jaxandopie7
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. 
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MyBella
I am so, so sorry for the loss of your precious boy, would you mind sharing his name with us.
You gave your sweet boy the last loving gift you could ever give him, you didn't let him suffer. As hard a gut wrenching decision as it was to make, you showed your boy such honor by giving him such a loving gift.
Your heart is so shattered, the sudden emptiness left behind is one of the hardest adjustments we have to make, please try not to hold any guilt, your sweet, loving boy wouldn't want you to have any guilt during this difficult time.
I wish such peace to your heart, hold the many, many wonderful moments your precious boy gave you over the years close to your heart, by doing so, you will always feel his loving spirit each and every day.
Sending our most positive healing thoughts your way, along with prayers for your heart to find the peace and healing it so deserves.
If you feel up to it, I would love to hear more about your sweet boy, maybe a favorite memory or story and a photo. Of course I completely understand if you aren't feeling up to sharing at this time, whenever you are ready, there is no rush.
I am so sorry for your loss.
 
Sincerely, Don & Vera

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Chinadoll
I am so sorry for your loss. I would like to try and help a little if I can since I lost both of my dogs last year to CHF, one suddenly and one after a long battle. My terrier was 17 1/2 when we let him go. He lived for about 10 months after being diagnosed. However, I have always felt guilty about hanging on so long for him, the meds he took were difficult to adminster, he hated them. The last 5 months he went downhill very fast, with all the symptoms you listed above about your dog. It was so difficult to watch this happen, it left us with memories that I would rather not have had. He was a strong, little terrier, independent and determined. He never had an accident in the house for 16 years, then in the last 5 months, it was a different story. The vet only gave him a couple of months to live, but he fought it. I will always believe we held on too long, so there is guilt either way. Our little Chihuahua, was diagnosed with CHF (slightly enlarged heart) at 10 yrs of age, and died suddenly, in a matter of hours just 3 months later. She never showed any of the symptoms, until the very end and it was just for a few hours. So, I've seen it go both ways, the long struggle and the sudden death. I have guilt issues with both, but we can only do what we believe is best. There is no doubt of your love and the bond you had, like you, we were willing to do whatever we could to help, but CHF is a horrible disease with no cure. It slowly takes the life away and the dog becomes a shell at the end. They know how much we love them, their love is unending, ours too. Please do not feel so guilty if possible. I think everyone on this forum has some kind of guilt issues at the end no matter how the loss occurs, it's only natural because we love them so much. The meds we gave our older dog helped, but it was difficult on him. I could tell in the late stages that he was so confused, so lost, it upset him a lot. The younger Chihuahua, would have died quickly even if she had been given the meds, so there is no 'right' answer. Just focus on how much you loved him, how much he loved you, know that we will be reunited again and most improtantly, know that this bond is eternal, it will never be lost. So to wrap up my story, the meds may or may not have helped, it didn't help my little girl. I pray for peace for your heart, and blessings for you. If there is anything else I can do to help let me know. Everyone here is so willing to help, to be here when you need someone, we know how difficult this is.
Charlie
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jaxandopie7
Thank you so much for your kind words, MyBella. My sweet boy's name was Opie. In good health, he was the spunkiest little dude I've ever laid eyes on. He would play fetch for HOURS on end (to the point that myself and my physically fit husband would both be worn out) and loved to come on hikes with us. He also had a weird obsession with kale and romaine lettuce (always such a healthy boy), and would steal the whole bag from the grocery bag and chomp on it without me noticing. He was a rescue that we got at 10 years of age - he was taped in a cardboard box and thrown into a dumpster in the middle of July in Canada. He was such a scared pooch when he first came into our home, but within a few weeks, and with the help of his rescue brother Jax, he came around and became the most outspoken and funniest member of our family. The first time we gave him a treat, he walked around the house with it in his mouth for over half an hour, unsure of what it was or what to do with it. 

Chinadoll, thank you for sharing your experience. It definitely helps to consider what the other outcomes could have been. I regret letting him go, but at the same time, feel like I would have regretted it more if we had tried to save him and he died in the hospital or at home when we weren't there. I read up on everything a dog goes through when trying to manage the disease (collapsing, lots of vet visists and meds, draining of fluid) and I don't think our boy could have handled that. He had already lost so much weight despite having a health appetite. He was skin and bones and would moan just to lie down and get up. He couldn't do stairs anymore, and couldn't even get himself up on our bed (which is a matress on the floor, as we chose not to get a bed frame due to his failing health). I'm comforted by the fact that he didn't suffer long with this disease, and that my voice and face was the last thing he heard and saw before crossing the rainbow bridge. I was looking directly in his eyes as they administered the injection, and watching the light go out is what kills me the most I think.
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Chinadoll
You gave me a laugh about Opie and the treat, what a sweet and funny vision. Kale and romaine lettuce, that is pretty unusual but apparently, he knew something about healthy eating! My wife and I put a mattress on the floor in the living room the last few months of Nicky's life. He no longer would come back to the bedroom and needed help everytime he had to go outside. The meds increased how much he went, trying to get the fluids out. We were able to have a vet come to the house to help him cross over, my wife laid down with him, I knelt by but just could not look at him. He passed very quietly and peacefully, that was such a blessing. I hope you have many more 'happy memories' of Opie, he sounds like a real character.
Charlie
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K133
I am so sorry for your loss :-( I am also struggling with that last memory of seeing them alive and I think it's the toughest to get over. Losing a pet, knowing they can't verbally communicate what they want or feel is where our guilt comes swooping in.  As much as it hurts, being the pet parent and making that final decision, you know in your heart that's what was best for your fur baby. Now he is free and happy and still by your side in spirit. Each day will get a little easier and reading all of these posts really helps to not feel alone in the grieving process. I truly believe our path was written for us and our pet long ago and what is meant to happen will happen in the time is it meant to. Sending lots of support your way and I hope you can start replacing the last images with good memories as I am trying to myself for my lost Lola :-)

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RileysMom
I understand your feelings very much. You are not alone in what you are dealing with.
Val
—Loving Riley, Rosy & Axl always 🐾

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