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Dog Gone Problems: When it's time to say goodbye to your dog

Dog Gone Problems: When it's time to say goodbye to your dog

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Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him at dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com.

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Dog Gone Problems,

On Feb. 2, my faithful companion Dalmatian, Farley, went over the rainbow bridge. Farley was 14. This is the second time I have had to say goodbye to one of my dogs. It is by far the worst part of having a dog.

A little over a year ago, Farley had a spinal stroke which interrupted the blood flow to his hind quarters. It took him several months before he gained enough strength to walk around unassisted again. Due to his old age and the atrophy of his muscles, I watched him struggle to gain more than adequate strength over the course of several more months.

I did everything I could to help him recover, including doggy chiropractic visits, acupuncture, water therapy, CBD oil, massages and very slow and determined walks every day. This went on for more than a year.

About two months before I put Farley down, I had a few people comment on how I was being cruel by keeping this old dog alive. I was so shocked at the insensitivity of these people, that I was at a loss for words. I had been very diligent about watching Farley to make sure he was not in pain or suffering. While he had his ups and downs, he was in good spirits. For the most part, he was alert, interested in his food, leaned in for pets and complained if he was ever left in a room unaccompanied. He was living life and enjoying it.

When I returned home from a work trip in January, I noticed Farley was having some labored breathing at times. He also seemed to have difficulty finding a position that was comfortable, and when he was laying down he would sometimes chatter his teeth. These are all indications that a dog is not feeling well or could be in pain.

I realized then that my buddy was suffering and, although his quality of life was OK at times, it had become the rule instead of the exception.

So I arranged to have my vet come to my home to do the procedure there so that my other dogs could support me and Farley and to witness his passing. If you are considering euthanasia, some vets offer this in-home option and I would strongly suggest you consider it.

I knew it was time, but it was still one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. With that being said, here are few pieces of advice if you are wondering if your dog is at the end of his or her journey.

  • Does your dog have the ability to move around on its own? Or with limited assistance?
  • Does your dog move around without indications of being in pain (shaking, teeth chattering, able to find a comfortable spot)?
  • Does your dog have activities that it still enjoys, such as going for walks or being around you?
  • Does your dog have a normal appetite for food?
  • Does your dog complain if it finds itself away from you?
  • Does your dog’s behavior seem to be relatively normal?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, your dog is likely still in good shape and has a good quality of life. However, if you answered no to some or all of those questions, it’s possible that your dog’s quality of life is less than it should be. This may be a time to discuss your dog with your veterinarian, as well as the family members and people that know him or her well.

Euthanasia is a tough subject. If you have a friend or family member whose dog is elderly and you think it could be suffering, bringing up the subject of euthanasia isn't a great idea. Instead, I suggest asking how the dog is doing.

Also, if you know of someone who is considering putting a dog down for anything outside of health or extreme aggression issues, I would advise you to speak up. There are a number of rescue group that would be interested in taking the dog.

You might wonder who would want a dog with an issue like incontinence? But I can tell you there are many people out there with big hearts who would gladly open their homes to dogs with issues.

Dogs deserve a good life. If you have a dog, go spend some time with it. Don’t take time for granted. I speak from experience. They'll be gone before you know it.

David

Submit your pet questions to David Codr by emailing a photo of your dog and question to dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com. Visit doggoneproblems.com for more from David.


Meet the 10 (very good) dogs who have been at the Nebraska Humane Society the longest:

Omaha World-Herald: Momaha

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