questionsat what point do you decide to have your dog put…

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I had to make this decision 2 years ago. My 9 year old Aussie was diagnosed with cancer and we decided to have her leg amputated based on the vet's recommendation. $3000 and she lasted 3 months. Please get a second and even 3rd opinion before deciding anything. I firmly believe our vet based their recommendations on how much they could profit, NOT what was best for our dog. If you have a long standing trustworthy relationship with your vet this may not be an issue.

Looking back I wish I had just let Tara live her last days without the pain and trauma of the amputation. I do not believe it extended her life at all.

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@commodog: First, let me tell you how tremendously sorry I am. I know how attached you probably are, and how difficult a decision this will be (no matter what we say).

I think the only consideration is the dog's quality of life. All those expensive things that are recommended will adversely affect that, in any case. Dogs do not speak English (at least not well enough to understand and discuss things like end of life decisions). You know your dog best. When the time comes that the suffering becomes too great for medication to take care of, it's best to do the right thing for the animal.

It's very hard, I know, to let go, but it's the right thing. Your vet will probably permit you to remain while the dog is being put to sleep (I know it's a euphemism, but it's a kind and well-meant one). This may be harder for you, but is kinder for the dog, since that bond of trust is there.

I'm now very sad for you.

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@ohcheri: You are probably correct in your beliefs. I note that some vets in more populated areas tend to forget why they became vets in the first place. When I still lived in SoCal, there was a place that "specialized" in cancer treatments for animals. I found them to be monstrous, and I hated them. When I had my cat (a rescue from a local pound) put down a few years ago, my vet was very kind, and thoughtful.

I'm sad for you, too, even though it's long over.

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@ohcheri: I am a veterinarian and unfortunately I agree with your assessment of my colleagues. Many of us have developed an attitude of doing what is best for our bottom line than what is best for the patient/client. Recognize the rule of thumb that one dog year is roughly seven human years, so that extra three months for your dog was roughly twenty-one human months. I have always advised clients to do with the dog what they would want for themselves and not allow themselves to be bullied into a differnt choice. When the quality of life becomes bad, it is time.

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I have a close friend whose dog also was diagnosed with bone cancer (front leg). Through much discussion with his vet and a specialist, he opted to manage the pain with medication. He started out with a lower dose first round that left the dog comfortable and highly functional. Then a second higher dose was used. The vet recommended after the higher dose becomes ineffective it would be time to think about euthenasia. Seems at that point the cancer would have spread to other systems in the body and really start to significantly reduce the dogs quality of life.
In this case the prognosis for amputation and chemo was on additional 6 - 12 months.

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@commodog: Hope this is a hypothetical question but if not I feel really sorry about your poor pooch.

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Just to add some details. My dog is a 7 year old male golden I have had since a puppy. He was diagnosed 3 weeks ago and we made the decision then (after a lot of internet research) not to amputate or do chemo. Besides the cost, it was also the lack of a sure thing after putting the dog through all that. The cost was definitely an issue ($5-7k). The vet didn't push us either way and said pain management and quality of life was the focus now.
The tumor is in the bone and has caused a hole in the bone as well. It is very large and is growing.
I asked the vet when we would know it was the right time to put him down and he told us "you will know".
He is starting to shun food unless we hand feed him and he basically lays around all day except to go out and use the bathroom. I'm waiting for the glimmer to go out of his eyes, but I also feel he is not enjoying himself anymore.
And I know things will go down.
Just don't want to see him suffer but don't want to do it too early either.

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I'm sorry about your puppy.

I've had two dogs, both had to get put down. One from old age, the other because he had terrible skin problems. That sounds so lame, but we tried everything for the poor guy. Changed his diet, saw 10 different vets for more opinions, bathed him regularly, medicines...but his problem would not go away. He would claw at himself until he bled because his skin itched so much all the time.

The decision came to put him down because he was suffering, and nothing we could do could help him. If we found a medicine that had cost 200 bucks/mo, we would have figured it out...but we never found that non-existent medicine. He was only 3.

I don't have experience with cancer, so I dont know if I could give a solid opinion. You know your dog and your situation more than anybody else, and it's totally understandable if you decide not to take the expensive chance at extending the dog's life by 12 months.

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@commodog: You will know when it is time. Tara's cancer was also started in her leg bone but the tumors spread rapidly to her chest and skull. When we got to the point that Tara would only eat from my hand she lasted only a few more days. The last day (a Sunday) was miserable for all of us. I took her to the vet as soon as they opened Monday morning and petted her while they put her to sleep. I was there for her last moments and was glad she was finally at peace. @shrdlu is so right...you can't explain to them why you're hurting them and it must be so difficult for them to comprehend. I am so sorry for what you and your family is going through.

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@commodog: If you're not doing the surgery, it sounds like the time is soon. The day we decided to put down my first dog (12 years old, terrible back arthritis) was the day he couldn't get up on his own in the morning and had soiled his bed during the night. We gave him one more week (spoiled that pup, he LOVED that :) ) and kept a close eye on him at night (once he got up and going, it was easier, still painful, to get up and down).

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Always focus on Quality of Life for your animal. The moment that you can't keep the pain/issue at bay, is the day you need to start making decisions. Yes, it may be a hard situation for you to handle, but imagine what your animal is/will be going through.

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Thanks for the comments and concerns folks.
Was not my intent to garner sympathy (although appreciated) but more to hear opinions.

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@commodog: Very sorry to hear about your dog. My wife and I had to put our dog down last summer. We were fortunate to have built a really good relationship with our vet over the past several years and I was able to talk to her on the phone the day we made the decision.

In our case, our dog had largely succumbed to old age, plus possibly after effects of a mostly untreated case of lymes from years ago. We had her on pain meds for a while, but they were upsetting her stomach and disrupting her appetite. Then we tried a med for that, which didn't work out. Eventually as she was rejecting food and barely walking we realized she decided on her own it was time, all we could do is make it easier for her.

Unfortunately when the time came, she got up and walked over to me. I tell myself she came over to say goodbye. I know she was very old (at least 15) and not well. Fortunately where we live we were able to get away with burying her in our backyard.

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Our pets become as children to us, we love them the way we love the people around us, our families and friends. They are an important part of our lives, and they depend on us just as children do. It's so hard to let go, I guess because they love us unreservedly and unconditionally. We're the gods of their world, and they're the delight of our lives, and we miss them when they're gone, just as we miss people when they pass on.

I don't have a dog, am not particularly drawn to dogs as pets, but all these heartbreaking stories... I think I'll just go have myself a good cry now.

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@commodog: So sorry for you and your family. As a side note, when the time came my friend contacted a veterinarian who performs house calls. He called and made an appointment and the vet performed the procedure at his house. He said it was a little bit easier for him and the dog this way. He felt better because he didn't have to stress his dog out by going to the vet clinic and his dog felt comfortable being in his own house. The dog just simply went to sleep in his own bed. If given the choice in the future, this would be my preference.

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It is sometimes so very difficult "to know" because animals mask pain (goes back to being in the wild and not appearing vulnerable to predators). I do and have done for the past several years animal rescue. Especially with dachshunds which I can no longer do, I would get them when nobody else would take them. It was such an upllfting experience to give them a happy time, however short it would be. I am very fortunate to have a veterinarian who is very perceptive and can almost read animal minds. He has always given me the straight humane answer. I try now to only take animals that will probably live for awhile without medical problems because there have been so many people in my life who have needed me over the past couple of years. I can truthfully say that I believe in my heart that vets take better care of our pets than our own personal docs.

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@jimmyd103: Living well outside any city, I would prefer euthanasia of my dog at home, as I could bury the dog in the yard afterwards and nobody would care. If I were living in the city/suburbs however, where you can't generally do that, I would probably prefer to have it done at the vets office.

In our situation we did end up having it done at the office, but that was due to other factors that made it impossible to schedule for it to be done at home.

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This thread is making me choke up a little... I love animals. I'm worried about the same thing for my cat, she had a lump removed last year but we didn't have money for a biopsy to find out what it was, and she's been vomiting more than usual so I fear for the worst. In my case, it'll be a decision based on how much treatment will cost.

I wish you the best @commodog and you'll know when it's time.

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@journeyloaded: I am so sorry for your cat and can deeply appreciate your concern. Cats do, however, tend to spit up a lot. Do you notice any difference between now and earlier?

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@klozitshoper: I've had her for a year and a half (she belonged to my parents before, she's approx 10) and she vomits 2-3 times a month at my place, whereas she didn't when she lived with my parents. It's possible that she has stubborn hairballs or her food irritates her tummy but I'm concerned because she doesn't just vomit once, she will continue vomiting liquid like 4 times. idk idk I hope it's normal but I don't have the money right now to have a bunch of tests run.

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@journeyloaded: I have two cats - at least one of them upchucks once or twice a day. Sometimes it is food that they have eaten too quickly and it sticks in their throat because I hear a lot of noise prior to the actual presentation - other times it is clear. If the cat does not seem to be in distress, is not bloated or has lost a lot of weight, and does not seem to have a sore tummy when you pick her up, I would just do some watchful waiting and be sure to feed an easily digestible food. (pet shops sell them - some supermarkets have brands that are easy on the stomach, and Hill Prescription Diet (pretty expensive and only by a script from a vet). If you can find it nearby, there is a company out there by the name of bynaturepetfoods.com. You could check their website for stores near you. My cats cannot have any magnesium because of the kidney problem with one of them. Pets are an expensive proposition.

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@klozitshoper: Thanks. My parents had her on Hill's but I can't stand the idea of feeding my cat a food where the first 2 ingredients are rice and corn so I have her on Wellness. Maybe I'll try a wet food just to see. I would assume if it was the food she would be sick even more regularly but maybe not.

Apologies to commodog for the hijack!

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@journeyloaded: Thanks for the reminder and my apologies also to commodog. My cats eat dry food - and it is just that they eat it too fast! They don't know enough to chew and swallow. I have retarded animals.

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@commodog So sorry to hear about your dog. How painful. I agree that you will know when the time is right to say goodbye if you pay close attention to what your dog is telling you. He may go on his own, too. But if he can't, and he is suffering more than loving life, I'm sure you will sense it and do the right thing.

@journeyloaded Have you considered using something like Carecredit? My vet takes it. It allows you to pay off vet bills at 0% interest as long as you meet the minimum payment each month, for up to six months or a year. It's a way to spread out the expenses. Without tests, you can't know why the vomiting is happening. It could be anything from food allergies to kidney failure to a blockage or cancer.

My 15-year-old cat has kidney failure. I don't feed commercial food at all, but with my vet's supervision, I cook kidney support diet food for him. Here is more information about how I do this: http://www.instructables.com/id/Kidney-Support-Homemade-Cat-Food/

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I'm so sorry you have to go through this @commodog. We just went through this last February. Our boy was diagnosed with lymphoma. We could have done chemo, but it would not have extended his life much, it wasn't guaranteed to work, and it would have significantly impacted his quality of life. We put him on meds to keep him comfortable, but he declined rapidly and we had him put down less than two weeks later. He was in pain even with meds, he couldn't run, and he didn't even enjoy being scratched behind his ears.

The best advice I got through this awful process was: "you should let them go when they no longer enjoy life."

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how sad, this whole thread made me sad. i had a cat i loved to death and raised when i was a teen but my brother's dog attacked and killed him. i was overseas and wasn;t around when he died but now i have 2 cats and dread anything happening to them.

@commodog i hope you're doing ok and i hope you know it's hard for everyone to say goodbye to a loyal family member like a pet. there;'s something about our pets that mean so much to us but you should know you took good care of your dog while alive and your pup appreciated it, even though it couldn't talk :( take care

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I know what you are all feeling :-( a few months back my Rottweiler had a few lumps so I took him to the vets and they cut them out, should they have? A few weeks ago I noticed more so I took him again and they cut them all out again and told me it would take 10 days for results then 7 days had passed I took him bk for a checkup and the vet told me its not good news, he said its nasty cancer and its in his lymph nodes in chest under arms and mouth, I'm absolutely deviated he means so much to me he's my best friend and now I've got 3 months left with him it's bad cancer and I don't know what to do the vet told me to think about what I want to do :-( what do I do??? :-(

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wow this thread popped up again.

I ended up putting my buddy down after he really showed pain from walking around. I held him as the vet gave him his shot and I cried like a baby but I knew it was the right thing to do.
I couldn't justify spending the $3-5k and ongoing vet bills and watch my dog go through all that pain because of my selfishness to keep him alive, with absolutely no guarantee he would not even be cancer free.
I made his final days as comfortable as I could and gave him small doses of pain meds from the vet. On the night before I put him down, I cooked him a big ass ribeye steak, some hot dogs, some baked beans and some broccoli. I also gave him a bowl of ice cream after he was done.
My female black lab and lifelong buddy of my golden howled for 3 days after he was gone, I guess dogs mourn too.
I miss my golden, but I feel like I did the right thing and he isn't suffering anymore

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I'm so sorry... all support as you process the loss of this dear friend.