Another "old doggie nearing the end" thread (long) (and sad): update, dog has died (07-14-22)

My Sweetie is 16 and the time is coming soon. I’ve done this Quality of Life Scale for Pets online calculator a couple of times over the past few weeks. On a scale of 8 to 80, I get 46.

Here she is in better times.

What’s going on:

AM and PM, she’s on 100 mg Carprovet, 100 mg gabapentin, 50 mg tramadol. She does not appear to be in pain. Her breathing is regular, but she may pant for a while sometimes. She does seem a little out of it, but she still comes looking for me, and knows her name. She has never been a cuddly dog, and it doesn’t seem to me that my sitting with her and petting her brings her any comfort. When I talk to her (and I make a huge fuss over her when she comes to me), she wags her tail. When we go for a walk she stops and sniffs for long periods of time deep in the neighborhood lawns–very engaged with the scents. Not looking for Cat Poop Snacks as much as she used to (thank goodness). Her walking outside is good. She gets good traction on grass.

She can still get up to her feet in the house on her own 90% of the time. She can’t get traction on my hardwood floors, so currently the house is wall-to-wall with carpets and yoga mats. If she lies down (or falls) on a spot that’s not covered by a mat, I have to help her, but she assists and gets up readily. She’s long-legged and weighs about 44 lbs. Her walking is sometimes shaky, but other times, she moves right along, especially outside.

As soon as she gets out of bed in the morning, she heads straight for the kitchen to see her food that I’ve (usually) already put in her bowl. She gave up eating dry food a few months ago. I feed her a variety of high quality stuff, good dog food, plus beef, rotisserie chicken, hard cooked eggs, cottage cheese. She is still eating a pretty good amount (about 7-10 oz. total), but it might take her all day to eat it. She eats most of her food in the evening, even late at night.

She has not been incontinent in the house except for a couple of occasions when she fell and (I think) had an accident due to her distress. I leave my back door standing open in the daytime so my cats can go in and out, and she readily takes herself out when she needs to go. Some days she wants to go for a walk, but other days shows no interest or actually turns around and goes back in the house after I put the leash and harness on her. The next door neighbor has four yappy dogs in their yard, and when they’re all outside yapping, Sweetie doesn’t like to walk past them.

She sleeps a lot. Some mornings she doesn’t get out of her dog bed until 9 or 10 am (when she does that, I sing her the nursery rhyme “A Diller, a Dollar”), and sometimes she gets up at 6 am with me. The other day, I got up and 6 and she was already in the living room waiting for me.

She has a hard time getting settled at night. She’ll get in her bed and lie there for a few minutes and then get up and walk a few steps away then come back to bed. She will cycle through this maybe five or six times over 30-40 mins until she settles for the night. She may get up a couple of times during the night (don’t we all?). I need to be alert in case she wants to go outside, but usually she takes a few steps in the hall and then gets back in bed. As a result of this routine, my sleep is utter crap. I don’t mind, because I know it’s temporary. :cry:

About 10 days ago she started losing big clumps of fur from her flank area. I had been giving her Dreamcoat (omega-3s) but stopped during a period when she was eating a can of sardines or mackerel every day. She has given up on the fish, so I ordered another bottle of Dreamcoat and will put her back on that. I texted a picture of her fur loss to the veterinarian, but she didn’t have much to say about it. She thought starting her back on Dreamcoat was a good idea.

I’ve told the vet I don’t plan to take any extraordinary measures to prolong her life, and for that reason I really don’t want to take her to the animal hospital because just getting her in the car is so stressful for both of us. Anyway, they have tile floors and she cannot stand up on slippery surfaces. I don’t think there’s anything they can tell me that would be useful. Alas, the next time I put her in the car will be the last time. I just want what time she has left to be as comfortable and pleasant as it can be.

I hope I know when it’s time. She’s only the third dog I will have had to make that decision about. I’ve had to do it with quite a few cats, and I have been guilty of waiting too long with some of them. Over 20 years ago, I had a cat that was quickly declining, and I told my mother about the situation. My mother was NOT an animal lover and was also not a very sensitive person TBH, but on that occasion she said something wise, “Are you keeping the cat alive for her or for you?” That clarified the issue with the cat and I took her in soon after. I ask myself that question about Sweetie, but I don’t think I’m keeping her alive for me.

If I did decide that tomorrow or the next day was to be her last day, that not would be wrong. At this point, it could be any time. But she is still engaged with this life, to some extent. I don’t want to wait too long, but I don’t want to rush her either. She does not seem to be suffering, although she’s not having much fun. She has never been a playful, happy-go-lucky dog. She was dumped out in the country where I lived and was fully grown when she joined the household in 2007. My ex-boyfriend (the one who died a couple of weeks ago – see my other thread) gave her the name Sweetie, because she is truly the sweetest dog in the world. Having to deal with her impending death in close proximity to his death compounds my sad feelings about the troubled relationship with him.

I know others here have gone through this, too. I’d be interested in your comments even though I know they will make me cry.

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading. I didn’t want it to be this long, but I didn’t know what to leave out.

The following paragraph is from my Feb 2017 thread when I had to take in Sweetie’s companion and pal, Buddy. Looking back, Sweetie isn’t even close to being as bad off as The Budster was. I think I may have let Buddy go on too long … :frowning_face:

Your doggie is adorable.

Usually, if you think it’s “time”, then it is.

Look to see if there are any vets who do in-home euthanasia. We’ve used them for the last couple old friends who had to be put down. It costs extra but emotionally it was better for us, the friend, and the rest of the pack.

Oh, and hugs. Being a steward sucks from time to time.

We’re going through it right now with our dog Buddy. He’s a little over 15 years old now and his heart murmur has gotten worse so he’s on meds for that. He sleeps a lot during the day, sometimes he has a hard time settling down at night, and he’s prone to peeing in the house at times even after we’ve taken him out multiple times. We still have the Christmas tree up because it’s Buddy’s favorite spot to sleep right now.

But for the most part he doesn’t have a great deal of difficulty getting around and he still seems like his normal happy self. I’m also hoping I don’t have to make any hard decisions and that he keels over while playing or falls asleep and just doesn’t wake up. But if he gets to the point where he’s miserable all the time I’ll be with him at the vet and as his eyes close he’ll be in my arms with my wife and I telling him what a good dog he is.

Edit: I just used the quality of life scale and got a 49.

I was going to suggest this. I’ve done this for my last ones, too. When my Jace was near the end, I let the vet talk me into bringing her in to try to try to give her a little more time. Then she died while I was on the way to pick her up that afternoon. That still haunts me. Since then, I want them to be home, at peace, surrounded by the things they know and love in their last moments.

I’m so sorry it’s time for her and you. Making the final decision is the hardest part of loving an animal.

ThelmaLou, I am so sorry to hear about what is upcoming. It’s one of the hardest things we ever have to do. I once saw two cards in a store that were consoling people on losing a pet. The difference between the two was that one was for folks who had a pet put down. Your love for Sweetie is obvious, and nobody can say you didn’t do your best. I had pets put down, it’s the last best thing I could do, but it hurts so badly. It may be hard, but I stayed with them through the procedure and hopefully they carried a memory of me as they crossed the bridge. Your Sweetie can feel the love, never doubt that.


Will be holding you and sweetie in the light.

ThelmaLou I recently went through this with my beloved Cinnamon. He went from being himself to not himself really quick. He stopped eating and drinking. He couldn’t make the hop up into the car. Cancer sucks. I’m still not over it.

This is an important sentence.
She will try to be strong for you as long as she can, don’t make her.

Much love to you and Sweetie.

And now I’m going to bed crying.

You’re so attuned to Sweetie’s status, needs, and state of mind that you don’t need to worry that you won’t know when it’s time. You put it so well when you said she’s “still engaged in this life.” She’s eating without being coaxed, enjoys your loving attention, and isn’t suffering. You’ll know when that starts to change.

And another vote for a vet who’ll come to your home. My English setter hated car rides even when younger and would shake like a leaf. The vet came to our house to put him down, and I was so grateful. He got teary-eyed, and I was grateful for that, too. If Sweetie can leave you from her own good bed, you’ll both feel better.

Big hugs. I’m sorry you’ve had such a tough go of it lately.

Bear is 14 and scores a 50 on the quality of life test. He’s a little dotty, just got over his literal first illness in his life (respiratory infection and still has some goopy eye issues) and is a little unsteady on his feet with some pain in his hips. He’s on Rimadyl and Cosequin and has gabapentin available if he gets more pained. He loves his food and treats and scritches but I’m aware he is probably not too long for this world–he’s a big dog, 75 lb and is at a venerable age for his size. When the time comes I will NOT wait until he’s so debilitated his quality of life is nonexistent–I’d 100% rather send him along a few days early than even a day too late. He doesn’t understand time, as is the case with all dogs, and when they’re in pain it’s a forever thing for them and I love him too much to sentence him to that kind of misery. When it’s time I’ll call Lap of Love (or hopefully, call my friend the vet who works for them but doesn’t cover my area any more–she’s known Bear for many years and I’d like her to be his final friend) and he’ll pass gently at home with his head on my lap after enjoying a triple chocolate brownie. He’s been a Good Dog all his life and a fierce protector and I’ll miss him forever but that’s the deal with dogs, they give us so much love and in return we give them care and love and a peaceful passage.

You’ll know when it’s time, just make sure you’re listening.

So much kindness, compassion, and wisdom in these replies! A million thank yous.

This is so wise. I’ll park this right next to my mother’s advice about my cat of long ago.

This is very helpful.

Very wise! I definitely agree.

Any thoughts on the sudden excessive hair shedding? It only started about two weeks ago and got bad really fast. I’m wondering if it could be a sign of anxiety and stress and should prompt a choice to do it sooner, in spite of her still eating, being engaged with me, etc. She has always been a sensitive, anxiety-prone dog. She takes after me that way. :slightly_smiling_face: (There are two pictures. Click for second one.)

Similar hair loss happened with our very old dog Ella last November. Her quality of life declined so gradually it was difficult to know when the time had come. December 26 we made the decision. It wasn’t easy, this is the first time I’ve been able to mention it.

The hair loss is called telogen effluvium. There are many causes, “stress” being one, rapid hormonal change another. Basically what’s happening is that many follicles are all in the telogen phase (resting?). It is reversible, but is common in end of life situations

Thank you for that very informative answer.

I’m so sorry for the loss of your Ella.

I did some googling, now that I have a search term, and apparently Carprovet (an NSAID) can cause hair loss. She’s been on that twice a day for a long time.

We just lost our beloved Corgi two days after Christmas due to cancer. We were going to take him in but he went at home before we could do so. I am happy he went at home, surrounded by family. I am so sorry for your loss.


They’ll tell you. Sometimes what they tell you is that they just want to stay home and fall asleep in a favored spot. Sometimes what they tell you is that something’s wrong in a way that needs help. Sometimes there’s only one last way to give that help.

Long-distance hugs to you; and to everyone else in this thread who is going and/or has gone through this. It’s hard. It’s what we have to give in order to love.

When I knew Ella did not have much time, I spoiled the heck out of her. I took her out for short walks without the other dogs so we could walk at her pace. I cooked burgers and steaks for her. I hugged her and told her she was the best dog ever (she did not know I’d said this to a few dogs over the years).

When it was time for a final ride in the Jeep, she knew, and I swear she tried to let me know that it was okay.

One additional symptom that our Luc had, but I don’t know if Sweetie has or will have, is pressing his head against you. Sitting on the couch, he’d kind of bury his head between your body and the couch. We thought he was cuddling, but after a week or so of that, he woke up one night loudly yelping – almost screaming. Turns our he had a brain tumor – a typical cause of death for an old dog. I don’t know if Sweetie will develop one or not, but we still regret not knowing that his burying his head was a sign. Nothing we could have done, but we have a lot of regret that we may have made him suffer.

Sweetie’s getting virtual scritches from me.

I am sorry you have to go thru this - it’s the hardest part of sharing time with a pet. We had to go thru this last spring with our dog. One morning he started out as normal, but soon was hacking and coughing a lot more than normal (it has been gradually increasing in the prior weeks). He began shivering, even tho it was warm out. We called the vet and described the what was going on and she recommended taking him to the emergency vet in the next town, right away. They were able to stabilize his breathing with some meds and oxygen, and they planned to do some x-rays, so we left him there while we waited for the results of the x-rays and other tests. The emergency vet called back later in the day to inform us he had at least 10 tumors in his lungs. I asked if there was anything that could be done, anything that could be given to him to make him more comfortable so we could bring him home, but the vet suggested it may be better to let him go, so that’s what we did. The actual procedure was a f-ing nightmare of the techs not able to get a vein in his leg, so they had to try twice and we were there in agony the whole time until it was over. So, he never came home.

Anyway, I think dogs (at least) do not let-on about how much pain they may be in, or how uncomfortable they are. They seem to stoically just carry on until there is a health emergency. It’s hard to tell what they are thinking, but when we loaded him into the car he went sort-of anxiously, and it seemed he knew he was going to the vet because the distress he was in was beyond hiding anymore.

She doesn’t do that, but that’s good to know. Not something you’d figure out on your own.

That is really tough.

It happened with a friend of mine and her beloved dog. She took the dog in for what seemed routine and the dogs lungs were full of fluid and she was bleeding internally. So my friend didn’t get to bring her home. My friend is still struggling with the decision almost two years later. She felt like she didn’t give the dog a chance to see if surgery or some other treatment would help.

I’ve had this happen with several cats, which is why I said earlier that I think sometimes I’ve waited too long.

Our prior dog (prior to the situation I described above) was suffering from a tumor in her shoulder and at 16 we made the decision to bring her in to the vet one last time. While we knew she was very uncomfortable (could not get comfortable to sleep, wandering around the house at all hours, sleeping in the hallway were we would step on her/trip over her), and we knew it was time, the vet surprisingly said to us that it was OK to take her home for a few more days, if we wanted, and postpone the procedure. She saw how attached we were to this animal and said it was OK to do that, for us; that it was OK to keep a beloved pet for our own reasons, even if it meant a few more days of discomfort for her. We appreciated the advice, but went ahead in that case, as we were set on ending her suffering.

Whatever you do will be the right decision, BTW. You are clearly a compassionate pet owner. Don’t do what I did: second guessing the decisions and beating myself up for days afterward, wishing to have a do-over for the day. In hindsight, I was unduly harsh on myself, and know (now) in both cases the right thing was done.