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Avatar universal

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When do you know when to let go. I have posted a couple of times with no responses. My beloved ginger who I found 9 years ago sitting on the steps of my hospital  and has been my faithful companion and also her other dog buddies has been diagnosed with chronic renal failure in May 09. I have tried everything to slow the progression of her disease from acupuncture to traditional medicine and have tried every food on earth including dog ice cream to colostrum to baby food to raw . you name it. The past week she was only taking small bites of treats and not even this now despite being on appetite stimulants and anti nausea medication. She is skin and bones. She receives sub q intravenous fluids each night. Although she appears to enjoy lying outside she is no longer interacting with her other pals,Her bark is weak and she is lethargic.When do you know when to let them go.It is agonizing and heart breaking. They say the focus is quality of life and yes she still like to be pet and hugged by us and go outside but she is not eating for two days and she is irritable with the other dogs. Her head is also tremulous.I am open to any advise or emotional support. with my otehr dogs it was so clear when to let them go
44 Responses
641243 tn?1235755684
My last dog had cancer at 3 years old and I struggled with the same question - the end was clearly very near, but how did I know if she was ready to go?  My oncologist told me this:  dogs are put here to make us happy and fulfill our lives.  When the wagging tail stops, and the happy, panting smile goes away, it's time to do the kind thing.  

The first day I came home and Daisy didn't get up to greet me was the day I knew.  I gave her one more week, and let her go before she lost every inkling of that spark in her eye...it would not have been fair for her to have to show any other side of herself to me without that spark after generously igniting my life with joy for 3 full years.

After a wonderful 9 years of joy and love and happiness, if you see that Ginger has become irritable and has developed tremors, it is clear that she is no longer enjoying her life with the zest she once had.  My advice is to always let them go with a bang...fading away is miserable for both you and your dog.

Hang in there.  No matter what you decide, keep strong, as your dog will absolutely sense your sadness, making her last days miserable as she realizes she cannot comfort you.  It is your job now to comfort her.

Good luck with your decision.
458072 tn?1291418786
I don't know.....I mean...I have a dog that is not doing well, and I just don't know if I want to put her down or just let her go natural. If I can keep her comfortable, I am going to try to go that route.

I have really struggled with this because I didn't know if it was because I did not like seeing her in the state she is in now, and I thought that is not a reason to do it.

As long as you want to, you keep her with you. I guess is what I am trying to say. There are many means of keeping them comfortable, and we would not do that to a family member just because they are at the end....

bottom line, you will know when(if) it is the right time.

Be strong....and trust yourself.
Avatar universal
I continue to agonize over what to do with my beautiful ginger.Today the head tremors were not observed so it may have been the side effects of one of the appetite stimulants i was giving her. She was irritable with one of the younger dogs who is always in hyperdrive but she is never cross with humans and still continues to wag her tail at everyone and looks for a pet from them. It boggles my mind that on only a few meager mouthful of nutrition that she still is running to the fence and barking at people and today her bark was fairly strong. she was actually chewing on her bone as she used to love t do and took two pieces of liverwurst but then turned her head away and walked away. Iniitiallly I was feeding her pureed dog food via a syringe and she was receptive to this but then she recently started to run away when I attempted to do this. I continue with her acupuncture hoping this provides some kind of palative support for comfort. If anyone else out there has any ideas that have worked for them please share themI have tried every kind of food possible from steak to fish to chicken to cold cuts and dog ice cream. also cream cheese and ricotta cheese.she used to love pizza crust and italian bread  and chicken mcnuggets but now no longer cares about them.Once again I know many people say you will know when its time to let go but she is an enigma .Out of all my pets death this is the most painful because according to her clinical values and ultrasounds her appetite should still be there. Once again thanks to anyone who replied to my post and i am open to anyones thoughts or expieriences
Avatar universal
I forgot to tell you my prayers are with you and I hope God or what ever higher power there is guides us both to do the right thing and lets us know when the time is right.What is wrong with your dog Peggy?
458072 tn?1291418786
Thank you...She has CHF, and enlarged heart because of it....She does like that, acts so sick some days, and then others not quite as bad. That is why I just wait.....
675347 tn?1365464245
That was why I didn't get my other dog (Toby) put to sleep as soon as he was diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer, age 14 in '99. Because yes -he was going to die -but he still had lots of energy at times, was still enjoying many things in his life, was still eating, though he had times when he didn't have a good appetite. He'd have a bad day, then the next day he'd be better again, barking and having fun.
The vet wanted me to set a date, and on that date have him put to sleep whether he was good or bad. But I couldn't do that. We had a lovely couple of weeks past that date. It was beautiful October sunshine, and he was happy. Then when the time came the symptoms became suddenly much worse, I tried medication, but all of a sudden it didn't work at all, and he was obviously in pain and could not urinate. There were no more medical options available.  At that point, having had time to view the larger picture, and having tried every option there was that night,  I decided to have him put to sleep. It was done very respectfully and very quickly.

I think the point at which to make the decision whether to have your friend and family member put to sleep....is when nothing works any more. You've tried, you've fought, but all roads lead to the same place -pain. Then you can't bear to see your loved one suffer, and dearly want to give them peace.
Avatar universal
Last september I lost my 16 year old Keeshond and it was a tough. I'm a photographer part time and was taking pictures of her two weeks before she died and that's when I saw what I took as a sign. The pictures showed her eyes being so tired and as strong willed as she was with all the issues she had it really got me wondering if it was her time. Tiffany was having renal issues and other uncontrollable problems that were getting worse. While some meds were working to keep some of it under control I could tell it was starting to wear her down. Tiffany was my first dog, adopted at age 7 from the pound so I struggled alot with this. I took her to the vet, whom I trusted completely, and he told me something very profound.

Tiffany's life at age 7 was saved, the pound told me she was supposed to be put to sleep the next day, if I hadn't adopted her. They actually delayed several times because she was such a great dog. She cost me over 10,000 in vet bills over the 9 year period but it didn't matter, she was my dog and I loved her to death. Not to mention she was part of the family. My vet said that I gave tiffany a life she wouldn't have had and not many would have spent the money or time with all of her medical issues. His main comment which has stuck with me still was this "In life we have those that impact our lives and at times we must put our feelings aside and ask if we have done everything we can and what is best for our pet." Now that at first didn't help me but when I stepped back and saw her struggles and quality of life deteriorating I knew it was time.

I know this was long but I wanted to share this with you. I still think about it today and miss her dearly. We all hope our pets go quietly in their sleep but it never seems to work out that way. When to let go is the hardest thing any of us will have to deal with. Mine was hard but her struggle, which was mine, started to make it harder to watch. Then I knew it was time.
Avatar universal
I am still agonizing what to do for my dog with chronic renal failure. Yesterday I thought for sure it was time to let her go as she was having bad tremors and had vomited her meal that day and the day before. She had acupuncture on Sunday and I noticed after that her tremors began possibly due to the increased stimulation of the nervous system. She is also on prednisone for her appetite .Her lab values were not that abnormal but yet she  refuses  to  eat much. Her breath is starting to have a faint uremic odor. When the vet came became she was still wagging her tail and walking around and he did not feel her body has gone through too much wasting he felt it was not the time to let her go and to let her enjoy her life a little more s she likes to go into the backyard and bark and greet people although she now has minimal interaction with her two dog companions.Was my husband the the doctor right. At what point do you make this decision. I dont want to loose her or see her suffer and at the same time I dont want to deprive her of life. Today she is not shaking although a little restless and appetite is fair. She is on zantac and antiemetics. Please give me some support or guidance, I know the saying that you now when it is is time but this dog is not the usual scenario. Plus can anyone suggest a natural appetite stimulant for her in  place of prednisone.Thank you
458072 tn?1291418786
It is of my opinion that when/if the time is right, you will know, and there will be no doubting. I guess what I am saying is as long as you are doubting, after it is over you would be blaming yourself because you did not truly believe she was ready.

Ask yourself if you are more miserable watching her be miserable and if this is causing some of your discomfort. I had to do that with my dog, and I discovered that I was just uncomfortable because there was a problem that I just could not fix. I am not saying that that is you, just giving you something to ponder.

It is a hard place to be, thats for sure....
Avatar universal
Hi Ziggy:  

I also know how you feel.  I've gone through this many with all my own dogs and cats and very recently with a horse.  It is SO hard every single time.  I've also lost several human family members and the pain and grief are the same for me with my animals.  

I could speak to this as a veterinarian.  But I want to comment as a pet owner - this way I can be pet owner to pet owner and leave science behind.  

My gut tells me this:  when my dog's life is no fun anymore,  when they have lost their dignity, when I look in their eyes and see the need for relief... then its time.  

that is not scientific, but I've done this many times and I am comfortable and at peace with my decision.  

You could go further and say:  when they can't move without pain, when they can't move away from their feces or urine, when they are in pain at rest, when it is a struggle to get through a day etc...  But I think you get the idea.  It is a judgment call only you can make because you know her best - and she you.  This gives you guys a special communication that even a doctor's degree can't override.  

Heroic measures medically, nutritionally, physically are really more for us and not them - if you could ask.  We cannot ask them, but the things I describe above are my way of "asking them" Is It Time? and I'll see you again very soon...there is no need for you to suffer anymore.  

This was especially hard for me to do recently with a beautiful 24 year old show horse.  horses are so majestic and proud and regal, and to see them suffering, hurting and giving up is devastating.  You can see her Memorial I posted at PetDocsOnCall.com.  It was healing for me to post pictures of her and let others know how special she was.  

There are not many other words I can say to you other than those of us out here know what you are going through.  Remember, because YOU have the special relationship with her it is your decision and I believe she will let you know.  
641243 tn?1235755684
"when my dog's life is no fun anymore,  when they have lost their dignity, when I look in their eyes and see the need for relief... then its time."  

Well put, Dr. Humphries.
Avatar universal
once again thank you for the words of wisdom and support.it is so difficult to decide .yes she is not eating like she used to and now is starting to vomit once daily. however she still trots over to greet the neighbors next door and even take a treat from them and when  family comes to visit she comes out wagging her tail. it is so hard to make the decision.
203342 tn?1328740807
If she's still wagging her tail and coming to people then it may not be time yet. She's showing interest still in her surroundings.
I knew it was time with my dog when he stopped eating and drinking and was just laying around. He had been slowly eating less and losing weight over the months (he had Cushings) but those last couple of days he stopped all together. He started getting bloody diarrhea, which freaked me out. It all happened so fast. He went downhill real fast. I agonized over what to do and I remembered someone telling me to look in their eyes and they will tell you when it's time. I looked in his eyes and they looked tired and sick, miserable, in fact. I was shocked. I scooped him up, cuddled him for awhile and took him to the vet and had them put him to sleep. It was the hardest thing I've ever done but he went so gently and quickly. I knew he wasn't suffering anymore. Yes, it's the hardest thing I've done but I couldn't be selfish and hang on to him when he was obviously suffering.
You will know when it's time. Your dog will let you know. I'm so sorry you are going through this. My thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time. *Hugs*
Avatar universal
That is one of the most difficult decisions we can make, when is the right time to let go. I agree with April2's comment and want to further state that I just put my beloved Ronin, a 6 year old retriever mix down November of last year. When you have emotions running so deeply, sometimes you have to step back and determine if your baby is suffering. If you feel that they still have quality of life and are not in pain, by all means wait. If there is no quality and your baby is suffering and in pain (you will know), it is the hardest, but I believe the most humane thing that we can do, all the while knowing that they did not suffer at the expense of us not wanting to let go.
God bless, I hope this helps a little...Jacki
889562 tn?1248893129
You know, we never think that we will know the right time to let go. But honestly, we do. There will come a time when you look at Ginger and you will absolutely know that now is the time. it will hit you like a brick and you will be sure.

My dogs have always left this earth in their own bed at home in familiar surroundings, with my arms round them.  My voice was always the very last thing they heard.  I could do no more than that.

This is the last loving thing we can do for our pet.  We can send them on in a painless and peaceful way, and end the pain and suffering.  

You will know when its the right time. It will be tough and painful, but you will know that you did the right thing and your pet will thank you for it.
793908 tn?1294708709
I am also going through the agony of losing my 9 yr. old baby mini poodle to Pancreatitis, Cushings Disease, lung problems, & many enlarged organs that probably have tumors on them. Some Vets say yes, some are not sure. I will NOT put her through a Biopsy & chemo. She is not strong enough.  I want her to live out her days happy, like she is now, not like a zombie, in pain from chemo.
I too don't know when the time is right. As many here say..."we will know when the time is right" & I am counting on that. It's heartbreaking. I agonize with you.  
When Julie has another attack of Pancreatitis, do I rush her to the Vet & treat her for the 3rd bout..she must stay there for 4 days to be treated??  If not, she will die.
What a awful decision to have to make. I just can't say goodbye yet.

I so much like what you said here...it makes alot of sense.
"In life we have those that impact our lives and at times we must put our feelings aside and ask if we have done everything we can and what is best for our pet."

Thank you to everyone who had great input in this forum.  It all helps.
Avatar universal
I want to thank each and one of you for your love and support.So far ginger  seems to be picking up and she is eating without vomiting and I pray this continues.She does not rough house with the other dogs like she used to but still likes to go out for walks and greet people and cuddle with us. My heart is also with all of you and especially with sandra and her julie,The only thing I can suggest is that you may want to try homeopathy as it has no side effects and provides comfort and also can actually improve some conditions. If you do not have a good holistic vet in your area go on line and also use Diane Steins natural healing for pets as a reference. LOVE ROBIN AND GINGER
Avatar universal
I continue my quest to help heal ginger or at least make her as comfortable as possible. right now she is on prednisone which is helping some with her appetite but i think it may make her anxious. i have already tried megace and another stimulant. does anyone know of any natural appetite stimulants or homeopathic ones. the same goes for nausea. she is on pecid ac plus cerenia plus compazine and her sub q fluids and i give her colosstrum before eating time but she still appears to have nausea as i see her lick her lips and when i approach her with food at times she will just turn her head away and walk away. also she hate the renagel which is a phosphate binder that she needs. can anyone suggest anything that is more palatable and natural. thank you again. today were having a fairly good day with ginger taking treats from the children next door and even eating some of my flounder sandwhich out of my hand.
Avatar universal
675347 tn?1365464245
Homoeopathic IPECAC might give your Ginger some relief. I'd start with 6c potency 2 tabs 3 times a day, or every 2 hours if symptoms are very bad, then space the doses out if the symptoms start to improve, cutting back to twice a day if she seems better. Then if she gets back to not appearing to have any nausea, stop dosing. Only start again if it recurs.

You could also try homoeopathic PHOSPHORUS (same dosage)
Avatar universal
I know what you are going through.  I too am going through this with my 16 yr. old dog.  She too started vomiting on July 28th and I rushed her to the hospital.  She was diagnoised with renal failure.  The doctors have started her on a 3 day IV treatment which will end tomorrow.  They will retest her blood to see if her kidneys are responding.  My dog has not eatten since Thursday and is on nausea meds and does not want to eat.  

I too am struggling along with you as to what to do.  The doctor said to put her down, but when she looks at me I feel like it's not time.  She cries when I leave the room and I really want to bring her home tomorrow.  Her spirit is still there as well as the love.  

Has your dog had any blood clots in her urine?  The nurse said that it is from the kidney?

We both are on the same renal failure timeline with our loved ones...I too struggle with knowing if it's best to put her down.  I have never done this before but don't want my dog to suffer as well.  When she cries, it's a cry of lonliness when I leave rather than a cry from renal pain.  

I too am at the same crossroad as you.  But I think my dog will decide for me soon.
Best of luck as you journey with your loved one.  It's a difficult road to travel.  
Avatar universal
It is such a roller coaster ride and not a happy one at that. On Friday Sat and sunday ginger had three great days, Her appetite was good and she was relaxed and enjoying  being outside just sniffing the aire and barking at people. Then yesterday she did not want to eat again, She took a few lousy pieces of liver and treats and even refused her favorite flounder which she always scoffs up. When I came home last night she was trembling. Sh e continues to try and go eat grass outside.She paces when I try to give her food and she runs away after taking a few meager bites, yesterday she had her regular dosesages of prednisone compazine and cernenia plus her daily iv fluids. I dont see her trebling today but she is not eating and acting as if food makes her nauseated, Her breath is not uremic,  I also have been given her lypodium and nux vomica homeopathic pellets.
Can anyone suggest any natural alterrnatives for appetite and also nausea. and indigestion. since dogs try to eat grass when they have an upset stomache should I try to make a spearmint or mint water to give her. Im desperate to help my baby girl . Right now she is resting comfortably next to me while i seek help. please excuse misspellings as Im just so devistated. Should I continue to give her syringe feedings of baby food until her stomache feels a little better. is there something natural to give her to calm her. love and peace  robin and ginger
Avatar universal
currently my  dog ginger is on cernia for nausea and compazine plus prednisone. i noticed that she has increased tremors especially at night and am wondering if anyone else out there has seen this as a side effect with any of these medciations when treating their dogs with chronic renal failure
212161 tn?1537898045
i lost my sweet baby boy last year, he let me know he was ready by the way he acted that day and the things he did,

would not take the pills the dr gave us to give him, he loved the pill pockets and would always take them, if not for me always for my hubby. but that day he clinched his teeth together and refused another pill.

took to vet that afternoon, he hated going to the back rooms always tried to get back out fron door , not that day he walked towards the back and stoped and looked like ok its time, am ready to be at peace no pain and will be able to breath again. he was 17 my little man very spoiled and so loved

they say they will tell you , he did , he knew and when i looked at him i knew. i was not going let him go another min trying to breath and suffer so i did what was right for him, i love him so much and to this day i cry. i know have another one shes  my girl, could not get another boy or a black/white one  because i loved him so much.

hang in there , but plz dont wait to long, i know youo want shes your baby and you will do the right thing to. God Bless you .
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