View Full Version : What to do with our 11 yr old Lab

10-09-2008, 06:22 PM
We have been dealing with some sort of issue with our female dog where she had deteriorated over the past 1.5 weeks and can no longer walk or stand very well. While on vacation last week, we were informed the dog was having difficulties making it up stairs. Within the next two days, she couldn’t make it at all and needed to be carried up and down the stairs. Our friend took it into the vet and they thought it was cancer.

It’s been another week and no improvement. Took here in again hoping to determine if cancer was definite or not. After evaluating a second time along with x-rays again, the vet decided it was NOT cancer but something else…..but he just didn’t know. Did some more x-rays and blood tests…..nothing conclusive. He then recommended taking the dog to a neurologist to see if they could find anything.

Following his advice, we brought the dog to the neurologist today and they are suspecting either cancer or a disc problem. They want to do an MRI on the dog for a cost of about $1,800.

If the disc, another $5,000 to operate. If the cancer….?????

Before the MRI, we’ve spent about $1,000 on vet services, xrays and meds.

When is it enough? If we spend all of this money…..how long will she last? The kids are OK right now knowing she may not be well. Both my wife and I are struggling. We still do have her son, a 5 yr old lab as well. He is going to be lonesome without his mom but I’m sure will be fine. I think he knows something is up.

I guess it really is our decision but I thought I’d ask if anyone else has had to deal with their pet and weighing the large expenses vs. putting her down.

10-09-2008, 06:38 PM
I'm sorry to hear this.

I say either put her down, so she doesn't have to suffer anymore, or get a load of pain meds, and let nature do it's thing.

10-09-2008, 06:48 PM
I'm sorry to hear this.

I say either put her down, so she doesn't have to suffer anymore, or get a load of pain meds, and let nature do it's thing.

Ditto. Really sorry to hear about this.

I had a similar experience with my 10 yr old GSP last year. He was literally withering away to nothing (down to 32 lbs from about 55lbs). Vet suspected cancer, sent us to a specialist who did xrays and an ultrasound all which came up inconclusive. She then wanted to do exploratory surgery which would have been big $$. We opted not to do it and the specialist on a whim decided to prescribe a pain/anti-inflamitory med along with a puppy food diet. In our case we were lucky and he got better. They still have no clue what it was but Wyatt is still with us and is a new dog.

Hope for the best and spend as much time her while she is still with you.

10-09-2008, 06:56 PM
We lost our lab at 13. She went so quickly it surprised me. I couldn't have watched her suffer, but fortunately didn't have to. If I was given the choice of spending a lot of money and even moreso putting her through a procedure with no assurance that it would relieve her pain and symptoms at 11, I would have declined.

I can't tell you what to do, but I sympathize with your position. While I haven't lost a parent yet, I cried like a baby when that dog went more so that for anyone else I've known that's passed.

I actually would have preferred to have put her down. I kept wondering how much pain she went through when she died. And I'd have liked to "say goodbye". My poor wife came home and found her on the kitchen floor. The consensus is that dog's know what's going on and waited for us to leave for work.......8 years ago and I still get choked up about it.

10-09-2008, 07:03 PM
Sorry to see that you have to go thru this.We had to put our 12 year old Bassett Hound, Josephine down due to intestinal cancer. She deserved more than having to continue to suffer.

10-09-2008, 07:53 PM
Sorry to hear about this. Only you can make this decision. The biggest consideration is what quality of life she'll have post op and for the remaining days of her life. You may be putting her through pain for the rest of her life which will be short at 11yrs of age.

Putting your dog down is something that is done out of love, remember that, as hard as it may be.

My 11 yr old lab was healthy and energetic until the day before I put him down. He was at the lake swimming. He went up to the cabin and layed on the floor and couldn't get up. The only time he moved was to go to bed with my two daughters (3 and 7 at the time). I took him to the vet the next day and found he had a tumor the size of a softball on his liver and one the size of a baseball on his spleen. He had another tumor that ruptured and filled his abdomen with blood. The vet told me could operate and remove the tumors, but most likely recovery would be tough and he could almost guarentee that there would be more. It was very difficult, but we decided to put him down. There was certainly the temptation to spend $3-4K to save his life.

I know that I did the right thing. When you make the decision, you'll have that confidence and comfort at some point afterward, too.

Hang in there and trust yourself to make the best decision.

east tx skier
10-09-2008, 08:06 PM
I'm sorry to hear about your pup. In 2001, my 7 yr old golden retriever was diagnosed with lymphoma. We spent the big bucks for the treatment and went natural with the diet (that means barely cooked meat---she loved it). She lived another six months, most of them pretty good. The medication was kind of hard on her digestively though. But in our mind, she was family and as long as she had the energy to live, we were going to let her do just that.

Toward the end, over the course of about a week, she got really sick at a rapid rate. She was throwing up and could not get up. We knew what we had to do and it tore me up. I haven't had another dog since her. She was a once in a lifetime pup.

I don't say this to make you sad or suggest that you take the same route. As was mentioned above, you will save her inevitable suffering if you decide to have her put down sooner rather than later. She has had a full life at eleven years and in all likelihood, you will be spending a lot of money for time she may have left anyway without spending it at the vet undergoing treatment.

Just give her love and all the table food she always wanted. Again, I'm sorry to hear this bad news.

92 190 PS
10-09-2008, 09:00 PM
8 1/2 year old Golden Retriever. Once in a lifetime dog. Was in liver failure and went through about 4 months of treatment. Started treatment with our local vet until he wasn't confortable that he knew what the issue was.

Took her to a vet medical center in Columbus Ohio and they did a fabulous job of giving us another 4 months with her we would have never had if not for their treatment. 3 blood transfusions, surgery for biopsy of her liver, IV's, treatment for 3-5 days at a time every couple weeks. There were about a dozen medications they sent us home with every time. Home cooked meals of chicken, boiled beef and noodles was all she could eat. She did very good between treatments. Spent a fortune, but I wouldn't change any decision we made. It's why we choose to live a modest lifestyle and save for those rainy days.....

Long story short is that every couple weeks she had a couple rough days, but it bought us another couple months of time to say goodbye that we're forever greatful we had. That said, it's been 10 days since we put her down and it was one of the 2 toughest things I've ever been through (lost an infant son 5 years ago). I'm sure you don't have to be told, but this will be difficult for you and if you're family is anything like ours even tougher for your wife. My wife stays home and our dog went on every trip to school, to the park and so on and when she was home the dog was her shadow.

She was our first dog and we'll never have another dog like her.

Not trying give you a downer story, but would just suggest that only you, your wife and your family can make this decision.

Know that you'll be in our prayers as you go through this process in the coming days and weeks and if you need anything including someone to talk to just drop me a PM.

Lastly, not sure how old your kids are, but there was a book that I found thanks to this website "Dog Heavan" by Cynthia Rylant that is priceless. Meant for children, but even the wife and I enjoyed the book.....Our kids are 7, 3 and 18 months. The last couple week were pretty tough on the kids as well....

Good luck....

10-09-2008, 09:05 PM
We too had a 8 yr old Chow with cancer (osteosarcoma)...we don't have kids so it was our "kid". We did the WSU Vet school option, chemo/amputation of the leg with the cancer in it- we got another 8 months. For us it was worth it, without the treatment it would have progressed in 2 weeks to where we would have had to put him down. Was it expensive- YES.

In the end, you lose them anyway. You can only do what is right for you. You are the one who lives with your dog, your family, your finances. No one can judge you for caring so much about your dog that you want to end the pain and suffering. It's the ultimate gift.

10-09-2008, 09:08 PM
Also, this poem is really nice:

Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

My wife found it and gave it to me when Angelo died, it was very helpful.

10-09-2008, 09:17 PM
It sure is a tough decision but my brother has a dog they thought had cancer and was hacking and coughing for a long time, went blind and was Losing hair and just appeared hopeless. He did not have the money to treat her and ended up she worked through it and is fine. No cancer but had some bacteria issue. Still blind but she deals with it. Ended up working out not putting her asleep.

I had a dog as a child that had open heart surgery at 4 months old at Ohio State Vet School. Otherwise they said it would die within one to two years. At the age of five she fell asleep between the duals on a cement mixer. We ran out of concrete and the driver got in to get more, rolled right over her. Fractured her pelvis in two places, and she had nerve damage in one leg. Never used it after. Took her back to Ohio State Vet school to fix her up. She was never the same dog. Almost like it took something out of her. I think she would have been better off being put to sleep but we could not bring ourselves to doing that.

You have to be at peace with your decision tough as it is but do what is best for the dog.

10-09-2008, 10:09 PM
Guys I really appreciate all of the comments and kind words. My wife and I both read through everything and one of the key comments we both heard over and over again is "quality of life" for the dog. We were so concerned with us and how the kids would react vs. how much pain the dog may end up going through.

It's comforting to hear others have gone through something similar to us. All of the kids seem to be doing well at this point and are OK if something needed to be done. Ages 12, 10 and 7. Great kids and I am very proud of them.

Thank you all for the kind words and keep us in your prayers as we make a decision on this.

10-09-2008, 10:11 PM
I'm so sorry to hear about your dog... I went through a similar situation a little over a year ago but we were able to determine it was diabetes. He lost a total of 50lbs and had to take him to another vet to get him under control before we lost him. He ended up with cataracts during the same the original vet wasn't getting him under control and had the surgery done shortly after we had him better and starting to gain weight again. I know how you are feeling right now and I hope for the best. Possibly double check with the vet and make sure they checked for diabetes if she is drinking a lot of water. I wish you and the family the best...

10-09-2008, 10:12 PM
This is such a hard call... I have had to go through this many times.... First and foremost, consider your dogs quality of life afterwars.... She may be still alive, but not enjoying it.....


10-10-2008, 08:07 AM
I am so sorry to hear about your dog. My wife and I have been agonizing over the same decision for the past few months. Our 5 year old Golden, Oakley, was diagnosed with Lymphoma in May. We went ahead and decided to give him Chemo treatments since he is still relatively young. He is currently in remission, but I have a feeling that the cancer is returning. The toughest part is he has never once acted like he is in pain and continues to be as happy as he always has been. But now, we are trying to decide what to do. Ever since the first treatment, he has struggled to stand. He gets around, but he has lost his stability and balance. I now have to pick him up to get in the car, bed, boat, etc., but his attitude has never once changed.

All I can say is the decision has to come from you and your wife and what you feel is best. We will keep you in our prayers.

10-10-2008, 08:15 AM
I thought this was another spam thread! OK-bad insensitive joke...we went throught his exact problem with our dalmation a couple of years ago...went with the medicine for awhile but quality of life finally made our decision. We had a nice picture night with him and then made the decistion to put him down. It was tough but was the right call. Never an easy thing...my thoughts are with you and your family.

10-10-2008, 11:26 AM
I know it is heart breaking just to think about putting her down . Knowing you need to do what is "best " for her at age 11 you are on that painful yet correct path if she is unable to walk and is in discomfort . You might want to consider doing a " lab rescue " to keep her son company . I have gone thur this experience two times with my first two German shepards both times bring me to tears and now my third shepard will be three next month . I wish you and your family all the best .

10-10-2008, 11:39 AM
I'm sorry to hear this.

I say either put her down, so she doesn't have to suffer anymore, or get a load of pain meds, and let nature do it's thing.

I agree. My mom had a Doberman and a similar situation last year:(. She had her put down because, she loved her. It was a very sad time but, it was the right thing to do. So sorry to hear.

10-10-2008, 11:40 AM
I have been through this three times in my life. I cried each time.

My 6 year old German Shepard named Boris had cancer at 6 years and my wifes overgrown collie was 13 when we had to put gibson down. Kind of the same story but he was in obvious pain so it was for the best.

Then came Baxter. The best dog I ever had...

Good Luck....

10-10-2008, 11:53 AM
I had a 7 year old lab/border collie X that was an amazing dog. I had to put him down due to hip displacia and an enlarged spleen. It would have cost $5,000 for the operation, then up to 3 years of rehabilitation, and still the dog would never be the same. I cried like a little girl, but I knew what I had to do.

You really get attached to them critters. I feel for you. Personnally, I don't think I'd put an 11 year old dog through all that treatment only to lose in the end. It's tough on the dog and it's a lot of money for just a few short years, IF you win.

10-10-2008, 02:06 PM
I have been through this three times in my life. I cried each time.

My 6 year old German Shepard named Boris had cancer at 6 years and my wifes overgrown collie was 13 when we had to put gibson down. Kind of the same story but he was in obvious pain so it was for the best.

Then came Baxter. The best dog I ever had...

Good Luck....

Dang Steve, Baxter and you look so simular in so many ways!:D
We miss ya on DS!

10-10-2008, 02:18 PM
All good advice. Recently had to make the same decision for our 13 year old chocolate lab. He had a heart problem and was on meds for it. His back legs were starting to give out and I didn't want to get to the point of him not being able to make it up the stairs and using our house as his toilet. I made the decision to take him off his meds and he died the next day from a sudden heart attack. The meds were prolonging his life for sure and we had to look at quality of life. He was a very dignified dog and I think it would have been tough to lose everything else for him so glad he went on his own. He had a good life. Also the meds and vet bills were outrageous.

10-10-2008, 02:22 PM
Dang Steve, Baxter and you look so simular in so many ways!:D
We miss ya on DS!

Na, baxter is much thinner:D

10-10-2008, 02:29 PM
Na, baxter is much thinner:D

Not so fast as Lee Corso says from this http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v240/Steves389/nickbaxter021.jpg to this


10-10-2008, 02:52 PM
Thanks again for all of the support. We made a decision this morning to move forward and put the dog down. It's hard to do as I think about how sweet she it but I don't want her to suffer for our sake. She's had a great life and we'll miss her so much....

I think this is our best decision in the long run.

10-10-2008, 02:58 PM
The best information I can give you after spending about 15K on a dog for various reasons is to determine if what you are doing will increase the dogs quality of life or if you are doing these things for yourself. Best of luck with your decision.

10-10-2008, 03:49 PM
Sounds to me like ya'll made the RIGHT decision. I feel for ya!