This weekend, we had to put our sweet 14 year old rescue pup down. He was diagnosed with a Grade 4/5 heart murmur two months ago, and seemed to be managing OK on meds (but, now that I've read up on the signs of end stage CHF, I think he was misdiagnosed and was a lot closer to heart failure than my vet had led us to believe).
Early Saturday morning, our boy collapsed. He couldn't stand up for about 10 minutes (all 4 tiny legs were splayed out), and once he was finally able to get up, he was breathing heavily, his tongue was pale/purple, and he was shaking even though we had him wrapped up in his favorite blanket.
We brought him to the emergency vet and they took an x-ray of his chest, which showed an enlarged heart and a lung that was full of fluid and/or had collapsed - he was in full blown heart failure. The vet said we could pay $2000 to try and get him out of the hospital, but it would likely only buy us a few more days or weeks with him (if we could even get him to a point where he was well enough to leave). Money is no object for us, and we would literally do anything for him, but knowing we'd be buying him a few weeks of suffering and vet visits (for a formerly abused dog who HATED the vets), we made the decision to let him go.
Ever since making that decision, I have been racked with guilt wondering if we should have tried to prolong his life. Our family vet reviewed the results and said she probably would have advised us to let him go as well, that he had so many other ailments and his tiny body just couldn't keep up anymore, but after reading up online about how dogs can live for 6 months to a year on meds, I can't help but think we gave up on him. At the same time, I think of his quality of life in the past few months...he was having accidents 10+ times a day in the house, was drinking excessively, never wanted to go for walks or play with his toys (which he used to LOVE doing), would bark at walls and run into things. Our vet was pretty sure he was suffering from dementia, along with going blind and deaf....he was a shell of the dog we had rescued 4 years earlier. But we had spent thousands of dollars in tests to try and figure out what was going on with him, with no concrete answers, and now I wonder if he was acting this way because of his heart disease...if a different course of meds would have helped him be more like himself. I feel so guilty that we didn't ask more questions that day, and at least try to see if we could save him. I was so emotional hearing the words "euthanasia" as an option, that I don't think I even processed what was going on properly.
I don't know how to move on and get over these feelings of guilt and loss. I miss my boy so much. I cannot get the image of his final breath and the light going out of his eyes out of my mind.