wildsage
Sorry for the wall of text. It felt good to get this off my chest though, and I'm feeling a bit better now that I've written it all out:

I lost my 14 1/2 year old Boston Terrier back in January, and I dealt with a lot of guilt afterwards. Eventually it lessened and I felt like I was able to cope, but then my 11 1/2 year old Lab died in August and it brought all those feeling back.

My little Boston, Rosie, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure when she was 12 and then a few months later was diagnosed with kidney failure (likely resulting from the heart meds she was on). I feel so guilty because I feel like I caused the heart failure by not taking better care of her teeth.

When she was younger I would brush her teeth maybe a couple times a week (which really wasn't enough for her) and she got dentals ~every other year, but then when she was 10 she had complications from the anesthesia and the vet recommended that we avoid having her put under anesthesia again if at all possible. I knew I needed to start being really diligent with brushing her teeth, so I planned to do it every day. After awhile though, I started slacking off - I would forget, or only do a quick brush and not really get her back teeth well.

Well, by the time she was about 12 she had quite a bit of tartar buildup, and she also had to go on clindamycin for gum inflammation several times. At that point I was really beating myself up over failing to keep her teeth in better shape. I started brushing her teeth and using an enzymatic oral gel every day, and I kept it up until she died. It felt like too little too late, though. I know that her teeth contributed to her health issues, and I also worry about the pain they caused her. She still ate well (when her kidney values were under control) and chewed on her toys up until a few weeks before her death (at that point her kidney values had increased and she developed mouth ulcers as a result).

I also am guilty about waiting too long to have her euthanized. As I mentioned above, she developed ulcers in her mouth due to high kidney values. I thought about having her euthanized then, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. There had been a couple times before where she had gone through a rough patch and I thought to myself, "Maybe it's time", but then she would bounce back and be back to her normal playful self. I thought maybe she would rally again, so we started her on sucralfate and a phosphorus binder.

After that the mouth ulcers resolved and she started eating well again. She was very wobbly on her feet and spent most of the time sleeping, but her weight was improving and seemed to happy as long as she could snuggle up with me or one of my other dogs, who were so good and gentle with her during this time.

Then one morning about two weeks later I woke up to her having a seizure. I wasn't immediately panicked because she'd had idiopathic seizures ever since she was around 10 y/o - only 3 or 4 a year, and they never lasted more than a minute. This time she never came out of it, though. I called my mom and she drove us to the vet to have her euthanized. The vet assured me that she was gone mentally once the seizure started, but it was still very upsetting to watch her struggle the way she did in her final moments. I wish I could have given her a more peaceful passing.
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CK1991
It's always so hard to know when to make that call and it never seems like the right time because it's such a huge decision. You loved your dogs so much and it seems like you really tried your best. I'm sure there are many dogs who have never, ever had their teeth brushed. You've had so much grief to deal with between Rosie and then your Lab dying in August. I wish there was something I could say to ease your pain. Having pets is amazing but the downside of course is that we know they'll go before us and it's so hard! It must have been awful watching Rosie have seizures at the end but I'm sure the vet would know and she was already gone. The 'upside' is that you were with her and that would have given her so much peace as she was passing away. Please hang in there. I know it's so hard! Hugs out to you,
CK
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