Old dog isn't eating well and is wasting away. Need help making some tough decisions...
posted by Thorzdad to pets & animals (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
We have a sweet old Beagle. Old=14 years old.
Over the years, she's eaten exactly as Beagle eats...i.e sucking down everything and anything she could find. Feeding her was never a problem. Keeping her weight down in a healthy range was. She has always been a healthy, energetic dog. Well, energetic for a hound.
Over the past year, though, her eating habits have changed radically, as has her pickiness. Her weight has dropped alarmingly to where she is now skin and bones. She rejects any of her usual dog food, and pretty much any commercial food. I've never seen a Beagle turn-away from a bowl of food, but she simply walks away from a bowl of dog food.
We've scrambled to find something she might eat. We tried cooking food for her, using recipes for meatloaf for dogs, for instance. Those worked for awhile, but she ended up rejecting those, too. On top of that, the meatloaf induced some truly horrifying black, pasty, often uncontrollable crap. After the meatloaf, we tried roast chicken. She loved on that for several weeks, until turning away from that. She absolutely hates eggs of any sort. This has been going on for the better part of a year and we are at our wits end trying to find something she will eat regularly.
Last month, she suddenly started eating her canned food again, and started adding a little weight and we thought we had turned a positive corner. But, just as suddenly as she started, she stopped eating the canned food.
The past couple of weeks had us feeding her lunchmeat...ham and turkey. Please don't hate. We know that's not the best stuff for her, but it's something she would eat. At least she did. Yesterday, she started refusing both the ham and turkey. We have no idea where to go now. Of course, if we were to throw her a piece of pizza, bowl of ice cream, Fritos, Big Mac, etc. she'd break the sound barrier getting to it. It just seems anything meant for her specifically gets rejected. It's very frustrating.
We've never been ones to feed her our own food, or toss her stuff from our plates, but she will eat whatever we're eating (unless it's something she's already rejected, of course) Right now, she'll eat Cheerios. I kid you not. Of course, a dog can't survive on Cheerios, and we keep trying anything we can find in the pantry. She says 'no' to cheese, for pete's sake. We've tried samples of all manner of the trendy, expensive, all-natural foods, to, to no avail. Frankly, she didn't care much for any of that before she started down this path.
Our vet says she checks out fine for such an old dog. A manual exam doesn't reveal any odd masses or anything. Of course, she says there are other more involved tests we could run, but our finances just don't allow heading down that expensive rabbit hole. I know that sounds cold, but we really can't go there financially.
Of course, through all this, the possibility of, eventually, having to put her down has always been in the back of our minds, as we've watched her wither down. Other issues...because of the drastic weight loss, she's lost a lot of muscle mass, which has rendered her rear legs pretty weak. She often loses footing on tile or other smooth surfaces and can't get up. We have to lift her up and let her get her footing again.
Even with her eating so little, we still have to wall her off in our kitchen overnight, because she doesn't seem to be able to get through the night without leaving us a little poop present. She doesn't have any problem holding her urine, though, thankfully. But, because of her weak legs, she often has problems in the kitchen. I found her spread-out on the kitchen floor the other morning and I had no idea how long she had been there overnight. She's blind in one eye and hasn't the best of hearing. She still gets around the house fairly well. Goes outside and does her duty. Sleeps a lot. But, again, she's wasting away because we can't get her to eat anything regularly. We can't tell if she's in any pain. I can't imagine she isn't, considering her wobbly old legs.
Has anyone been through anything similar with their old dog? At what point do you seriously consider euthanizing a pet? She's been with us for so long and our inability to get her to eat is driving us mad. On the other hand, 14 years is very, very old for a Beagle. Maybe euthanizing her would be the right thing to do?
Any helpful thoughts would be appreciated.