My sweet, beautiful 14-year-old dog seems to be a taking a turn. She is a mid-size (60 pound) mix, possibly rottie/shepard, and 1.5 years ago she was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on her liver. The tumor was successfully removed by surgery, and upon biopsy the surgeon said there were two types of cancer in the tumor. One of those types is known to return (in 80 percent of cases), at which point it is generally considered untreatable. The doctor told me that Sasha’s variety appeared to be slow growing and that I probably had a year before we started seeing issues.
Fast forward to now, she is having breathing problems that seemed minor at first, but over the past week are more pronounced. She pants under just about any exertion (even just walking around), and when laying down she makes snoring noises that are more pronounced than usual. A few times I’ve seen her arching her back and straining to breathe. Not all the time, but occasionally (more so recently) and usually at night.
Obviously, I fear her cancer has returned in her lungs. I will take her to my local vet, but I am scared, as this is a scenario I had not mentally prepared myself for in terms of knowing when I might need to make a euthanasia decision. Let me be clear - I did not expect to be blessed with having her this long, she's lived a full life, and I've known this time was going to come - but I guess I was mistaken in what way it would come, if that makes sense.
In all other ways, she is her normal self. She loves her food and her walks (I’ve shortened her daily walk), is very playful, does not seem to be in extreme distress. But the breathing issue cannot be ignored.
I had always felt that I would know it was time to ease her suffering when she stopped eating, or no longer seemed to be enjoying life (walks, etc). Now I’m confronting this breathing issue, which I’m told can be very uncomfortable/distressing for dogs (and will only get worse, I’m sure) and wondering if I might have to put her to sleep while she is still mostly tail wagging, full of appetite, etc.
I would welcome your thoughts before I go to my local vet. I hate even taking her there because she has so much fear of the vet’s office, especially after her surgery. But I know some things can’t be avoided.
I am just in uncharted territory here and wondering how this will go. Do you think this is how it ends? Having to set a date soon to have my *almost normal* dog put to sleep while she is still eating, walking, tail wagging?