Every pet parent must eventually face the hard decision when it is time
for their pet to cross the proverbial Rainbow Bridge. We escorted our
Chihuahua mix, Mikki, over the Rainbow Bridge last Thanksgiving. The
following is a chronology of her last 18 months of geriatric and then
hospice care. We finally decided by November, 2014, that her quality of
life had degraded so much that she just did not enjoy being in a
physical body anymore. We hope our sharing makes your decision easier.
17 years old/18 months left (5/2013): We took Mikki to the
vet because she
wanting to eat her meals. In the past she had been a “food monster”,
gobbling up her meals in less than a minute. Blood tests showed high
kidney values, indicating the onset of
Chronic Renal Failure (CRF).
We began administering subcutaneous (SubQ) fluids and adding kidney
supplements to her diet.
was already being added at 2 capsules/day due to her age and arthritis,
which is an advanced amount for her size (12 lbs.). When her eating did
not improve on SubQ fluids, we hospitalized her for a day to give
intravenous fluids. She was more lively after that but still not eating
old/17 months left (6/2013): To nourish Mikki’s kidneys and body, we
have been giving the Chinese herbal formula Rehmania 6, Standard
Renafood, Amino B’s (liquid amino acids & vitamin B supplement),
Myristin (for arthritis), Moxxor green
lipped mussel oil (for arthritis), polysaccharide peptide product
ALPHA-G and BioPreparation-f3+, plus
getting acupuncture treatments for her. It is still hard to get Mikki to
eat her meals, especially with supplements in them. Margaret is
hand-feeding canned food with supplements. Mikki will sometimes eat food
on her own without supplements but the only way to get supplements into
her is to hand-feed the food to her. Mikki is refusing all treats 95% of
the time. Mikki is even refusing to eat people food at times, which is
not like her.
arthritis is also worsening and it is hard to get her going at the
beginning of walks or get her to walk very far, so Margaret bought a
doggy stroller for her. Margaret puts her in the stroller at the
beginning of the walk and then takes Mikki out when she turns around to
return home. Mikki really enjoys this routine and often runs home, like
a “horse to the barn.”
old/ 16 months left (7/2013): Mikki has been walking better and more
energetically. Today she readily ate sliced chicken treats and tonight
she ate jerky and puffed lamb lung treats. We suspect everything is
starting to help and perhaps the Zeel/Traumeel homeopathic is helping
with her arthritis, in addition to the acupuncture
old/11 months left (1/2014): Mikki is becoming incontinent. She used
hold it 8-10 hours at night and at least 6-8 hours during the day when
needed. Now she can only last 3-4 hours before she needs to potty. If we
are not home she will go inside now. Mikki hates to go outside when it
is cold to go potty. We set up a potty pad (synthetic grass) inside to
encourage Mikki to pee when needed inside. It took us a while to train
her but it sometimes works.
old/9 months left (2/2014): Mikki is refusing to eat and is walking
really slow. She yelps in pain whenever we try to grab her underside
next to a leg. We started giving her Tramadol for severe arthritis pain.
Giving the Zeel/Traumeel homeopathic remedy seems to help. By now, the
hand-feeding is more like force feeding. Margaret tips Mikki’s head
back, stuffs food in, and continues holding her head back until she
swallows. The only foods she will eat on her own are very tasty foods like
steak or canned cat food, but we cannot mix her supplements into pieces
of steak, and the cat food is too rich for dogs. We have tried every
canned dog food available but Mikki does not like any of them enough to
eat them on her own. Mikki seems to digest the food OK once it is into
her. She just does not have much appetite, which is probably due to the
kidney disease. She was on a raw food diet when she was younger but
became unable to tolerate raw food in her old age (as can happen with
elderly people or pets.)
years old/7 months left (4/2014): We substituted disposable training
pads (for puppies) on the floor for the potty pad because they are
easier to clean up and Mikki is now missing the potty pad. Mikki needs
to be walked every 2-4 hours now.
old/5 months left (6/2014): Not even acupuncture seems to help Miki
now. She has low energy and is less willing to go for a walk. Mikki
started having shaking fits. We squirt her with homeopathic remedies and
give her Reiki treatments which seemed to calm her down and reduce the
fit. Mikki frequently wanders aimlessly around the room. Sometimes she
stops in a corner, like she is stuck or cannot decide where to go next.
Then she starts up and continues. We started weekly red laser treatment
by the vet to help ease her arthritis pain, since the Tramadol, Myristin
and Moxxor do not seem to help much. The laser treatment helped and Mikki
was walking better after it.
months left (7/2014): Mikki started spotting (leaving small frequent
pee spots) on walks. Mikki stopped using the training pads inside and
now just pees on the floor whenever she needs to. We have to clean up
quite a bit first thing every morning from the night before. The vet
diagnosed Mikki with a urinary tract infection and prescribed
antibiotics. The spotting dramatically improved for a few weeks, but
then recurred. Mikki is vomiting weekly now.
Iris & Mikki competing
for THE chair.
months left (8/2014): Mikki was started on another course of
antibiotics for the spotting. When one does not help, another is added,
but it did not help any either. Also, her digestion was upset by the
antibiotics, causing loose stools. We increased the
probiotics to the maximum amount (4
scoops/day) and her digestion slowly improved after the antibiotics were
completed. The vet wanted to do an ultrasound of the kidneys to diagnose
the spotting but Mikki is too sick now to tolerate treatment for either
a kidney infection or bladder blockage, so it does not make sense to
spend more money on diagnostics. Mikki started having heavy panting
fits. The vet cannot determine any possible cause for this other than
pain. Squirting her with homeopathic remedies and giving her
Reiki treatments help calm her down and
reduce the symptoms. Mikki is vomiting more now.
months left (9/2014): Mikki had a shaking fit one night. She would
shake every 3-4 seconds and her eyes looked like they were in pain.
Russell squirted her with the Zeel/Traumeel homeopathic remedy and did
Reiki on her for 15 minutes. She finally
calmed down (although did not completely stop shaking) and closed her
eyes to go to sleep.
What are they looking at?
month left (10/2014): Mikki has become so incontinent that she pees
in her sleep and her rear end is always soaked because her rear end
collapses on the floor when she pees, which is nearly constant now. We
give her a bath but then an hour later her rear end is soaking wet
again. So, we began using doggie diapers to keep her rear end dry. The
diapers are difficult to keep on her—we have to tie them to her harness
with string, and then they are so tight that it is harder for her to
walk. If we put them on looser, they come off and she is dragging it
around behind her, getting it caught on things.
started waking us up at night with barking when she is in distress. One
night, she was still under the covers on her chair but her diaper was
wet and full of poop. Another night, in her wandering downstairs, she
went into the office and got her rear legs tangled up between the cord
of Russell’s telephone headset on the floor and the office chair. She
could not move. Russell untangled her and took her out to pee and then
she was fine. Another night, she wandered into the bathroom but when she
tried to exit she got behind the bathroom door and the wall. She was
literally stuck in the corner because she did not know how to back up.
Then on another night, her diaper came off and got caught on the TV
table and she could not move.
months left (11/2014): In mid-November, Margaret took Mikki in the
car to the park, a 5 minute drive. Mikki used to love car trips and
going to the park, but now Mikki is just shaking and miserable in the
car and does not enjoy the park either. She does not like walks at all
anymore, whether in the stroller or just walking directly from home.
This is a big change from the summer, just a few months ago, when she
still enjoyed these outings.
before Thanksgiving, Mikki started refusing all food, even canned cat
food and steak. A couple of weeks earlier, she was still gobbling up
these foods. Margaret tried all her favorite foods but she was refusing
everything, no matter how tasty. Margaret tried squirting her with
BioPreparation in water but she just vomited that up. Mikki suddenly
became extremely thirsty, going to her water bowl and lapping up a huge
amount of water, but then she immediately vomited all the water and
collapsed on the floor, unable to get up. This happened several times
over the weekend. Also, she started having diarrhea in her diaper, which
We looked at
the long list of declining old age symptoms in the last few months:
to the point of needing a diaper.
Heavy panting and shaking fits, probably due
Not wanting to go out for walks and does not
enjoy car trips anymore.
Refusing people food.
Wandering around the house aimlessly and
getting stuck in places.
Sometimes falls down on the floor and cannot
get up by herself on our slippery tiled floor.
No longer seems to be here mentally or be
interested in anything.
that Mikki’s quality of life was no longer good. We could see pain in
her eyes. She no longer enjoys walks or people food. We consulted with
vets who specialize in
in-home euthanasia and one of them explained that kidney disease
is a long, painful death, unlike some other diseases where the animal
can be comfortable dying naturally. Even once the animal stops eating,
as happened with Mikki, the dying can be painful and prolonged. The vet
explained that kidney failure is like having a very bad case of flu,
that the animals feel horrible, plus the toxicity affects their mind and
causes the symptoms of senility that we have witnessed. Therefore, we
made the difficult decision to do
in-home euthanasia and escort Mikki over the Rainbow Bridge just
before Thanksgiving in November, 2014.
Adopted 04/11/2003 - 11/25/2014
is dedicated to pet dental health month,
which is February every year. It is likely that our dog, Mikki,
developed kidney disease due to her poor dental health that resulted in
the loss of over half her teeth. Unfortunately, about 80% of dogs have
periodontal disease by the age of 3. Toy breeds like Mikki are
especially prone to poor dental health due to the small size of their
mouth. Despite quarterly anesthesia-free
teeth cleaning and a raw diet,
Mikki had over half her teeth extracted due to disease. A few years ago,
she quit breathing under anesthesia during a dental procedure so we were
unable to remove any further diseased teeth after that. She did not
tolerate home dental care (teeth brushing), but if your dog does, we
highly encourage you to brush your dog’s teeth daily, in addition to
feeding bones for them to chew on to clean their teeth.
For a list of graduates from the Well Animal Institute, LLC, who have
completed their anesthesia-free dental cleaning course for pets, click the logo
or text links below:
Graduate Students in anesthesia-free teeth cleaning
For those of you pet parents that want to
memorialize your beloved pet, we can recommend purchasing an urn from
They offer a full range of breeds with their figurine urns, and provide
excellent customer service, just as we strive to do at Optimum Choices.
See below for the figurine urn we purchased: