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Suspicious Weakness/Starvation in Middle-Aged Chihuahua

2450 Views 11 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Eltekie
I got a neutered Chihuahua who's almost eight years old. I've had him since he was a few months old. He's a very reserved dog who's never attacked me. No past experiences of abuse.

His appetite, up until recent months, had been normal. He's never been overweight, but he still ate often.

It all began about last year with me noticing him struggle a bit to climb up the stairs of our old house. This was usually after a good walk. My other dog is the same age and is a similar breed, although he's far from vulnerable.

After selling our house several months ago, we relocated to a temporary apartment in another city. After a few weeks, I started noticing his health taking a nosedive. He was refusing his dog food. I'll admit that I made the mistake of purchasing a cheap brand, but even the other dog still eats it just fine. In some instances that I fed the dog in question a handful of dog food, he'd sometimes throw up. A few months later, we moved back to the city that we used to live in. We found an apartment that was a few blocks away from where we used to live. Even then, he's still not doing great. In fact, I'm already noticing outlines of his ribs. He's not even looking forward much to walking anymore, although he still goes out for a bit to urinate and defecate. Rest assured, the stools are generally normal. He's had diarrhea in recent months, though.

I assumed that there was an underlying health issue, but just in case things got any worse, I went ahead with vaccinating him and the other dog. This was a few days ago, but he's still showing symptoms of tiredness and lack of appetite. The other dog didn't even show any symptoms. I'll admit that I haven't really been too involved in vaccinating them and always checking with the veterinarians, but my only excuse is due to having a tight budget. For personal reasons, I'm not employed and get very little money from programs that distribute them. I can barely buy myself a good pair of jeans with that kind of money.

Anyway, I'm currently at a loss as to what to do for my friend. His hair has been graying since a few years ago, but I don't think that it's simply age. Again, he's not even eight years old yet, but he's definitely appearing ill. I've considered donating both dogs to local shelters, but after hearing just some of the inhumane practices, I'm keeping them until it's time for them to go. I also don't want to risk giving them to potential animal abusers.

Even then, I'm still screwed. I don't want to put him down, since he's still showing that he's not yet done with life. I can see it in his eyes and the way his ears jump up that he just needs proper medical care. The best veterinarian with the best prices has asked me to consider a blood test for him, which will cost me nearly two hundred dollars. I don't have that kind of money, especially after breaking the bank to get both dogs vaccinated and the other one with some antibiotics and medication to relieve his itching.

What should I do? I'd appreciate all kind advice from the fellow dog lovers on here. I really care about that little piece of poop, so to even imagine having to put him to sleep would be a nightmare that would last a whole year for me. Both dogs are my pride and joy, and they've done only so much to comfort me in the last several years of depression and loneliness that I've personally experienced.

Many thanks.
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I'm sorry about your dog. That's a low blow.

I want to help my dog out, but I don't have that kind of money. I don't have a job or car. The problem with local veterinarians is that they want full payment prior to service, which just isn't something that I can keep coming back to. Bills would help better, but they don't do that sort of thing.

Just because I don't visit often doesn't mean that I don't care about my dogs. No one I know really supports me financially with animals.

Also, I forgot to mention that my ill dog's at barely more than half his appropriate weight for a toy breed.
A week after posting this thread, I'd been going through a lot of heavy emotions surrounding my ill dog. My stress levels were going way up. I couldn't take it any longer to just sit there and watch him suffer.

Yesterday, I made the extremely difficult decision of euthanizing him. It was time, seeing as he had all energy zapped out of him. He no longer wanted to go outside for walks, he was wobbling around when he'd walk somewhere, and he wasn't able to keep his head tilted up much when I'd carry him around.

I took him to the veterinarian with his bed and blankets, surrounded by me and a family member who lives with me. I could see in his eyes that he was ready to go. He no longer wanted to try fighting back.

In our final moments together, I caressed him, let him lick my hand, and then told him how much I loved him and will never forget him. He was given something to make him a bit sleepy. We waited for the doctor to walk in and give him the shot. We decided to step out before it was given. It was really hard for me to see the process of a life being taken away, but we went back in to look at the body. It looked just as he was when he got brought in. He died very peacefully in his favorite bed. I didn't want him to suffer anymore. He's at peace.

What difference would getting blood work and putting him on something have made for him? It'd have been both a waste of money and his own health. Before things could've gotten FAR worse, it was best to just help him leave this world.

I'm still shedding tears here, but I know that I'll have to accept the reality that he's gone. He meant only so much for me to just let him go. This time around, I went with what he truly wanted: to be set free.

I love him so much. I'm glad he's no longer suffering. What a relief to see him at peace. It helped me from going absolutely insane.
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Thank you very much for your support and kind words. I personally knew that he wasn't going to get better, and if it had been possible to help him, it should've been addressed last year. Too bad he was hiding his illness for this long, even when I'd thought those delayed stair climbs last year were just a natural process of aging. He did have a lot of gray on his face.

I really regret not paying more attention to his health back then. I thought he was totally fine, but in the middle of all the moving and money troubles, it couldn't have been helped.

Also, I've asked some local veterinarians about accepting insurance, and a lot of them said they don't. It doesn't matter anymore. My buddy is gone, and all I have left of him are the many wonderful memories expressed in photographs and things he'd wear or sleep in.

I already miss him, but I know that I did the right thing. He wasn't looking forward to life anymore, despite all his best efforts to try and convince me that he was just fine.

Also, Rain, he looked just like Zody (your avatar). :(
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I'm so sorry :(

You absolutely did the right thing. There's no telling what was wrong. And it's entirely possible that hundreds of dollars of testing only would have told you that whatever he had wasn't fixable anyway, and you'd have to make the same decision regardless.

Don't regret all the things that you didn't do too much either. Hindsight is always 20/20 anyway, and you don't even know if those changes would have made a difference.

The important thing is that you had almost 8 years with the little guy. They were good years, and he was happy and loved.
I really appreciate the kind words.

He was my buddy. It's going to mark almost two days since he passed away. I had a lot of trouble sleeping on the first night, especially as I was tending to the other dog who needed the comfort. I continued crying a lot throughout the first day since the loss. I had to wash my face several times to calm myself down. I also reached out to some of my family relatives and friends who knew the boy or at least understood how important having a pet is.

I'd been preparing to face life without him around since before even starting this thread, but to actually go through the painful experience of seeing him about to die within a minute really hit home for me.

I may need some counseling for pet loss, but I don't have any idea where to begin. I'm also coping with the loss by starting a tribute piece in his honor. I'm going to try digging up some pictures of the finer moments he's had in his life.

This whole thing really screwed me over.
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