Our beloved husky Krypto is over 13 years old. He has had Valley Fever for over a year and has been taking compounded meds (Fluconazole) for eight months. He is very thin, although he eats a lot and has a good appetite. He drinks gallons of water every day. In fact, when the vet took a sample for analysis, it was almost all water. He pees a lot too. If the water bowl is empty, in the middle of the night he will howl next to my bed to let me know to refill it.
His main problem is his weak back legs. He cannot walk well and often sits down to rest. But he still loves to ride in the car and go to the park with his dog friends, but now, he will sit more in the shade. Lately, I have had to carry him back up the hill to get to the car. Also, sometimes he has difficulty getting through the pet door to go outside and pee. So, he has had some accidents inside the house.
He eats good quality high protein dry dog food supplemented in the evening with canned dog food. Recently I am trying a supplement called “Joint Care”. I don’t know if it will help, but it is not hurting.
Krypto does not show any signs of being in pain. He wags his tail, loves to be petted and sits with his head up and ears perked when I talk with him. It is just his walking that is difficult and might be painful. They should make strap-on wheels for dogs like Krypto.
What can I do for him? I have never had a dog die. We got him as a puppy. If he stops eating or seems to be in pain, I would consider having a vet come to our home to put him to sleep, but we are not there yet. When would I know it is time? Why do you think he is drinking so much water?
Please help me understand his journey to the Rainbow Bridge. We have never taken this trip before.
— Darlyne, via email
Helping a pet towards the end of his life can be difficult, especially if you are a first-time pet parent. Krypto’s general demeanor, appetite, elimination and overall energy will play a part in your decision on when to let him pass over, which is often referred to as the journey to the Rainbow Bridge.
Some dogs will still look happy and wag their tails around their owners, even though they are in a lot of pain. If you think your dog is in pain, ask your veterinarian to prescribe medication to make him more comfortable. If his excessive thirst is not related to his current medications, he could be developing another health problem.
The good news is, there are rear support wheelchairs for dogs that may extend Krypto’s mobility and reduce his pain. I also once found an alternative veterinarian who gave my dog acupuncture treatments for hip dysplasia. It reduced pain and extended his mobility – and his life – for six more months.
The decision on when to let a pet go is by far the most difficult decision every pet parent will make. Sadly, I don’t think the decision ever gets any easier, so trust your gut. Look at your dog’s quality of life and watch for a sudden loss of appetite or disinterest in participating in life as signs it may be time to let him go.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal