Quality of life

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Quality of life

This is a discussion on Quality of life within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hi everyone. I'm looking for opinions. I have a 12 year old 110lb Akita named Porscha. We've had her since she was a puppy, adopted ...

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Old 01-15-2019, 11:21 PM
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Quality of life

Hi everyone. I'm looking for opinions. I have a 12 year old 110lb Akita named Porscha. We've had her since she was a puppy, adopted from a breeder who thought she was defective because she had a long coat and wasn't up to "breed standards" which was fine because we got a great deal on an amazing dog. Come to find out a few months down the road, she was born with hip dysplasia. Or, worse yet, her hip sockets just never formed. So fast-forward about a year, we took her back to the vet and they told us she wasn't going to make it to two years old because if her hip sockets never formed, there's no telling what else could be messed up inside (organ-wise). Anywho, she's obviously made it well passed her projected life expectancy, so I feel like that's been an amazing blessing.

She's now getting to the point where she can get up still - very, very slowly - but occasionally she just doesn't try and drags herself to where she wants to be. A few months back she fell and hurt herself badly enough that I had to carry her outside. I thought it was time but I gave her about 5 days and she perked back up. Since then she has just gradually been getting up slower and walking less. She lays in her spot in the house and goes outside twice a day (with a lot of persuasion). She leaks urine often and just tonight she was laying by the door having trouble holding her stool as well (which she was clearly saying she needed to go outside, no one was there, so I don't fault her for that). When is it time? She is still eating and still drinking. She has no signs of discomfort unless she's walking - but what quality of life is that?

What would you do if she were your dog? Please be honest. I need as much advice and opinions as I can get so I know I'm doing what's best for her. She's a sweet dog and I hate seeing her uncomfortable.
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Old 01-15-2019, 11:56 PM
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It sounds like she's had a wonderful life with y'all, and is very lucky to have her as her champion! I"m so sorry that y'all are going through this.

I'd look into managing her conditions as best you can to give her the best quality life that she can have. Once the conditions are no longer manageable then it's time to let her go.

Management should include stuff to help her with her mobility. That can be pain medicine, slings to help support her as she walks and goes out to potty, and supplements to help with joint mobility. Try those for a few weeks and see if stuff does not improve. You can also try a wagon or stroller to get her out of the house and out in the neighborhood on a "walk"

You'll also need management with the potty trouble. Try to figure out if she has true incontinence, or not. If she does then there are medicines that can help. If it's not then you'll have to figure out how to best manage her. Time her going out, get her out more often, use doggy diapers, etc.

If she can be kept comfortable then it's time to let her go. My elderly boy taught me a hard lesson and that's that it's best to let them go a little to soon then to let them linger too long.
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Old 01-16-2019, 01:20 AM
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It sounds like you've given her a very wonderful long life. It's heartening to hear when love and care help an animal to live well past their projected life expectancy despite whatever difficulty they had. 12 is a good old age for an akita and I'm sure she and your family have had a truly beautiful life during that time.

The answer as to when it's 'time', is never an easy one. A pet that is loved and cared for will often endure a lot to see their people smile which can make it even harder. Her hips may be a part of it, but the rest sounds like age. Age is one of those we can't avoid. If and when my dog reaches the point where she is at, I may very well decide it's time. I'll send him off with as much love as I can. Also lot's of noodles, my dog loves noodles possibly more than he loves me.

Call me weird, but I consider that sort of choice the ultimate act of love we make for our pets. Especially in the face of old age and it's symptoms, or illness just too far gone to be treated anymore. Regardless of how much it hurts our hearts, we ideally do it for them.
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Old 01-16-2019, 11:57 AM
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I had to put my 10 year old Bernese cross a couple of years ago. She was still eating and with a lot of effort she could get up and go outside but it was getting harder all the time and she would just go out and lie down again. One day she was trying to get up onto her bed. She tried a few times then finally put her head on the bed. She looked at me so sadly, she was always such an active dog and was obviously not enjoying life at all. I loaded her up in my sister's Van and took her to the Vet. He came out, gave her the shot and she quietly went to sleep. Still miss her every day. Sometimes they do let you know.
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Old 01-16-2019, 12:32 PM
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I'm in the same boat - well, except the hip issues. 14yo dog that limps to the backdoor 2x a day to pee, to the kitchen to eat, and upstairs at night. Every time I think he's getting worse (we had to carry him upstairs and up and down the 3 steps to the backyard a few times), he perks up again after.

I added turmeric pills to his diet and it seemed to help a lot, actually. He's been on Dasuquin for years.

For what it's worth though... I was close to putting him down the few times he went to the backdoor and just gave up because he didn't want to go down those steps. A couple more weeks of that and I would have tried to convince my husband to let him go... I don't think it's fair to a dog to make them dependent on us for everything... I mean, if he can't even follow you around the house to be with you without help, I can't imagine that it's a happy life at all.

We had to put down two cats, and we always knew - a bit like Kyllobernese's dog (so, so sorry for your loss), they just refused to get up and basically cried the most heart wrenching meow's I've ever heard in my life. I'm just not sure that we did the right thing by waiting for that moment (but my husband has a very hard time letting go).
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Old 01-16-2019, 02:34 PM
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First off, thank you all SO much for your replies. I know this conversation is never an easy one.. But you are really helping me in this decision.

Thank you. She has been a great dog and a fervent protector for myself and my family (its amazing how having her in our house even still just makes you feel safe). I love the walk idea - I have been trying so hard to find a wagon that would fit her but she is just so big.. Even the utility wagons are too narrow for her to lay comfortably. I've considered a wheelchair as well but her front legs are getting bad now too. She loves going out of the house though so we do take her for rides occasionally.

She has never had a terrible problem with incontinence but occasionally does get leaky (we don't know what causes it, it will just start and stop occasionally). Part of me is assuming that it is incontinence just based on the likelyhood of that being the case because she wouldn't knowingly urinate on herself, she has NEVER had issues with telling us when she needs to go out. I have noticed that giving cranberry tablets help a lot with clearing it up, so I think it could have to do with possibly occasional UTI's trying to set in.

I'm afraid that if we can't figure something out now to get her more comfortable and active, that will be the best thing for her. I don't want to hold on too long - she deserves better than what she has now.

You know, I used to work as a vet tech and the vet I worked with always told me that if your dog can't do her favorite things anymore, the quality of life is just not there. That has stuck with me for her. She has never ever been a very active dog because of her hip problems, but she has always been able to do what she wants to do. I have a young border collie who likes to chase around our cat (playfully, they have a weird relationship.. lol) and Porscha used to hop right up to run around with them, but recently she is just laying there barking.. I think that, above all else, hurts me. I hate that she has to watch the young dog and cat have fun but she can't. She used to practically run to the couch whenever we sat down with popcorn to watch a movie - now she just sits there and eventually goes back to sleep. She is sleeping 90% of the day. If shes sleeping comfortably, I don't have a problem.. Its just that I feel like she is to a point where she doesn't feel like she has an option, you know? I hate that.

I completely understand what you mean. I really feel the same way. We have always hoped that she would just go on her own but I have this feeling that isn't going to happen. We love her so much and hate to see her like this..

I'm so sorry for your loss. That's what our girl is doing.. She sounds like she just went for a 5 mile run when she comes back inside from only going out, going potty, and coming back in. That breaks my heart but I wish she would let me know instead of me having to decide.

It is such a terrible struggle.. The worst part of sharing your life with an animal - they just don't live long enough. 14 years is a great long life though. Thats 100% what my girl is doing. It hurts my heart watching her try to function on her own and not be able to. My family is all waiting on me to make the call and I'm having a hard time deciding. We love her so much and this is just becoming harder and harder. My mom says when she looks at her now, she see's sadness.

Again, thank you all! I will be taking her in to see the vet in a couple of days - do y'all have any pain med recommendations that works best for your seniors?

I am thinking I'll get some Galiprant and/or Tramadol for her to see if that helps at all.
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Old 01-16-2019, 03:52 PM
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We put ours on pain meds because he wasn't putting weight on one of his legs, but had to stop because it made him sick (they do blood tests regularly to monitor the side effects, that one messed up his liver). Thankfully his leg is fine now... but I know that he's still in pain because of his arthritis. Your vet will talk to you through all this though.

About the sadness part - it's the thing that is hard to say. Ours still comes to us tail wagging for attention... he looks very happy then. I'm guessing that when he'll stop doing that because it's too painful, it will be time.
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Old 01-16-2019, 10:13 PM
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I absolutely know what you mean. She still occasionally gets up to greet us when we get home (When the other dog barks and let's her know we're coming in). I think her hearing is giving some too. She still hears the chip bag but not us when we pull in the driveway. Then occasionally she gets a really depressed look on her face - other times she thinks she's a pup again (she still doesnt stand but throws her toy around and drags herself over to it). I'm dreading the day she looses that occasional puppy mood. It's getting less and less now. 😞
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Old 01-17-2019, 06:13 PM
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Just want to commiserate and share what we've done for our 13 year old lab mix who is having increasing difficulty getting around. A year ago, we started Dasuquin, gabapentin (for pain) and meloxicam (anti-inflammatory). These helped a lot for a while. More recently, one of her legs would occasionally give out on a walk or even just around the house, and she sometimes limps. Currently, in addition to the above, we are trying Adequan, 2 shots per week intramuscularly, and then after a month it will go to twice a month. Well, we are in week 3 and I don't see much improvement. I see a sweet girl looking at me sometimes, afraid to take a single step for fear that her leg will give out. I see her eager to leave the house for her nightly walks with our neighborhood pack, yet unable to keep up. I see her horror and embarrassment when she accidentally poops in the house because she can't hold it as well anymore. But she also is still eating well. And as affectionate as ever. I just know it's not time yet. To be honest, I hope she passes peacefully in the night so I never need to decide when it's time. Good luck xoxoxo
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