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This is my first pet in six? years that I've had to make the call. Guinea pig, older that has a (probable) malignant jaw mass, slow growing. I opted last year (last Oct-Nov, so its been almost a year) to not remove the mass, because vet said it would have required scraping up against his jaw, too firm to aspirate for biopsy, no guarantee it wouldnt grow back or metastasize, ect. I struggled with that decision too, for weeks (I think there is a thread here about it) but after polling almost all the animal people and vets I work with there wasn't a single one that said they would do it, given his age, difficult recovery,ect BUT mostly the fact that he was pain free and asymptomatic from a behavior standpoint- still chewed on the bars of his C&C cage, ate the same, same activity level, ect. If he had been in pain I wouldnt have had a choice, I would have had to do the surgery.

He has been pain free and asymptomatic for this long- 10-11 months? I knew this point would come, in the last two weeks he's stopped eating veggies, even finely chopped. Moves less than he used to, though he is still eating pellets and hay (have made changes to the cage layout and feeding schedule along the way) and has lost an ounce or two in the last (month?) but is still in decent body condition for a pig his age. I started metacam this week (vet mentioned it as an end of life thing) but haven't been home to really observe if its making a difference, though I'm finally off tomorrow and am going to try to spend more time near him and see.

I dont know when to do it. I just feel so, so bad. My last pet, six years ago was my heart rat. She had surgery to remove a tumor as well when she was older. It was a hard surgery and hard recovery and it bought her about 6 more months before it grew back and we had to euthanize but I've always wondered if she would have rather not had the surgery and just had a few less months. My mom ended up having to bring her in for the euthanasia, I couldn't bring myself to do it. And now of course mom isnt here, and I just dont know what to do or when. Or how long to wait. I dont want him to deteriorate, I originally said a year ago I was going to do it when his quality of life finally changed, behavior changed, stopped being able to really eat his favorite veggies.

But thats now. Pain is so much harder to gauge in the small guys that I'm just torn. I dont want to wait until he is wasting away and in obvious mass amounts of pain, but it seems almost criminal to do it before that point.

I can make these sorts of decisions at work and rationalize them and be objective. I just can't find it in me to do the same for my poor piggy, and I feel so bad. Any thoughts or input is appreciated.
 

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What I tell people dealing with this with dogs and cats. Pick 3 things your dog/cat loves to do. When that pet no longer does these 3 things, your pet is telling you it is time. As long as the pet is eating and not becoming thin and still getting around, I say it is not time. I have had to make this decision quite a bit in the last couple of years. It is also what you can and can not handle. I am not saying this to you but when you start getting mad at your pet for age related stuff for the sake of the pet, it is time. I am sorry you are going through this.
 

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I'm sorry to hear your pet isn't doing well :( When to euthanize is a really difficult decision to make.

If your pet has reached the point that his behavior has changed, he is lethargic and he cannot eat his favorite foods, I think that it is time. An animal has to be in a rather significant amount of pain to stop it from eating, so I would say that your guinea pig is definitely giving you signs that he is suffering.

I understand the idea that it seems criminal to make the decision "too soon". When I had to make those choices for my dog who had osteosarcoma and was in a lot of pain, I thought that way, a little, too. The whole "what if he has another few good days left in him?" thought process. But the thing is, even IF he had good days left, they weren't going to outnumber the bad. And I realize that I was keeping him alive for me, and not for him. He was terminal. Two more weeks one way or the other doesn't matter to an animal - they don't know the difference, and they don't understand why they're suffering. It matters to humans, because we understand the finality of death.

In my opinion, it's better to make the decision slightly "too soon" versus slightly late, when your pet is in horrendous pain and you're rushing to the vet because you can't stand to see him suffer any longer. I think that allowing him to leave with dignity and while feeling mildly well is the much better choice.

My sympathies, and I wish you the best through this really difficult time.
 

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I am so sorry you are going through this. It's heartbreaking. :(

When my elderly guinea pig stopped eating her vegetables a year ago, I knew it was time. I will not wait until an animal is in constant pain to send it over the rainbow bridge. I have a relative who has put a number of her animals through utter hell because she cannot bear to put them down. It enrages me. Growing up watching that has made me extra sensitive to knowing when to make the decision to set my animals free.
 

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So sorry it's come to the time where you have to make this difficult decisions.

I've been in a nearly identical situation when my 6.5 year old guinea pig developed a mammary tumor. Considering his age and how difficult it is for piggies to recover from surgeries, I opted to let it be until his behavior changed. For about 6 months he was his normal self, but then he stopped wanting to eat or move around as much and we had to let him go. He was 7 at the time and I thought he had lived a great life, and in the end was happy to have not allowed him to suffer through a surgery and potential complications.

My thoughts are with you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone. The metacam really really did make a difference in his behavior today- ate a lot of greens and was very alert. I texted our vet at work and am going to talk to her this week to see if she has any reccs for house calls in the area, as I would really like to do that for him vs loading him up in a carrier and having to make the 45 minute car trip to the other end of town as his last memory. I read up on the latest AVMA guidelines and it looks like they're saying definitively now that the sedative and IP overdose is preferable to the iso so hopefully a house call would be possible- I've only ever been present for IP's on my foster kitten and a neonatal pup but both were peaceful and it sounds like they can achieve that with the sedative first even without them being moribund.

Thanks for all the thoughts, I really appreciate them.
 

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Just wanted to send you love and hugs! We had four lovely piggy boys and lost them between ages 4 ½ and 5 ½. We helped one pass as he was just wasting away (Diego such a good boy). And the other three went on their own. Poor sweeties. They are fun little buddies.
(((((Hugs)))))
 
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