Old piggy-need advice on when it's time to let go

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Post   » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:19 pm

Tuck will be 8 in January. We lost his brother to cancer almost two years ago. He has been king of the castle since. Several months ago he started having trouble with his bag legs. The exotic vet said that he seemed to have arthritis, and they put him on a daily pain medicine and that has helped tremendously. At the same visit we noted his weight loss...so we kept an eye on it and it kept going down so I took him back. At that time he was having a little hair loss on his chin and neck. They scraped it and it eventually did come back ringworm so we treated him for that. She said there is probably some reason with his teeth or something that is causing him not to eat, but she says with his amount of weight loss and just general going down hill that he wouldn't do well with anesthesia. We can't really afford to do much right now anyway. She told me to give him critical care 15cc 2 times a day or 3 or more if he's not eating at all. At first he was very eager to eat it and would even lick it up off a bowl. That has gradually subsided and now he still wants to eat it, but not the whole amount. He munches on hay and eats some pellets, but not nearly what he used to. He LOVES his veggies...and every night when it's time he still lets us know that it's time for his salad. He takes his red pepper and runs into his hidey with it.
The thing is, he's so skinny. His bones in his spine and hips are sticking up. His belly is full, big and squishy, but for some reason he's just not gaining.
I broke the top off my scale so I need to replace it tonight...but he was just under 600g last time, don't remember the exact number.
The last few days he's just been spending more time in his hidey...not moving around as much. Today after he ate he went in there facing the back and hasn't come out since. I noticed last night he has some hair loss starting around one of his eyes. The thought of taking him to be put to sleep is so hard to bear. Especially since he does seem to get pleasure out of his greens...but I am afraid I'm being selfish. I am afraid he is suffering. I'm also afraid because I've heard euthanasia of a piggy can sometimes not be as peaceful as for a dog or cat...and he's such a dear sweet soul I don't want his last moments to be in fear or pain I cause. We just had to put our 14 year old dog down in June and that was the hardest thing..and maybe that's why I am hesitating with Tuck. My daughter...who he truly belongs to was 4 when we got him and she will be 12 in a few months...she says she knows it's not the same thing, but that it feels like murder. I know this isn't going to get better...
I wasn't home when Lenny got sick and wasn't with him when he was pts...I just guess I'm looking for reassurance. He still has life...he still wants food, he still squeals and runs off with his favorite peppers...but the rest of the time he sits in hiding. How do I know? This is so hard! My heart is breaking. We got him at 10 weeks old...he's had a long beautiful pampered life.

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Post   » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:57 pm

This is the most difficult question a pet owner has to answer. I said goodbye to my sweet old dog last summer after basically providing hospice for months due to multiple health issues. Then in the fall, my elderly mother became ill and passed a few months later. Your situation is more complicated because you need to set a good example for your daughter and you are still grieving the loss of your sweet old dog. The vet shared some information that helped me. Pets lose muscle when they’re older and they become thinner and weaker. They may not eat as much due to limited activity. Some pain meds can have a sedative effect and some can cause nausea. Chronic pain can cause digestive issues that almost mimic irritable bowel syndrome and chronic pain causes stress and fear. Most importantly, the vet said if your thinking about whether it’s time, it might be. Sometimes it helps to ask yourself what advice you would give a friend. Keep in mind that Tuck does not ponder the big picture or worry about life or the afterlife, only how he feels right now. As I look back, we may have waited longer than we should have with our dog. The most important thing I learned was quality and enjoyment of life Is more important than tallying the number of years. Right now I am caring for my mother’s elderly cat who has kidney issues. I have promised her and myself that I will limit hospice if I know she no longer enjoys her time with us. I wish you all the best with this situation. Treat yourself kindly, everything you are doing is out of love for your pet.

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Post   » Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:55 am

It sounds like Tuck still has some quality of life.  He is old, so he will act it, but that is okay.  As long as he still wants to eat and has pain meds to manage arthritis, etc, he should be fine.  He will let you know when he wants to give up.  When animals want to give up life, you can usually see it in their eyes, or expression, plus they will no longer want to eat.  The exception is extreme pain; it's never right to leave an animal in severe pain when there is no hope of recovery.

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Post   » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:14 am

I've had two die at 600g, so I consider that a very problematic weight -- one had a thyroid condition and loved to eat but couldn't gain weight; I brought the other for euthanasia when she didn't want to eat (after several days of Critical Care she ate willingly, plus veggies) and just "crapped out." In my experience, you know when it's time though of course it's always difficult to bring them for a final vet appointment.

With my Winnie (different from the 2 mentioned), she probably had arthritis (we attempted to treat) and definitely had other issues I was managing, but when she no longer wanted to stand or walk -- even though she still ate/drank (when I brought it to her), had personality, enjoyed snuggling, etc. -- I chose to say goodbye because not being able to stand/walk/wash is no way to live for a piggy. I did wait and hope for a few days (feeding her, washing her), but her legs didn't improve. She was older than 8.

Also, any time one of my piggies faced the back or a corner, that was a clear message they didn't feel well. I'm not saying it's time for your Tuck -- just commenting about the behaviors you've relayed. I do think his eating peppers is a good sign.

Finally, I'd like to add that if you have a competent, compassionate exotics vet, euthanasia should NOT be traumatic for the piggy. When done properly it IS very peaceful. Wishing you strength and wisdom as you assess his quality of life and make the best decisions you can for Tuck and your family.

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