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Something_To_Believe_In
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PostSubject: A euthanasia discussion   Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:18 pm

I want to start off by saying that I know this is a very sensitive subject for some folks. So, if you are feeling particularly sensitive about this subject right now, please refrain from posting until you can do so with a clear head and without a lot of emotion.

I want to open this conversation for us because I believe it is important that each person who owns ANY animal give thought to the limits they set in their own hearts and minds for end of life issues. We think about it for ourselves, as humans, and we sign DNR's or we don't. We come to a point in our lives where we give a great deal of thought to whether we want no tubes and machines keeping us alive or if we want all of the advancements of medical science utilized to prolong our lives. These are personal decisions and each person is different in their wants/desires.

I think it is important for us to have these same thoughts and conversations concerning our animals. I believe you should know what you think about this issue before you ever find yourself in a situation where a choice has to be made.

We each have our own thresholds for this. The line is drawn at a different place for each person. Some think that no amount of handicap/difference is acceptable. Others think that these things are just obstacles to be overcome. Some think that no amount of pain is acceptable. Others think that pain fades as healing occurs. Some think that pretty much anything can be endured while answers are saught, others think that there are some things that should not be endured for any length of time. Some think that euthanizing is "giving up" and others think it is the last kindness you can show your beloved pet. Some think that there is a greater good that comes from continuing to press on in hopes of finding answers. Others think that the greater good is to bring peace to the one life in question that day. And so on and so on.

What about YOU? Have you given this thought?
Where is the line for you?
What amount of pain is acceptable? And for how long?
Are you willing to try an experimental procedure?
What do the odds have to be for you to make the choice to euthanize?
What amount of permanent change/handicap/difference is acceptable to you?
Are there any financial considerations in your decision making?
Are there things that you absolutely will NOT allow an animal to experience? If so, what?
Do you consider a disease process and euthanize early, or would you let it go until the disease wins?
Do you feel you are a good judge of when your babies are "suffering" ?
Do you feel there is never a good enough reason to end a life?

These are not necessarily questions I am asking you to answer here (though you are more than welcome to), but things that I think we should each think about. I think that a healthy discussion can be had. Questions can be asked. It is a difficult subject, to be sure. But, it is one that I have had to think about more than I wish. I know MY answer to each of these questions, and I will share those answers as we discuss this subject.

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~*~ Val ~*~
Passionate = one step down from crazy

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures - Thornton Wilder

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PostSubject: Re: A euthanasia discussion   Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:08 pm

I have had to make the hard decision several times over the years for my pets. I would rather put my pet down then have it suffer. When the vet has said there is nothing else that can be done, if you let them live they will suffer a long painful death, then I have chosen to put them to sleep. I want them to go on their terms and peaceful.
I have had a glider die a painful death in my hands and I will never let that happen again. If I can end their suffering in a peaceful way I will. I have a vet I trust whole heartedly. So, I value his opinion when it comes to making those decisions.
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PostSubject: Re: A euthanasia discussion   Sun Feb 26, 2012 5:01 pm

I have given this thought. It is a choice that has been on the table several times in my life. The line is not set in stone for me. Each situation is different, critical injury vs. prolonged disease for example. I need to think on this a little more to formulate a good, readable answer.

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PostSubject: Re: A euthanasia discussion   Sun Feb 26, 2012 7:52 pm

It comes down to a very simple question that needs to be answered without emotion (as hard as that can be sometimes). Is there any quality of life left? Sometimes that can be hard to honestly answer, but it's that simple.
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PostSubject: Re: A euthanasia discussion   Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:50 pm

I do agree with Tom - when the quality of life is compromised, there are choices to be made. I am an advocate of euthanasia. I will not put any animal down needlessly. But I will do so if circumstances are such that they are no longer to have a good quality of life. I have had to make this decision several times with animals that have been in my life and it's never easy. We put our cat of 17 years down 2 years ago. Emotionally, it was torture on me for selfish reasons. I didn't want her to go away. I wanted to wake up every morning with her on my pillow. I wanted her to greet me at the door in her "inner dog" way. She was the light of my life. But she had kidney issues that had become more than either of us could bear. It was horrible on her when for no reason at all, even in sleep, she would pee where she was lying. And she hurt because of it. We had treated her several times in the past with regular medication. Now, we were at the point of having to do this every day of her life. And all the while, we would have watched her struggle because the physical issues would not improve much. She'd been happy for those 17 years. Full of life and love. At that point, it was my responsibility to make a choice for her. Let her be uncomfortable and embarrassed or allow her to bow out of this life gracefully to romp happily in a "new" home over that rainbow bridge. I chose the latter. For several days, I mourned the loss of my baby and I missed her like you wouldn't believe. But not a day has gone by that I regret the decision I made for her. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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PostSubject: Re: A euthanasia discussion   Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:43 pm

We have had to let several pets go in my lifetime and each one was a very hard decision. They all came down to quality of life. I was raised in a very pet-loving home that treats pets as family and thinks of them that way. In that respect, we have spent literally thousands of dollars treating injuries and illnesses and in one case, over $4,000.00 at 3 different vets (emergency vet, regular vet, University of Minnesota) just to figure out what was wrong with my cat only to find that it was cancer of the esophagus and so advanced that there was no hope and we had to euthanize. Would we go through all of that again? You bet. If there is any hope of healing and a good quality of life, we will do everything we can to make it happen. Yes, financial issues are taken into account to some degree, but as long as myself or my parents can afford payment plans or credit card bills and the result is a longer, happy life, that is what we will do. The reason I include my parents in this is that we are all family and we help each other with everything. This family includes my gliders (their grandgliders) and their cats (my furbrothers).

I will not necessarily trust the word of some vets, seeing as the emergency vet that I brought Eugene to when his tongue was swollen felt that euthanasia may be the best option. Thank goodness my regular vet thought differently and Eugene is healthy and happy today. I will trust my eyes and my heart, though. I truly believe that I will know when it is time to let go, I just hope I have many more years before having to make this kind of decision or help make this decision again.
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PostSubject: Re: A euthanasia discussion   Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:17 pm

As others have said, I take each case as an individual. However, I do have limits. There are things I will not allow an animal to suffer. Like Karen, I have held many gliders in my hands as they struggled in those last moments/hours of life and I will not allow another glider to go through that if I can get to a vet before they pass on their own.
I want all of my loved ones - skin, fur and feathered - to pass in PEACE, not struggling or in pain or suffering a septic infection or slowly passing as their organs fail one by one. I have seen each of these things and they give me nightmares. It is so much harder to live with knowing that I caused/allowed/forced/permitted/whatever them to suffer so than it is knowing that I helped them to pass in peace.

I have made the decision a few times with gliders, once with a cat and twice with dogs. It is never easy. It is not a decision that I ever take lightly. I would never euthanize out of financial reasons or to make things more convenient for myself. I will, however, make the decision if the prognosis is very poor, if suffering is unavoidable or if we have tried everything that my vet and/or I can think of to try and the animal remains in pain every day or has to live a life so altered from the "normal" for that species that they no longer get to act like a bird/glider/dog/cat/etc.

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~*~ Val ~*~
Passionate = one step down from crazy

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures - Thornton Wilder

We are what we are, no matter what we might wish to be, or pretend to be. - Dean Koontz in The Face

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PostSubject: Re: A euthanasia discussion   Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:56 am

I have had to make the decision only twice in my life, and not yet with gliders (Ive only had mine for 6 months or so). One, my cat, Nike. He contracted this weird cat disease that kills them within 48hours of contracting it. His brother, Snuggles, was acting very lethargic, drooly, and ended up running away to pass. Nike had the same symptoms and when we brought him to the vet, we were basically told there was nothing that could be done. Rather than let him suffer his last few moments, we chose euthanasia. I was able to sit with him while he drifted off into his endless sleep. Sure, we could have let him go on his own, it was inevitable, but I couldnt be sure he wasnt in pain or suffering.

The other was my dog, Jake. He came down with a rare disease when he was only 2-3 years old. His white blood cell count was almost non-existant. I was young at the time, so not sure WHAT exactly, he had. The vet recommended putting him to sleep. When we asked if there were any other options, the vet said he could try a blood transfusion, it was very expensive and not guarunteed to work. We tried it anyways, and Jake lived for 10+ years after that. We did end up choosing euthanasia for him in the end though. On his last vet check up visit, my dad arrived early and decided to take him for a walk. He couldnt even keep himself up, his legs kept giving out on him. Just looking in Jake's eyes, my dad knew it would be wrong to bring him back home and let him suffer his last days without being able to move on his own.

So, I agree with a lot of the comments here - the question to ask yourself is about the quality of their life? If it is inevitable that they are going to pass, wouldnt it be nicer to put your own selfish needs aside to make sure your beloved pet is not in any pain or suffering in anyway during their last moments?
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PostSubject: Re: A euthanasia discussion   Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:26 am

I agree that it comes down to the quality of life. I've had to make the decision a couple times - dogs that had been with me for many years - and while it hurt, I've never doubted that I made the right decision for them. I can only hope that if the situation arises, I will feel the same about decisions made on behalf of my glider kids.

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PostSubject: euthanasia considerations   Mon Apr 22, 2013 1:45 pm

This is some great advice on when to know it's time to say goodbye and euthanize your pet whether it's glider or other animal:

by Dr. Andy Roark - vetstreet.com

Over the past few years, I've heard a lot of veterinarians give wonderful advice to people who are wondering when it is time to give their pets the gift of a peaceful passing. Here are four of the best pieces of advice I've heard, and they are the same ones I passed on to my own mother for her consideration.

Every pet, illness and situation is different. There is no single rule that can be followed for when it is time to help your best friend "cross the rainbow bridge." Getting input from your veterinarian on the specific medical conditions that your loved one may face is vital for doing what is best for your pet. You may also benefit from having a caring friend who is not as emotionally involved in the situation as you are to help you gain perspective and really "see" what is happening with your pet.

Remember that pets live in the moment. One of the most wonderful things about animals is how they embrace the present. Every time I walk into my house, my faithful Vizsla throws a one-dog ticker tape parade. The fact that I have entered the house thousands of times before, or that I will leave again in a few hours, means nothing. All that matters to him is the joy that he feels right now.
When our pets are suffering, they don't reflect on all the great days they have had before, or ponder what the future will bring. All they know is how they feel today. By considering this perspective, we can see the world more clearly through their eyes. And their eyes are what matter.

Ask yourself important questions. Sometimes, articulating or writing down your thoughts can make the right path more apparent. Some questions that help pet owners struggling with this decision include:
Why do I think it might be time to euthanize?
What are my fears and concerns about euthanizing?
Whose interests, besides those of my pet, am I taking into account?
What are the concerns of the people around me?
Am I making this decision because it is best for my pet, or because it is best for me because I'm not ready to let go?

Measure their quality of life. This is no more than trying to determine how good or bad our pet's life is at this moment. Trying to assess this can be difficult, but there are some ways you can try and evaluate it. Let's take a look at a few of my favorites in the next section.

Is Life a Joy or a Drag?

Our pets may not be able to talk to us and tell us how they are doing, but if we pay close attention, there are many clues that can help us answer that question.
The Rule of "Five Good Things": Pick the top five things that your pet loves to do. Write them down. When he or she can no longer do three or more of them, quality of life has been impacted to a level where many veterinarians would recommend euthanasia.

Good Days vs. Bad: When pets have "good days and bad days," it can be difficult to see how their condition is progressing over time. Actually tracking the days when your pet is feeling good as well as the days when he or she is not feeling well can be helpful. A check mark for good days and an X for bad days on your calendar can help you determine when a loved one is having more bad days than good.

Quality of Life Scale is another useful tool. The five H's and two M's are: Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Happiness, Hygiene (the ability to keep the pet clean from bodily waste), Mobility and More (as in, more good days than bad). Dr. Villalobos, a veterinary oncologist, recommends grading each category on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being poorest quality of life and 10 being best). If the majority of categories are ranked as 5 or above, continuing with supportive care is acceptable.

Pet Hospice Journal: Keeping a journal of your pet's condition, behavior, appetite, etc., can be extremely valuable in evaluating quality of life over time.
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