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I have a female German Shepherd who is 12 years old. She has very bad hips. This year I have taken her to the vet many times for a skin condition and ear infection. She was doing ok until just a few weeks ago. She seems to be declining. Normally she doesn't do much. She lies on her bed and gets up to eat, drink water, or go to the bathroom. Sometimes she will walk around the yard. But now she really only wants to just lie down and she is not very interested in eating. The other night after her walk she was so sore that she couldn't get up. I had to bring her a bowl of water because she couldn't get up. After awhile she was able to get up again, but I can tell her hind legs hurt and she can barely move them. For the past few days she doesn't want to sleep alone and my son has been sleeping on the couch so she isn't alone. She also went outside and barked for no apparent reason. It wasn't the bark she does when she is barking at something. A few nights she seemed to want to sleep outside, and that is something she never wanted to do. I had to coax her inside to her bed.

 

I've taken her to the vet a lot this year and the vet didn't seem concerned about her lack of mobility. I tried to explain that she has a lot of trouble climbing into the car to go to the vet and she has trouble getting up without being in pain. The vet prescribed pain medicine for the days when it is especially hard for her to get up.

 

What do you think? Are these symptoms that she might be approaching her end of days? I've been trying to just keep her comfortable and happy, but I feel sad for her right now. I'm not sure what I can do. The vet has been telling me that she looks good and probably has a few years left, but I always wonder about that, seeing her every day.

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Your vet is ridiculous. Please go to another vet, today if possible. That poor dog should be on pain meds daily. At least an NSAID on a daily basis, possibly some tramadol (synthetic narcotic) for the bad days as well. And with the new symptoms needs to be examined anyway. Please please, try another vet today.

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Shepherds, like most dogs are pretty stoic. They do NOT want to show their pain-- if they do it is REAL bad.

 

Our vet had us make a check off list for 'quality of life' (doggie daily bucket list of sorts). When our female could not complete the list we knew it was 'time'. It was hard to say goodbye--but even afterwards we wished the end could have been sooner as only in hindsight did we realize just how much pain she was in.

 

We have been through this with 2 old shepherds (bad hips/arthritis and old age) and 2 young ones (1 with kidney issues and 1 with cancer).

 

I just can't imagine a vet saying to only give pain meds when you 'think' she is obviously in pain or for 'bad days'... it sounds like every day is a 'bad day'.

 

With proper pain med treatment you dog MAY become more active again and give you some more time with her-- it made a huge difference with our older dogs.

 

12 is a great age for a shepherd-- you have taken GREAT care of her!

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I was reading something else today about Shepherds hiding their pain. If that is true, then she is in a lot of pain on many days. I have been told to think of "quality of life". She has always been a very sweet and loyal dog. For the past several years, in spite of her arthritis, she still had that spark in her personality. The last two weeks have been different and I've noticed her fading a bit. It used to be that she would happily come in to the house, but lately she acts like she doesn't even care that I'm calling her. She's becoming more distant. I have never had to make a decision about euthanasia before and dread the possibility. Thanks for your replies. A new vet is definitely in order.

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I don't consider myself a dog expert, but I also have a German Shepherd (12 in November) in declining health, and I've talked to our vet at-length about the "end signs." I'm sorry, but your dog is showing many of them. Lack of interest in food is the biggest, though another vet we talked to at our practice while our usual vet was on vacation said that she's seen shepherds who can no longer get up have a strong appetite until the end. If your dog doesn't that's a big, big sign. You can try to coax her to eat with bland diet (boiled hamburger or ground turkey and rice mixed together). Lack of mobility to the point of not being able to get up is another biggie. Although my vet didn't mention anything about the dog wanting to remain outside, I've heard that dogs often go away when they're ready to pass. Wanting lots of attention and closeness is another sign, especially if the dog was not previously affectionate. My Elsa has never been a cuddly dog, but she's been more so lately, and the vet said it isn't uncommon for the dog to seek out comfort. Some dogs who were affectionate do the opposite and want to be left alone. Is your dog panting a lot? Panting is a sign of pain. Many of the signs you mentioned are things we experienced a year and a half ago with our shepherd mix, Bam-Bam. After he hadn't eaten in days, we knew it was time.

 

I'm so sorry you're experiencing this. It's a horrible, painful decision to have to make. Our decision is anywhere from days to months away, and I dread making it. You have to do what's right for your family and especially your dog, but from what you've said it sounds like the time is here or very close. I don't know you and I'm sitting here tearing up because I know how gut-wrenching it is to make this decision. In a perfect world, all our furry family members would go peacefully in their sleep. :grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

Edited to add: And I agree -- your dog should be on daily pain meds. Our vet recently upped ours to up to 3 times/day or stronger doses 2X/day. There is no reason for your dog to be in that much pain. It's cruel and unfair. You need a vet more familiar with shepherds and their issues.

Edited by jujsky
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