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Lovelocke's avatar

My puppy's going to the vet for his legs today... a follow-up question/story.

Asked by Lovelocke (1609points) September 17th, 2008

Previously I had asked if anyone remembered the name of the “drop” that helps older dogs with joint pain and I got a few replies: Mainly they were “take him to the vet”. Good advice, but I don’t have a lot of money for “a lot of possible fixes”.

He used to have a five-foot standing vertical leap. He used to run full speed. He used to stand on his hind legs to grab dog biscuits.

This morning: He couldn’t rise up to his feet. His back legs wouldn’t hold him up, and he tried his hardest. He had this look on his face like he was ashamed of himself… his eyes looked away from me, he turned his head away slightly… tail tucked between the legs.

I sat down on the floor beside him and began to pet him softly. He shook a little bit, and tried again. I helped him “only enough” to get him upright. He walked slowly through the house and outside (to the backyard… he’s outside during the day, inside at night). He looked around a bit, drank some water while I went for his food. After I fed him and pet him a little more, I went into the house and just about died on the inside.

It hurt me so much to see my dog like that. Hell, it hurts now… I haven’t dressed myself properly yet, I haven’t bathed, and I haven’t eaten… in fact, I feel like I may throw up before the day’s out.

I’ve made an appointment with the vet for 5 o’clock today, and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get there. The doggie’s already 13 years old, and I really don’t want him hooked up on a ton of medicine… y’know, “Many possible options”.

As sorry as it sounds, I almost have myself convinced that if they say he needs a couple of surgeries and this expensive medicine for the rest of his life, that I should option to just… y’know… put an end to it.

But I’d feel like such a betrayer if I did that. He’s my first and only dog, and while I feel I’ve done good, today I just feel like I didn’t do good enough. I feel like such a bastard and I don’t know why. I feel very emotionally wrecked right now… I look out at the dog outside and he’s just laying out in the grass. There’s a difference in the way he’s walking and acting today from the way he was just last night… I don’t know how to explain it. The day itself is just very bleak…

Now, because I guess I need a “question” in order to meet Fluther’s approval, here they are:

1) Is it wrong to not want your dog hooked on medicine just to be able to walk?
2) Is it wrong, then, to elect to put him to rest?
3) Is this the kind of thinking I should have?
4) Will I be able to forgive myself?
5) Would he ever forgive me?

This is maybe… the second or third time in my life I’ve had such a sorry feeling… and I’m unable to think about how to deal with it.

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22 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

So sad. All I can say is put your dog’s best interest first. My cay takes 3 pills and a liquid twice a day to keep her alive (she has Restrictive Cardiomyopathy sp?). She hates it, but she’s 7 years old and still a frisky kitty. If medication helps, and you can afford it, I don’t see a problem. The only way I’d consider putting a pet to sleep is if there was nothing to be done, and my pet was in pain and living a hard life.

See what the vet says. You are not a horrible person; you obviously love your dog. It’s good that you’re so conflicted, it shows how much you want to do what’s best for him.

Let us know.

nikipedia's avatar

You clearly love your dog very much and he is very lucky to have had an owner like you. I know that you’ll do what’s best for him, and none of us could ever hope for anything more.

Before you get too crazy bumming yourself out, though, wait and see what the vet says. Best wishes.

trudacia's avatar

I had a dalmatian with the same exact problem. We tried medicine, and it helped slightly but he was never the same happy dog. We eventually had to let him go. I cried for a week. So:
1) Not wrong at all. People mainly do this for selfish reasons (because they are not ready to let go)
2) No. He will be at peace. I got all teary when you explained how your dog looked at you this morning. I know that look. It breaks my heart!
4) There’s nothing to forgive. You will do what’s best for him no matter what it is.
5) See number 4.

Good luck! Perhaps the vet will have some good news.

syz's avatar

Considering his age, I strongly suspect that what you are dealing with is arthritis. There aren’t any expensive surgeries if that’s the case (well, artificial hip replacement is available, but not widely used).

Don’t get ahead of yourself – let them take some radiographs and go from there. If it arthritis, there’s nothing wrong with using medication to control his pain. It’s no more invasive than people with any type of chronic health problem (high blood pressure, whatever) taking daily meds.

If it does happen to be bad news (cancer), then that is the time to start thinking about quality of life issues. The most common error is to base a euthanasia decision on your own wants and needs (I’ve done it myself). Think about it from the animal’s point of view: is he in pain occasionally or all the time, does he have goods days and if so, how many, is he eating well and able to get out to use the bathroom?

As long as you base your decision on what’s best for your dog rather than what’s best for you, you cannot make the wrong decision.

marissa's avatar

I have been in your situation with a few of my pets over the years. I can’t tell you how you will feel, if you choose to have him put to sleep, but I can tell you what I felt. My pets are part of my family, when I see them hurting, it hurts me. Every time I have decided that it was in my pet’s best interest to have them put to sleep, I first agonized over the decision as you are now. However, after the decision was made and I went ahead with it, I never regretted it. In my heart, I knew that I had made the right choice. As others have said, see what the vet says and then make your decision. My heart goes out to you.

allengreen's avatar

My brother, my wife and I went through this 3 months ago with our 12 yr old boxer, that was like a child to us. After 1.5 yrs of treatments we put him to sleep. It was very quick and painless. We held him in our arms as he went to sleep. He kissed my wife before laying down his head for the last time. We deeply regret not putting him to sleep sooner and ending his suffering sooner. I know this is hard, tears come to me now still, I miss him and will forever.
Dear friend, it is time to make a tough decision because you love you dog so much, and you do not want him to suffer any more. Please think of his suffering….please have the strength to do what is best for the dog… me and let me know….

augustlan's avatar

Heartbreaking. You will know what to do when the time comes, and your dog will love you for it.

osullivanbr's avatar

Afraid to say I don’t have any advice to give. But I wanted my opportunity wish you every bit of good luck, and my thoughts are with you and your dog. Good luck this afternoon.

You’ve nearly brought me to tears

cak's avatar

LoveLocke – I’m so sorry. I’ve been through this and it is so hard, emotionally. Clearly, you love your dog. They become cherished members of your family – to have to consider this is difficult.

Bottom line, you love him enough to consider all the possibilities. He is looking for relief and looking for your help. Meds are temporary and can cause more complications. I understand that you don’t want him addicted, but overall, you want something to keep in out of pain.

It is such a tough decision, in your heart of hearts, you know what is best. It is a very hard decision, but you will understand when you need to do it. He was telling you this morning where he is and how it hurts. Listen to him and help him. My thoughts are with you.

I have to find a tissue to wipe my tears now.

chyna's avatar

I just went through this with my boxer. She had a massive malignant tumor in her throat. I could’ve opted for surgery plus radiation and or chemo. I asked the vet what her likely hood of survival was, what her quality of life would be and what course my vet would take if it was her pet. I trust my vet though, so not everyone would take this into consideration. You can only make the best decision after hearing what your vet says the diagnosis and prognosis is. My prayers are with you.

allengreen's avatar

mine was a boxer too, smart as a person

chyna's avatar

My boxer was the sweetest animal I have ever had or met. No thanks to me… I rescued her when she was 3, so her personality was already set. My life was better for having known her.

allengreen's avatar

boxers are like furry people, only nicer and smarter and more loyal. I got my dog from a shopping mall in Mazatlan Mexico—he was only 2.5 weeks old, and we though he would not make it without us. He had a tendon repared in his back leg and the plastic implant they used to hold it in place cause cancer of the bone. The effect of the drugs were worst than the cancer….boxer’s are soo cool

Lovelocke's avatar

Update for those keeping tabs.

We went to the doctor today. His official checklist is:

A) Arthritis
B) Muscular Atrophy (Muscles are dead and dying in his legs)
C) Possible spinal issues

Long story short, she gave us some pills that can “help with the pain”. He’s not treatable or curable. After two weeks on the trial of the medicine, if there’s no radical improvement, then the options are to let him live on until he runs out or have him put to sleep.

I’ve been crying all day long. I can’t get that look of shame he made this morning out of my head. The doctor said that his “Quality of Life” at the moment isn’t so hot at the moment… and it’ll only get worse the longer it goes on.

So basically, looks like two weeks for the puppy. I’ll be pretty useless until then.

augustlan's avatar

I’m sorry Lovelocke. Love to you and the pup.

tinyfaery's avatar

So sad. Love him and spoil him as long as you can. Try to focus on his experience instead of your own. If you’re sad, he’ll be sad. I wish I had some magic words to help you, but I’m afraid there aren’t any.

chyna's avatar

lovelocke my heard goes out to you.

osullivanbr's avatar

Just remember. Whatever happens, you always have a community here to help you through this.

chyna's avatar

misspelling: heart

cak's avatar

lovelocke, tinyfaery is right. Love him, spoil him and spend time with him. You and your sweet dog will be in my thoughts.

allengreen's avatar

When he stops playing and stops eating, you will know it is time. He is depending on you to make the right choice at the right time and to minimize his suffering. I say this because I felt really guilty for putting my dog through too much suffering because I was too selfish to say good bye. Hope all is well…...

deaddolly's avatar

i totally agree with allengreen. Very well said.

Best wishes to you. I know how much it hurts.

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