Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
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My sweet FIV+ senior kitty Dominick was diagnosed with cancer on November 29, 2022. His foot had swollen and we thought it might be arthritis or a symptom of kidney disease. He had been steadily losing weight and sitting with his foot strangely splayed for about a month, but our vet just prescribed anti-clotting and blood pressure medication and adjusted his thyroid medication. When we carefully pressed on his foot and leg, he would swipe at us annoyed but no hissing or growling. The day we took him to an animal hospital, his foot had swollen to twice the size of the other, his limp was quite pronounced, and he was not eating much. The vet hospital decided to do full body X-rays to see what was going on.
My husband and I were not expecting the results of the X-rays. His joint at his knee has a moth-eaten appearance and the his chest cavity is filled with tumors. Given his age, medical history, and the metastasis of the cancer, the vet did not recommend any further treatment other than a steroid shot, anti-nausea and appetite-stimulating medicine, and a small amount of gabapentin pain medication. She suspected it would be a matter of days before he passed and was worried about the possibility of a leg fracture.
We have consulted with a vet for at-home euthanasia, but we are struggling with knowing when it is time. Up until today, he has had no breathing issues, no bleeding or gastrointestinal distress. He is still using the litter box and eating a good amount of food, even without the appetite stimulant. He has been social and purring, and although his leg is clearly causing him pain, the small dose of gapapentin we have given him has helped a bit. Yesterday, he got to eat sushi salmon, imitation crab, and some teriyaki chicken that he loved so much he tried to gnaw my finger (he has no teeth). He was purring and lightly head-butting us and even followed me into the bathroom after I returned home after being gone for only 2 hours.
Unfortunately, he is much more sedate today and sleeping more than usual today and his purr that once sounded like a broken old truck now sounds like a trill. I don't think he has eaten anything today yet either, and it's nearly 3pm. I feel in my heart that tomorrow may be time, but my husband isn't sure.
Those of you who have had to schedule goodbyes for their beloved pets, how did you know it was time? Thank you in advance.
Hi Megan and Dominik, welcome. I'm so sorry you are in this point of the journey together, my heart hurts for you. What a terrible shock. It takes courage and love to decide on letting him go, and it's not an easy place to be in. Keeping him comfortable right now is so important, and you are doing just that.
When it comes to knowing it's time, every situation is different. You start with the individual animal, and consider all of the quality of life indicators that make them happy. Each animal is unique in this sense. So you ask yourself, how many of these things can Dominick do now, and not do? The more things he cannot do, the closer you are to that point in the journey of saying goodbye.
In our experience, it's always best to say goodbye a day too early than a day too late. How do you want to remember him? It's always best to avoid saying goodbye under stressful, difficult circumstances. Every living being deserves and wants a peaceful transition. The goal is to help him through that process without stress. Generally, a day too soon is the way to do it. Also, it seems that the longer people wait to say goodbye, until their animal no longer resembles their old self,. the more regret and sadness a pet parent feels afterward.
Our Coping with Loss Forum has quite a few conversations about this, I would check them out if you want.
Stay strong, and listen to your heart. Talk to your husband about Dominick's quality of life so you can both come to an agreement sooner rather than later. It's the hardest thing you will ever do. But if you can do it before a stressful event occurs, you'll be glad you confronted this difficult decision head on.
Keep us posted OK? We are keeping you close in our hearts.
Thank you so much for your kind words, Jerry! Your thoughtful response was very helpful and much appreciated. I will definitely check out the Coping with Loss Forum.
We decided to schedule the appointment for Monday evening, in two days. I feel at peace with the decision and am grateful for the extra time that we have had with him. Two years ago, he had surgery for a super rare kidney pseudocyst that the vet initially thought was a tumor. We asked the universe for just a few more years with him, and we got it.
If anyone is in the NYC area and looking for an at-home euthanasia service, we have had a wonderful experience so far with Paws at Peace. They offered a free phone consultation and have been very kind and accommodating.
You are so welcome, I'm glad we could be there for you. Your sweet boy has been such a rock star for so long. Now he will be a true star in the universe, always watching out for his favorite humans.
We'll keep a candle lit for you guys, and send lots of love for a very peaceful transition.
P.S. so glad you found a great service to help. Pet home hospice and euthanasia services are such a blessing. Feel free to post your experience here so other can know about Paws at Peace (I know we have quite a few NYC members):
22 January 2013
22 February 2013
Jist wanted to send my love also. It's clear how mich you lpve Dominick and jave left no stone u turned when dec 2hat's best for him.
I'm glad you he showed you a bit of a sparkle several days ago. It seems our furbavies often give us that gift . It is a memory we can hold o to and ot's a way they are showing is they are ready to ahed the earth clothes that ho longer serve them. They are ready to be free from pain and ready to watch over is from The Rainbow Bridge .
We are here for you. We want you to k ow you are not alone and we understand the depth of your love and the depth of your grief.
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!
Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!