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Should I have euthanized?

Species: Dog
Breed: Fox terrier mix
Age: More than 15 ye
We put my dog Kyra to sleep yesterday and I am struggling with the decision. Here are the facts leading up to this... She is 16 years old. For 2 or 3 years we have been giving her 75 mg of Rimaadyl per day for arthritic neck pain. If we don't do this, within 4 days she develops a high fever (106 typically) and will not move. She just lays in her bed and shivers. This has happened twice in which both times we had to take her to the ER to bring her fever down quickly. We were told she will have to remain on Rimadyl indefinately, which may cause serious side effects, such as kidney failure, however due to her age, it is a trade off to keep her comfortable. She always seems like she is in arthritic pain. She drinks a lot of water. On Friday she had terrible foamy bloody diarreah. This happened for 3 days. Her water consumption increased significantly and she wanted water constantly. She seemed very aggitated and in pain. She was aggresively licking my other dog, pacing or drinking. She just wouldn't settle down. After 3 days of this we decided we just didn't want her to be in pain any more. I had made up my mind it was kidney failure. Yesterday we went in to the vet to put her down and he felt her stomach and said he didn't think she had kidney failure. This little bit of doubt changed things for me, but my husband still strongly felt like we should put her down due to her level of pain. We stayed with her while this was happening. Now I am so consumed with guilt that I feel like I need to know that she was seriously ill, or else I made a huge mistake. Rationally I know she was in pain and probably wouldn't have lived much longer, but I'm still feeling so guilty. Based on what I have told you, do you think it sounds like kidney failure?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm so sorry to hear about Kyra. It's never easy to lose a pet.

The first thing that stood out to me when I read your question was that Kyra was 16 years old. There are not many dogs who will live longer than 16. If I had a 16 year old dog in my clinic with symptoms of dramatically increased thirst and bloody diarrhea I would be preparing owners that there is probably a life threatening disease process happening.

You can't determine whether a dog is in kidney failure by just feeling their stomach. Tests would need to be done.

Obviously, we will never know what was causing her symptoms. I probably would have suggested doing some blood tests to be sure, but I would also be very surprised if the results showed something that was treatable.

I'd like to also comment that long term Rimadyl is not as scary as you have described. I have many patients on long term NSAID use (including Rimadyl) and I would not say that they are at risk for a shorter lifespan. We'll never know if the Rimadyl contributed to Kyra's death, but my guess is that at 16, she had lived her full life and her body was shutting down. Whether it was kidney failure, liver failure or something else doesn't really matter.

I think that you made the right decision. In hindsight, doing some blood tests may have helped you to feel better about this decision. But again, from what you have described, the chances that something fixable was found on the bloodwork are very small. It would not have been right to keep her going in the state that she was in. Euthanasia was a kind decision for her.

I am so sorry for your loss.

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.