Insights welcome as I decide whether it is reasonable and moral or unreasonable and immoral to put down an old dog based on some very specific facts.
I’m grappling with a difficult decision at home and would like your insights into the matter. I will appreciate any politely phrased opinions you might have.
I have a very old dog (16 or 17). She’s blind and almost completely deaf, has an anxiety disorder, has severe arthritis, and has lost most of her sense of smell. We control the pain and the anxiety disorder with tranquilizers and anti-inflammatory medicine. Also, despite the diminished sense of smell, she still loves her food. It is, indeed, her only pleasure.
The dog also has low-level dementia, which manifests itself in incontinence. If I take her outside, she totally understands that she should do her business out there. However, if I don’t take her outside in time, she’ll go in the house when the urge hits her.
I’ve got her in reusable doggy diapers (an excellent product, incidentally), which help somewhat. However, if I don’t walk her before the urge hits her, not only will she use the diaper for its intended purpose, she’ll start licking the diaper obsessively.
The combination of her licking the outside of the diaper and the urine inside the diaper triggers an osmosis process that sees her smearing a nasty slurry of urine and saliva on the carpet. It’s better than a full accident, which soaks into the carpet fibers and the pad underneath, but still nasty and requires my dragging out the steam carpet cleaner.
It’s no answer to lock her in a tile-floored room or keep her in a little doggy kennel to help protect the carpet. Doing so simply escalates her anxiety disorder.
My response has been to walk her every 2 hours or so. For the most part, this isn’t a big hardship, since I’m a homebody and don’t mind hanging around the house. However, it has turned me into something of a prisoner in the house, because it’s almost impossible for me to leave to leave the house for anything that will take significantly longer than two hours.
With this as the status quo, I’ve gone back and forth on whether to put her down. I have no problem at all with putting down a dog who is suffering. However, it’s not clear that my dog is suffering. It’s true that she lives a minimal life at best, but she still gets pleasure from food and, thanks to all the medicines, she’s not experience extreme physical or mental pain. [Read more…]