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Old 04-12-2009, 07:09 PM
 
Location: Welland, Ontario Canada
321 posts, read 695,792 times
Reputation: 270

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I have a problem that I would like to put out for some honest advice and I don't believe there is a better place than on this forum.

I own a 9 year-old Shih Tzu named Lucky - a dog I have had since he was seven weeks old and I love him beyond anything.

I was not careful who I bought him from however, and have paid a price for my carelessness. For the past four years he has had a bad skin condition that leaves dark red marks on his skin. I have vet recommended special shampoo that I use when I bath him and also oatmeal shampoo because the medicated shampoo can't be used every time he is bathed. He also has degenerative eye disease - which the vet told me will eventually rob him of his sight.

The problem is, I have watched my fun loving dog change into a dog that no longer seems to enjoy life as much. He has become less and less loveable and more miserable as time has gone by. I've allowed him more space and time alone which he seems to want and he no longer sleeps on our bed or even in our room.

So now I have to decide what will happen to him and I need to hear if I am doing the right thing or not. Tonight, while I was clipping him (something that has been done many times over his life) he snapped at me (something he has never done before) and although he didn't break the skin, he meant business.

Has this ever happened to anyone else and if so please tell me what happened and why. For months now I have wondered if I am being selfish by keeping him alive when he is so obviously unhappy.

Please help.

Corinne
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Old 04-12-2009, 07:19 PM
 
Location: Maine
7,728 posts, read 11,038,850 times
Reputation: 8316
My heart goes out to you. We had a wonderful little pekingese we got as a rescue. Eight and a half years of special shampoos, prednisone, benedryl, and constant vet visits, his feet would swell and crack, he'd chew himself raw. He also had cataracts. We had him put down at thirteen and a half. In the last six months we spent over $2500 on vet care for him. He was miserable. My DH cried more over that little dog than I've ever seen him. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done but, it was the right thing. God Bless You for being a good "mom".
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Old 04-12-2009, 07:31 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
19,823 posts, read 56,018,889 times
Reputation: 19019
You have to do what is best for your dog, not what is best for you, and I think you know what that is. My heart goes out to you. A few times I hesitated but then later realized I had kept a pet alive longer than was in their best interest b/c I just couldn't bear to let go.
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Old 04-12-2009, 07:33 PM
 
Location: Deep in the Heart of Texas
1,479 posts, read 7,036,713 times
Reputation: 1908
I have a soon-to-be 17 year old Poodle who has allergies which, despite medication, cause him to lick his feet excessively. He also has lipomas all over his body. He's almost blind and he can't hear. He sleeps a lot, and isn't as cuddly as he once was. He prefers to sleep by himself on the floor, and doesn't like to sit on our laps or on furniture any more. He'll occasionally snap and growl at one of us. However, he still likes to go outside and explore.

It's not surprising that our dog--and yours--doesn't want to be on furniture or laps, because he can't see properly to orient himself. It's scary being off the ground if you can't see where the ground is. As for the snapping, that's not surprising either. A dog that can't see well and is uncomfortable might feel threatened by even the most common stimulus and snap because it is startled.

As long as he is healthy otherwise and not in pain, allow him to accommodate himself to his limitations. Try to find things that excite him, like walks in the woods. Sit on the floor with him and gently play with him. Try to give him advance warning of whatever you are going to do, so as not to startle him.

With some thought and accommodation you can make him more comfortable. If you haven't consulted a veterinary dermatologist, you might want to get a consultation. Perhaps there are newer treatments that could help his skin issue.

As for when it is time to let go, that's a decision only you and your vet can make. My own experience has been that I always know when it's time. There's no doubt.

I wish you much luck....
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Old 04-12-2009, 07:35 PM
 
Location: Kirkwood, DE and beautiful SXM!
12,054 posts, read 20,260,566 times
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I don't know the life span of a Shih Tzu, but it sounds like Lucky has had a wonderful life. As pets get older, they are a lot like old people--just want to be left alone much of the time. Our Simon, who we got from a rescue, is about 13 years old now, and he has not slept on our bed for some time and no longer gets on the sofa. He doesn't seem comfortable being off of the floor. I think his eyesight, like your Lucky's, is going. You will know the right thing to do when it is time. Right now, even though he snaps and is not the fun-loving dog that you have known, I think the most important thing is to keep him comfortable and enjoy your time with him. It will pass too soon. You are not being selfish keeping him alive. It doesn't sound like he has any illness except old age and he is a little grumpy like we will be if we are lucky. My heart goes out to you because like any pet owner, I know that time comes way too soon. Just enjoy him while he is with you.
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Old 04-12-2009, 07:50 PM
 
Location: El Paso, TX
2,806 posts, read 6,524,103 times
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This is such a hard call...I never like to see an animal suffer, but at the same time it is sometimes hard to determine if they are actually suffering or just experiencing natural changes that come with age. When we hit adolescence, we change. When we reach a certain adult maturity level we change again. When we get older (menopause, for example) yet again, there are changes. I used to love drinking and partying, and now the thought of drinking alcohol or going to a bar is completely distasteful to me. In this case, it seems like the dog may just be settling into a different consciousness and no longer enjoys the same things, but this certainly does not mean he will not find enjoyment in other things, maybe things he did not have much interest in before. I agree that you should explore other options before making a decision to put him down. Talk to a good vet and/or behaviorist to determine if he is truly suffering and see what options are out there...good luck and my heart goes out to you!
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Old 04-12-2009, 08:26 PM
 
Location: Some place very cold
5,500 posts, read 20,068,246 times
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9 year old is still a good age for a little dog. I wouldn't worry about the blindness. Dogs do remarkably well without eyesight. Their minds function very different then ours do. A blind dog can walk around a room once and have it completely memorized so they never walk into a thing. You can also take blind dogs for long walks. They memorize the landscape and can walk in a straight line.

As far as the skin allergies, I'd focus on diet and see if that doesn't help. A little vinegar will take the burn and itch out of a hot spot. Salt water also kills germs and can help with itching. Salmon oil and primrose oil is good for inflammation.
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Old 04-12-2009, 08:57 PM
ZSP
 
Location: El Paso TX
1,568 posts, read 4,177,060 times
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It's a very hard decision to make......a friend of mine wrote this on a dog board I belong to and I think it's a good place to begin when making these decision.

***Be that as it may, I've always advocated the 3 Joys rule. You choose 3 favorite things in their life that they totally enjoy doing, and when those are gone, you know it's time. ***

I wish you inner peace and resolve as you come to your decision.
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Old 04-12-2009, 09:17 PM
 
Location: new jersey
315 posts, read 977,095 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Woof Woof Woof! View Post
9 year old is still a good age for a little dog. I wouldn't worry about the blindness. Dogs do remarkably well without eyesight. Their minds function very different then ours do. A blind dog can walk around a room once and have it completely memorized so they never walk into a thing. You can also take blind dogs for long walks. They memorize the landscape and can walk in a straight line.

As far as the skin allergies, I'd focus on diet and see if that doesn't help. A little vinegar will take the burn and itch out of a hot spot. Salt water also kills germs and can help with itching. Salmon oil and primrose oil is good for inflammation.
i totally agree. if his quality of life isn't good then it's a great gift you can give him by letting him go, but, if he's still eating, engaging with family members and doesn't seem to be in pain, then there are other options for making him more comfortable.

i know how hard this is for you. just know that what ever you decide, it's the right decision for you and for lucky. it's obvious you love him very much. sending out lots of healing thoughts for lucky!
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Old 04-12-2009, 09:18 PM
 
4,948 posts, read 16,526,178 times
Reputation: 2866
My Bichon, was sweet, had the white dog scratch etc., then at times she would get this weird crust hard crap on her neck? The vet did a great job, then the had some pills, and the big collar! that yuck never came back, but at times she was itching. Anyway, she lived a long and happy life til age 14 plus! One dog had liver failue age 10, I had not a choice, the dog could not eat etc., this dog here, will be 9, and so far so good!
Your heart will tell when, and easy it never will be. Happy Easter! 9 is now super young for a dog, as I look at this one, and the Bichon, was doing runs over
this one! Try maybe a vet hospital, as teaching school, if a dog can't see, that is an easy fix etc.! Have you had a trusted, and I mean trusted, vet run
some blood work, not the mega money blood work,it may be some other problem? Is the dog on flea meds, and, if money wise the cost get too much
there are small dog rescues, that do get donations, and will allow you dog to enjoy life. Something is hurting the dog. When My Bichon was hurting,
and at the vets, she just put her head into my ams, and not a peep, till home we came! Then, ok treats etc.,! Like she was then 12! She also did get when ill the boiled hamburg, and boiled rice! Somedays, eggs!p.s. The day she came home, a gift to my mom, I loved her, but said, noway
do I fall for cute, and brown eyes, and puppy dog love, with many kisses? I had my terror dog! a terrier! I got a big F!

Last edited by maggiekate; 04-12-2009 at 09:56 PM..
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