MJ Wixsom: Sometimes, sadly, it is time to let go

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2021

It was time.

It is hard to know when it is time.

Steph had been watching Logan for a while.

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He had been shifted to Gallaprant as a better, although more expensive, arthritis medicine. Technically, it was Brian’s dog, but Stephanie was the decision maker for the timing.

As a veterinarian, I can decide if it is a good decision or not, but I cannot force the timing unless there is immediate life threatening conditions or intense pain.

Steph and I had discussed Logan’s condition and she trusted my input.

As a veterinarian, I understand the situations in ways that owners sometimes do not.

I took an oath to prevent pain and suffering and that is what I strive to do.

But I still cannot push my personal beliefs or moral boundaries on someone else.

It was time.

The puppy did not have a name.

He was found under bleachers at a ball game. His skin condition was bad, but his bloody diarrhea and not eating pushed it over the edge.

Although parvovirus can usually be treated, IV fluids and treatment are expensive. Without an owner and with 20 dogs that are waiting still adoption, the expense of treatment was too much.

Sometimes owners experience this also.

There may be treatments that can be done, but the expense is more than they can handle.

It was time.

Little Girl was old and frail. Cats have an amazing ability to hold on.

They typically have kidney problems, thyroid problems or low potassium.

As they go downhill, they sleep a little more, do a little less.

Little Girl had not eaten in three or four days. She had not gotten up to get a drink.

Generally, I recommend that if the pet is not getting up to eat or drink, we are not keeping them alive for them, but rather for us. That is not fair.

It will be time.

Rosie is an older cat with chronic kidney disease.

Rosie refuses to eat the prescription diet that will prolong her life. That means the medicine is not worth the expense, because it will take four to six weeks to take effect.

Rosie will eat what she wants and die sooner than she needs, but if she will not do her part, we cannot do ours.

Her owners will bring her in for hospice (pawspice) care.

Some owners cannot handle any of the downhill “suffering” and make the decision early. That is okay, because at some point, it will be time.

It will be time.

Izzy is a well-behaved guinea pig.

She is eating ravenously, but losing weight. She has a secondary candida (yeast) infection in her mouth, but that is not the cause of the weight loss.

The owners will start assist feeding a hand-feeding formula to help Izzy maintain her weight.

Lil, a hedgehog, is in the same situation with a mouth tumor. Pain meds will help until it is time.

It was time.

Lexi had been treated since she was a puppy. A cross between a lab and a basset, she looked like a black basset.

Unfortunately, she had a splenetic tumor. She had an incident that afternoon and had gone down.

Although she was up and walking, the tumor had probably ruptured and would soon tear and bleed more.

That would not be a fun death and the owners had been prepared for that decision. A sharp downturn makes the decision easier.

Besides they had two doctors that recommended the same.

It was time.

Mimi’s parents had enough. Although she seemed healthy and was only seven-years-old, she had behavioral problems that could not be fixed by her owners.

Sometimes, it is the family situation, sometimes a caregiver’s situation and sometimes it is the pet. Regardless of the reason, behavioral euthanasia is one of the most difficult decisions to make.

You second guess your decision. Was it too soon? Should you have tried something else? Was it the correct decision? When will you be able to accept the decision? While this may not be totally in my comfort zone, I solidly believe that there are things worse than death.

Mimi would not have done well as an outdoor dog and may have died a horrible death in the outside heat.

It was time

Pepper had been acting like a puppy for the past month. Medicine had done well to help her chronic terminal condition, but one day Pepper was just laying around.

That was so unlike Pepper. Pepper was not having fun and the owners knew it.

It was time

Nacho had been periodically asking for pain meds for years.

At 19 years old, that is to be expected.

He had been in the rodeo circuit and had saved clowns and cowpokes from raging bulls.

He had lost weight and been going downhill, but it wasn’t until he could not stand and walk well that Becky Jo and Jeremy made the decision.

They just knew it was time.

It was time

Kermit was a tiny kitten of only fourteen ounces. He had not eaten in a day or so.

His belly was swollen and his gums were white. Money was limited and we did what we could, but he died a few hours later.

At the close of the day, I wonder if I should have pushed more for a decision, but I have seen other kittens look as bad and pull through.

Still if Kermit was dead so soon, the decision would have been good.

It was time.

I had never met Onyx before. She was a black lab, but if there was a breed for a grey lab, that would have been her.

She had muscle atrophy of her limbs and facial muscles.

She was alert, but did not try to get up. She had been going downhill for a short while.

The owners loved her too much to keep her for them.

Not eating, not drinking, not walking, not standing, pain and unfixable conditions or your veterinarian’s advice are all reasons to make the decision.

Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is hard. Sometimes we are sure of the decision and other times we have regrets.

There is no crystal ball.

Regardless, we make the best decision we can at the time, grieve and then should move on, because we know it is time.

MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. GuardianAnimal.com 606-928-6566.