Sometime in the past year or so, we noticed that Zeus (our dog) was starting to walk with a bit of a limp. He is getting up there in dog years, so we figured it was arthritus, took him to the vet and they prescribed Remedol. He stayed on that for a while, but things seemed to be getting worse. We took him back to the vet and were prescribed a round of steriods, but that didn't help much either.
Then we went to another vet for a second opinion, who referred us to a neurologist. The tentative diagnosis was a tumor somewhere in his spine. We could opt for a costly MRI and possibly treatments, or we could give him pain medication and just wait it out. We opted for the pain meds. It's not that we don't love our dog, but if it was cancer, the prognosis wasn't good for going into remission and Larry and I just couldn't justify that type of money for something that wasn't going to work anyway.
As time went on, his back right leg got worse and we noticed his left leg was starting to go too. Zeus was basically walking on what we would consider our ankles. Flat footed, like a rabbit. The one light in all this was we were finally told that he wasn't in any pain, it was just uncomfortable for him to walk like this.
Larry's aunt eventually recommended a rehab vet who had done wonders for her dog and I scheduled an appointment with them a few months ago. The vet was extremely nice and she diagosed him as having an auto-immune problem. Basically, his body was attacking the tissues and muscles in his legs, which was causing them to atrophy. She recommended braces and water therapy, but she wasn't very optomistic since the problem was so far gone.
So, for the past couple of months, we've made life as easy as possible for Zeus. We added some pavers behind our back door, so he didn't have such a big step. We step over him even when he is right in the way, because it's getting hard for him to get up. Lately though, he's not really eating and I think it's because it's so hard for him to go to the bathroom, so it's his body's way of limiting the squatting.
Larry and I hate this. We know we will have to make a decision soon because now he's dragging that foot, almost like a constant toe stubbing. What sucks the most is his mind is fine and he's not in any pain, but I can tell he's tired. The other day he just sat there and stared at his leg like, "what the hell's wrong with you?"
It breaks my heart. He is our first baby and an awesome dog.
This is the worst part of having pets, especially when you have to make the decision to put them to sleep. I don't want him to be in pain, but I almost wish he was because then I would have a clear cut answer and a feeling when you can definitely say, it's time.