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Hip Arthritis. Euthanasia?

Species: Dog
Breed: German Shepherd
Age: 8-11 years
Hi Myself and my boyfriend have a complicated problem with no good answer. Our 9 year old German Shepherd Havoc (who we love like a son) rear hips are completely shot. We have spent thousands on stem cell, acupuncture, adaquan injections etc etc. Everything but hip replacements which we can't afford (and might even be to late to do). Two months ago he was put on 10mg twice a day of prednisone as a last resort. Along with tramadol (up to 3 50mg 3 times a day). He really can't walk at all now. He stumbles and falls over. We have to help him get around so he doesn't hurt himself. Among other side effects like hunger, thirst, insomia, panting. He has now recently developed bloody stools from the prednisone. We rushed him into our vet. From how much of a downgrade in his ability to walk since our last visit. Our vet was worried about a spinal tumor or prostate cancer. Havoc was negative on both after x rays. Havoc also has as of this trip a right front leg elbow which is puffy and seemed larger then the other elbows bone. X rays on that confirmed it's arthritic. Our vet put Havoc on metacam (with the tramadol). Our vet has told us in a real short time Havoc wont have any use of his rear legs. We are considering putting Havoc down based on the pain he has from the hips. We have had experience with a Degenerative Mylopathy German Shepherd. He lived over a year and a half not being able to walk at all. We can handle a pet with a disability and no pain like with DM. One who can't walk and is in constant pain we can't. Our question is is it possible to give us a rough idea what the pain from our dogs hips would be. We are seeking as many opinions as possible. We realize you can't comment 100% on our specific dog as he isn't your patient. But a dog in general with these problems. How much pain would he in?? A plus is no side effects from the pred. But the pain is the worry. Thank You


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh my goodness. Havoc has a lot of serious issues.

You are right that I can't assess Havoc's pain without seeing him but as I read your post all I could think is "Oh, this poor dog".

As you know, degenerative myelopathy is not painful. But, it sounds like this is more than degenerative myelopathy. Plus, if he has a puffy elbow then this is another source of pain.

It is always very hard to make the decision for euthanasia in a case like this because it's not like Havoc was totally happy and healthy yesterday and then painful today. The slide has probably been quite gradual.

From what you have told me I would say that euthansia is a very valid option for Havoc. It sounds like you have tried almost everything.

Now, *if* you wanted to try one more thing you could ask your vet about the possibility of a surgery called hip dennervation. An orthopedic surgeon would need to do this but it would not be as expensive as a hip replacement. Dogs with hip arthritis can do very well after dennervation surgery. BUT, this doesn't address the elbow pain and the other potential issues.

Dogs will do everything they can to hide their pain. It really does sound like pain is an issue here.

I don't envy you your decision, but if this were my dog I would likely be leaning towards euthanasia.

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.

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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.