This Gut Wrenching Decision is an Essential Last Gift

Question:
My 16 1/2 year old cocker spaniel suffers from dementia, rear leg myelopathy, food sensitivity, abnormal kidney levels, a cataract, hearing impairment, and multiple benign lumps. Recently the dementia symptoms require ‘round the clock care. He’s lost all interest in food and I’ve had to force feed him by shoving food in his mouth. He’s been skin and bones for a month. I’m frustrated and don’t know if I’m doing the right thing by keeping him alive. I can’t bear the thought of euthanizing him.

Dr. Nichol:
Your love and caring has forged a strong bond with this sweet cocker. It’s frightening to consider life without him but his nonexistent appetite and emaciated condition indicate that he is already dying. I’m so sorry.

Even at advanced stages of physical and mental decline life can be extended a little more. Your dog could be hospitalized for IV hydration. A feeding tube can be implanted for nutritional support. But medical management would only prolong his suffering. It’s time to let him go.

Your veterinarian can make it simple and painless for your dog. The doctor can first give him a sedative and then install an IV catheter. If you would like, you can hold your boy as the injection to end his life is given slowly. He’ll be free of his pain and weakness in a couple of minutes.

This will be really hard for you at the time but after your dog has passed you will feel relief that he is no longer struggling against the inevitable. Helping people deal with losing a deeply beloved pet is a special gift of licensed counselor Anne Beyke (505-265-3087). Owners of terminally ill cats and dogs seek her advice; she helps others after their pets have died.
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I will be available for no-charge 5 minute consultations on pet health, medical, and behavior concerns from 10 AM till noon on Saturday, April 11 at the Albuquerque Journal Spring Wellness Fair in Coronado Center. Photos and videos are welcome in the mall, just not pets.

On Saturday, April 18 the Los Alamos Dog Obedience Club will host my 3 hour seminar on canine behavior problems. I’ll provide more information in next week’s column.