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Question
Posted by: Beth | 2006/07/29

Terminal ill dog

Dear Dr
1. My Maltese of 12 years is terminally ill with a lymphoblastic tumour in the chest cavity that occupies about 75% of the chest. He only has a little bit of lung left but you won't say it if you saw him. He eats well, seems happy and energetic, but he can't bark anymore and he gets very short of breath with any physical activities - even greeting us with vigour as usual is causing coughing and wheezing. We love him to bits and would not want to end his life until it is really necessary. But we don't want him to suffer - how would I know that it is better to end his life? He is already breathing using his stomach muscles but does not seem to be uncomfortable.
Secondly - his mate - who is 14 years old, also a Maltese, has had Addisons disease for the past 2 years. She is managed on Flurinef and 1/4 prednisone per day but has hepatomegaly and a very knobbly liver - sonar does not show any tumours. We thought that it may be better if we put both to sleep when the time comes as they are very fond of each other and would really mourn each other. It is such a difficult decision to make! Please advise?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

I am really sorry to hear about your friends. Our pets are living longer and so they are developing diseases of older animals. When I am confronted with questions like the one you have posed I ask another question in reply: when it comes to terminally ill patients, who is benefititng from them being kept alive. If the pet is benefitting then that is fine as long as the benefit is real. If we keep terminally ill animals alive for our benefit, is it fair on the animal? I am sure that you have both your pets best interest at heart, that's why you asked the question. In my opinion and experience the owner of the pet is the best person to say when it is time to say goodbye. Taking this decision requires a lot of emotional energy and that is why if a client with a terminally ill patient (for which there is no treatment) requests euthanasia I will perform that request and not try and convince them to keep the pet alive. After all both these pets have had a long life that was probably very enjoyable and to prolong the inevitable and maybe cause further discomfort would not be fair on them or you. Euthenasia is final and the procedure is never undertaken lightly, however we have been given the authority to perform this procedure that ends suffering of both the pet and devoted owner. With regards to the pet who has Adissons. If the disease is under control and the animal bright and happy it may not be time to say goodbye. Your own vet has aboviously seen your pets often and is in a better position to advise you on that decision. Saying goodbye to a longstanding pet friend is always hard but sometimes necessasry.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Heidie | 2006/07/31

Hi Beth

I have lost my one dog last year (11 years old - very sudden) and it took me ages to get over the shock. His sister lived another year before I had to put her down earlier this year
(12 years old). It is a very hard decision to make - speak to your vet. Remember: they love us and will do anything for us - we should do the same when the time comes. The love and the memories live in your heart.

Best wishes

PS: I know how difficult it is to have two old dogs.

Reply to Heidie
Posted by: Chill | 2006/07/30

What a sad situation you are in.

However: you know your dogs, and you will know when their lives have become intolerable to them. If you care for them then you will not want them to suffer, so you will know when you have to help them out of their distress.

If you are in any doubt, then you need to be guided by your vet, who knows not only what is wrong, but will also be able to tell you what the prognosis is.

I certainly would not put both dogs to sleep together on principle - only if their conditions both deteriorate simultaneously. Sure, if one goes, the remaining one will spend a while wondering what's going on, but I'm sure you'd make an extra fuss, and you would see that they'll be ok. I think it's important for YOU not to lose both at the same time. When I've lost a dog - and it happens far too frequently over a lifetime! - the thing that's kept me going each time has been the other dog(s) who still need to be fed, walked, played with and fussed over.

Don't be influenced by wellmeaning people who exhort you to put the dogs down without knowing them or the full details of their lives. Only you and your vet can decide when the time is right.

Best of luck to you.

Reply to Chill
Posted by: Sad | 2006/07/29

shame this is very sad but I think you know already what you have to do now.

Reply to Sad

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