Contributed by: erik Friday, March 13 2020 @ 04:20 pm EDT
HERE IS A PROSPECTIVE ON DEALING WITH ANIMAL ILLNESSES SAYING GOOD BYE
Surely the hardest thing for a dog owner is to say good-bye to his best friend. Whether that good-bye is a relinquishment or a passing, the loss is typically the same. The emptiness is something that we do not soon forget but we still have those memories which help sustain us and which time tends to allow us to absorb.
I deal with questions of loss pretty much daily. These questions are about both medical conditions and the need to put down an animal who has become dangerous. Dangerous animals have no place in anyone’s home. No one should knowingly pass on a dangerous GSD (or any dog) to another family. These problems will not suddenly disappear, but can possibly relax for a period of time, all to suddenly re-emerge and cause great harm to the unsuspecting new owners. Many dogs from ‘the pound’ have this happen to them. They are scared, anxious and eager to get out of their situation and once they are in a home and become secure, these bad traits re-emerge and the problem is back to an unsuspecting owner. Decisions to euthanize dogs that are dangerous to people and to other animals is, at lease for me, an easy one. Passing a problem never erases the problem, it just moves it.
The hardest conversations I have are what to do with a sickly dog who can possibly be cured but the owner has no funds available to help. Their question is always the same, “Can you take him for me and do the surgery them find a home who will love him they way I do and then pay for the meds for his life time.” “Can I find him a home with a family willing and financially able to care for him medically”
The issue is always about some mix of finances vs the prognosis for the dog; and these decisions are often times precarious and deal with many unknown factors. So what do you do when your new pet is sick?
When you first get a dog, be it a puppy or a rescue, my advice is to immediately insure the dog. Use a company that facilitates your ability to seek qualified medical help with general practitioners as well as specialists. Since you have no clue that the rescue dog has a possible pre-existing medical condition, your report and request for insurance is rarely rejected. It is never rejected with puppies. Once you have secured insurance and waited the 30 day period, then checking out the pup with your vet is critical. If you do find out that the dog has an issue, at least you can address it with a far lower exposure to vet bills than before the insurance was issued.
No one wants to get a pet that has a serious medical (or behavioral) issue. Everyone wants a sweet healthy pet. Sweet is done by training, but healthy can be a much more difficult process. The diseases that are common with GSD’s involve every part of their body from hips to hearts and from UTI’s the chronic intestinal issues. Some diseases are curable at a cost while others have a much more ominous prognosis.
Having to make a decision on euthanizing a very sick pup is gut wrenching but it is important to think of the pet when considering the facts. Do you want you new puppy to live a life in pain? Can you deal with all that needs to be done for your dog from shots to pills and from possible incontinence to his inability to walk or see. Many people say ‘yes’ they can do what is necessary for the pet, and to them I say that’s great. Most of us have active lives, most of us work and or we are occupied during the day leaving the dog at home by himself. Some of us may not be able to keep the dog for a variety of reasons and then try and relinquish the sick pup to someone else. If the commitment isn’t for life, guarantied, then the decision based on the dog and the disease and prognosis must be evaluated before trying those necessary means to save him.
You must consider the dogs quality of life in your home. Do you want him to be unable to play, to be in pain, to have painful medications or manipulation of his joints? To wear a diaper or to be confined to a crate for the majority of the day, not to be able to walk outside or to be left alone for long periods of time? These are just some of the things to consider when trying to determine if the dog should be humanely euthanized or be medically fixed. Obviously if the answer to his medical condition is a slam dunk, guarantied cure then of course euthanasia would never be on the table. The diseases I am referring to are those conditions that become part of the dog’s life and therefore part of yours. Can you fix him and at what monetary or emotional and physical cost to you?
No one can ever have a stock answer to this without the ability to evaluate all of the facts, vet opinions, your own financial condition, your emotional bond to the dog and your families collective input. If you do make the decision to have your pet put down, do it both with your heart and your head. Don’t be selfish and try and save a dog who will pass regardless of your medical heroics only to suffer until that point in time where he just can’t hold out. Do be silly and try to save a dog that can’t be saved. Be smart in understanding what it means to save him and what you may have to do now that his condition is non-life threatening but is ailment is still present. Dogs like people need care, food, love, exercise etc daily. They need us to make these hard decisions for them.