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Old 12-28-2011, 02:44 AM   #1
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Default The Ethics of Pet Euthanasia

What are your thoughts on this topic?

With regards to pets only here please.

What is the proper course of action if you know your pet has an issue that either can't be treated, or is cost prohibitive to treat, but will eventually turn into a painful, protracted death unless euthanasia is taken as an alternative?

The variables are as follows....

1) Not showing any signs of discomfort or other symptoms (eating, bathroom habits are stable), but has lumps that the vet has said are to be expected in a senior pet but can also be expected to probably at some point become cancer.

2) A large mass has formed inside your pet's mouth over the last two weeks (longer, but I only noticed it two weeks ago) that when you look at it, it screams CANCER. It's a nasty looking thing. He is unfazed though, not even seeming to notice it. Eats, plays with his chew toy, et cetera.

3) He's 11 years old, give or take. In good shape other than the lumps, spry, bounds around like a young dog. I've got an assload of money tied up in this dog over the years. $4,000+ on his eyes alone. He's had his share of surgeries, biopsies, castration, et cetera. The vet told me a couple of years ago that I could chase these relatively small, soft lumps around on him until he dies.... they're coming back. He took a few off for free that he felt had more potential to go rogue at a later date when he was in the hospital for one of his eye surgeries. Cancer is a big killer of Rottweilers.

I'm figuring my dog has cancer. Pretty much just need to go to the vet and confirm it. If that thing in his mouth had the letters C-A-N-C-E-R stamped into it, it wouldn't look anymore like cancer. Tumor is probably the proper term, I don't know.

This is a solid bummer, for sure, but it bothers me even more that I have to think about it so pragmatically. Costs, logistics of moving a 200lb beast if he goes non-ambulatory for whatever reason, et cetera.... don't care if my feelings are hurt. Life goes on.

When I put my cat down, they told me he was probably minutes to hours away from sheer agony that he WASN'T recovering from short of a kidney transplant, and I had to pretty much decide on the spot to put him down and spare him that impending agony. I was of a mind that he wasn't going to suffer any more than he had to because I wasn't strong enough to do the right thing in a timely fashion. In my view, dragging your feet on that issue because you know how bad it will hurt that they're gone is just selfish. I know it's not a conscious thing, but they are putting off their eventual grief at the expense of their pet's discomfort. I feel for those people and their pets, but I'm more of a 'rip the band-aid off fast' kind of guy. I want my pain to be quick and fast, not drawn out. Is it wrong to extend this view onto my pet?

When is the apprpriate time to put your animal down? Given that it's already old, terminal, and not in any discomfort yet. I'm not trying to be overly dramatic about this, given that the vet hasn't looked at the thing, but I would bet my bottom dollar it's cancer. It's freaking me out. I want to go to the vet and find out I'm being a sissy about it and it's a chancre sore or something. But it's not. I guarantee it. I'll be more than happy to be wrong though. Should a person wait until they're waking up in the middle of the night howling and carrying on? Is that right? I don't want him to go out like that. Fuck, I wouldn't wanna go out like that.

I don't know, I'm stoned and I'm rambling. This is bugging me more than I thought. I guess my quandary is thus, at this point in his life, how much money is appropriate to put into treating a cancer? And to what end? That he'll be listless, bald and miserable? So I can keep my dog around for a year or so more? My bottom line is, I don't want him to suffer, AT ALL if I can navigate this properly for him. At least, I'd like to minimize any discomfort he might be looking forward to. It would be selfish to do otherwise. And, is it ethical TO euthanize an animal that's not showing signs of discomfort? I mean, I wouldn't do it on my notion that he has cancer, we are going to the vet. I'm just positive I can read this playbook from a mile away. I'd be happier with a dog that lived eleven good years, than a dog that lived twelve years, starting with eleven great ones and ending with one really miserable one.

I guess I've made my point, asked my questions, whatever. I put this in On Topic discussion because I don't really feel like reading any assinine comments on the subject. I trust in the fact that you guys probably know by now when I'm being an asshole and when I'm being serious. This is really hurting me. I've been looking at the puppy breeders on line because I'd like to have two more just like Art, but I feel like a fucking traitor when I'm doing it. Isn't that silly?

I'll appreciate your comments or opinions, but it's not a pity thread. Besides getting him to the vet, and admitting this is going to happen whether I avoid it or not, I'm really at a loss as to what the right thing to do is. I usually know the right thing to do, even if I actively choose to do the wrong thing. But when I don't really know what the right thing is, it makes me doubt myself.

Thanks.
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Old 12-28-2011, 02:50 AM   #2
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It's been my experience that the pet will tell you the right time. Ask anyone that has had the privilage of a pet to own you more than you own them. You'll know when, maybe its my age.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whatduh View Post
It's been my experience that the pet will tell you the right time. Ask anyone that has had the privilage of a pet to own you more than you own them. You'll know when, maybe its my age.
Yeah, that's the case here as well. lol Actually, he's so cool, I actively try to not say 'own' if I can help it. It just doesn't seem right. He lives with me by choice I assume, because he could kill me in an instant if he chose to. I'm outweighed by my dog by thirty pounds. lol Seriously. He's a big boy.

I've not seen a pet off due to natural events before. My cat got killed in that pet food poisoning thing a few years ago, so that was sudden.

I hate to sound like a dick, but I don't want to spend $1,000 to find out I should have put him down $800 ago.

My vet is cool though. He was a doctor in the Vietnam conflict. He's one of those matter of fact, but very compassionate dudes. I'm sure his bedside manner is probably tailored to whom he has in front of him though. He did a lot of work on Art for free when he was getting his eyes fixed. He was in there for three surgeries, and the guy lopped off moles, lumps, his balls.... all for free. I thought that was awesome.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:17 AM   #4
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Get an xray and some blood work, a small lancing may indicate an infection. I rather a learned quess than an unlearned one. Get at least a checkup.

Pets can be a handful, but that's the unspoken contract.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:28 AM   #5
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A big part of loving them and caring for them is helping them go easy when its time.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:36 AM   #6
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I grew up on a farm. all we can do is keep us and ours as best we can.
This includes the animals we exploit, and even love!
Keep them the best you can, and remember, you are responsible for them.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:36 AM   #7
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I had a 13 year old dog that had to be put down some years ago. She never showed signs of discomfort except for arthritis in her hip, though she had had some serious issues in the past that we pulled her through. However, when I gave her some medicine to ease the pain in her hip, it worked. Then she got really sick. The vets gave her an exam and it turned out she had a messed up liver, possibly cancer, and a big mass in the intestines, also probably cancer.

They could have possibly taken out the thing in the intestines, but the liver was really bad off. That weekend she stopped eating or even drinking so I took her to an emergency vet hospital. There just wasn't anything for it. I had her put down rather than spend a couple of days letting thirst and starvation do their thing.

That wasn't an easy thing to do but it beat the alternative.
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Old 12-28-2011, 03:44 AM   #8
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I've been evil executioner to two of my beloved dogs ... sent both to the Vet one way

The first became mentally ill and super savage when my wife got pregnant, we put up with it for about 6 months, but it wasn't safe with a newborn in the house. Our pet was euthanized for our convenience, not to "end suffering". I don't feel bad about it though, the dog turned into a savage shivering shit machine. We've since found out the breeder has been banned, she was inbreeding her dogs, which caused the brain problems.

I agonized over the timing of our second euthanized pet ... a beautiful Staffy I had since a pup and for over 10 years, always by my side. Zildjian (named after the cymbals) had a stomach tumor, wasn't metabolizing food anymore, the Vet considered an operation a "waste of money". I agreed, but it didn't make it any better or easier.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:02 AM   #9
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Dude, I was in that boat with my last two cats. They were just fucking awesome animals. I got them both (sisters at that) from a feline rescue outfit from Ohio at a cat show. My gf at the time and i were looking for a younger companion for one of our other cats so she would stop beating up on the older one. Suddenly we went from having two to having four.

Household disaster soon occurred.

When she and I split up, she kept the two original cats, I got the sisters, Yin and Yang (corny, I know, but it worked for them).

Yin (the sunshine, the lovey one) fell ill soon after. Awful diarrhea (more and more often outside of the litter box), mild hair loss, sudden panic attacks, did not want to be held or anything. I mean this cat was just coming apart at the seams. After nearly $1000 invested in various tests and scans, the vet(s) had nothing concrete to give me as far as a diagnosis. No parasites or infections, diet had been modified again and again, a half dozen medicine trials....nothing. For all intents and purposes, aside from a little hair loss this cat seemed perfectly healthy and had a good appetite.

I felt guilty about looking at it from a money aspect, but I was throwing good money after bad and getting nowhere, and she kept getting worse. I just bit the bullet and had her put down at the end of the last trip to the vet. By then she was unapproachable and, I'm sure, sick and fucking tired of being poked and prodded by strangers in an office that smelled of other animals' fear. It was awful.

Having to go home to Yang after having her sister put down was a little hard because Yang kept wandering around the apartment looking for Yin.

A few years later, Yang suddenly fell VERY ill and after a rushed trip to the vet, he said he wasn't 100% sure, but he was of the opinion that she was VERY sick (this was during the time of the cat food recall in 2007) and not at all confident that even if he ran the battery of tests that he would be able to help her.

I had to make the choice right then, because she was in obvious pain, lethargic, weepy-eyed. It broke my heart to do it, but it felt more selfish to not let her go. It was only just a couple months ago I felt right taking on a pet again, let alone the two terrorists I wound up with.

I don't envy your position, bro. No one likes to see this sort of thing happen. In your heart, you know what's best for Art.

Follow it.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerryowen View Post
A big part of loving them and caring for them is helping them go easy when its time.
I grew up on a farm, had pets all my adult life, and agree with gerryowen..


Good luck with it all
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