This is a sad story, but true. I have an 11-year old West Highland Terrier named Abigail. She developed rheumatoid arthritis about a year ago and it has progressed to the stage where she cannot walk. She takes medication (when she needs it) I have to help her, take her outside, bathe her, etc. Despite all of this, she has a healthy appetite, has a wonderful spirit, gets along with everyone, and of course, loves attention. She is a beautiful dog. Sometimes I feel like I am doing her an injustice by allowing her to exist this way. This quality of life is sometimes viewed by others are cruel and inhumane. I just can't bear losing her, but I don't want her to suffer. My veterinarian told me that it was my decision, ultimately. I would like some opinions on this, please!
In this post you say Abigail's quality of life is good. Does she ever seem to be in pain, or frustrated. She is eating, seems to be happy. Ultimately this is your decison. Take yourself away from the situation (if you can). look at her in a objective perspective. If she is in pain? Than maybe thats not good for her, she'll let you know when the time is right. Quality of life is different for us all, so it would be hard for me to give advice. Enjoy the time you have with her, give her hugs and kisses as she would give you. Good luck in all this.
Doglover2, sorry to hear about your Westies situation. As the vet said, it is ultimately your decision, and a very hard one to make. I think if she was in constant pain that could not be relieved, it would be time. If you ever feel that she has become a burden to you, then it is time. You don't sound like you will ever get to that point. If she is still enjoying being with people and is as active as her body will let her be, then it's not time. I have seen people at our groomers shop that have a pair of 14 year old or so Shih-Tzu's that can't walk, are blind, bottom jaws are gone due to cancer and other problems, and she still drags them in to the groomer. That is an injustice in my opinion. But how do you tell an owner that. These are only my opinions and feelings on the matter. Hopefully you'll know when it's time. ltlgto
Thanks for the kind responses. I still take Abigail to the groomer once a month. They are so good with her and handle her so carefully. We keep her hair short so that its easier to keep her clean between groomings. I feel that she still has a quality of life, a good appetite and attitude towards life in general. But ya'll are right....she will let me know when it's time and I will know it.
My dogs, dachshunds, each have about a 1:4 chance of developing problems with their spinal chords (like all dachshunds). If they were to go down, however- there is NO WAY I'd euthanize them if they were otherwise thriving. Dogs don't feel loss of function the way we do- they're not self conscience or bashful about being "different", they don't mourn the days they were healthier. They simply live each day as well as they can! It sounds like you're doing a great job with her. You're the only one who can make that final decision- and you have to know that you're doing it unselfishly. :) You're a great doggie mom- so many people are too weak to care for their pets when they need them most.
Abigail is having a good day today. She scoots across the floor and it seems like she has no problems at all! She ate a huge breakfast and stayed outside on the patio "sunning" herself for a long time. Now she is taking her nap until it's time for her to eat again. I have to feed her twice a day - not so much at one time. Thanks for all the support from everyone!
I would put my dogs to sleep if they reached a point as to where they were in pain and unable to live happily. If Abigail is still able to move around comfortably and you believe she is still happy then I would wait before doing anything.
These are sites for doggy wheelchairs. One could help abigail out. http://www.bottomsupleash.com/?OVRAW=dog%20wheelchair&OVKEY=dog%20wheel%20chair&OVMTC=standard http://www.doggon.com/products.html http://www.handicappedpets.com/dogkart/index.html
Your vet and everyone that has written to you are right. What you decide is right for you and your dog is the correct cores of action. However your choice would not personally be mine. Maybe it's because of my medical back ground and working in nursing homes for so many years. But I could not let someone (human or pet.) I love suffer just because it would cause me pain to let them go. Weather or not an animal can reason with the whole past or present thing, to me, does not make a difference. I would know how life once was for them. I currently have the mildest form of arthritis. So I can honestly tell you that even though I am still able to get up and walk around and function, it's not fun and it is painful. If my Nanook had arthritis to the point of not being able to get up or walk around the house without my help. (Not that I wouldn't be MORE than willing to help) then I would have to help him end his suffering. No matter how much it hurt me to let him go. (I'm crying just thinking about it) I feel for you. I honestly do. And I'm not trying to make you feel bad. You asked for people’s options. This is mine.
Doglover2, can your Westie use its front legs. Maybe you could look into doggie wheelchairs. I Googled the following and quite a few sites come up. Enter the following in the search box. "dog + cart + mobility" Something to consider. ltlgto
ette, I agree with you regarding the arthritis. I, too, have the mildest form of arthritis (osteoarthritis) and it is painful. It does sadden me to watch Abigail mvoe around. She is in pain sometimes and the medication helps her. But, I know the medication is only temporary. Her front paws are not strong enough to pull her around so the idea of a little wheelchair is not an option. I know it's not long before she has to be put down. It's a sad time.
Oh, I meant to ask... what treatment plan are you following with her? Have you tried alternative medicine- accupuncture in particular? It HAS worked wonders for some dogs- and I'd try it before giving up. What medication is she taking? Is she on Rimadyl? Has her vet talked to you about steroid use at all? Have you tried glucosamine and chondroitin? There are so many different choices out there- especially for a pet who would otherwise be euthanized. Steroids are typically the best to reduce joint swelling- but cause a dog to gain weight and lose joint structure... the reasons why vets like to save them as a last resort.
doglover 2, I can symathize with Abigail. I have had RH for thirty years, and they do not call it the great crippler without reason. I have been taking Glucosamine and Chondroitin, and it has helped some. They do have it for dogs. My son just strated his Rottweiler on it. I don't know about dogs, but when the pain is real bad I have gotten steriod injections. The thing is they will only give those every six months. I have seen dogs with those wheel chairs ltlgto was talking about. I am sure you will make the right decision.
If you think she is not in pain, she is happy, and she still seems to be interested in life, then I would say don't do it. I think you'll know when the time is right, just follow your heart and let Abigail tell you. In the meantime, enjoy every moment with her.
I feel for you, but I can't give an openion. This is for you to decide. I only can tell you, about 10 years ago I had a wirehaired dachshund (12 yrs.). He suddenly stopped eating and we went to the vet. He got x-rays. We found out he had cancer. The cancer was spread all over. Sadly we had to put him to sleep, even though I really didn't want to do it, but I knew it had to be done. That was my first dog. I always will remember him. Anyway I know how you feel. I am really sorry that you have to go through this.