Loving her Basset Hound

How Do I Know When It’s Time?

How Do I Know When It’s Time?

Flash and Patches went to the vet last week. Their joints hurt. They pant all the time. They’re 15 years old. I’ve never been this far along in the aging journey with a dog, so I asked the vet, “How do I know when it’s time?” First she walked me through all of the things she knew about my dogs.

  • Their gums and teeth are pink, meaning they’re healthy
  • Their weight is holding steady
  • Their hearts have a slight murmur, but that’s expected with age, and they’re still beating well
  • Their temperatures are fine

Then she asked a ton of questions. She prescribed Rimadyl for pain and gave them each an Adequan shot. She recommends I bring them in once a month for the shot and keep them on pain killers. At 15 they have nothing to lose. And, of course, I’ll keep giving them the Synovi G4 and their Windees from Jones Natural Chews.

Flash and Patches - how do I know when it's time?

Signs that A Dog Is Nearing the End

Again I asked, “How do I know when it’s time?” She broke down some things which will help me to recognize the end when it’s near. The signs are:

  • Muddy colored tongue and gums – this indicates that not enough oxygen is circulating through the system
  • Dog stops eating and drinking
  • Incontinence – peeing in the house, or in the place which it sleeps
  • Can’t make it outside to the bathroom – with tiny dogs it’s easy enough to carry them outside, but with 60 pound dogs, not only is it difficult for me to get them in and out every time, it’s uncomfortable to the dog, being lifted and taken in and out multiple times a day
  • Weight loss – I assume this doesn’t always happen when the dog stops eating, but can happen for other reasons
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Dementia – the dog wanders around the backyard without remembering how to find the door is what she mentioned as a sign

A Good Vet Visit

This was a good vet visit. I’m always a little nervous that it will be our last, since I just didn’t know what to look for. I think that the question, “How do I know when it’s time?” is a good one to ask the vet once a dog or cat is advanced in age. Now I know that I don’t really have to worry or panic, but that I can watch for some pretty specific signs. My own dogs got a clean bill of health for advanced seniors. They’re in pain, but it’s extremely manageable.

If you have a senior dog and it’s exhibiting any of the above symptoms, get it to your vet, STAT. Your dog will thank you. Ask questions. Prepare yourself and your dog and family. I’m not sure, yet, how I’ll be preparing. These are my babies. There’s part of me that’s very grateful they didn’t cross the Rainbow Bridge while I was battling cancer last year. And there’s part of me that knows they’ll be at peace and pain free when it’s time for them to go. But there’s an even bigger part of me that will be two Aussie sized holes for a very long time.

I’m just glad that now I know better what to look for. Maybe I’ll even start preparing myself for that day and hour.

Spreading the good chews …

Flea

7 thoughts on “How Do I Know When It’s Time?

  1. This is a question I’ve been asking a lot, and writing about, lately because of Toby’s cancer. It so difficult. Sounds like your vet is awesome.

  2. I’m glad the vet gave you clear answers and signs you can look for. It’s never easy making those decisions, but having an idea of what’s going on should help in the process.

  3. Flea, that’s a great piece, thank you for printing it. My own Lilly (12) is panting more and more, and I can see her slowing down… Warts all over her body… and now something going on with one foot (we go to the vet on Monday). I’m going to ask him the same question.
    Mary Ann recently posted..It’s Flower TimeMy Profile

  4. I am not quite there yet with Wilson but I know it is coming. It is the hardest decision to make. I have had him on every other day Deramaxx for a while now and that seems to help, plus the highest quality food and supplements. Hopefully there are at least a couple more good years at a minimum.

    At least as pet bloggers, we all have a lot of very understanding friends.
    Taryn recently posted..Wilson’s Walk Went One Way on Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  5. i know you wrote this blog for me. i just cant do it unless she is in pain or cant eat anymore. the only family i have are my 3 dogs and they mean so much to me. i will do everything in my power to keep her with me as long as she is not in any pain or does not want to eat anymore. we went to the vet on monday for blood work and the vet even said it is not time. Evie has a very strong will to live. she will eat for me. she has been very active the past few days, so much that i had to give her something to settle her down. i know the cancer has spread a lot in her chest and the cancer vet soon it would interfere with her eating. Evie follows me and wants to be held constantly. time is not on her side. she has outlived over 80% of dogs with her type of cancer, Histiocytic sarcoma, which is fatal. most dogs only live a few weeks. Evie has been living with this since oct 2016. she is on her 3rd form of chemo. i asked my reg vet why the constant changes at the cancer vet. she said b/c they cant seem to understand why she is still going….they are confused why she is still so active, eating, playing, etc. because she should have died a long time ago. i think she has such a will to live, and be with me. i am exhausted from caring for her, however, she is the main thing. i hand feed her. sometimes she will eat out of her bowl, but with her dementia, she forgets to continue to eat. i spoon feed her. she will spit out the food if she has had enough. she looks at me, lovingly. we dont put people down for having dementia or cancer, so why would i do it to my dogs who are my children to me. i dont care abt the incontinence, i put down tarps in my house. she tries to make it to the door but when i am not home or asleep, she uses the tarps. she knows where the food is, the water bowl, the door, etc. she knows when it is time to eat and pushes up against me in the kitchen. she is my baby and has been for almost 16 years. i will not put her down if she wants to live.

  6. It’s awesome your dogs have made it to 15. Your doing something right. Thanks for this informative post.

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