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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 25587
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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my 15 year old dal is having trouble with his back legs giving

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my 15 year old dal is having trouble with his back legs giving out. i have hardwood floors but have put down throw rugs every where. his legs give out when he is on his couple of days walks. i have adaped "his" chair so it is easier for him to get in. i took out a cushin to make it lower and put a soft blanket down on it. he is off his food (still eating but i think not as much), he does not seem happy most of the time but some of the time he acts like his old puppy self. when, how do i make a decision to put him down. i have had him since he was 6 months old.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
Quality of life decisions are difficult for all of us. At such an advanced age, good hospice care is essential and includes adapting his environment as you've nicely done, effective pain control by the judicious use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and narcotics, and spoiling him rotten by feeding him anything his heart desires. Please note that Cosequin will be more effective in the joints of his hips and legs than in his spine. There will come a time when he is unable to rise from a prone position and take his daily walks. His pain may become uncontrollable from the spinal condition I suspect he suffers from. He may become anorexic from that pain or a degenerative hepatic or renal insufficiency. These are the disorders that prompt our performing the final kindness for our pets. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
he does not seem to be in any pain at all. when i see he can't get up i help him. is there any chance of his breaking a leg if this happens when i am not at home
I've not seen geriatric dogs fracture a bone by falling at home but it's not beyond the realm of possibility. A pathological fracture would be the most likely kind of fracture but that's seen secondary to bone cancers which aren't likely to be present in a non-painful dog such as Duke. If you're concerned that he may hurt himself by tumbling down, however, it would be prudent to confine him in a "safe" place while you're not at home. Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
i am not sure what you mean by a pathological fracture and confining him in my home is not an option because of it's layout. my opinion now is that i accept that i have to put him down now while he is still somewhat able to get around or wait a little while (my being selfish). most of the time he spends the day just laying in "his" chair, sleeping while i am at work. he also has cataracts but is not blind and until 2 months ago could make it upstairs to sleep in my bed which he has done since i got him. being a dal he has been attached to my hip since the beginning. it is also hard on me because when he can't get up i have to help him and i have arthritis problems in my hands and my spine. i have also spent almot $3,000 over the last 2 years on him having him neutered at 13 because of adenomas on his butt and then a non-cancerous growth on his neck so money now has become a problem. you mentioned hospice but do you mean hospice at home. and trust me when he does eat he eats off plates of regular human food now.
A pathological fracture is a fracture that occurs through a diseased part of bone - usually a bone cancer. As I mentioned above, bone cancer isn't present in Duke - it's terribly painful and you've told me that he doesn't seem to be in any pain at all.

I understand your concerns. Euthanizing before he becomes incapacitated is not unreasonable. If you requested my euthanizing Duke, I would do that for you and him. Your limitations in being able to assist him are an important factor to consider. I'm not immune to financial constraints either. I wouldn't expect your having to spend that kind of money at this point, however. His hospice at home should consist of letting him do what he wants rather than expensive treatments and care. I'm pleased that he gets to eat off your plates now. I hope that when I'm his age (92!) nobody will tell me what and when to eat. Please let me know if I've addressed your concerns adequately. Don't hesitate to ask me further questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
thank you Dr. Salkin. you have reassured me that my thoughts about euthanizing before he becomes incompacitated are not unreasonable hard as they may be. i thought i was being stupid because he has been my "son" for so long. I would rather see him as he is today rather than how bad he can be tomorrow. i also know that my limitations and health problems have to be foremost in my deicsion. he has been loved, pampered, spoiled and has received a million kisses in his 14 and a half years with me. i truly do not have any more money to spend on him as i have my own health problems. getting old (63) is not for the weak and i have had some problems recently myself. you have been extremely helpful and sympathetic to my predictament. i have one last question. isn't 15 years old pretty good for a dal. he is 3/4 dal and 1/4 black lab. truly last question.
I've got you beat by a couple of years. Thank goodness that Medicare kicks in in a few months. 15 years of age is remarkable for those large breeds. It's a testament to your good care. Stay strong and be well.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
when i do make the decision it will be the hardest thing i have ever done. thank you so much for your thoughts and insight. u probably look so young living in hawaii. you have been very helpful. my decision won't be tomorrow but it will be soon. aloha and again thank you. you have helped me very much.
You're quite welcome. Thank you for your kind words.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
just wanted to let you know Duke is still going strong. he is still having problems but is still quite active on his walks. he has resumed eating and his disposition has gotten sunnier. i am glad i decided to wait even tho i know that there will soon be time when i have to make the decision. but as long as he seems happy and somewhat healthy and is eating well, i will just take it one day at a time. again, thank you for your help and concern.
Thank you for the very good update. I appreciate it. Duke sounds as if he's going to be with you for quite a while longer!

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