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Hello. My dog is 13, a shepherd mix. She has been losing the ability to walk for well over a year now. She's been on Glucosamine with Chondroitin and Rimadyl for over a year and Gabapentin for about 3 months now. She has had a few seizures tally, but not due to meds. She can only walk about 2-3 feet without falling on any surface. She has an awful cough when she drinks water. She pants a lot (but it's hot here in the desert, so not sure about that) and she sometimes seems like she can't get comfortable. I'm having so much trouble bringing myself to euthanize her. My husband thinks it's too soon. Just looking for a little reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. She seems happy and still has a good appetite.
 

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One thing to remember is that dogs live in the moment. For a human, we'll put up with suffering or other unpleasantness in order to get one more year, one more month, one more day, to do the things we've dreamed of doing and to tie up loose ends. A dog doesn't have plans and doesn't need closure. They just know what they know right now. If that's suffering without hope of improvement, we have a duty as their caretakers to stop that suffering. You need to judge for yourself what her current quality of life is, and make a decision based on that. How much pain or distress does she seem to be in? Does she still get enthusiastic about any of life's little joys?

I'm sorry you and she are going through this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
One thing to remember is that dogs live in the moment. For a human, we'll put up with suffering or other unpleasantness in order to get one more year, one more month, one more day, to do the things we've dreamed of doing and to tie up loose ends. A dog doesn't have plans and doesn't need closure. They just know what they know right now. If that's suffering without hope of improvement, we have a duty as their caretakers to stop that suffering. You need to judge for yourself what her current quality of life is, and make a decision based on that. How much pain or distress does she seem to be in? Does she still get enthusiastic about any of life's little joys?

I'm sorry you and she are going through this.
Thank you for your reply. Although she gets excited about some things, she also shows signs of dimentia and definitely has hearing loss. I feel as if she's struggling everyday and it hurts my heart. I don't want to wait until she can't walk at all and I feel we're very close to seeing that. Quality of life just doesn't seem to be there anymore. Thank you for helping me see that they really do live day to day. There definitely is no hope for improvement. We've done all we can to help her. It's just really hard to say good bye.
 

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Sorry to hear that you are in this difficult situation. It's obvious that you love your dog very much! I believe there was some study or research that shows most owners who have had to make the decision later said that they wish they did it sooner. But it is a deeply personal decision and there is never a strictly right or wrong time to do it.

I know that when I chose to euthanize my dog, due to increasing pain from bone cancer, on the day of the appointment he was still very much himself. He could have gone a few more days, or weeks, or who knows how long... Being able to enjoy basic things that he still enjoyed. But the pain was also obvious and he was on the highest dose of some strong medication to manage that. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. But I don't regret sending him off on a 'happy day' rather than have him live to the point of true suffering. A friend of mine was also in a similar situation, except his old dog sounded more like yours - some seizures and disorientation but no obvious pain. And he held onto his dog much longer than I did mine. We talked about it a lot and both our journeys with our dogs were painstaking, in different ways.

Regardless what you choose, my condolences to you and I hope you make peace with your decisions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sorry to hear that you are in this difficult situation. It's obvious that you love your dog very much! I believe there was some study or research that shows most owners who have had to make the decision later said that they wish they did it sooner. But it is a deeply personal decision and there is never a strictly right or wrong time to do it.

I know that when I chose to euthanize my dog, due to increasing pain from bone cancer, on the day of the appointment he was still very much himself. He could have gone a few more days, or weeks, or who knows how long... Being able to enjoy basic things that he still enjoyed. But the pain was also obvious and he was on the highest dose of some strong medication to manage that. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. But I don't regret sending him off on a 'happy day' rather than have him live to the point of true suffering. A friend of mine was also in a similar situation, except his old dog sounded more like yours - some seizures and disorientation but no obvious pain. And he held onto his dog much longer than I did mine. We talked about it a lot and both our journeys with our dogs were painstaking, in different ways.

Regardless what you choose, my condolences to you and I hope you make peace with your decisions.
Thank you so much for your kind and comforting words.
 

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stbob's answer was perfect, and we can only say what we would do with our own dogs.

For me personally when my dogs lose mobility I lean toward euthanasia. If I feel my dog spends an excessive amount of time struggling to do simple tasks and I can see them thinking about how they are going to do something just to try and fail, it's time. If I had a dog who would rather be at home sleeping on the couch rather than running around on a hike, then maybe my mindset would be different.

If you are waiting for that feeling of being ready, I don't know that it will ever come, it never has for me. I set basic guidelines for myself so I don't have to rely on my feelings in the moment.
 

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My heart goes out to you having to make this decision - it's one of the most difficult parts of having a dog for sure. I can really only say what others have already said, with how most people feel that it's better to make that call before the dog's truly suffering than live with the feeling that you waited too long. If you have a good relationship with your vet, sometimes it helps to ask them straight up "if this were your dog, what would you do?" Their answer can give perspective and closure, knowing that they've seen dogs in all stages of decline and also understand your dog's specific medical issues and needs and how they're impacting her.
 

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Hello. My dog is 13, a shepherd mix. She has been losing the ability to walk for well over a year now. She's been on Glucosamine with Chondroitin and Rimadyl for over a year and Gabapentin for about 3 months now. She has had a few seizures tally, but not due to meds. She can only walk about 2-3 feet without falling on any surface. She has an awful cough when she drinks water. She pants a lot (but it's hot here in the desert, so not sure about that) and she sometimes seems like she can't get comfortable. I'm having so much trouble bringing myself to euthanize her. My husband thinks it's too soon. Just looking for a little reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. She seems happy and still has a good appetite.
Hardest thing to do. Know had to for my last three dogs. Breaks your heart. Care to you.
 

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My heart goes out to you having to make this decision - it's one of the most difficult parts of having a dog for sure. I can really only say what others have already said, with how most people feel that it's better to make that call before the dog's truly suffering than live with the feeling that you waited too long. If you have a good relationship with your vet, sometimes it helps to ask them straight up "if this were your dog, what would you do?" Their answer can give perspective and closure, knowing that they've seen dogs in all stages of decline and also understand your dog's specific medical issues and needs and how they're impacting her.
You are so right that the vet can help. No one wants to put their doggie down but the vet can help to say it’s time.
 
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