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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14883
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Our labradoodle is 7, she has a collapsed trachea from an

Customer Question

Our labradoodle is 7, she has a collapsed trachea from an repeated injury (running beyond the end of her tether). She is not herself, doesn't play, looks sad, has lost 10 libs from 71 to 61. Seems listless. Her honking cough only allows her to eat watered down dry food, no hard treats. Even then she will cough up some of it with lots of mucus. WE do not have a lot of money and also do not want to put her through alot of pain. No one in our area even does the surgery to correct the problem. Are we being selfish to consider putting her down?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Lucy is having a rough go of it. While a collapsing trachea will cause a cough and can make them lethargic because they have difficulty exchanging oxygen with exertion I would not expect it to make it difficult for her to eat hard food or swallow. And dogs with a collapsing trachea generally gain weight due to inactivity rather than lose weight.

I am concerned that she may have some loss of esophageal function too, due to nerve damage, and may be suffering from megaesophagus which is an enlarged, poorly functioning esophagus. Rather than being a muscular tube to pass food from the mouth to the stomach it becomes enlarged and the muscles flabby leading to food accumulating and possibly being regurgitated later.

That would certainly explain her weight loss.

I understand that you are struggling with whether it is appropriate to consider letting her go via humane euthanasia now. I try and guide clients on this very difficult decision by asking them if they believe they would want to live the way their beloved pet is.

I ask if their pet is still able to do the things that they have always enjoyed (albeit for a shorter period of time).

I also ask if they believe that their pet is comfortable most of the time and is living with dignity.

I ask if their pet is able to eat and drink, and maintain their weight.

I ask if their pet is less social than previously because they don't feel well.

If you honestly answer these questions I believe you will come to the best decision for your girl.

I believe humane euthanasia is a gift we can give our pets when their quality of life is poor.

I understand that for your family financially there isn't much that you can do the change things for her.

I think that you are asking this question because logically you know she is uncomfortable, but your heart doesn't want to lose her. That is very understandable with a well loved pet. But I also can see that you are uncomfortable seeing her struggle and not enjoy life. So I don't think that your question is selfish, but that you may feel guilty because you cannot do more for her.

Euthanasia is not painful.

It is simply an overdose of anesthesia. All your pup will feel is the placement of an intravenous catheter or the pinprick of a needle.

They get very sleepy, become mentally unaware and then their heart stops, which leads to low oxygen and brain death.

I do think her quality of life isn't very good now. But you have to be able to reconcile that decision. Be honest in your assessment and I think you will make the right decision.

I can give you some tips that may make things easier for her at the appointment. If you feel it would be stressful for her you can ask for a tranquilizer before the procedure.

And if you wish staying with her while she goes can be very helpful for you and her, IF you can be gentle and reassuring for her. I find that dogs with owners who can be relatively calm and loving let go much more peacefully.

But if the owners are upset then they tend to fight the effects of the overdose of anesthesia and it is rougher for them, and then of course for you.

If you feel you cannot be calm and reassuring for her don't worry that she won't be well loved and taken care of. We are gentle and hug and speak softly to them as they pass. They do not pass alone and afraid.

If you can, you should make her appointment for the first or last appointment of the day so there are no distractions and the clinic is quiet.

In the meantime if you want to try some things to help make her more comfortable I can give you some suggestions to help if she may be affected by megaesophagus.

You might try elevating her food and water bowls and making her stay in an upright position (front paws up on a chair back or table) after eating and drinking to allow gravity to help pull the liquids down into her stomach.

Sometimes it helps to make her food a slurry of blenderized food and broth or warm water so it can slide down her esophagus rather than having dry chunks get caught.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.