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How do you know when it’s time to say goodbye?

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DoodleSmythe

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
13
Location
Chester, UK
So I’ll try to keep this brief, but I want to give enough detail:

Ron is 2+ years (rescue so not sure). He had a lump on his neck which grew quickly and our trusted vet removed. He healed up nicely and was back to normal soon after.

6-8 weeks later, the lump had returned. Again, it grew fast. This time the vet was reluctant to operate as it had returned so quickly and likely would again. He said it had been close to arteries and was a tough surgery the first time. We agreed it would be too risky and not fair to put him through it again so soon as the lump didn’t appear to be bothering him. We also agreed to re-assess as things progressed.

Three weeks ago, we decided it was time to act. The lump had become so large it was making life hard for him. We had taken to washing him as he couldn’t reach his back end to groom anymore. I called the vet and agreed he would go in for an assessment to see if they could operate. We weren’t optimistic, knowing how difficult it would be but decided it was either risk it or have to PTS anyway.

As expected, they couldn’t remove it but shocked us by giving new medicine to help with pain and inflammation. We all discussed the fact that it wouldn’t be long, but the vet said he was happy that Ron could keep going as he was alert, eating, drinking etc. I was so sure he would say it was time that I was already crying before he started speaking!

The good news is that we’ve now had three bonus weeks with him that we didn’t expect to have but now I’m confused about what to do. He’s clearly struggling and there are now grazes and bloody bits appearing on the lump. (I think maybe from it rubbing as he moves.) We have been putting barrier cream on to help but it isn’t going away.

My question is this: how do I know when it’s time to let him go? I love him so much and don’t want to make the wrong choice or be selfish but equally, I don’t want to let him go if he could, and would want to, carry on.

We have previously had two girls who both had to be PTS for different reasons so I have experience of this and would do it if I was sure it was the right thing. My problem is that I was sure 3 weeks ago and was wrong.

He is still drinking and eating, though both are clearly difficult. He still cuddles with his brother and shows interest in what we’re doing. He comes out, but I do have to pick him up so he can get out and put him back in. He can’t really explore much anymore but I’ve built him a box fort with blankets he likes to go and sit in.

How do I know when it’s time?
 

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Big Schpog

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Jul 8, 2020
Messages
388
Location
British Columbia
As you know, we can't make that decision for you. We are not attached to him. We can give you stories about our experiences with letting rats go but we can't possibly make that call. That is entirely between you and your beloved rat. For me, pain would be the big indicator. I wouldn't allow my rat to suffer a moment. If all she had left was painful days and nights, I would find the place to go and have her euthanized humanely and done properly.
 

DoodleSmythe

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
13
Location
Chester, UK
As you know, we can't make that decision for you. We are not attached to him. We can give you stories about our experiences with letting rats go but we can't possibly make that call. That is entirely between you and your beloved rat. For me, pain would be the big indicator. I wouldn't allow my rat to suffer a moment. If all she had left was painful days and nights, I would find the place to go and have her euthanized humanely and done properly.
Thank you x
 

Dena

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
218
Location
Texas
I personally have had to put a couple of my rats to sleep, and it's always a difficult decision. I've also had some die in my arms, which is actually worse in most cases. I sometimes struggle with the "did I do the right thing, or could I have done more". But ultimately, I made the decision based on quality of life, and what they faced ahead of them with their issues. Both times, I made the appointment late in the day, so I could spend the day loving on them, and making sure that was what I wanted/needed to do for them. In both cases I told my rats what I was going to do, and asked if they needed my help. In both cases I sort of actually got the answer from them. When it was time, I explained to my rats the Dr and I were going to help them no longer suffer. With the first one, skittle (he had had a stroke, or multiple strokes and couldn't move around anymore), I got some soft boggles. When I told him goodbye and I love him, he snuggled my neck with his nose, and bogged once again. That was my sign that this is what he wanted and needed. With Macaroni, who was 3.5 years old, never been sick a day in her life until the very last day or so (I found her in the morning gasping for air, and it would go between gasping, and a cough like gurgle then somewhat normal breathing). I tried to give her meds, but she would fight it and ultimately be freaking out, and gasping I knew it would probably be best for her if I let her go, but decided to help her since I didn't want her to just suffocate or be in distress while I was away or asleep. She also could barely walk anymore, and was super slow to eat. I made the appointment in the morning for that evening. All day I struggled with it, but towards the end of the day, I again asked her if she needed help crossing, and she raised her nose to give me a few soft kisses on my face. At the vet's, I had about 30 Mins with her, and asked if she was ready. She gently boggled, and gave me a couple more kisses. That was my answer. I firmly believe you can see it in their eyes, and body when they are just tired, and ready. I also believe they can tell you in their own way. I just know they were hanging on for me, not for themselves.... So if I were you, I'd let it be up to your rat, and just take their quality of life in consideration. When it's time, you'll both know. I'm so sorry to hear you have to be in the position to make this choice. I hope your baby feels better soon, whatever decision you make.
 

DoodleSmythe

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
13
Location
Chester, UK
I personally have had to put a couple of my rats to sleep, and it's always a difficult decision. I've also had some die in my arms, which is actually worse in most cases. I sometimes struggle with the "did I do the right thing, or could I have done more". But ultimately, I made the decision based on quality of life, and what they faced ahead of them with their issues. Both times, I made the appointment late in the day, so I could spend the day loving on them, and making sure that was what I wanted/needed to do for them. In both cases I told my rats what I was going to do, and asked if they needed my help. In both cases I sort of actually got the answer from them. When it was time, I explained to my rats the Dr and I were going to help them no longer suffer. With the first one, skittle (he had had a stroke, or multiple strokes and couldn't move around anymore), I got some soft boggles. When I told him goodbye and I love him, he snuggled my neck with his nose, and bogged once again. That was my sign that this is what he wanted and needed. With Macaroni, who was 3.5 years old, never been sick a day in her life until the very last day or so (I found her in the morning gasping for air, and it would go between gasping, and a cough like gurgle then somewhat normal breathing). I tried to give her meds, but she would fight it and ultimately be freaking out, and gasping I knew it would probably be best for her if I let her go, but decided to help her since I didn't want her to just suffocate or be in distress while I was away or asleep. She also could barely walk anymore, and was super slow to eat. I made the appointment in the morning for that evening. All day I struggled with it, but towards the end of the day, I again asked her if she needed help crossing, and she raised her nose to give me a few soft kisses on my face. At the vet's, I had about 30 Mins with her, and asked if she was ready. She gently boggled, and gave me a couple more kisses. That was my answer. I firmly believe you can see it in their eyes, and body when they are just tired, and ready. I also believe they can tell you in their own way. I just know they were hanging on for me, not for themselves.... So if I were you, I'd let it be up to your rat, and just take their quality of life in consideration. When it's time, you'll both know. I'm so sorry to hear you have to be in the position to make this choice. I hope your baby feels better soon, whatever decision you make.
Thank you so much for this reply. It made me cry! Helps a lot just remembering there are people out there who understand this isn’t “just a rat”.

He seemed happier today, came out for hours and ate loads. We will call the vet if he’s not as perky tomorrow. I think we need to make and appointment so we can get an unbiased opinion from someone we trust. Our vet is a rat owner himself so he does get it.x
 

DoodleSmythe

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
13
Location
Chester, UK
My rat Big Schpog's mother is currently dying of old age. We visited her today and she was very lethargic and cold but she warmed up and is now eating yogurt. She doesn't have many days left. I think she has pituitary tumour and her owner doesn't have money or wants the knowledge to help her. It breaks my heart. She said she was thinking of giving her a fatal dose of fentanyl. There's nothing you can say to her to help her gain knowledge. She's just not capable of being that responsible. She can barely take care of herself. It's just so frustrating.
That sounds awful! It is so frustrating and upsetting when you can’t stop someone else who won’t listen. Would they accept it/could you pay for a vet visit? I don’t know where you’re based but in the UK it doesn’t cost loads for a vet to put an animal to sleep. I think it was about £15 when I had to do it a few years ago. So sorry for you and your rattie’s mama x
 

Big Schpog

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Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
388
Location
British Columbia
I'm sorry for hijacking this thread. Feel free to move as a separate topic somewhere else. I hope this tells the Doodle that s/he's a great rat parent for caring so much about her rat that is ill and that it helps her feel confident in the future dealing with a hard decision but one that she'll make humanely and knowledgeably.
 

DoodleSmythe

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
13
Location
Chester, UK
Update.. strange update.

So the lump burst on Thursday. Blood and liquid everywhere. He acted like he didn’t even notice and was quite put out when I took away the blood-soaked snack he was eating, but I was really scared and we rushed him to the vet.

As you’d expect, the vet said there was nothing they could do and it was time to think about letting him go. They couldn’t close the wound. She said we should take him home over night and call in the morning. I’m glad she did, because I thought maybe we should be acting right away and not waiting but I was wrong! When he came home, suddenly his appetite was double what it had been. He basically ate all day and night. He also drank a lot more water than he had been doing.

On Friday, we said there is no way we were going to PTS when he seemed so happy and the burst lump looked like it had closed up. Its sort of indented now and significantly smaller/lighter than it was.

It’s amazing watching him - he now eats loads, runs over to me when I come into the room, asks for cuddles, wants to come out for free roam for hours and has even been climbing in his hammocks again. He hasn’t been able to climb because of the lump for ages!

I know it probably won’t last, but it’s like a miracle. He’s so much happier. Fingers crossed this continues.
 

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Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
388
Location
British Columbia
Update.. strange update.

So the lump burst on Thursday. Blood and liquid everywhere. He acted like he didn’t even notice and was quite put out when I took away the blood-soaked snack he was eating, but I was really scared and we rushed him to the vet.

As you’d expect, the vet said there was nothing they could do and it was time to think about letting him go. They couldn’t close the wound. She said we should take him home over night and call in the morning. I’m glad she did, because I thought maybe we should be acting right away and not waiting but I was wrong! When he came home, suddenly his appetite was double what it had been. He basically ate all day and night. He also drank a lot more water than he had been doing.

On Friday, we said there is no way we were going to PTS when he seemed so happy and the burst lump looked like it had closed up. Its sort of indented now and significantly smaller/lighter than it was.

It’s amazing watching him - he now eats loads, runs over to me when I come into the room, asks for cuddles, wants to come out for free roam for hours and has even been climbing in his hammocks again. He hasn’t been able to climb because of the lump for ages!

I know it probably won’t last, but it’s like a miracle. He’s so much happier. Fingers crossed this continues.
What a beautiful Agouti boy. What a face on him! I'm so glad he's feeling better. Obviously he is feeling better! Good news! You know your rat better than anyone. You were able to read him perfectly and do what was right for him. Good job! I'm so thrilled for you. I really am.
 

Dena

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
218
Location
Texas
Such a little cutie! I love the look on his face! I love getting pics of the cute little faces my rats make! I hope he continues to get better, and you get lots more time with him!
 

Beccabooscott

Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2020
Messages
7
Location
Brookfield, Wisconsin
So I’ll try to keep this brief, but I want to give enough detail:

Ron is 2+ years (rescue so not sure). He had a lump on his neck which grew quickly and our trusted vet removed. He healed up nicely and was back to normal soon after.

6-8 weeks later, the lump had returned. Again, it grew fast. This time the vet was reluctant to operate as it had returned so quickly and likely would again. He said it had been close to arteries and was a tough surgery the first time. We agreed it would be too risky and not fair to put him through it again so soon as the lump didn’t appear to be bothering him. We also agreed to re-assess as things progressed.

Three weeks ago, we decided it was time to act. The lump had become so large it was making life hard for him. We had taken to washing him as he couldn’t reach his back end to groom anymore. I called the vet and agreed he would go in for an assessment to see if they could operate. We weren’t optimistic, knowing how difficult it would be but decided it was either risk it or have to PTS anyway.

As expected, they couldn’t remove it but shocked us by giving new medicine to help with pain and inflammation. We all discussed the fact that it wouldn’t be long, but the vet said he was happy that Ron could keep going as he was alert, eating, drinking etc. I was so sure he would say it was time that I was already crying before he started speaking!

The good news is that we’ve now had three bonus weeks with him that we didn’t expect to have but now I’m confused about what to do. He’s clearly struggling and there are now grazes and bloody bits appearing on the lump. (I think maybe from it rubbing as he moves.) We have been putting barrier cream on to help but it isn’t going away.

My question is this: how do I know when it’s time to let him go? I love him so much and don’t want to make the wrong choice or be selfish but equally, I don’t want to let him go if he could, and would want to, carry on.

We have previously had two girls who both had to be PTS for different reasons so I have experience of this and would do it if I was sure it was the right thing. My problem is that I was sure 3 weeks ago and was wrong.

He is still drinking and eating, though both are clearly difficult. He still cuddles with his brother and shows interest in what we’re doing. He comes out, but I do have to pick him up so he can get out and put him back in. He can’t really explore much anymore but I’ve built him a box fort with blankets he likes to go and sit in.

How do I know when it’s time?
Through experience if you are still asking yourself when its time? He sounds like he isn't ready. You'll know when its time. When he stops eating, sleeps all day, something that he usually doesnt do, acting in a lot of pain etc.
Rats that Ive had with tumors, when I felt there time was close, I would make a vet appointment for the end of the week, so I couldn't stress about the when to put her down. I figured I could always cancel it. I always feared that my baby would be in too much pain on the weekend. That Friday if she seemed to be doing still really good, i would cancel. If I felt she has gone downhill all week and weekend could be worse, i would take her to get euthanised. When they are going down hill I find a couple of days or a week is never to early because that much more time they could be in tremendous pain.
But still it is up to you. I do find making a vet appointment at the end of the week helps with the stress, you can always cancel it.
 

DoodleSmythe

Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2018
Messages
13
Location
Chester, UK
Through experience if you are still asking yourself when its time? He sounds like he isn't ready. You'll know when its time. When he stops eating, sleeps all day, something that he usually doesnt do, acting in a lot of pain etc.
Rats that Ive had with tumors, when I felt there time was close, I would make a vet appointment for the end of the week, so I couldn't stress about the when to put her down. I figured I could always cancel it. I always feared that my baby would be in too much pain on the weekend. That Friday if she seemed to be doing still really good, i would cancel. If I felt she has gone downhill all week and weekend could be worse, i would take her to get euthanised. When they are going down hill I find a couple of days or a week is never to early because that much more time they could be in tremendous pain.
But still it is up to you. I do find making a vet appointment at the end of the week helps with the stress, you can always cancel it.
This is great advice, thank you.

A bit torn up at the moment. I took him to the vet this morning as I thought this could be an abscess and they could help him by lancing, cleaning etc and giving antibiotics. I’ve been reading up about cleaning it with saline so it would heal from the inside out and let myself be too optimistic. Vet agrees it is an abscess around the tumour, but he tried cleaning it up and it ended up with the scab coming off and now he has this huge hole on the side of his neck/head. The vet says there is nothing to be done, that it’s an infection that will just get worse and we should take him back tomorrow to PTS. He actually wanted to do it then and there but my husband wasn’t with me and I wanted us to be able to say goodbye. I hope that wasn’t too selfish. The vet gave him an antibiotic injection in the area to help him tonight.

I feel terrible. I should never have taken him in. The scab was healing over pretty well and he has been so much happier the last few days. He could have had more time.
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
388
Location
British Columbia
Well you did what you thought was right and like you said, he did feel better after it burst. He was doing normal ratty things afterward. Yes, this is a tough decision to make but you will make it. If he is in pain it's best to let him go peacefully.
 

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