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When to put down older dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: Lab Border Collie
Age: More than 15 ye
I know my dog is on the way out, she has cataracts, hearing is dim, legs are shaky, springs are shot and gaskets are leaky, and has lost a lot of weight in the last year.
She is ravenously hungry (as always) but more so now. But she will throw quite often and her stool is softer than it has been.
I know she is old and on her last legs, I don't need a test for this. I want to know how to tell if she is comfortable.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Aw, sorry to hear that Kip is not doing well. I help people with decisions like this all the time and although it's never easy, I can give you a few criteria to help make your decision.

First of all, if it is at all possible, it would be a good idea to have your vet do an exam and some basic blood work. I'm wondering, from what you have written, if Kip has diabetes. The ravenous appetite and "leaky gaskets" (does that mean she is urinating in the house?) and cataracts could all be a sign of diabetes.

In my mind, if an animal has diabetes and we are not able or willing to treat her then we really should consider euthanasia.

Here are the other criteria that I look at:

-Is she still eating? In your case, yes she is.

-Do you feel that she is enjoying life more often than not? It's not enough to say, "Well, she chased her ball once last week" or "She still perks up when we mention a car ride". If you feel that for more than 50% of the day she is not a happy girl then I would consider that evidence that it is nearing time to make a decision for euthanasia.

-Are you enjoying having her? This may sound selfish, but it is a valid question. If Kip's health issues are causing you to not enjoy having her then this is not good.

The other question is whether or not she is in pain. And that's a tough one to diagnose. If you feel that she has shaky legs and perhaps some difficulty getting up, then you could talk to the vet about adding a medication such as Metacam, Previcox or Rimadyl to help her quality of life. However, you're not going to be able to do that without an exam and some blood tests.

If she is uncomfortable most of the time and she is not able to go on pain meds then I think we need to consider euthanasia.

With all of that being said, I have found that most of my clients just seem to "know" when it is time. It's like they wake up one day, look at the dog and say, "Enough is enough". It's hard to communicate to people how that happens.

One other thought I tell people is to set some criteria. So, if she is able to slowly go up the stairs, write that down and make note that if she can't complete the stairs then it is time. Or, if she used to play with her ball once a day, you could say, "When she has gone xx days without playing with her ball we know she is not well."

I'm not sure if this has helped. It's such a hard decision to make.

Please let me know if you have more questions.

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. 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:

Kip is on Propalin for her leaky gaskets. She is 17 and sleeps a bunch and likes short walks, she can do two stairs max.

You though she may have diabetes, is there an effective treatment for this disease?
Thanks


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

*If* she has diabetes it is treatable, but it is not what I would call an easy treatment. When dogs have diabetes they always need insulin injections and usually twice a day. They also need regular vet visits and blood tests. It can be expensive. However, I have a lot of clients who successfully manage diabetic dogs.

Another possibility is something called cushing's disease. Cushing's disease is expensive to test for and unfortunately very expensive to treat.

My thought is, though, that if you have a vet visit and some testing done and you find out that she she has a serious condition, then this may make the decision for euthanasia a little bit easier to make.



Customer reply:

One other question, often her breathing is quite laboured even though she has just been resting, any guesses?

Thanks
Doug


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Laboured breathing can mean a number of things. It is something that fits quite well with Cushing's disease. It can also be a sign of pain (i.e. possibly from arthritis issues). There are a number of other possibilities as well but those are the two most likely.

The laboured breathing can be part of your decision making as well. Laboured breathing is not comfortable, so if she is doing this most of the time it's a sign that the time is near.



Customer reply:

thank you for the information, nice service you have.


Doug


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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.