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Dr. Elizabeth
Dr. Elizabeth, Veterinary Internist
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 730
Experience:  I am a veterinary internal medicine specialist with over 20 years of experience.
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When do I know the right time to euthanize my dog She has bone cancer. X-rays show severe

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When do I know the right time to euthanize my dog? She has bone cancer. X-rays show severe eating away of her left shoulder and leg bone. Her leg is completely hanging and she can put zero pressure on her leg. Amputation is not an option ... she is 130 lbs and has bad hips, and a titanium knee. However, her appetite is great and is still happy and wagging her tail. I do not want her to suffer, yet don't want to take away any quality time she might have. How do I know when is the right time?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Elizabeth replied 6 years ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer.


I am so sorry that you are going through this with your Cheeney. Tough situation for all involved,


Bone cancer is indeed very painful and as you are experiencing the oral meds often can't control the pain. Long acting opiods (extended release oral morphine) can be added instead of the tramadol, but there is still pain involved.


If you don't think that bone biopsy/amputation is an option, you might still consider radiation simply for pain control. With this we usually give three or four dose of radiation to the affected area and this is quite effective for pain control.....but doesn't really prolong life....just help with pain.


I really watch for decreases in appetite to be a good indicator of when the time is right to consider euthanasia. This is not always the case for some "chow hounds", and you have to consider if there are any pressure sores forming on her elbows and hips and how much you can handle helping her get around.


She sounds like a dog with a great spirit. Making the choice for when euthanasia is the right thing is so personal, and honestly, I have had clients that make the choice as soon as the diagnosis is suspected. Others wait until the dog is having trouble breathing (implying metastasis in the lungs). You just have to look at what you consider good quality of life for her and then decide. It is never easy!! I feel for you as I had to make the same choice with my dog several years ago.




Dr. Elizabeth

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for your answer. This is such a difficulty time for our family. You mentioned you've had people euthanize when they get the diagnosis ... this is what I keep thinking ... earlier rather than later to save her the pain and trauma. She is so big ... bigger than me ... so helping her get around is very difficult.


I feel so guilty about doing it sooner ... is it inhumane? She is such a young soul ... a sweet and naive being. I don't want her last days marred by sickness and pain. I fear I am being selfish ... I want to do what is best for her ... is doing it sooner better for her?

Expert:  Dr. Elizabeth replied 6 years ago.

It is certainly not inhumane to euthanize sooner rather than is just a choice that you have to make based on all of the pieces of the puzzle to put together.


You can not feel guilty about this decision, but like myself and many others, you always second guess yourself.


Think of it this way.....she doesn't know she has cancer. All she knows is that she has pain. She still just wants to please you, and if she acts painful or sad she likely is aware that it doesn't make you she continues to try to be happy. That is what makes most dogs so wonderful...they just want to please us!


The worse case scenario is if he leg fractures at the site of the tumor. Then she really might not want to get up and move around and then you are really in a tough situation.


You don't want her to be in pain. The only options then are radiation therapy and continued pain medications or euthanasia. It sounds so simple....but isn't!


See how the oncologist thinks she is doing compared to other giant breed dogs with the same condition that he/she has seen. They will be able to tell you their opinion and help you make the choice.


Hang in there. You obviously love her dearly and don't want to lose her, but it is hard to not be selfish.


Dr. E

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