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Dr.Beth, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 631
Experience:  Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota
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i have a maltese who is now 11 years old and was diagnosed

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i have a maltese who is now 11 years old and was diagnosed with a liver shunt. recently she has been very wierd. stumbling , having troul ble walking and eating it all most seems theat she is very disorinentated and very lethgaric and i love her so very much but i think it is time for me to put her down as she seems to be failing fast and i dont want her to suffer-please! tell me if i am making the right decesion.
Hi lulu,

I am sorry to hear about your friend. Liver disease and liver failure in older dogs unfortunately can progress quite rapidly. The liver is responsible for filtering out toxins in the blood and metabolizing nutrients in the food for use by the body. When the liver is not functioning properly it can make a dog feel quite lousy and even cause neurological problems (the disorientation you are seeing).   There are some drugs available to try to help reduce these symptoms, but they are not a cure.

I find that when I am in this situation with one of my dogs, it helps to ask myself a number of questions about the quality of my dogs life:

Is she in pain?

Is she able to do the things that she enjoys (for some dogs this is running or playing fetch or climbing on the couch)?

Is she eating and drinking normally?

Does she sleep most of the day?

Does she interact with me normally?

I try to answer these questions not just for one day, but look at the trend. It sounds like your dog is showing signs of the progression of her disease.

If you are getting more negative answers than positive, than her quality of life is probably not great and the kindest option may be euthanasia. This is a decision that is best discussed with your family, and even close friends can offer insights into this decision.

Most people wait too long for euthanasia, hoping that their friend will pass away quietly in their sleep. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. I think euthanasia is the last gift we can give to a dog that has been your friend for so many years. I do not think that you are being cruel to consider euthanasia of your dog in this situation.

I am sorry,

Dr. Beth

Dr.Beth and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
thank you for your info and i just wanted to let you know that i have 2 other malteses that are now 12 and 15 and they are very happy i just wish that there was a website that helped grieving pet owners.thank you for your input
Sorry for the delay. I stepped away from the computer for a short while.

Many people feel profound grief at the loss of their dog. It is easy to understand, as they can become our best friend and constant companion for a decade or more.

You may find this link helpful:

There are online grief groups that you might find helpful. Here is one:
They meet online every Thursday morning. If you go to the 'Support Group' button, you can get instructions to sign up to be a member.

This is also a phone number for a support hotline run by the University of Michigan:(NNN) NNN-NNNN The hours are:
Tues ~ Wed ~ Thurs
6:30 - 9:30 p.m. EST*
If you call outside of these hours, you can leave a message and they will call you back during the next session.

Please let me know if you would like further resources.

Dr. Beth

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