How to care for senior almost disabled dog
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Thread: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

  1. #1
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    How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a senior dog that was getting progressively lame. Here I am again, it's been a very long 2 weeks and I hadn't been able to update because we've been so busy caring for our senior pet.

    We have a now 14 year old female Sheltie. Short version, she has had lumbar disc disease and hip dysplasia. She went lame about 2 weeks ago. Vet did steroid treatment and so far it hasn't seemed to be helping much. We discourage any walking and she really can't walk, just dragging her hindquarters. We sling walk her with a towel for toileting. To complicate matters, she had surgery to remove an infected tumor (that turned out to be benign) on her chest a few days before she went lame and earlier this week, the incision came open (after sutures had been removed on Saturday) and vet stapled wound together and we are now having to dress the wound once a day and I keep her ace wrapped lightly to keep gauze in place.

    Mishka is still eating and drinking. She is still very motivated by food and treats. She attempts to get up to follow us around, but is doing that less because she's smart and knows she can't walk.

    One thing I've noticed is that when she lays on her side (particularly her right), she can no longer right herself to sit up. What this means is that if she ends up on her side at any time, but particularly at night, she has to struggle to get up and usually doesn't succeed and we are frequently waking up throughout the night to help her get up and propped up again. She sleeps on the floor up against the bed frame. She used to sleep in a crate we bought for her, but we stopped that because she would thrash about in the crate when she was trying to get up and it was horrible (crate was very adequately sized for her and she could stretch out in it, so it wasn't because it was small).

    Aside from us just being exhausted from not having slept through the night in the last 2weeks, we're worried about how she is during the day. We used to keep her in the crate while we are at work, but we have now made her a spot in our laundry area which allows her to not feel so confined, but yet confine her and she is propped up against the washing machine.

    She can sit up for short periods sometimes and she can lay in a curled position without being propped up, so it's not like she will fall over all the time, but she will particularly if on her right side. I will try to post some pictures if I can figure that out.

    My question is: how can we make this easier on her and on us? I'm worried about her being stuck when we're not at home and her struggling. Is there an easier way to care for a disabled dog? I am seriously contemplating getting her a wheelchair even if she only uses it for toileting because it's getting harder and harder to sling walk her.

    We thought we were going to have to put her down, but she is still eating and drinking and that makes the decision so hard, but caring for a dog like this isn't easy as well, but I want to do right by her and will continue to do so.

    Thanks for all your help.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member InkedMarie's Avatar
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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    I'm a sheltie person so your post hits close to home. A couple years so, we had to put down our 14-15 ish year old sheltie. Her issues weren't bad bad as your dogs but *we* couldn't let it get worse. I feel your pain but reading what you've said, it may be time to think about her quality of life. Being propped up, not bing able to right herself etc doesn't sound like a high quality of life, to me. I wish you peace in your decision.

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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Thank you for your response. It IS so hard. She is doing well this afternoon. She sleeps most of the time and looks so peaceful. I feel like she could just go on forever. She only has trouble righting herself when she lays completely on her right side, she can lay down and doesn't necessarily need to be completely propped up, but I do it so she doesn't lay down on her side and end up not being able to get up.

    We talked about euthanasia today and her quality of life, but it's so hard when she looks okay. But who knows what the week will bring. We are finishing up 2 weeks of this and entering our 3rd week.

    I hope she will start telling me what she wants me to do.

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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Here she is sleeping yesterday


    This is her laying on her carpet with her bandages

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    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    I'm really sorry you are going through this, but you need to ask yourself if you are willing to allow your dog to have no dignity or quality of life. Dogs KNOW when they can't get up/move. I seriously wonder if you are keeping her alive for you or for her. I have no doubt that you do love her dearly. But you need to realize that keeping her around so you won't feel the pain of her loss, is selfish.

    There's a saying "Better a week too soon than a day too late". It's a very valid thought, as most people, if they really think about it, would not want their dog suffering just so the owners don't have to make a euth decision.

    This probably came across harsher than intended. My heart breaks for you, because I've been in your position several times, even right down to having a dog that loved to eat, but he couldn't get up. The idea of him stuck/struggling while I was gone, made me take him to the vet and have him put down. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, because his mind was all there, his appetite was there, but he couldn't get up, and he would fall down outside, and we have 110 degree temps. It worried me that he might die of heat stroke which is a horrible way to go. And he would poop when he was down and struggling, and he looked ashamed. I couldn't let him be robbed of his dignity, and have him suffer because of my reluctance to make myself have horrible pain due to his loss. But I did it for him.
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    Senior Member InkedMarie's Avatar
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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    She is just beautiful. She does not look 14. I want to kiss her face. If you look in my avatar, that is another sheltie who left us in 2010. He got sick with something crappy and was gone in a month. The other one I mentioned earlier actually told me it was time. She came to me at 43.7lbs, was just 14" tall and had bilateral hip dysplasia as well. The day I called the vet, she fell four times just getting to the door, turned around and looked at me. I knew. Sometimes, they are so stoic they won't tell you and you have to make the decision. The sheltie in my avatar is almost 10yrs old and we just got her 6 weeks ago. Im really sorry. We choose to adopt senior dogs so I've had to make that choice more than the average person and it's not easy. It's especially hard for me because shelties are my breed. Please know I'm thinking of you. Smooch her for me.

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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Quote Originally Posted by spotted nikes View Post
    I'm really sorry you are going through this, but you need to ask yourself if you are willing to allow your dog to have no dignity or quality of life. Dogs KNOW when they can't get up/move. I seriously wonder if you are keeping her alive for you or for her. I have no doubt that you do love her dearly. But you need to realize that keeping her around so you won't feel the pain of her loss, is selfish.

    There's a saying "Better a week too soon than a day too late". It's a very valid thought, as most people, if they really think about it, would not want their dog suffering just so the owners don't have to make a euth decision.

    This probably came across harsher than intended. My heart breaks for you, because I've been in your position several times, even right down to having a dog that loved to eat, but he couldn't get up. The idea of him stuck/struggling while I was gone, made me take him to the vet and have him put down. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, because his mind was all there, his appetite was there, but he couldn't get up, and he would fall down outside, and we have 110 degree temps. It worried me that he might die of heat stroke which is a horrible way to go. And he would poop when he was down and struggling, and he looked ashamed. I couldn't let him be robbed of his dignity, and have him suffer because of my reluctance to make myself have horrible pain due to his loss. But I did it for him.
    I appreciate your opinion. It's not an easy decision and I have asked myself if I'm keeping her alive for her or for me. Trust me, I battle with this every single moment. That's why I posted those pictures because she does look so peaceful and comfortable. As I write this, she has just had dinner and is now with us in the living room, sleeping.

    I do not leave my dog outside, none of my dogs are outside dogs. They live in the house, are treated like family and loved beyond measure.

    Mishka has a place now in the laundry area and is very comfortable, as much as she can be, of course. She can still walk to toilet, albeit with the help of a sling. She tried to get up several times this evening while food was being prepared and ate her entire meal without help. She knows she can't walk, so she doesn't and she certainly sits when she's done toileting.

    She's a smart girl and a fighter, always has been, pigheaded to a fault. If I saw the look, I would do it. She hasn't given me the look and I WANT her to give me the look.

    I came here to ask for advice and I deserve what I get. Quality of life, it's something I ponder seriously. We're taking it one day at time.

    Edited to say: BTW, the moment Mishka does what your dog did, fall down and poop on herself, I will know it's time to say goodbye because you're right, it's about dignity and Mishka is a very dignified dog and I would never put her through that. She is continent right now and is not at that stage yet.

    Edited again to say: I've been chided that I was too aggressive with my response. I'm sorry, emotions are really raw right now and I apologize because I was harsh with my words. I thought about deleting my post, but I'm going to leave it up because those are my raw emotions. But you have a right to your opinion and I did ask for them, so for that, I appreciate it since I did ask for it. I believe her time will come soon.
    Last edited by zeefraug; 03-03-2013 at 08:21 PM.

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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Quote Originally Posted by InkedMarie View Post
    She is just beautiful. She does not look 14. I want to kiss her face. If you look in my avatar, that is another sheltie who left us in 2010. He got sick with something crappy and was gone in a month. The other one I mentioned earlier actually told me it was time. She came to me at 43.7lbs, was just 14" tall and had bilateral hip dysplasia as well. The day I called the vet, she fell four times just getting to the door, turned around and looked at me. I knew. Sometimes, they are so stoic they won't tell you and you have to make the decision. The sheltie in my avatar is almost 10yrs old and we just got her 6 weeks ago. Im really sorry. We choose to adopt senior dogs so I've had to make that choice more than the average person and it's not easy. It's especially hard for me because shelties are my breed. Please know I'm thinking of you. Smooch her for me.
    I will give Mishka a kiss for you! She is a beauty, for sure. I'm not sure how tall she is, never really measured her, but I'm glad to know someone else with a large sheltie. People frequently think she is a collie or that she must not be purebred, but she is and she's always averaged about 30-35 lbs. Your shelties are gorgeous as well (and other cute doggies too). We actually have Mishka and two other babies...Mocha is a poodle mix and is 7 years old and 23 lbs and Quinn is 2 years old and is a Bichon. We got Quinn two years ago for Mocha because we thought Mishka was going to die soon...that was when Mishka started slowing down with her hips and she's still here! We really don't think Mishka will make it through the year. We're just waiting for her to tell us.

    We lost our 18 year old cat last December, it happened within 4 hours and we knew immediately. The next day we got an emergency phone call to come home because my partner's father had collapsed and we lost him 4 days later. So the last few months have been very hard on us. We will likely say good-bye to Mishka soon and we are doing our best by her to keep her comfortable until such time.

    I will give her a cuddle from you. Shelties are my first love breed too. Thank you so much.

  10. #9
    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Your response wasn't harsh or aggressive at all...no need to apologize. Not that it matters, but just for the record, my dogs are all indoor dogs, but we always put doggie doors in for them to a rockwalled back yard. That house had a custom made handicapped ramp to the doggie door from the outside, because Barney (dog I spoke about) couldn't lift his legs up to step up into the house. He would sometimes get up (on carpet) and go out the doggie door, and fall over on the patio and not be able to get up. I would never keep my dogs outside.
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    Senior Member InkedMarie's Avatar
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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Zeefraug: Tucker, my avatar, was 20" tall and 34 lean pounds. He was a blue merle and was mistaken for an aussie. I'm sorry about your cat

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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Mishka - February 26th, 1999 to March 5th, 2013

    We said goodbye to our sweet girl today. She went very peacefully at home in my arms. Mishka was a very stoic and determined soul. The last few weeks have been so hard on her. She would never show you her limitations, she was fiercely independent and she was regal. It was a heartwrenching decision to set her free from her ailments and immobility. In the last few days, she started to move less and less and had to be assisted with everything from toileting, to eating and drinking and even positioning. In the end, we chose to let Mishka go with her dignity. She is now across that Rainbow Bridge, running and jumping like she always loved to do when she could. We miss her so much already, but we know she's waiting for us, along with Sophie Bear and we take comfort in knowing they are together, healthy, happy and whole.

    I just wanted you all to know. I've appreciated all of your kind words of advice. And Marie, I love knowing that Mishka is a "regular" Sheltie! She was 30lbs at the end and I didn't think her fat at all. She was definitely a larger Sheltie....wished I had measured her, but she was definitely not a petite Sheltie at all! Came from Sunburst Shelties in Phoenix Arizona with many Champions....her grandfather was Zion's Man About Town (winner of many Best in Shows) and her father was Sunburst Ladies Oasis Choice, also a champion for many shows...even saw him at Westminster one year where he was the top Sheltie.

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    Senior Member InkedMarie's Avatar
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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Quote Originally Posted by zeefraug View Post
    Mishka - February 26th, 1999 to March 5th, 2013

    We said goodbye to our sweet girl today. She went very peacefully at home in my arms. Mishka was a very stoic and determined soul. The last few weeks have been so hard on her. She would never show you her limitations, she was fiercely independent and she was regal. It was a heartwrenching decision to set her free from her ailments and immobility. In the last few days, she started to move less and less and had to be assisted with everything from toileting, to eating and drinking and even positioning. In the end, we chose to let Mishka go with her dignity. She is now across that Rainbow Bridge, running and jumping like she always loved to do when she could. We miss her so much already, but we know she's waiting for us, along with Sophie Bear and we take comfort in knowing they are together, healthy, happy and whole.

    I just wanted you all to know. I've appreciated all of your kind words of advice. And Marie, I love knowing that Mishka is a "regular" Sheltie! She was 30lbs at the end and I didn't think her fat at all. She was definitely a larger Sheltie....wished I had measured her, but she was definitely not a petite Sheltie at all! Came from Sunburst Shelties in Phoenix Arizona with many Champions....her grandfather was Zion's Man About Town (winner of many Best in Shows) and her father was Sunburst Ladies Oasis Choice, also a champion for many shows...even saw him at Westminster one year where he was the top Sheltie.
    Even though I think you did the right thing for Mishka, I know how painful that decision was to make. I've been wondering how she, and you, were doing. I'm quite sure my three shelties were waiting at the bridge for her. Tucker especially never met a stranger, human or dog and I'm sure he was happy to see her. In time, your pain will lessen a bit but you'll never forget her. Thank you for doing what was best for her. {{{Zeefraug}}}

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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Aahh..so sad...
    Hope your pain eases with the happy memories of your beloved pet!

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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    Sending Hugs. I know how hard that was for you. Also sending prayers for strength for you, and that time will replace tears, with happy memories. She was a lucky dog to be so well loved.
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    Senior Member hanksimon's Avatar
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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    So sorry for your loss. I know it was hard, but you handled it thoughtfully and kindly. And, I think it feels just a little better when you know that it's time and can send them off with dignity.

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    Re: How to care for senior almost disabled dog

    So sorry for you loss. I have had to make that hard decision several times and it was never easy. Mishka was a beautiful dog and she was lucky to have you to look out for her and care for her. RIP pretty girl.

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