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Is it time to put her down?

Species: Dog
Breed: German Shepherd
Age: 11-15 years
My dog has degenerative myelopathy and is having trouble getting up, moving around and navigating stairs without help. She is also getting many sores and bumps on her feet from dragging and hitting. She's had incontinece problems for a few years now but is on medication (ppa). I've noticed that in the last week or so she seems unable to clean herself anymore and I worry about her getting a urinary infection. I don't want to euthanize her prematurely, but also don't want to put her through suffering. She seems happy for the most part but never really wants to go out anymore. Am I being selfish by not putting her down? When do most people put their dog down in a situation like this?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am sorry that you are having to make this hard decision.

I have seen a number of dogs with advanced degenerative myelopathy and it is often extremely difficult to know when the time is right for euthanasia because the symptoms get worse so gradually.

Unfortunately you have mentioned a couple of things that have me concerned. If she is starting to get sores on her then this is not a good sign. Even though she is not complaining about these sores, they have to be uncomfortable. Dogs will do everything they can to hide their pain.

Also, the fact that she doesn't want to go out is worrisome as well.

Ultimately, you are the only one who can make this decision, but from what you have told me, the time is likely very soon if not now.

I'm very sorry.

Dr. Marie

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---


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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.