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How do I know when my dog is in too much pain and should be put to sleep? My Corgi/Golden retriever mutt is 12 years old and has arthritis. He no longer goes up the stairs or on the couch, and gets up and down slowly.

He still chases his ball, but for a few feet, instead of a few hundred feet. He still is excited to go for a walk, but can only make it up and back a block before he’s practically hopping home. We have tried two medications. One didn’t seem to help, and the other made him not eat and/or throw up – he seemed more unhappy, not less.

Nevertheless, when he’s hanging out with us, he seems very content. He’s been such a wonderful companion, I don’t want to shorten his life unnecessarily nor do I want him to suffer.

Ellen Royer
Las Vegas, NV

Dear Ellen,

Quality of life is the biggest debate that most pet owners eventually face. The decision is based on how you feel in your heart. I have always believed that, as long as there are things that the dog enjoys, life is worth living. We all lose the ability to walk distance as we age, but there are other things in life that are enjoyable. There are many medications available to control arthritis pain in dogs, including Tramadol or Neurontin, which have almost no side effects and work very well. Also, if you have not tried any of the other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammation drugs), you might ask your vet for other alternatives.

-Dr. Weaver

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