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Discussion Starter #1
My boy Nickie, 15 years old shitzu, is really going through a tough time. I my self am 25 and since I got him (on x mas eve) we have been inseparable. I tell people (Who may not understand) he's like my son, and I do everything with him...Everything. This is the first time I have had to make a decision like this and it's tearing me in half. I've been thinking about this for several months and it's really close to the point where I need to make that decision now.

Are Situation:

My boo has arthritis, his back legs are failing, he's been slowing down for about 2 years. Ultrasound and X-rays reveal there is compression in his lower back with one if the discs in his spine. 6 months ago we had to put rugs all over the tile and hardwood floors, and now he falls over a dozen times a day, and it's worsening.
He has upper respiratory problems. Symptoms of Elongated soft palette or collapsing trachea. (and other brachycephalic ariway syndrome symptoms). He has been on prednisone for 3 years for seizures (don't occur often) and I recently upped his dose to 5mg 2X a day = 10mg ... Blood tests show His liver and kidney are starting to go out if whack. We tried lowering the prednisone and that makes his breathing worse.
We have an appointment with a surgeon on Thursday to POSSIBLY have a laryngeal exam. And if they find loose tissue in the throat and elongated soft palette, remove it to allow him to breath better. If the surgeon found Collapsing trachea or laryngeal paralysis, I wouldn't correct that because I feel he wouldn't be able to recover from that.
I love Nickie with all of my heart, I don't want him to suffer, right now he loves life. Loves food, loves seeing the neighbors barking hounds everyday, loves being out side, loves being with me, drinks, eats, poops, pees. (Here comes the But)... BUT with all the trouble he's having I don't know what to do.

Questions:

Should I go through with the exam and the minor surgery? Would you?
Should I enjoy what time I have left with him and have my vet do Home euthanasia?
People say when that time comes you'll know. Ive been dealing with this for several months and still I'm horribly torn between the situation. Please help. What would you do?


Thank you for reading.
 

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You are the only person that can truly answer these questions.
For me, it's all about quality of life.
I put down my childhood cat when she was 15 because her quality of life was completely gone.
She could hardly walk because her hips got so bad, she didn't want to be around anyone etc. etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the reply. I sound redundant but I don't know what to do, if I put him down now I'll feel like I'm killing him, if I have the surgery and something goes wrong, I did that to him, this the hardest thing I've ever had to decided between.

It's gotta be my decision, your right.

However I would still love to hear similar stories of what others have done with their pooches in the same situation.
 

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Thanks for the reply. I sound redundant but I don't know what to do, if I put him down now I'll feel like I'm killing him, if I have the surgery and something goes wrong, I did that to him, this the hardest thing I've ever had to decided between.

It's gotta be my decision, your right.

However I would still love to hear similar stories of what others have done with their pooches in the same situation.
You can't blame yourself for things like that.
"It's just the circle of life," as my 5 year old cousin would say.
The life expectancy for a Shih Tzu is 10-16 years.
So Nickie has lived a good long life.
What's good about euthanasia is that you get the opportunity to say 'good-bye' instead of one day waking up to see your pet has passed on (not knowing how much they suffered before hand). You are by no means killing them.
Surgery at that age is risky, but some pet owners would argue that they want to feel like they did everything they could before their pet passes.
It's not an easy decision.
Best wishes. Nickie is a beautiful dog.
 

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I am facing this dilemma as well with 14 year old Max. A couple times I thought it time to make the big decision then the following day he was dealing well with the latest setback and happy again. Last Monday he had a horrible time getting around though his appetite was great, today he has had many barking fits and has been annoying us all day by BANGING the door bell to go outside and Wednesday he was carrying around toys.

With Sassy I used this chart to better gauge how things were going in spite of watching her move slower and slower each day. If I was being objective [like you everybody thought it was time for her to leave us months before she collapsed] her QOL never came close to the tipping point until the day she collapsed. http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/vet-practice-news-columns/bond-beyond/quality-of-life-scale.aspx
 

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There was thread about this awhile ago and some other posters had some really great questions to ask yourself in these situations. I think some of them were-

Can he do everything he loves to do still?
Does he eat?
Is it difficult for him to do daily activities?

I'm so sorry to hear about Nickie, it's really hard loosing a pet so close to you. It's a hard decision to make, and in the end consider Nickie's situation and quality if life, and try not to hold on longer just for yourself. Which is the hardest part :( because of course you want to be selfish and keep your boy, who you love, with you as long as possible.
 

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I have yet to have to make this decision with a dog, but we had a similar situation last year with my elderly guinea pig. We opted against surgery and he lived another half a year with good quality of life before we had him put to sleep. I'm so sorry you're having to make these calls, it's very difficult and can be heart breaking. We knew when the time was right. Please, what ever you do, don't beat yourself up over your decisions. You are making the best call you can for your sweet dog.
 

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we made the decision last yr- she was blind had an oozing tumor that wouldnt heal, was arthritic-- but for the most part she did her thing( walk out to the yard, nap in the sun, and then back to bed, LOVED to eat)-- that was Life for her. When she quit eating, maggots infected the nonhealing tumor site, she started having seizures, and she got to where she could barely move, then, it was time, life just wasnt fun for her anymore-- Your dog, honestly sounds like he is still responsive, and enjoys life....
Just weigh it from his perspective if he doesnt mind it, let him have more time..
 

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have you considered a dog Chiropractor instead? work really well for back issues.

the other issue. you have to live with the choice in the end. if your not comfortable giving up yet then thats just guilt that will plague you if you make the choice to soon. Your still going to experience guilt but try to make the choice that you can live with. The difference is: looking back and thinking oh if I only tried this or did this MAYBE it would have worked. or Looking back at LEAST I did everything I could for my dear one even though I am sad he is gone.
 

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I am so sorry that you're in this position. It is one of the most difficult things to go through. I had to make the decision one time and it was awful. For me, I knew the time was right because his quality of life was being affected. I came home one day and he couldn't even get outside to go to the bathroom, I had to pick him up and carry him. I knew it was time for him (not me cause I wasn't ready to let him go) when I was sitting on the floor petting him and it was the look he gave me. Like he hurt and he was tired. After I felt horribly guilty, but don't dwell on it. Instead I remember I gave him the best life I could for the time he was with me and if he could thank me he would. I think it's much worse to keep my hairy baby going because I'm not ready.

It's a decision only you are able to make. Have you asked the vet what he would do if it were his dog? Whatever you decide, I'm sure it will be the best decision because you're making it out of love for Nickie. My heart and prayers are with you.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Fade for the thoughts, I feel I need to do everything in my power to keep him with me and happy. Which makes me lean toward the surgery, but it's a risky surgery if something went wrong or he didn't recover I don't know if I could live with that.
 

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Thanks for the reply aero, yeah I asked the vet (several actually) none who gave me a direct answer. It's always the same response (or close to it) "pick 5 things he likes to do everyday, when he can't 3 or more of those his quality of life is sacrificed". Which is good advice, Nickie likes to do 5 out 5 of the things I choose, which are simple things ...Eat, Visit with other dogs, be with me, give kisses, be outside.

But the breathing and walking are holding him back, if his breathing can be fixed with a simple snip of the soft palette and it was guaranteed he would recover I would have the surgery.

I really appreciate the support thank you.
 

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Chican: thank you, I have a lot to think about before Thursday and I will let everyone know what we decide. Chico is Adorable btw. Looks like a little teddy bear! Would love to cuddle up next to him :)

Kathy:thanks for sharing, that's a cool chart too, I can't open it he link right now for some reason but I remember doing this yesterday, and Nickie scored over 35 , so.....
Hope max is having a good day!

Kyndal: thanks, I'll try and find that forum post you suggested, and you're right I don't want to hold onto him for selfish reasons of my own.

Eenypup: The story of your guinea pig gives me hope I could have some more time with him without the surgery. Hanks for sharing.

Bernermax: thanks for sharing and for the advice, I wish it were as simple as letting him have more time. If the breathing surgery worsened his state, I would never forgive myself. Nickie and your girls day to day seem pretty similar :)
 

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If those are current pix, he looks in relative good shape.

Many years ago, I put my 17 yo dog to sleep. He had trouble walking, and one morning, he woke up but didn't want to get up, to eat, or to wag his tail. After I relieved all his pain, I still felt the loss and still felt guilty.... I think everyone does. I don't think that blindness and loss of hearing are an issue. I don't think that arthritis and walking is much of a problem, b/c you can help out with a sling, if needed. Liver and kidney issues concern me, b/c I think that's what was the final straw with my dog. But, you'll know when things are too bad.

It sounds like he is aging, but not really suffering excessively, from his perspective. If it were me, I'd vote for improving his quality of life, not extending his life... so if the Vet looked and said there was a risk, I'd vote for taking him home without the surgery ... that might not improve things.

I assume that you've already made the decision?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for responding, Those are semi-recent pictures taken in the last year. The first picture was taken last week.
Your thoughts are exactly what I was thinking we are leaving in 15 minutes to go have the larengyal exam done. If the surgeon feels comfortable with the surgery and thinks it will improve quality-of-life we will absolutely have it, otherwise It's keeping him comfortable and blastering the AC all summer....hopefully.

I saw your message Brent and Toby Ill get back to you soon :)

I'll keep everyone posted
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ill be posting in segments because I wrote to much..

This Forum has been great, thanks to all the responders. I needed support and you delivered, everyone here has been awesome.
Wednesday Night I went to sleep saying “okay Saturday, that’s the day I have to put my boy down”. I woke up Thursday determined to go to the appointment. After fasting Nickie for 15 hours we went to our 3:00 appointment to see the surgeon. We met with her back on the 14th of March for a laryngeal exam and possible surgery. And after spending a long time answering my questions, she could tell I was extremely nervous about the whole risky situation and determined that Nickie didn’t have to have immediate surgery. We could take the weekend to decide. Well I took the month to decide…
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Nick and I have seen 2 Veterinarians (several visits), 1 internal Medicine, 1 Neurologist (several visits), 1 surgeon (2visits). During these visits over the last 8 months there were several things that were mentioned that could have been causing his breathing problems. As I mentioned in my initial post, they mainly suspected it was problems that are associated with the upper airway that occur rather frequently in most brachycephalic breeds. Elongated soft palette, everted sacules, tonsils, collapsing trachea, laryngeal paralysis (collapse), stenotic nares were ruled out.

Anyways, yesterday, the surgeon and I came to a decision after describing how the breathing is worsening, becoming more labored, shaking sometimes when inhales, the snoring/”hacking”(not coughing) noise, sounds as if it’s getting “deeper”, licking, sticking tongue out a little when sleeping, sleeping patterns and positions. For example when he tries to sleep on his side he almost instantly sits up and exhales quickly through his nose as almost to clear his airway. That was a key sing of Laryngeal Collapse. Knowing this is a progressive, terminal disease I opted against surgery. We could have done a tie back on one side of his larynx and a mesh in his trachea to keep the hardening cartilage from closing more. A pretty serious surgery for Nickie, she recommend to not even have the laryngeal exam. She was afraid even the slightest use of anesthesia would worsen his neurological problems in his back and would most likely be best if we didn’t pursue any treatment. Since clearly back surgery was immediately ruled out when we first saw the neurologist, I didn’t argue this. We took more xrays to see if he was aspirating, which I was happy to find out no he wasn’t.
 
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