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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 10379
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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My dog Jake is 14 and 1/2 golden retriever. Last April he

Customer Question

Hi Dr., My dog Jake is 14 and 1/2 golden retriever. Last April he was poisoned by a bone (still on the market!) and had cluster seizures etc. immediately after eating some of it. These seizures caused brain damage (in my opinion) with neurological damage of some part of his brain. This was his first (ever) seizure he had. Since then he has been on phenol. He weighs 72 lbs. So, he has good and bad days. Lately has had many "almost" seizures, and is refusing to eat (this is day 3). He has pain (arthritis) and I give him something that works with that. This morning, he will not get up like usual. I am a spiritual person, I feel like he's telling me to please put him down but I'm not sure yet. What do you suggest to patients.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Deb. I'll do my best to help you today.
I'm sorry that Jake is having so many issues; I know this must be terribly difficult for you both.
As you might imagine, this question of when to let go is raised quite a lot since this situation is one which many pet owners have to confront.
There isn't always a clear cut answer to this question in every case, unfortunately.
For me, it comes down to quality of life issues; this is the priority although often this is very subjective between individuals. But I also strongly believe that our pets communicate with us and in most cases, will let us know when they are ready to go, when they're tired of the struggle.
When contemplating this decision, I ask my owners to consider the following questions:
1. Does your pet have more good days than bad ones? Sometimes it helps to keep track of them on the calendar.
2. Do they still enjoy doing the things they used to enjoy doing (even if for shorter periods of time) or are they too painful, tired or weak to do so?
3. What is their attitude like? Are they lethargic/depressed or upbeat and enjoying interaction with the family?
I find that if you can answer these questions honestly and objectively, then it often helps make this difficult decision.
My personal opinion is that it's best to let our pets go before they deteriorate too far, while there's still some dignity to their lives but this is only my personal opinion. For me, quality of life trumps quantity.
I'm not certain if it's Jake's time yet or not but his reluctance to eat, his inability or unwillingness to get up this morning and his heavy breathing could be indicators that the time is getting very close.
He could also be in pain since I've seen some dogs behave as he is doing when they hurt...even though he may not be actively vocalizing.
If he's not currently taking pain medication such as Tramadol or Gabapentin, then I'd encourage you to discuss these drugs with your vet.
If he is taking these drugs (one or the other or both), then there's quite a safe dosage range so that perhaps they could be increased if I know what he's currently taking.
It's not uncommon for our older pets to have more than one problem at a time; it's possible that his respiratory issues could be secondary to problems in his chest such as cancer, I'm sad to say.
This is obviously a heartbreaking situation and I know you want to do what's best for Jake. I hope this helps to provide some perspective as you contemplate how best to made these decisions. Deb