Arthritis - When is it too much for them? (RIP)

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Basil

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Hi Everyone,

I'm having a hard time deciding what to do with my rabbit Pepper. A little background. She is 9-10 years old (adopted so not 100% sure) and has progressive arthritis for the past 2 years. She also has what i've heard of as 'mega-colon' where she gets stomach upset and creates too many cecotrophes. I have her on a diet of unlimited timothy hay, flax seeds, 1tbsp greek yogurt with glucosamine supplements, Metacam .3cc daily and a probiotic supplement to hopefully help balance her out. I have given up on all wet foods because that seems to make the imbalance worse.. I use to feed her romaine and parsley but sadly that had to go. She was never able to tolerate carrots/fruit of any kind etc.

Her arthritis has gotten to a point where her back is twisted and to move she scoots sideways. She still does get around her area and into her litterbox, but her side is twisted in such a way that she she goes to the bathroom, it is now on that underside foot.. so I have to give her a bath daily. Which she hates :p She is not a touchy feely rabbit.. so I think a cart/wheelchair is out of the question because she doesn't like to be touched (never has).

I am wondering at what point is it time to say goodbye? It is so hard to tell if she is in pain or not. She still has a good amount of weight on her, but she is looking rough around the edges, losing hair a lot lately. I'd like to do as much for her as possible, but at what point am I keeping her around for myself and not being kind to her and letting her go?

Ideas? Opinions? Experiences?
Thanks! You have all been so much help in the past.
Basil
 

MiniLopHop

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Hi Basil, this is a really hard question. :hug:
First of all, it is great that you are asking it, you clearly love Pepper very much and want the best for her. Have you talked with your vet? I agree that the main question is if she is in pain. How is she eating? Is she still spunky and fighting or are your starting to see a more depressed mood?

I have had to make this choice for one rabbit and two cats. Perhaps my process can help a little:
Cat 1- Kitty (I know, original but I named her when I was a kid), age 21, diagnosed with kidney disease and blood work indicating it getting worse. It got to the point that she had to be force fed and was no longer cleaning herself. When she ran from me knowing it was time to eat I decided she was done. She was clearly miserable and starting to hide all the time because he hated to eat, she was no longer fighting to hold on.

Cat 2- Duncan, age 6, diagnosed with an aggressive tumor on his heart. He went from being normal to limp from lack of oxegen over night, then he recovered while we were running all the tests. The vet gave us 3 options: 1) do nothing, tumor would grow quickly and he would have more episodes of not getting enough oxegen and eventually suffocate probably within a week 2) operate, but it would only buy perhaps a month if we were lucky, he would have to have a drin in his chest and stay quiet (very energetic cat normally) 3) Put him to sleep. It was so hard, but we euthanised because we couldn't stand to see him suffer. In our final moments it was like he was comforting us, letting us know he would be ok. The doctor reassured us this was a very temporary bounce back and he would suffer if we took him home.

Rabbit- Cinderella, 8ish. History of rolling then went into seizures we couldn't get to stop. I held her all day and cried. The medication only brought her out of the seizures for a few seconds at a time twice all day. She was a fighter and they had to give the solution a second time to my horror. The vet agreed with the seizing she was suffering.

In each case I held them as they went. I think it is important to stay with your pet if you have to make this choice so they are not alone when they go over the rainbow bridge.

I'm so very sorry you have to make this extremely difficult and painful choice. What ever you decide has to be right for you and Pepper. :pray:
 

dungeonbunnies

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I had this happen with my 15 yr old dog a few years ago. My dad and I weren't ready to let go, but Pike was losing his ability to move around, and even though he would still try to play, and get around on his own, his arthritis was making even his littlest things chores. As long as you still feel that she can have a good quality of life, despite the baths and the inhibited movement, then by all means; let her keep on keeping on. But, if you feel that her quality of life isn't as it should be, then it's time to let go. We hung on as long as nature allowed, and our old man fell and broke his hip trying to get outside to go potty. We felt horrible, but it was time to let him go and end his pain. I'm sorry that you have to make this decision in the near future, but hopefully her body will allow her to be with you for some time yet. Give her a nose rub from us.
 

Nancy McClelland

Larry
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I had to say good by to my little girl Coal in May after 13 1/2 years. She'd been getting worse for several months with me helping her out as much a possible. I finally had to look at "quality of life" even though she was still eating fine, I had to constantly clean her and I was very fearful of infections and sores. Finally had to just let her go as she wouldn't have been here as long if it wasn't for my intervention.
 

pla725

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I'm facing this issue too with my 10 year old Holland Lop Flip Flop. He has good days and bad ones. Unfortunately his bad days are getting more frequent. I may have to make the decision soon.
 

bethepoet

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I'm really sorry you're having to think about this :(
I feel like I would definitely know if my bunnies were in pain. Lethargy, refusal to eat something they previously loved, drinking less, making funny noises? That kind of thing. From your description it sounds like she's not in the final stages yet. Apart from a very careful diet and the baths, is there a lot she can't do now, or needs to do that an average bunny wouldn't? If she still has a reasonable range of motion and quality of life, I wouldn't have her put to sleep just yet. But you know her better than anyone, it's absolutely your call. Best of luck.
 

Basil

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Hi,

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful responses. Its a bummer that some of us have had to go through this tough decision.

She has always been a free range bunny in the living room but as of late I've build a big C&C enclosure around her (only has to be one grid high! LOL) that is 6foot by 12 foot.. because I can't have her running around with gooby stuff on her bottom.

I'm going to try to do the daily bath thing a while longer and see how she is doing. She still does eat well, scoots around on a regular basis so I guess it isn't her time quite yet. Its just frustrating to see the slow decline because that can't be comfortable!

I'll keep you posted, Basil
 

Basil

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Hi Everyone,

I thought I'd post back on the progress of Pepper. Sadly she has gotten to a point where I will be taking her in today to be put to sleep. She was a part of our family for almost 7 years now and as many of you know this is a hard thing to do.

She has gotten to the point where she can no longer move on her own. For a while she was getting around by her front legs, but can no longer move and has been going to the bathroom on herself etc. So when people say 'you will know when its time' I now know its that time. Its so hard though because she still has a good appetite. So last night I gave her all of her favorite treats that were restricted because they gave her digestive problems - she got some Kashi cereal, raisins, carrots and lettuce which she enjoyed.

But through this whole time she didn't seem to be in pain, so I think the Metacam really did help her a lot.. she just lost almost all of her muscles in her front and back legs by this point.. and I think that's what is keeping her from being able to move.

Sadly Pepper is my last rabbit remaining and I don't think I will be getting any more rabbits until I can build a specialty outbuilding/room for them, so I will miss you all!
Basil
 

MiniLopHop

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I am so sorry for your loss. Basil had a great life and will be waiting for you on the other side of the rainbow bridge. Binky free little Basil.:cry4::rainbow::hug1
 

Hyatt101

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I'm so sorry! You can be comforted in the fact that you did the right thing though, and Pepper is no longer suffering. :hug2:
 

Imbrium

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I'm so sorry you're having to say goodbye!

if you haven't had her put to sleep yet, I saw something at the vet's last time I was there about a company that will euthanize animals in a location of your choice (at home, the park, etc.) so the last experience they have isn't a trip to the vet... I thought that seemed so nice, something I'd like to do for my bunns when the time comes if I get the option.
 

HEM

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We are sorry to hear about this news
We can only imagine how hard of a decision it is to make but in the end you really have to take in consideration the qaulity of life of your bun. As much as we all would love them to live on forever, that isn't the case and part of life.
Hopefully you can cherish the memories and thoughts and know that you are truly doing the right thing
We hope that you are well
Binky free Pepper
 

Basil

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She is binkying free now. I see now that it was totally the right decision, it was hard to see her not being able to hop and take care of herself. Thanks for the kind thoughts, she's with her buddy Basil now who I know she missed a lot!
 

Nancy McClelland

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It's a decision none of us want to have to make, for sure, but it is for the best. I was hoping I'd go in and find that my little "Bug" Coal had passed, but she was a fighter with no "give up" in her makeup and I finally had to accept the fact that I wasn't being fair to her by keeping her with me any longer and didn't think she'd have but a few days left and not very good ones. :sad:
 

missyscove

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Such a tough decision to make, but euthanasia can be such a beautiful thing for a pet that is struggling. It sounds like you really did a great job in making her comfortable towards the end. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Just because you don't have rabbits doesn't mean you're not welcome on the forum!
 

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