my daughter and I did everything possible for Charlie, yet the pain of losing him is hard.
In reading this letter, maybe you can bring light to Charlie Jacks situation and tell me that I did the right thing in having him put down as I didn’t wanted him to suffer anymore as it is now very difficult with him being gone, as he brought our family lots of joy.

Kathleen Pizano

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm very sorry to hear about your sad situation. It is never easy making the decision for euthanasia.

While we will never know what the main problem was with Charlie Jack, from what you have described it sounds like things were very serious.

I'm guessing there was something even more than hip dysplasia going on. Hip dysplasia is a serious enough problem in itself. However, it should not have caused him to be so sick at the end. What you have described, with his head pressing into the furniture is often a sign of a serious liver problem. There are many different kinds of liver problems (including cancers) so it would be hard to say exactly what the problem would be.

At this point, any guesses on what was causing Charlie Jack to be sick would be just that...guesses. What I would take solace in though is the fact that the shelter vet also deemed it necessary to euthanize him. If they felt that there was a chance for him to recover, then they likely would not have gone ahead with the euthanasia but would have treated him.

I'm so sorry for your loss. It does sound like you made the right decision.

Dr. Marie.

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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. 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:

Dr. Marie,
Thank you for your quick response to my long email! It has been getting a little easier these past days as I am beginning to accept I did everything possible for “Charlie Jack.” However, it angers me that a young dog had to die at such a young age as it was not expected. For this reason, I believe this experience has made me a better person and a better dog owner! I currently have a Lhasa apso who is eight years old and she has been healthy for all these years. “Lucy” has been doing okay since the loss of her buddy “Charlie Jack” and I have made sure she is getting extra attention and I believe she will be alright as well. I have had many animals in my lifetime and for some reason, Charlie Jack really touched my heart and I will always carry his memory with me.

Thanks again,

On a personal note, my oldest child died at three years of age of cancer and he was ill for two years. This experience with Charlie Jack really stirred up some old feelings regarding my situation that I went through during my son’s illness twenty four years ago. A lot of anger, sadness and guilt feelings, came to the surface in taking care of Charlie Jack during the last weeks of his life. In addition, I had a difficult time in accepting that a young animal could get cancer, as a child. However, today is a better day and I still believe I did the right thing in regards to Charlie Jack.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh Kathleen. I'm so sorry to hear about your son. Sometimes life is so unfair.

While the majority of animals I euthanize are older, I do often get young ones that die way too early. Just last week I had a 6 year old dog who was healthy one day and sick the next. It turned out he had a horrible pancreatic tumor and was euthanized within 2 days.

When things like this happen it's no one's fault. It is definitely very sad though.

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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.