When Do You Know That Euthanasia is the Right Option

Discussion in 'Health & General Care' started by SunflowerPop, Oct 11, 2018.

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  1. Oct 11, 2018 #1

    SunflowerPop

    SunflowerPop

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    One of my rats recently got diagnosed with lung tumor. The vet gave me antibiotics and said that he would likely die within 1-3 months. Originally he had been on antibiotics before for what we thought was just a cold, but it progressively got worse to I kept taking him back to the vet.

    Seemingly very suddenly one night he started coughing up blood, so much that it even came out of his nose. I rushed him to the vet the next morning after it seemed he was still acting normal and that's when I got the diagnoses.

    Since then he is still on antibiotics but at most that just seems to be a pain killer. He can't eat well, I have to wet his food so he can swallow it since he has issues breathing and he's lost weight because of this, he coughs and sneezes blood, he sleeps a majority of the time, he's started to walk funny, half of the time he doesn't come up to the cage anymore when I go up to it and he squeaks at his cage mates when they come near him. Half of the time he also seems lethargic, but the other half he seems somewhat normal.

    Writing this I've already decided that euthanasia is probably going to be the best option for him. I'm having a hard time coping with the decision, but in the past week I've already seen him progressively get in a worse condition than before and I don't want to wait until he is suffering to do it.

    Would anyone have any advice for me? Is it too soon?

    I'm most afraid of cutting his life too short. Currently he is very sick, and he'll have to be on antibiotics for the remainder of his natural life if I do choose to keep him alive. I think if I wait another month or so to do it, he will have already deteriorated so much that he will be suffering.

    Any advice is welcome, thank you.

    UPDATE (10/11/2018)

    I took him to the vet this morning and officially got X-Rays done on his chest so we could more properly assess the damage. Before the vet was just assuming. He does have a tumor, and it's in his chest cavity, between his lungs and heart.

    There is some good news though, now that we know for sure that it's a tumor it can be treated with steroids to shrink it some to make him more comfortable and buy him a little more time. The steroids are already seeming to make him feel a lot more lively than he did these past couple of days. What I was giving him before was just Orbax, which at this point only seemed to be doing something for the pain slightly.

    I know that in the future I'll have to put him down probably. The vet recommended going through the entire bottle of steroids and seeing where he's at then. After the steroids run out they recommended for nature to take it's course and see how he's progressed.

    Thank you to all of you that commented and helped me, I loved reading your responses and they brought me some peace of mind through this tough process.

    One more thing! There's a photographer around here that does pet photography for pets with terminal illnesses so I'll be taking some pictures with him in the near future. I want to make sure I have good memories with him. I'll make sure to post some when I get them!
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  2. Oct 11, 2018 #2

    Luna&Ralph

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    I’m sorry you have to deal with this situation. It’s never easy but euthanasia can be a really kind option if your little guy is suffering.
    I’d say it’s time when either he refuses to eat on his own, because then he is truly giving up, or when he doesn’t seem to enjoy his life anymore.
     
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  3. Oct 11, 2018 #3

    SQ

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    I am very sorry that both of you are going through this.

    Just so you are aware, many rats are maintained on antibiotics for the remainder of their lives for health conditions such as chronic respitory infections, heart disease, pituitary tumours, or conditions that require treatment with steroids.

    It is a horrible difficult decision to make, and many of us look at the rat's quality of life. This can include several factors. Eating is a factor but many will syringe feed rats. Pain or discomfort and if it can be controlled is another factor to consider. Enjoyment/pleasure/containment etc is another thing to consider. Please see link below for other things you might want to consider.

    Lung problems are especially frightening imo, because struggling to breath can be terrifying.

    Since he is having difficulty eating, I would suggest soaking his rat blocks in cool water to make mush (you might want to grind the blocks into a powder first to make the mush less thick), feeding him organic soy infant formula (or something like ensure) thickened with a bit of baby cereal. Both of these are easier to eat, will provide needed nutrition, and help to keep him hydrated. He might also like other soft foods such as baby food, or cooked vegs like cooked sweet potato, or cooked quinoa.

    Personally, I believe that it is better to humanely put a rat to sleep a little bit early, then to do it a bit too late (after they are suffering horribly)
    Not being able to eat is a big indication that it is time ….. for some this may mean that the rat can no longer eat independently, for others it means that the rat can no longer swallow when given food orally by syringe.

    He has a terminal condition so he does need to be put to sleep to prevent further suffering. The only question is when. It sounds like he is having a rough time and it may be time. I am so very sorry {{hugs}} to both of you.

    Here is some info that you may want to consider:
    Quality of Life Scale https://www.joinrats.com/RatHealth/CompassionateEuthanasia/Qolv/
    A Veterinarian's Advice on Deciding If and When https://www.joinrats.com/RatHealth/CompassionateEuthanasia/VetAdvice/
    https://www.joinrats.com/RatHealth/CompassionateEuthanasia

    Most vets do not know how to humanely put a rat to sleep (pts) so pet owners must make sure it is done properly and be present if at all possible. The rat is given the mix of oxygen and gas used for surgery. (Note: If the rat is having breathing problems, this will often help them to breath easier.)When the rat is deeply unconscious to at least a surgical level (vet checks toe and eye reflexes), then the rat is injected and is kept unconscious with the gas/oxygen mix until dead. Injecting a conscious rat into the heart is extremely painful and banned in some countries but some vets think that is the way to pts.

    I hope this helps a bit
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  4. Oct 11, 2018 #4

    Lookup

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    I'm very sorry, Sunflower Pop. I know this is terribly difficult, but I'm glad you realize what you need to do out of love for your rattie. Luna & Ralph and SQ are right. As heart wrenching as it, don't wait until you see your rattie really miserable. When I was young I didn't want have my old horse pts, and when I finally did, he was suffering, had lost his pride, and was angry, and I've regretted that for 26 years. Hugs to you and your little one.
     
  5. Oct 11, 2018 #5

    Petunia

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    I'm so sorry about your rat! I had a girl with a lung tumor, too, she was put on metacam, a pain reliever and anti inflammatory and she did very well on that. I wonder if that might give you a little more time...?
     
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  6. Oct 11, 2018 #6

    SunflowerPop

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    I took your advice and bought him some baby food and quinoa, since I'm already mushing up his blocks for him like you recommended. Since he's on steroids now I'm also expecting him to eat and drink more, which is comforting. He didn't stop eating before, but it didn't seem fun for him.

    Today he's a lot better than he has been and is running around and clearly feeling a lot better on the medicine.

    Thank you for sharing this information and advice with me, I appreciate your input
     
  7. Oct 11, 2018 #7

    SunflowerPop

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    I went back to the vet today and got steroids to help shrink the tumor and make him feel better and he's already acting more lively, so I'm going to try that for the time being.
     
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  8. Oct 11, 2018 #8

    SunflowerPop

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    Thank you so much, and I'm so sorry to hear about your situation with your horse.
     
  9. Oct 11, 2018 #9

    SunflowerPop

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    Thank you, it seems he hasn't quite given up yet and he's on a steroid medication now to help him along. So far he's still trucking and seeming happier than he's been, so I think it's going to be a little longer before he fully gives up.
     
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  10. Oct 11, 2018 #10

    SQ

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    If he is on steroids, make sure he is also on antibiotics (such as baytril) because steroids lower the immune system.

    Thank you so much for the update.
    So glad you know what is wrong and that you have a treatment option
    I hope that he has a lot of good quality time with you and his friends
    Looking forward to your pics :)
     
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  11. Oct 11, 2018 #11

    SunflowerPop

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    I wasn't aware of this so thank you! I'll keep him on the other antibiotic I had him on before as well then.

    I'm going to make sure he's the happiest little rat in the world in these upcoming months :)
     
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  12. Oct 11, 2018 #12

    Luna&Ralph

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    I’m happy to hear that he’s feeling better!
    Also, I meant that they’ve given up when they stop taking food from a syringe, not when you give food to them. Some rats are so sick and disoriented that eating on their own is hard. When they’re refusing food from a syringe, it’s probably time.
     
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  13. Oct 12, 2018 #13

    SQ

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    Baytril is a good antibiotic for this.
    It is broad spectrum and can be given long term (I am not a vet, no medical training, just a rat owner), so you might want to discuss baytril with your vet

    http://ratguide.com/meds/antimicrobial_agents/enrofloxacin_baytril.php

    all the best
     
  14. Oct 12, 2018 #14

    SunflowerPop

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    I'll probably discuss this with my vet since I've seen that a lot of people use Baytril, although he's been doing alright on the Orbax already prescribed and there's been no adverse affects so far so he may just want to keep him on that.
     
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