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Old 12-02-2012, 04:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Anyone have experience with elderly beagles?

Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum & thought I'd seek some guidance for my dog. 14 years ago I moved out on my own and bought myself an adorable puppy beagle & named her Claire. We have enjoyed daily walks together, camping (although I think she hates it), and hiking. As years went by, I went back to school, got married, & just recently had my 2nd child. She's been with me through it all. In March of this year, Claire's health started to decline. She's had bloodwork done which show it's highly likely Claire has Cushing's disease. Claire now has difficulty walking up the stairs & loses her balance quite easily. She's been on antibiotics 3 or 4 times for possible viral infections. I had her on a prescription dog food for a couple of years due to allergies and suddenly she decided she didn't want it anymore. I switched her to another grain-free food which she like & happily ate, however recently she has decided not to eat this food as well. Claire has lost 7 lbs in 4 months, I can feel her bones. I started adding canned meat to her food so she'll eat it but hasn't gain anyway weight back. Last week she started pulling the fur out her tail. She shows all the symptoms of Cushing's disease except for the weight loss part. I brought her back to the vet last week about her tail which the vet thinks is related to Cushing's. So, due to her age & financial reasons, I decided to no longer test or treat anything (she was on a medication for incontinence but I stopped it because I thought it was affecting her appetite.) & just keep her comfortable for now until I can no longer manage her symptoms. She has peed in the house a couple of times now. I think she 's in a little pain when getting up but she still wants her walk everyday, although we don't do long walks anymore. I'm stresses out over all of this & it breaks my heart that she's no longer the dog she used to be (I think she may be senile too as she gets restless & paces around, constantly looks for food in the kitchen yet won't eat her food,).

My question is, is there anything else I can do to keep her comfortable? Anyone else out there have experience with looking after elderly dogs? I've discussed putting her down with my vet, he said it's a judgement call on my part. I don't feel Claire is ready for that, nor am I yet. I cry almost everyday because I do feel her time is coming soon though but thought I'd revisit this issue after Christmas. Anyway, thanks for reading.


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Old 12-02-2012, 08:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My first beagle Benny spent many senior years with me. He had his share of ailments but he was a happy guy. I just knew when it was time. His quality of life was gone, my other dogs were watching him constantly, and my heart was breaking for him and for me. Just as your vet said, it is your decision. Just make sure she has a very comfortable and warm sleeping area. Her sense of smell, sight, hearing etc could be fading, so maybe a food with a bit more scent might be enjoyable for her. Dogs tend to be attracted to the food smell more than the taste. And you will know in your heart when it is time.
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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At over 60 I have had to watch several dogs be put down and it is never easy. Best of luck with your friend.
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Knowing when it's time is something you will feel. It's one of the hardest things you do in your life. Personally I think that when it becomes more of struggle for her to live, then it's time to do what's best for her. You'll make the right decision.
No matter what remember she had the best life and no dog was more loved.
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Old 12-14-2012, 11:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Claire's having a bad night tonight. She's barely touched her food in a couple of days. Tonight we had ribs (beef) for dinner so I cut a little bit of meat of the bone and mixed it in with her food. She happily ate the rib meet, but left her dry food. About an hour later I gave her her nightly milkbone (which she has no problems eating). Immediately after that she threw up all the rib meat she ate. I put her outside for a few minutes, when she came back in she was shaking, heavy breathing, lying down on her pillow since 9:00 & hasn't moved. I tried giving her a pain pill in a pill pocket treat & she won't eat it which is very unusual. A week ago she vomited mucous after she ate some canned meat. I don't get it, she's hungry but won't eat. I was hoping she'd be around through Christmas but it's not looking so good right now.


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Old 12-15-2012, 12:45 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I have a senior shih tzu (she'll be 13 in March). She doesn't hear very well anymore, and being a shih tzu her eyesight has never been great and is worse now. Her hind legs are also getting weak--she can't get up on the couch or bed on her own any more and in cold weather she can't manage the front stairs. I gave her table scraps all her life but about 6 months ago I had to stop because every time she had something different than her dog food, she'd either vomit or have diarrhea.

However, she's on Cosequin, which is helping some with the legs, and she still tries to jump around when I get home, so I feel like she still has pretty decent quality of life. She can also still manage her dry food very well, but I watch to be sure she isn't having any issues.

I'd take Claire to the vet to be sure she isn't in heart failure or anything, and if she gets a pretty clean bill of health for her age, please ask for feeding recommendations from him. Also be sure he checks her teeth because if her teeth or gums are sensitive, that could cause her to refuse food.

Keep us posted!
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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My heart goes out to you. We lost our 1st dog Oct 6 and I still miss her.
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Well Claire was having few bad days over the weekend, lying on the floor shaking, not eating again & I noticed she's not drinking as much water. This is weird since she has Cushing's which causing dogs to drink excessively. Others days she'll seem ok & not shake so much or will eat but only of it's something other than dog food. Then she might throw up. I have to carry her up the stairs more often now & she can't walk on ice & snow like she used to. I'm thinking she has only a week or two left if that. Christmas is coming & we have visitors coming & I don't want people around if I have to put her down. I'll be a wreck! I've looked into cremation & it costs over $400 if you want the ashes returned & $180 if you don't. Seems unfair to me. I'm reading a book called Just One More Day which is helping a lot. Claire still hasn't given me "a sign" that she's ready to go yet. Don't know if she ever will.


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Old 12-20-2012, 11:38 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Unhappy Senior pals

We've only had to put down one of our beagles (we've had three). It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and even now I have tears in my eyes while I am writing this. This is the part they don't tell you when you bring that adorable puppy home.

All that said, our vet has told us, that our dog would tell us when it was time for him to depart this world. And I had to trust that Chip would. Without your dog, if you haven't done this before, visit with your vet about how he/she proceeds with this. What you need to be watching for as far as signs of "beyond control" with your friend. Have you decided what to do with her body after, we had Chip cremated and he's still here in the jar the funeral home gave us. Before the time comes, and while you can think straight, write those things down, so that you know what to say and do even when you are grieving her loss.

Right now, I have a 12 1/2 year old, Cobi, who was just diagnosed with diabetes. We have to make choices, insulin injections, food, treats that treat diabetes. When it comes down to it, can we afford to give him what he needs? Tough call. I likened it to my mother who was filled with cancer at 84, does it pay to put her through chemo/radiation etc emotionally and physically for her. She chose to live her last 6 weeks without it.

It's a very tough decision, and I am sorry you are having to think and deal with this now. I will pray for you and your pup that she will tell you when she has had enough. Know that you gave her a loving home, and for that she is grateful I am sure. Take pics of her now, so that you have those to share with yourself. And if you can, tell your friends and family of the situation....we didn't with Chip...and friends were very unkind afterwards, be sure to tell them that you are sad (if you can) and may need to just talk about her.
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Old 12-22-2012, 02:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thank you for the prayers. Claire's had a good 2 days, eating steak & potatoes...why not? She's enjoying it. I've been looking into cremation & I know I want to bring her ashes home but it is just too expensive, especially this time of year. The vet's office said if I don't bring her ashes home, she's cremated with other pets & her ashes will be scattered on the grounds of the crematorium in the spring. It's a nice place that overlooks the Ottawa river. I've confirmed this with the company that does the cremation, they're highly recommended. I feel guilty talking about this now while she's still here but I know plans should be made ahead of time.


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