It's always sad when a pet's heath begins to decline and it's always tough to decide when they are in pain or suffering more often than not.
So Dana wrote in to Dr. Patrick Mahaney:
My rottweiler/shepperd mix breed, Deacon is nearly 15 years old..I have had her since I was 19 years old, and since she was only a 6 week puppy.. So, we've grown up together….
About 2 1/2 years ago she was diagnosed as being diabetic. I give her insulin injections twice a day, morning and night.. Within 6 months of being diagnosed, she was 100% blind in both eyes….. the last 6 months or so, she's been acting very depressed.. I don't have as much time with her (with a baby in the house, and working full time).. I feel like at her age, and with all her health issues maybe it's time we have her put to sleep… In addition to her acting depressed, her vet bills are mounting and I can barely keep up.. Feeding my family is hard these days, let alone the $140 a month it costs me in insulin, syringes and special food for my old friend….
Her vet always tells me "she's like a tank, she's fine"… But, when I take her to the vet she's just excited to see everyone.. She has to go to the vet once a month for blood work, so it's like a second home to her…..I'm on the fence.. Sometimes I feel selfish for keeping her around, I see a sad lonely dog. But, part of me feels selfish for wanting to have her put to sleep……. advice? Suggestions?
Dr. Patrick responded:
Thank you for your question. Having a pet with a chronic illness is always very challenging from a physical, emotional, and financial perspective. I have to deal with my own dog's chronic immune system disease (Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia= IMHA), so I completely understand your situation.
Diabetes is a very challenging and costly metabolic disease to diagnose and treat. You are already seeing some of the side effects of the disease (at least in part) with her blindness.
It sounds as though Deacon has lived a long life and her quality of life has been excellent throughout. As she is well into her twilight years, you must have a respectful plan for end of life care. If you feel as though Deacon is suffering as evidenced by her depressed behavior or other contributing health conditions, then you really have two options:
1. Have your veterinarian exhaust all diagnostic options to determine the cause of the depression (pain, other organ system disease, etc) and then provide a realistic hospice care treatment plan.
2. Establish your personal perspective as to when you will electively pursue euthanasia for Deacon once she appears to be suffering and showing a decreased quality of life. I always recommend letting a pet go before suffering worsens. Here is a helpful link from veterinarian Alice Villalobos detailing the Quality of Life Scale that you can apply to Deacon.
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Tags: diabetes, dog, dr patrick mahaney, euthanasia, old, q and a, sad, sick, sleep