|Hershey, at 14 years old. |
He struggled with severe hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis.
Note his thin very straight back legs, thickened elbows and still his adorable sweet gentle smile.
If I can't convince you that I am here for the simple sake of helping your pet I have lost my purpose and strayed from helping both you AND your pet.
It was with this in mind that I provided my response to a friend's daughter when she wrote me asking for help with her elderly lab.
My lab - my love - is 12 and has arthritis and dysplasia very bad. More days than not, he has to be carried out to use the bathroom. I know if I take him to the vet, they will tell me to put him down, especially since he can't walk.
However, his mind is still good, and I just don't think he's ready. I make his meals, and give him meds, but now he has developed some sort of skin condition that is causing him to lose his hair very bad on his back end and stomach. It's almost yellowish and scaly on his stomach and his back end is just raw. Is there something I can do to ease this or should I take him in and hope for the best??
I'm sorry to bother you, but would truly appreciate any of your expertise.
The skin could be too many things for me to be able to guess without an exam and blood work. I would guess it's related to his overall health and would check blood work and any evidence of disease or immune system status. Most importantly you should never feel reluctant to go to the vet. It is not our place to judge you or make a decision for you. It is our job to help you understand what is happening to your pet with a diagnosis and offer you treatment options. In some cases I do think that a pet is suffering and that there are limited treatment options, so I will state this. But as long as my client has their pets best interest in mind, and the pet can eat drink pee and poop I offer pain management and extend a hand to help. Hospice is an option for all creatures and should always be offered. Whereas, euthanasia should never be a matter of convenience nor should it be the only option we provide.
There are lots of options for older dogs who struggle to get up and have pain, like injectable joint supplements, NSAIDs, glucosamine/chondroitin, physical therapy, water therapy, acupuncture and an orthopedic specialist, to name a few.
Go to your vet and explain everything that you told me. They can and will help. If they don't go elsewhere and remind that vet that they have failed you both.
That's your job, to look for help for your dog. It's our responsibility to be your pets advocate and help you both.
The answers are out there, but you have to find someone locally to start. I wish you the very best of luck.
I saw my friend later that day and told her that I had replied to her daughters question. I also confessed to feeling saddened by her fears of being "reluctant to seek veterinary help because she believed that she would be forced to put her dog to sleep."
She replied, "Yes, we grew up in an area where our vet said to us, "Your dog is 12, why spend $300 to fix her? It's my recommendation that you put her down."" she paused. "It still upsets me to this day that we used to take their advice."
Another pause,, she started again,
"To which I would now reply, "Well, maybe we do."" She had changed her perception of what her role in taking care of her pet was. But that fear of not knowing what her options were, and what her dog was worth were still burnt into her memory. To her that dog was a family member, to their vet she was a commodity.
This is where my sailor mouth came out,,, and my passion lies..
"What the.. Do vets really say that?" I suppose they do?..may you all feel the burden of a heart bearing the burden of guilt of those who thought that euthanasia was their only option..
Dr. McCadden, our resident acupuncturist has an elderly dog with very weak back legs. We were talking about the options for him..I suggested trying to build him a cart.
Here is the labor of her husband's dog love..a cart from Home Depot stock that she says cost them abut $60.
Where there is a will there is always a way.
If you think that your pet is in need of help go look for someone who shares your view. Never settle for a lazy, uncaring, unwilling anyone..ever. There are some amazing rock star vets out there, knock on as many doors as you need to, one will open the door and help you, I promise.
If you have a pet question, a vet fear, or just need a shoulder to lean on, you can find me and a bunch of other animal rock stars at Pawbly.com. Pawbly is a place for all things animal related. If you have a question you can ask the community, or, if you take so many photos if your pets that you are fearing being labeled a "crazy cat/dog/ferret/horse/pig...whatever..person" you can post like mad on Pawbly. After all, we are all a little crazy when it comes to our pets!!, Why not join a group of people who embrace you for your pet passions?. And best yet, Pawbly is free for everyone to use.
Or find me on Twitter @FreePetAdvice, or at the best clinic on planet earth (I am totally biased!), Jarrettsville Veterinary Center, in Jarrettsville Maryland.