About Canine Quality of Life

A quick post today because it’s Monday and we ‘ve got to get busy with homeschool!

About the Dog

At the vet on Friday, we learned that there are three main components to a “quality of life assessment.”  What that means in people-speak is that there are three questions to ask when trying to determine when it might be necessary to say goodbye to your pet.

  1. Is the pet still affectionate, and does the pet recognize members of the family?
    For us, that answer is a solid YES.  The pet in question follows me around like a, well, like the puppy dog that he is.  He’s content to sleep at my feet whether I’m sitting here at the computer, eating at the table, playing piano, or whatever.  He even tries to follow me into the bathroom looking for a stray scratch or two behind the ear.
  2. Is the pet eating and drinking normally without assistance?
    Again, this is a big YES.  He isn’t even picky about what he eats.  Kleenex are just as tasty as pieces of bacon that just happen to fall on the floor.  And the dog drinks water like one of those beer chuggers!  He keeps going and doesn’t quit until the water bowl is empty.  A funny quirk about him is that he likes to drink with friends.  He’ll go all day without touching is water, but the minute I walk by the water bowl, he’s on it.
  3. Is the pet eliminating appropriately?
    This is the big NO.  It’s the big NO since about last July.  That means I’ve been cleaning up his messes for about seven months now.  Thankfully it hasn’t been every day.  When we change his medication or feeding time, it gets better and we might have a couple accident-free days.  But then they start up again.  And again.

The only medical option we have at this point is to give him steroids.  They should reduce inflammation in his hips, which will hopefully allow him to feel those nerves again, which will lead to him asking to go outside instead of just letting the chips fall where they may.  (sorry — that was bad, I know, but I’ve gotta grab any humor I can at this point!)  We had two very bad days over the weekend where we could not give him his “horse pill” (an anti-inflammatory doggie “advil” type  drug).  The accidents were many, and we could see that he was in greater pain.  This morning we gave him his first dose of steroids.  Hopefully we should begin to see an improvement in a couple of days.

We are at the end of the rope, big guy.  I’m trying to be hopeful and yet know that this is just another step towards the inevitable.  My biggest wish?  It’s that the steroids will work so well that all three “quality of life” issues will be answered YES and that they will ALL be answered NO when it’s time.  How can I bear to say goodbye when he still has such a big zest for life?

2 thoughts on “About Canine Quality of Life

  1. I sympathize with you. We had a mini-dashound who had an injury which left him a doggie paraplegic with total loss of potty functions. The vet refused to put him down. He had the needle in his hand, looked the dog in they eye and couldn’t do it. My dad found the best way to deal with it was to have him war a diaper sideways. So he wore Huggies size 2 for 10 years and was a very happy dog otherwise and dad only had to clean up a mess or two usually at the same time each day and change the diaper a few times a day too. Since it was sideways, he held it on with duct tape. It didn’t hurt the dog because his fur was thick. Lucky finally died this spring of old age at 13 years.

    1. We have tried the diapers…several different varieties. Because his back end is so emaciated, nothing really fits, not even the diapers that are made for dogs (yes, I went and bought some.) Duct tape wouldn’t work on him because his fur isn’t very thick…we’ve even tried using pull-ups and cutting a hole for his tail. They just don’t stay on. And then if they do stay on and he goes to the bathroom…it leaks. Then I have to clean HIM off (just like you would a baby) and whatever it was he was sleeping on.

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