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Posts: 1
I have had my chihuahua for 12 years (we estimate that’s he’s approx 15 years old). He’s been an “old man” for several years now but recently he seems to be on the decline.

He is completely blind, seems confused, his head hangs to the side and his gait is crooked, his legs are weak, he constantly stumbles the little he walks, he has a chronic cough, and is just generally sleepy all the time. He spends his days in a pee pad lined laundry room while we’re at work. He seems to sleep most of the day only getting up to poop and pee. Because he’s blind he has no concept of where he is going and often steps in his poop and tracks it all over the place (We are constantly cleaning his room and him). When we are home he spends his time sitting in one of our laps. He lets us know when he needs to pee or have a drink and we carry him to a pee pad where he’ll pee and get a drink. We have to hand feed him because he can’t find his way to his food bowl. We never let him just wander around the house anymore because he gets lost, knocks into things and then seems to get upset. He pretty much doesn’t do anything for himself anymore.

I know that reading this the choice seems obvious but inspite of all of these issues he still has life left in him and it’s so hard to make the decision. People always say “they’ll let you know” and I really don’t believe he’s given us “the sign”. I can’t even remember the last time I saw his tail wag or him get excited and yet he seems so content laying in our arms. As much as it’s going to kill me when he does finally go, I don’t want him to suffer unnecessarily.

What do we do?!? We’re desperate for a clear answer

Posts: 67
I don't think there is a clear answer on this. I struggled with my 15.5-year-old girl too. Some people might have put her down months before I did. She and I had a great walk (for her) on the Sunday before the Wednesday that I did let her go. Not wagging her tail was something I noticed too. I was like "how long has it been since she wagged her tail"?

Some people say to make a list of your dog's favorite things to do and when your dog is no longer doing most of them, its time. I think our dogs like to wag their tails. I hope my girl did not think she had to take our walks because of me. I did have to trot to keep up with her even on that last Sunday. One other dog owner was amazed at how well she was doing. I miss her so much. 


Posts: 60
I also don't think there's a clear answer. 

My dog had a tumor in her mouth.  I could have let her die "naturally" but because of the kind of tumor it was, that would have meant that she starved to death or suffocated, because of the tumor becoming so big she could no longer eat or couldn't breathe.  I knew that I didn't want her to suffer through either of those things.  I was in torment when making the decision about euthanasia.  I knew that she was often uncomfortable but she was also still enjoying food and walks and sleeping.  A neighbor saw us walking one day and said, "She looks fine."  And she did, right then.  But he didn't spend all his time with her and know that sometimes she would frantically paw at her mouth because of the tumor or lick herself compulsively or eat snow and leave blood behind. 

One of her veterinarians told me, about two weeks before I had her euthanized, "It's not too early" and "It's better to do it too soon than too late."  Even then, it was really hard for me to make the decision. 

What finally allowed me to make the decision and pick a time was the following:  I knew that I wanted to have her die at home.  I knew that I wanted to have it be done at home by one of the vets who does only home euthanasia.  I realized that if I didn't actually schedule it, there might be an emergency:  excessive bleeding or pain or inability to eat or not being able to breathe and that at that point, I would have no choice but to load the dog into the car and race to the clinic or the animal ER and hope they could see her right away and that she wouldn't be too stressed.  I didn't want to do that to her or to me.

When I called the vet who did home euthanasia, I described what was going on and she said she thought it wasn't too early and she also said one thing that really stuck with me:  That it was a good thing to let my dog die while she still had dignity.

Okay, now I'm crying while I'm thinking about this.  Her last day, I stayed home from work.  We went on three walks.  There was still a tiny bit of snow left for her to eat (she was no longer drinking).  She had three meals, two of soft dog food and one frozen treat.  I took several photos, some on our last walk and some right outside the house.  The vet came in the early afternoon, put both of us at ease, and though she didn't do a real exam, did look at the tumor and told me it was so big, it was almost blocking my dog's breathing.  So, it was close to being too late, but it wasn't.  The end was very peaceful and dignified and I cried buckets.  

I'm still really sad (this was three weeks ago) but not because I think I had the procedure done too early. I'm really sad because she was a great dog and she got cancer and it was unfair and I wish she were here and healthy.  


Posts: 123
Hello JR,
I sympathise with You and your wee darling of 15y and the what to do's ? It can be a dilemma. Speaking for myself, my beloved wee man of 16y, been 1 month now that he was laid to rest and it absolutely broke my heart !! Had him since he was 3 mnths, and then enters the twilight years. He had 'the cough'' which is characteristic for chihuahuas, combo of heart murmur & heart failure. He was on Lasix and heart meds which REDUCED the cough to near nil. Full blown cataracts. He had no joy in his daily activity apart from being in the car. Had to spoon feed him. Confused and yet the ''tail did wag'' occasionally. Slight vomitus, restlessness at times and then the ''wincing'' in the wee hours of the morn, combine that with shivers while under my covers. The blindness, I am told avails shadows. His once carefree life, vim and vigor were past tense. Talk about devastating !!. One really does not know just how they will be affected once the beloved is no longer in your life till the moment it happens. 16y is a lifetime with a pet, and the same for you and your darling. My Vet reminded me that he was 'old' and presenting symptoms, ie: like laying about all day is NOT normal behaviour, loss of appetite and so on. Precious memories I have. Saddest moment is when the One who gave me the Best Memories becomes the Memory. Sharing a thought with You. Every situ is different to the next. Let your ''inner being'' be your guide. I absolutely feel for You and for what comes next. Peace to You in going forward.                           Sherry/Perryxx
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