I could use any words of wisdom, advice, etc here.
Please bear with me, here's the background....
About 4-6 weeks ago, our 11 1/2 yr old mutt (58 lbs) Fred started limping on his front right leg. We kept poking and prodding to see what was wrong and he never yelped or acted like it really hurt other than not using it...we assumed he just pulled something running in the field and kept an eye on it. Then about 2 weeks later we came home to evidence that he'd been coughing up blood...what seemed like a lot. So off to the vet we went. They did blood work and found nothing. It looked like his red blood cells weren't being replenished and the vet didn't know why. He is free of parasites and any disease they could test via blood and fecal there. The only thing left for them to do was an x-ray but anything it would show we wouldn't be couldn't afford to treat anyway.
The vet figured his leg was arthritis, given his size and age and the blood had them stumped. He quit coughing it up that day. A few clots came up a day or two later but it was obviously old.
Well, a few days later I had to go cross country for two weeks due to a death in the family. My husband was home to care for him.
I returned to Fred not using his leg at all, and he'd lost a significant amount of weight. My husband said he'd not been eating well or at all. I can see his backbone and ribs and even his head looks like it's lost weight. He only gets up to go to the bathroom and drink. It takes him quite a bit of effort and time to get up. I've managed to get him to eat some tempting canned dog food but he still doesn't eat as much as I think he should. His breathing is always laboured. It's hard because he still wags his tail, his eyes aren't dull, and he will get up if you really really coax him to get up and eat or go outside. But he doesn't stray more than 20 feet from the house, where he used to wander and run around our few acres.
Anyone have any thoughts?
What an awful thing to go through! Making the decision to end my cat's life was the hardest thing I've ever done.
One thing to remember is that animals will not show the true amount of pain they are experiencing. In the wild, if you show pain then you are marked by predators as easy prey. Animals are very stoic.
I wish I could give you some real advice. In my situation, when it was time I KNEW it was time, but I still second-guess myself years later.
Whatever is wrong with Fred, it sounds serious. If you can't spend a ton of money to figure out the cause and to treat it, maybe putting him down is best for everyone (heck, even if you are a billionaire, maybe euthanasia is best for Fred).
What I look at is quality of life. Does Fred enjoy laying around, not able to get around easily? Of course he's going to smile and wag his tail when you approach him, but the times between attention might be pretty hard for him. It doesn't sound like there is much chance of him improving significantly (weight loss does not bode well for healing whatever is wrong with his leg).
My biggest fear with my beloved 13-yr-old lab was that he would fall and hurt himself when we weren't home, and would lay in pain for hours. Even if we were home and he broke a bone (he was very unsteady on his feet, and we have stairs), it would have been awful for him. He hated that we had to carry him up and down the stairs, and on the rare occasions that he didn't make it outside to go to the bathroom, he was humiliated. He might have hung on a few more wekks or even months if we had waited, but we didn't think that would be fair to him. Like Fred, our dog Jack lost a lot of weight - he went from 115 pounds in his prime (not overweight) to about 70 pounds.
If we didn't love them so much, the decisions wouldn't be so hard.
A funny thing happened after Jack was gone. For a year or two, whenver I thought of Jack, I thought of the old, arthritic dog that I saw every day. But when he was gone, I remembered the young, strong, active dog that he had been - chasing tennis balls, leaping in the air for a frisbee, swimming circles around us. It really made me realize how much he had deteriorated, but it had happened so gradually that we grew used to the changes.
Hugs to you, for having to make this terrible decision (if not now, chances are in the future). But what choice do we have - live without dogs? Not an option in my house.
If the chips are down, the buffalo is empty.
I've been talking to my friend about this. Her vet said something that really stuck with me. Think of the 10 things your dog likes to do the most. Now think - can your dog now do 3 of them with any joy? When you get to that point you have to ask are you keeping your dog here for you or for the dog? It is never an easy decision.