How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Tanker-yanker
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How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby Tanker-yanker » Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:48 pm

Age brings basic body deterioration to almost all animals that live long enough. They are minor compared to kidney failure or liver damage.

If you have a senior dog who can no longer jump into the car or on the bed, what would you expect from that dog if they were put on any arthritis medicine (you can choose the product)? Do you expect them to jump up on the bed?

What about a senior horse? Would you expect him to trot sound on a driveway after treatment?

What about dementia? How much improvement do you expect to see?

How long should we expect these improvements to last?

What is your protocol for a senior animal? Do you treat a handful of minor things in an animal that will improve their life?

Does it matter that they are taking 3-5 pills (or what have you ) a day? Do you call it quits when the animal needs at least 1 major treatment?

Do you do anything and everything possible, taking out a second credit card if need be?

It used to be that the retirement home saw more than on 50-year-old human, and now we have 80-year-olds running marathons.

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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby Tsavo » Thu Dec 07, 2017 10:23 pm

This is always an interesting and sometimes hard question. I am running into it more so with one of my guinea pigs than my horse.

I take as many rescue pigs and more recently chinchillas as I can because there are so many in need of homes. I am now many hundreds of dollars into dental treatments for one of my pigs. There is no hope this will resolve and he will need anesthesia and dental work going forward. Despite this, he continues to lose weight. There is a point where it is better to have him put down and take in another rescue and donate those hundreds of dollars to the rescue. I don't think I have passed that point with this pig but I might have. I love him but if he can't be comfortable and I have to keep putting him under every few weeks, I think it is too much.

As for my horse, he is still limping at trot on straight lines so he is retired. Presently he just is on previcox. I will continue that but will do no more in terms of treating the OA. I am presently also putting antibiotics in his eye as it is tearing again. He is not squinting like when he had the pinpoint ulcer but if he starts that, I will call the vet immediately. It was improved from the meds I used yesterday and I put in more today. I will use the meds every day for 5 days and then reassess. I will never sell or even lease him. I am not able to let him go. In terms of scenarios for the future, I can say I will not do colic surgery but rather would put him down. If he gets Lyme again I will treat that.
Last edited by Tsavo on Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Fatcat
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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby Fatcat » Fri Dec 08, 2017 12:36 am

For me this is a "feel" type of decision. I've had a horse diagnosed with ringbone at 13 go on and keep working (sound) until he fractured his pelvis at 29. He was started on oral joint supplements at 13 and at 25 I added Adequan to his regimin. He did get special shoeing with rim pads that helps, but when I pulled his shoes at 25 and kept riding him barefoot he was still sound. I tried to retire him several times and he let me know he wasn't happy with that idea. He was never on NSAIDS until the end when he fractured his pelvis. I did gradually ratchet down his activities. In his mid 20s I stopped doing dressage and stuck to trails. Over those last few years we had to cut out hills and the last year or so we didn't do more than walk.

I try to liken it to human aging and the health management we do to keep active. I think it's really important to keep moving and stay active. Just find the activities they can do and the supplements and modalities that keep them comfortable and keep them moving.
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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby heddylamar » Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:06 am

If otherwise healthy, I treat for major things. But when faced with a cascade of problems, it's a drastic triage situation, right up to euthanizing. Before then, like Fatcat, I manage problems.

I'm not a fan of major surgery or intervention for animals (or humans) who are already badly compromised. It's not fair to ask them to suffer the pain and stress of an extensive procedure for us. Don't fool yourself, it's not for them. Colic surgery on a 36yo horse won't improve her life. Cancer surgery on a 8yo guinea pig won't improve her life.

Honestly, I wish euthanizing was acceptable for humans.
Last edited by heddylamar on Sat Dec 09, 2017 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

kande50
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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby kande50 » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:39 pm

For me, it's all about trying to put myself in their place and thinking about what I would want if it was me.

Tsavo, is it possible that your pig is hungry all the time because he can't eat enough to maintain his weight, or will pigs eat mush?

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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby Tsavo » Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:24 pm

He eats all the time. I grate or chop his food because the incisors are presently very trimmed to buy time between appts. I feed him 3 to 4 types of fresh food daily on top of free choice pellets and hay. I don't know what else I can do for him.

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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby highoctane » Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:00 pm

I have this convo with myself every day.

I have several aged pets, all with specific medical issues. 2 of my 3 parrots need medications occasionally (the third, an 18yo cockatiel, seems to be doing ok with just a heat lamp during the winter). My 19yo (ok, so not really "aged") macaw has asthma that sometimes requires emergency medication and/or hospitalization. His attacks can happen at any time, for any reason. The 18yo Amazon has heart disease, and is *supposed* to be on meds...but hubby has to give them, and he's been slacking :(. Birds don't ever show illness or pain until it's relatively too late for treatment, so I fully expect to find them dead one day. I will not take heroic actions to save their life - unless it's a sure outcome. They get stressed during treatment, and the stress alone can kill them.

My 24yo OTTB is medically just fine, just the usual aches and pains of being an older horse. He's on the usual oral arthritis stuff and most recently, ulcer meds. Nothing too intensive. If he colics, or needs anything quite extensive that doesn't promise a pain-free future, I will let him go.

On the other hand, my 17yo cat is medically fragile. She has IBD/small cell lymphoma, chronic pancreatitis, stage 2 renal failure, and high blood pressure with a grade 2 heart murmur. She also has severe lower back arthritis. It is a daily struggle to ensure she's eating/eating enough/not vomiting/pooping/peeing/feeling ok. She currently is on two different daily meds, more when she's in a flare. I worry constantly about her. My only wish is for her to not be in any kind of pain or suffering.

Having had to make "the" decision too many times that I care to remember, my hope is that any of them will go quickly and quietly, preferably in their sleep. Yes - it will be sad, but they've all had long, happy lives, and I do not want them to ever suffer. As long as I can afford to treat their maladies, and it's making a difference, I will continue as long as possible. That is my...duty? obligation? as a pet owner.

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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby Hayburner » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:23 pm

My retired 30 year old gelding has Cushings and is on Prascend. On a recent exam he also has cataract and I can tell he doesn't always see that well. There are days I winder if he does have a bit of dementia too. This summer he was moving unusually slow so I put him on Equioxx. The heat is very heard in an aged and Cushings horse. Due to his Cushings he doesn't get out as much as he'd like, but I have to protect him from founder, knock in wood we have avoided that.

I have decided should he come down with something catastrophic or needed to go to a clinic, I would have to make the final decision and put him down. Easy to say, but it won't be easy for me.

He's been a very healthy horse over the 18 years I've owned him, but I know he would enjoy the heavenly pastures too. He doesn't deserve to be kept going for my sake, he deserves to go peacefully and with dignity.

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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby Tsavo » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:37 pm

Hayburner I understand why your horse can't get out much and it made me ask myself what would I do with my horse if he had to stay in all day.

I can't say 100% what I would do unless I am standing there facing that situation but my sense is that I would put him down. Grazing is my horse's entire world going forward and without that, he doesn't have much.

kande50
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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby kande50 » Sun Dec 10, 2017 6:54 pm

Tsavo wrote:Hayburner I understand why your horse can't get out much and it made me ask myself what would I do with my horse if he had to stay in all day.

I can't say 100% what I would do unless I am standing there facing that situation but my sense is that I would put him down. Grazing is my horse's entire world going forward and without that, he doesn't have much.


It changes when they get old, and especially when they become hard enough keepers that they can have as much food as they want. At that point they become much more concerned about avoiding the flies/staying with companions/and going through every gate that gets opened and then getting back through it after they've gone through it.

This crazy old mule I have now is getting into "new" feed, so he watches for me to come out and take his picked over hay and grain and give it to someone else and replace it with new, fresh food. Then he eats a few bites and hangs around to let me scratch his belly, and then he goes off to see if anyone's going to open the gate so he can go socialize with the horses in the other pastures/pens. :-)

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Re: How much should we expect from our senior animals and modern medicine?

Postby KathyP » Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:11 am

Dear yanker-tanker: Your post concerns my heart as to its questions , and maybe those which do not have any conforting answers. I , only being a horse owner(s) can say, IMHO, that it is a very good thing if a horse can trot "sound, " as I recently euthanized an old horse who could not walk at all, and am rehabbing my remaining horse who can walk, but has suffered severe tendon/ligament injuries and may never be "sound" at all, even at a trot. Modern medicine, IMHO, and it may be very expensive, cannot "fix" it all, IMHO. I wish we could control/fix it all and have a magic solution, but, I fear we do not. I personally did NOT go to extreme measures with my 28 year old horse (who was my soulmate, BTW,) because those measures would not have really helped. He was Cushings but Pergolide would only have prevented symptoms (like long hair coat) and he never had other symptoms related to this. Just my horse--not to relate to anyone else's. Perhaps I've gone on beyond questions and concerns of your post. If so, I'm sorry. Please though feel free to post anything again as maybe I could be of help and support. My best.


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