My sweet Kenai, a large shepherd/husky mix is 13 and nearing the end. My dad took him on a walk the other morning, it was already too warm (we live in Tucson), and on the way home his legs gave out from under him. I drove down to the neighbor's house to bring him home. After a day of rest he was able to walk again. He has had intestinal issues for the past year or so... bouts of diarrhea mostly. I figure that his intestines are just not working as well.
When Kenai's legs didn't work that day, my mom already was researching vets that will come out and euthanize, which kind of upset me. I got Kenai at a rescue I worked at when I was 20, and he accompanied me through all my college life. After I got married he lived with my parents. Then a few years ago my parents and my family merged so Kenai lives with me again, but mostly spends his time in my parents' room.
This morning Mom told me that he's not eating much and only pooping tiny amounts. She wanted to give him pain pills. I said I didn't think that was a good idea because pain pills have side effects, Kenai isn't even eating so we might have to force them down, he's not showing any outward signs of pain and if he is in pain he is handling it fine.
My mom seems to think that if he stops eating that we should euthanize him. But my intuition says that not eating at the end of one's life is different from normal starvation. I think that if he stops eating that it might be a way of his body preparing for death. Watching a loved one die is definitely painful, but as long as he is not in pain, I would like to allow him to just rest comfortably and die on his own, if possible.
I know it's a delicate balance regarding quality of life, and really, only we can make that decision... Mostly, what I am wondering about... is... if you have had a dog that died naturally at your house, did they stop eating at the end and were you okay with that? My husband's last dog, a pit bull female who was high energy all her life, just went down one morning to eat breakfast and her heart stopped. We always thought that was a fairly ideal way for a dog to die because it was relatively quick. I think if Kenai stops eating he will get weaker and weaker to where he won't be able to walk. There seems to be this unsaid common idea that if Kenai can't walk that we would euthanize him... but... but... i don't know.... I really want to allow him to exit when he wants to.
Just talk to me a little about your experiences regarding this difficult time of life. Thanks...