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My dog died this past Thursday and I’m still confused why and have extreme guilt

Hi. My 11 year old Jack Russel mix dog, Lacey, passed away this past Thursday. I am still in disbelief she is gone. We had to put her down and I am experiencing much guilt if that was the right decision. Everything happened so fast. I regret not taking better care of her, she was a senior dog but I never thought to get her senior care or even senior dog food. I took her to her yearly exams and shots as always - it was never on my radar maybe she needed more attention to her health as she aged. I have extreme regret over this, maybe I could have helped her and prevented her death. I have 2 other dogs as well, a 1 year old and 8 year old. I just always viewed Lacey in the same light as them, I just never thought to give her more medical attention. I feel like a terrible dog owner.

Lacey gained weight as she aged. She developed a large fatty tumor on her tummy - the vet told us it was a lady lump and dogs get that as they get older, but now I’m wondering if it was a sign something was wrong. She had it for about 2 years. She ate as normal and her personality as she aged was that iof a mother hen, she was a lazy dog and liked to sit on the couch just relaxing.

Lacey had an ongoing bacterial infection in her groin area. We had her on Simplicef to clear that up. It then came back and I should have paid more attention because it was months before I took her back to the vet to get her put on the medicine again. Lacey also had bad ears in that they got infected too. I had her on an antibiotic ear drop, and the infection came back. So when I took her back to the vet, they gave us more. They also gave us an allergy pill for Lacey, Apoquel.

Literally the week up until her passing, she was being given this medicine.

But last week she stopped eating rather abruptly. This is part of my confusion with her passing, there was no gradual decline or transition phase into sickness. Sunday my husband said she didn’t touch her food. Monday we tried chicken and rice, she ate it but later vomited and there was what appeared to be a blood clot in the vomit. We took her to the vet and they gave us Flagyl, FortiFlora, and gave Lacey a water pack. They told us to come back if she doesn’t get better. By Tuesday she was appearing to have lost weight, her collar was getting bigger. She was lethargic and wouldn’t walk up steps anymore. But she wasn’t deathly lethargic in my opinion, if my other dog barked, she propped her head up alert. She even would get up to go get a drink of water. On that Tuesday we had pizza and she got up and walked to me interested in what I was eating - as if she was asking to have some. I gave her some crust in small pieces and she did eat it, but it wasn’t much. On Wednesday, she was still the same and was turning down all food...rice, peanut butter, baby food, wet dog food. We took her back to the vet after work, it wasn’t until 1 am Thursday we we’re actually seen. They ran a blood test and found her ALKP was off the charts at 2,000+. The other tests that deal with the liver we’re also high. Her glucose level was borderline high end of low. And her cPL test was abnormal. The vet told us she is very very sick. This is where my disbelief comes in. Yes she wasn’t eating and yes she was losing weight but I didn’t see her in pain....I didn’t she her cry or whimper. We took Lacey home that night, they gave her electrolytes, a protein pack and more water. We we’re confused what to do and what the results meant. We we’re told the vet is not a specialist in liver so if we wanted to know more we would have to hospitalize her and pay for a specialist - $7k. We took Lacey back to the vet Thursday morning and asked about alternatives. I was distraught at this point, I knew where this was going but I didn’t want to believe it. The vet said her gums appear pale yellow - I never looked at her gums to confirm and this haunts me. The vet also said her guess is it’s a tumor and even if we went the liver specialist route, she wouldn’t be a surgical candidate. The vet said she’s worried she will start to seizure. We talked for seconds about euthanasia. My husband and decided that is what we will do because we didn’t want her to suffer. I am distraught over this decision. I feel like I don’t really know what happened to Lacey. I dont know if maybe she had something that was treatable. I feel so guilty not cuddling her on the car ride to the vet, not taking her home for one more day so she could say goodbye more peacefully, so I could have some more time with her. She didn’t know what was happening. She was still alert and able to walk, I feel that unless I told you she was sick you wouldn’t have known. I feel I took her life too early and it’s esting me up inside. I can’t stop thinking about it. Maybe if I asked more questions to the vet maybe if I pushed back for more tests to be done. As they gave her the shot it was like I knew what was happening but I feel I didn’t tell her enough that I love her and I’m sorry and it just happened so fast I wasn’t expecting it to be so fast. I feel I let her down and made the wrong decision. Everyone tells me you helped her to not suffer but I dont know if maybe she would have gotten better. In the vet office she kept facing the door like she wanted to leave, was she trying to tell lets leave, I’ll get better? The vet told us she feels we made the right decision. But I just can’t see it. If someone could tell me what would have happened, if she really was suffering I would feel more confident in the decision but that just didn’t happened. I’m just so confused and left wondering what if. I wish I did right by her. And now my other 2 dogs will benefit from where I feel I went wrong with Lacey. And it hurts my heart because Lacey didn’t have that opportunity. She didn’t know that was her last car ride or the last time she would feel the sun. I just wish I took the time to understand how to make her last day more peaceful. I felt so rushed.
2 Responses
675347 tn?1365460645
COMMUNITY LEADER
Oh I am so very sorry about Lacey's passing and how you must feel with your grief.

From every word you have written, I can see how you loved and DID care for her....got her medications she needed, did take her to the vet, cared and looked after her very well!

The thing is with many dogs, and very much so Jack Russells, is they are very stoical. They don't make a fuss over feeling a little unwell. When they stop in their tracks, or stop eating very often it can be because they are advanced in their illness. We don't always know. We can't always know. We see a perfectly happy dog getting on with life -right up until suddenly there's something wrong.

And there is always some guilt when a loved one passes....did we make mistakes? Do the wrong thing? Not give them enough love....food....or whatever? Did we tell them off for something just before they died?! That is something that always comes up with grieving and the shock of losing a loved one.
We can't know they are about to leave, you see. We carry on with life as it is normally without the hindsight. So do they! They live day by day and only come to a grinding halt when their bodies are so sick there is often no hope.

It would do no harm to have a further chat with your vet. She might be able to go into more detail (details are hard to remember when we are processing the shock of a terminal illness diagnosis, and at the euthanasia stage.)

However....I do feel you were a little rushed here. It might have been in Lacey's best interests to do things very quickly, but sending her home for the weekend (or a couple of days) with some strong medication, for you to have chance to say your goodbyes....might have been a more humane approach -for you. So you could have time to face the awful situation and adjust.

Yes it all happened very quickly. In one way that's okay for Lacey. She hardly suffered at all. For you, it is not so good. You are very shocked by what happened, and have no real "closure" understanding or acceptance about it.

But dying of liver cancer would have been horrible. You spared Lacey that experience. With terminally ill dogs, their condition can decline exponentially in a matter of hours or days.

You feel you betrayed her. She was still able to walk and didn't look too bad. She hated being at the vet's and wanted to get out of there and go home....and instead she was put to sleep. I can completely understand how devastated you must feel, remembering those poignant moments, and feeling you betrayed her.
But you didn't. You did the most unselfish caring last physical thing for her to help her and save her from death by liver cancer. She went, not vomiting uncontrollably or in seizures, or yelping in pain, but she went while she still felt like herself a little bit.

I think by reading what you've said, that you did your best for her, and loved her very much.

I don't mean to upset you further by saying this....but my own dog convinced me -and I used to be a sceptical person -that there is an afterlife, and that they still continue to love us very much indeed. In fact she has shown me on numerous occasions over six years, that all is well with her.
So do send Lacey your warmest heart-felt love. Her Soul is not dead.
1 Comments
I believe that too. I heard her paws on the woodend floor the night after she died. Thank you
Avatar universal
I am so sorry. I lost my Jack Russell, Penny, last week and am going through all the same feelings. Feel like I'm going mad! So it's normal. I was going to euthanise as she was really struggling but she died 10 minutes before I got there, naturally. I feel awful I wasn't with her and things had gone that far. It was so sudden. I'm in shock. They are tough little dogs and didn't want to upset us as they are so loyal. She was with you till the end and I can see how much you love her as I do Pen. Let's be glad their suffering didn't go on for ages. Awful for us, good for them x
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