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Hey everyone.

So we have been struggling to help our little Claire-Bear fight distemper for a couple of weeks now. I'm going to describe the situation we are in now and basically I want to know what you would do in our shoes; put her to sleep or keep trying. We're really torn at what the right thing to do is.

Clairebear is about 6 months old, a small-medium sized mutt, and has been through a lot already. She came down with Parvo virus when she was 4 months old, just days before we were going to get her vaccines. She was a strong little girl, though. She was in veterinary confinement for about 4 days and steadily improved while she was there until finally we were able to bring her home.

We were supposed to return in 2 weeks or so to have her vaccines done. But then, another horror happened. Someone left rat poison in the house, thinking it was in a location that Claire could not access. They were wrong, and Claire ate some. This battle was far worse and longer than the parvo battle. Initially, as soon as we were aware she'd ingested it, she was rushed to the vet and given the antidote. We hoped that would be the end of it, but it wasn't. It was a slow release poison, and even though she seemed to be getting better, after about a week she suddenly took a sharp turn for the worse again. We had to bring in one of our other dogs, Buster, to give her a blood transfusion. After a couple weeks in confinement at the vet again, with us visiting every day and waiting for the phone call to tell us she had passed, she miraculously recovered and we took her home.

After the poison incident, we were to wait another 2 weeks to let her system recover and then take her in for her vaccinations, finally. We did, and we successfully had her vaccinated. However, exactly two weeks later, she started exhibiting the twitching symptoms that are associated with neuro-distemper. We knew nothing about distemper before this, but rushed her back to the vet once again as soon as we knew something was wrong.

Claire-bear was given a blood test and confirmed to have distemper, despite the vaccination. The vet's theory is that she had been exposed at some point before the vaccine was given, and that the vaccine masked the early symptoms as she hadn't been sneezing, coughing, or anything like that. There was no indication of the virus until it was already neurological.

Since then, we have been doing everything we can to fight the virus. She's on various immunity boosters and an IV drip at home. She has been steadily declining, though. We had the NDV spinal tap done as our last hope for her recovery. That was done 6 days ago, and there have still been no signs of improvement.

Here's the condition she is in: She cannot walk or stand. She cannot eat on her own, we have been syringe feeding her canned dog food mixed with cerelac, supplements and water for over a week now as it's been a long time since she ate on her own. She cannot even get up to pee, she just wets herself and we clean her up afterwards. I don't believe she has pooped in 5 days or so, which is just another worry in the back of our mind. She was having head seizures multiple times daily but since we put her on anti-seizure meds, those have stopped at least. Just the constant twitching remains.

Obviously, her quality of life right now is wretched. We cannot tell if she is in pain, though, she doesn't cry or whimper. She just lays there, all but lifeless.

At what point do we stop hoping and view death as mercy? We have never ever had to put any pet to sleep before, so this is a very foreign and heavy decision that we are being forced to face. It's difficult, too, because there are three of us in the decision making and we all have different views on what should be done. I look into her eyes and feel her misery and know that I would not want to be kept alive in this state. I view having her PTS as a merciful choice, although I'm still scared it might be the wrong one. There's still a part of me that is grasping at the hope of her recovering. My husband is sort of middle ground. He understands that it's the merciful thing to do, but he doesn't have the strength to see it through. He wants to wait at least another week before we put it to serious consideration. My mother-in-law(whom we live with and who is just as invested in little Claire as we are) refuses to give up hope and I don't know how we'd be able to make her see PTS at an option, so that's a whole other burden to tackle if we make that choice.

We will be going back to the vet this weekend to have the IV replaced again. Her leg was swelling so we had to remove it for the time being. We're planning to ask the doc then what her recommendation is. She's been nothing but supportive during this whole trauma and, while being honest with us about the odds of survival and not giving false hope, she has never once mentioned the idea of having Claire put to sleep or anything so we don't know where she stands on that yet either.

In our situation, what would you do? We know her chances are virtually nonexistent, but it's so hard to just give up, especially after everything we've been through with her already and the miraculous recoveries that she had twice already.
 

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Here's the condition she is in: She cannot walk or stand. She cannot eat on her own, we have been syringe feeding her canned dog food mixed with cerelac, supplements and water for over a week now as it's been a long time since she ate on her own. She cannot even get up to pee, she just wets herself and we clean her up afterwards. I don't believe she has pooped in 5 days or so, which is just another worry in the back of our mind. She was having head seizures multiple times daily but since we put her on anti-seizure meds, those have stopped at least. Just the constant twitching remains.

Obviously, her quality of life right now is wretched. We cannot tell if she is in pain, though, she doesn't cry or whimper. She just lays there, all but lifeless.

At what point do we stop hoping and view death as mercy? We have never ever had to put any pet to sleep before, so this is a very foreign and heavy decision that we are being forced to face.

*snip*

In our situation, what would you do? We know her chances are virtually nonexistent, but it's so hard to just give up, especially after everything we've been through with her already and the miraculous recoveries that she had twice already.
Having recently lost a young dog, I can tell you that in a similar situation to yours, I finally decided that it was my job to suffer more so that my dog could suffer less. He had already gone through a major surgery and chemotherapy. Just like you guys with your pup, my dog and I went through a lot together and it did sort of feel like I was giving up. I could have amputated my dog's leg, put him through another major surgery and kept him around for a bit longer, but who would that have been for? Me or him? The answer is that it would have been for me.

It sounds like you guys have done everything you can for your puppy. From what you have described in bold above, hers is just absolutely no condition for a dog (or any creature) to live in. Sometimes it's hard to think this way, but just because we *can* keep them alive doesn't mean we *should* keep them alive.

It may be hard to hear it, but she is probably suffering. Dogs are conditioned to not show pain and can endure quietly what people cannot.

I wish you luck in making your choice. My choice was to say goodbye to my boy and to end his pain in the only way that was within my power.
 

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I would talk to your vet and see what they recommend. If they think there is a way to continue treatment and have a good outcome as a result - keep it up. If they think you should start thinking about letting her go, they will usually tell you, and it's far easier to feel you made the right choice when you have a medical professional telling you that 'this is how it is' rather than trying to figure out what you should do yourself.
 

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I would talk to your vet and see what they recommend. If they think there is a way to continue treatment and have a good outcome as a result - keep it up. If they think you should start thinking about letting her go, they will usually tell you, and it's far easier to feel you made the right choice when you have a medical professional telling you that 'this is how it is' rather than trying to figure out what you should do yourself.
Yes, should have added something like this in my post. You should ask your vet for their *honest* opinion about her condition, however since you mentioned that you "know her chances are virtually nonexistent", I imagine your vet has told you the odds of survival are slim to none.

I am a bit surprised that your vet has not mentioned the idea of euthanasia, even in passing. When discussing treatment options for my dog, my vet was very up front about euthanasia as a treatment choice. I worry that a vet who avoids even discussing the possibility may not be communicating with you in an entirely realistic manner.
 

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My dog has cancer, and my vet (and myself) are very adamant that we do everything we can for him before euthanasia even becomes an option.

My cat has Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions which has resulted in dental surgery to remove what was supposed to be 5 teeth, however they couldn't remove 2 because they are holding her jaw together. She's also arthritic in her hips and on pain medication as needed.

My husband wanted me to euthanize the cat - I started feeling insecure and thinking that I was keeping her around for my sake and not because she still had a good quality of life - I asked my vet and she straight up told me that if I even scheduled my cat for euthanasia *right now*, she would not let me have her put to sleep.

If your vet is like my vet - s/he will tell you if it's worth continuing the fight.
 

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I am a bit surprised that your vet has not mentioned the idea of euthanasia, even in passing. When discussing treatment options for my dog, my vet was very up front about euthanasia as a treatment choice. I worry that a vet who avoids even discussing the possibility may not be communicating with you in an entirely realistic manner.
I should clear that up; while she hasn't brought up euthanasia at all, we made it very clear from the start that we were willing to do absolutely everything possible to fight for our little girl. Euthanasia was never brought up because we made it clear that we would do anything to avoid losing her, and up until now there has still been other options. The vet has been very realistic in her interactions with us, she's not given us false hope and has been honest with us about the very low chances of survival, especially given Claire's previous trauma. The spinal tap was pretty much our last hope and Claire's best chance, and she told us that if it is going to work, we should see results in 4-7 days. Today is day 6, so when we return to the vet this weekend, I imagine she might finally bring up the possibility of euthanasia herself since there has been no improvement as we'd desperately hoped.

Thanks to you and to everyone for the comments, thoughts, and insights. We've got a lot to think about and I really appreciate having some unbiased perspectives on the matter.
 

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My dog has cancer, and my vet (and myself) are very adamant that we do everything we can for him before euthanasia even becomes an option.

My cat has Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions which has resulted in dental surgery to remove what was supposed to be 5 teeth, however they couldn't remove 2 because they are holding her jaw together. She's also arthritic in her hips and on pain medication as needed.

My husband wanted me to euthanize the cat - I started feeling insecure and thinking that I was keeping her around for my sake and not because she still had a good quality of life - I asked my vet and she straight up told me that if I even scheduled my cat for euthanasia *right now*, she would not let me have her put to sleep.

If your vet is like my vet - s/he will tell you if it's worth continuing the fight.
To each their own, but I'd like to repeat - just because we *can* keep an animal alive doesn't mean we *should* keep an animal alive.

Also, the idea of a veterinarian who won't follow your wishes in regards to the ending of your pet's life due to a chronic illness and pain completely goes against everything I personally believe a good veterinarian should be. Telling you that she wouldn't let you put your cat down when you determined that your cat was suffering... That's not right, in my opinion. Giving you your options and providing you hope and treatment is one thing. Telling you that you can't do something that you determine is for the well-being of your animal is entirely another.

I should clear that up; while she hasn't brought up euthanasia at all, we made it very clear from the start that we were willing to do absolutely everything possible to fight for our little girl. Euthanasia was never brought up because we made it clear that we would do anything to avoid losing her, and up until now there has still been other options. The vet has been very realistic in her interactions with us, she's not given us false hope and has been honest with us about the very low chances of survival, especially given Claire's previous trauma. The spinal tap was pretty much our last hope and Claire's best chance, and she told us that if it is going to work, we should see results in 4-7 days. Today is day 6, so when we return to the vet this weekend, I imagine she might finally bring up the possibility of euthanasia herself since there has been no improvement as we'd desperately hoped.

Thanks to you and to everyone for the comments, thoughts, and insights. We've got a lot to think about and I really appreciate having some unbiased perspectives on the matter.
I think as humans, we need to be careful when we say "everything possible". When my dog was diagnosed with cancer, "everything possible" was on the table. Money was not a consideration (I ended up investing over $12K in his treatment). I made him endure an ulnar ostectomy, endless radiographs, constant blood draws, radiation and chemotherapy. He got horrible pressure sores from his bandages and we were in the vet's office for emergency visits twice a week for two months.

When the cancer reoccurred, I had the option of amputating his leg and putting him through more chemotherapy, all to keep him alive for *maybe* another 4-6 months. I declined. THAT would have been everything possible. But at some point "everything possible" is for the human, not for the dog.

That is an incredibly difficult decision, and I admire you and your family for investing as much time, effort and care as you have into your puppy. I hope she turns the corner and starts coming around. I wish you all the best and am hoping for a positive outcome as the result of your struggles.
 

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If she has a pretty good chance of growing up to be reasonably healthy, I'd keep fighting. It's worth the temporary misery. If there's little chance that she'll survive and/or her quality of life won't be decent if she does, then it's better to end it sooner rather than later. So, yeah, sit your vet down and have an honest discussion about her chances.
 

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Poor puppy, and poor you. In your shoes I would let her go. There are times when death is a better alternative than living in pain. (As true for humans, IMO, as it is for dogs).

If you look at websites etc. directed to the veterinary profession, you'll see that there is a surplus of vets in many areas and many are doing what they can to expand their practices, with strong support from big pharma and the profession. This includes prolonging life even when quality of life is gone. I think the vast majority of vets are animal lovers . . . but the system pressures them to take treatment-intensive routes. Sometimes these are not the best thing for either the dog or the owner.
 

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To each their own, but I'd like to repeat - just because we *can* keep an animal alive doesn't mean we *should* keep an animal alive.

Also, the idea of a veterinarian who won't follow your wishes in regards to the ending of your pet's life due to a chronic illness and pain completely goes against everything I personally believe a good veterinarian should be. Telling you that she wouldn't let you put your cat down when you determined that your cat was suffering... That's not right, in my opinion. Giving you your options and providing you hope and treatment is one thing. Telling you that you can't do something that you determine is for the well-being of your animal is entirely another.
The thing is, the ONLY thing *wrong* with this cat is her dental issues and arthritis. She is COMPLETELY healthy in every other aspect and her problems can be managed with pain medication. Until my husband and mother in law started really getting on me the day she went in for her surgery - that's when I started thinking maybe I was being selfish. I respect what my vet said because all she did was confirm what I had previously believed, that putting a cat down for dental problems isn't necessary. Her quality of life is no different than it was 5 years ago, and she will likely see the age of 15 or older because she's in awesome shape.

If you think your vet just complying with what you decide is a good quality - well to each their own.
I adore the fact that my vet was completely up front in telling me that No, this cat isn't suffering and No, she won't let me put her down when she's completely healthy and otherwise has nothing wrong with her. That tells me she's in this field for the love of animals - not just because she gets paid.

(Sorry OP, but I had to respond to this. Good luck with your journey with your beautiful puppy)
 

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I had a dog that was about 7 mo old that WAS vaccinated, get distemper. Went thru the twitching thing, where he was so fatigued from the muscle contractions he couldn't get up. vet said they don't generally recover from that state, although it was about 18 yrs ago, so maybe they made advances since then. But personally, I wouldn't keep a dog going once they are in that state. the dog doesn't know that they "might" recover some, in the future. They only know that NOW they have no quality of life.
Sending you hugs. It's an awful situation.
 

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I'm really sorry for your pup and your family.

I would ask my vet what he would do if it were his own dog.
 

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If this was my dog, I would end the suffering but it's your decision. I would only say to do what is BEST for the PUP, not the humans.
 
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