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Hello, all. I don't even know where to begin with this poor creature. I guess I should say that we have tried our best to give him the best life he can have, and that he is loved. We got him from a breeder as a puppy. I'd done a lot of reading and talking to breeders, and she was supposed to be reputable and careful. She interviewed us, we visited her and the dogs there. I loved what she said about prioritizing health and temperament--These were my 2 biggest desires: a healthy, happy family dog.

Long story short, he has not been either of those things. His tummy issues became apparent almost right away. He was prone to diarrhea and vomiting, often with blood. We took him to a mixed holistic and western style vet who tried hard to work with us on diet, nutrition, and figuring out who he was sick so often. We were also working to socialize him -- puppy kindergarten, playdates with other dogs, visits with family and friends, and we took him with us wherever we went when he was well enough to do so. He was well-mannered at home, learned tricks quickly, and loved other dogs, although his behaviors with them weren't always appreciated.

Fast forward a few years and the chronic GI issues continued. We did cooked diet for a time, prescription diet for a time, raw diet for a time, always with a slow transition, and probiotics, digestive enzymes, etc. Nothing seemed to make a difference either way. He was tested for Addison's, multiple times, and was negative. He was tested for every kind of paracite, bacteria, infections, etc. Nothing every came up positive. By 3 I had to make him eat at least once or twice a day, and the methods for doing that got creative and required a lot of time and effort.

At the same time, he got less and less sociable with people. He was never able to relax, cuddle, hang out calmly, even with us. He was always on edge - wound up. Our trainer finally recommended a behaviorist because his anxiety was increasing so much. The behaviorist agreed, and prescribed Prozac. It took the edge off a little, but he was still wound pretty tightly. He became unpredictable, even with people who frequently visited like my daughter's therapists. Eventually, after he lunged and snapped at visitors we became concerned that he would hurt someone, and sadly crated him when we had company. Our kids friends couldn't come over for sleep-overs anymore because of the dog.

And his health was still poor--poor enough that it was difficult to work on the behavior because he would get stressed and sick all the time. I can't count the times he's had subcutaneous fluids and Flagyl for the bloody diarrhea and vomiting. At 5 he bloated. We caught it in time and it was resolved surgically and his stomach tacked. Once he recovered from the surgery and the aspiration pneumonia he got during recovery, his appetite improved somewhat. The visits to the ER for fluids decreased, although I usually had to hand-feed him 2x a day, but they still happened. I managed flares with doggie pepto as soon as they started, and that helped with the severity, if not the frequency.

But the behavior continued to deteriorate. His dislike of any people outside our family was a growing issue. We had to learn to schedule our lives around what to do with him when we wanted to travel or have company. I had to learn to groom him at home so that he didn't go off on someone, and so that the stress of being handled didn't make him sick. Trainers agreed that his aggression was fear/anxiety based, but didn't feel comfortable taking him because of his health problems. And he wasn't food-motivated, so using rewards to desensitize him didn't work, either.

About 6 months ago his annual check up included a thyroid screening. His Free T4 came back low, and the vet suggested that his thyroid might be an issue, and we should start him on Thyro-Tabs. We did, hoping that, although he didn't present as typically hypothyroid (he's skinny, has a lovely coat, normal energy, etc) that it might finally be an answer to his issues. At first it made him lethargic. After that he perked up again, but the GI issues started to get more frequent. In the last 2 months they've gotten worse--he needed subQ fluids and meds again before Christmas, and while the Flagyl tamped down the bloody diarrhea for a week or two, he's back to it now, even with the pepto. I'm waiting to hear back from the vet about whether she thinks he's reacting to the thyroid meds at this point. And I am so tired.

I am literally at my wits' end. He is 8 years old and has never had a really healthy year. My life revolves around giving him medicine, forcing him to eat, cleaning up vomit and diarrhea, taking him to the vet to spend hundreds of dollars for temporary fixes, trying to find things to make him happy and calm, and keeping him from biting people. I have 3 kids with autism to care for as well, which means that the added burden of his intense needs is just breaking me. I don't want to resent him, but I often do, as well as pitying him for not being able to just be a normal happy dog ever. My youngest adores him, and he tolerates her the best, even loves her in his own way, although he will still sometimes growl if she tries to hug him or sits too close to him on the couch. He's beautiful to look at, and I honestly think that this is the best he knows how to do. One of the trainers said that he seems to have a sort of doggie autism because he doesn't read body language or understand social interactions with people or dogs, he can't read emotions, he's obsessive about routine, and he's uncomfortable with affection, and she's probably right. He's just wired this way.

Every other dog I ever had was just a love, even when they were sick or injured, but this dog is just hard. Has anyone else ever had a dog like this? If so, what did you do? Is there some crazy thing we're overlooking after all these years? This dog is simultaneously killing me and breaking my heart.
 

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I have great empathy for your situation and admiration for your care of him. Not at all what any of us sign up for with a new puppy. Do the behaviorists think he’s enjoying life? If not, euthanasia should be part of the discussion. I’m afraid that he’s going to hurt someone, despite your best efforts. Not his fault, nor yours, just very bad luck in his genetics.
 

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Sounds like you're between a rock and a hard place. If you decide to euthanize him, maybe talk first to a counselor and few others in how you handle this regarding your three children. Tell them you had him put down? Not tell them and say you found him another home or that he ran away while they were in school? I don't know. For me that would be the trickiest part.

I wish you well with whatever decision you make.
 

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I'm just so sorry. Yes, there could be something you're overlooking, but clearly not for lack of trying. Some medical mysteries just remain medical mysteries. And it sounds like your poor boy's discomfort is really getting to him, understandably.

Wish I could offer more than my sympathy :(
 

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I've gone back and read your older threads and posts. This is so sad for you all. You've mentioned continual vet visits and so many tests but I didn't see anything specific about pancreatic function. I'm just shooting in the dark here, if it might be related, it sounds atypical, but some symptoms line up with pancreatic problems.

I'm sure it has been checked, but wanted to ask.
 

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I also went back and read through your journey, from your hopeful first post about Odin. What a heartbreak.

As you are a parent of children with autism, I suspect you've already considered this, but given the potential link between clostridium and autism, I wonder if Odin's early bacterial infection could be linked to his behavioural symptoms? Or even his much-higher-than-average exposure to antibiotics? There's so much we don't understand about the GI tract and microbiome...

I know this speculation doesn't help you much. I can feel how tired you are and honestly am so impressed that you've taken such good care of your boy while juggling the rest of life's demands. You've done your best for Odin. I wish with all my heart you could see it pay off into his precious senior years.
 

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Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. I'm so run down right now and I think that the support and reassurance is as helpful as anything - I've been in this fight so long I don't know if I'm objective anymore. When he's having another bad flare, he's having bloody diarrhea over and over, (and there have been 2 in the last month alone) and he won't eat and he just tries to hide it stresses me out more than I can express. The emotional piece, the frustration, and the expense and time are all grinding me down. And then he kisses Ellie when she asks for a kiss and I feel like a terrible person for wanting to give up.

Rose, we've been trying to support his pancreas with the digestive enzymes for years, and recently we tried adding Paraplex, but that just set off another flare. I have read up on EPI (the treatment of which I have to admit gives me heart palpitations) and wondered if I should have him tested for that next, but so far his pancreatic numbers during routine blood work have been ok. I'm torn between wanting to know if that's an issue, and dreading the expense and added work if it is.

PeggyTheParti - That's an on-going conversation with the vet, too. He's been on everything we can think of to heal and support his gut for years--enzymes, pre- and pro-biotics, fiber, clay, special diets, the works. We even discussed fecal transplant, although we haven't tried it yet. It's expensive and experimental, and at this point I am fearful of the next treatment making him worse, the way the thyroid treatment seems to have done. The balance is so tenuous and he's so quick to drop off the deep end that I've gotten gun shy, I guess.

Mfmst - Thank you. I have to admit that I have broached this subject with my husband. While there are days when Odin is happy--days when his gut is quiet, or we get the right kind of snow for snowballs, or my brother's dogs come to visit and play with him--but having had so many other dogs who really loved life, I feel as though his quality of life is comparatively poor. The other dogs went everywhere with me. Every day was an adventure of people and smells and friends. Odin can't do any of that. He gets walks and yard play when he's well enough. He can go with us to places where there won't be strangers, but I can't just take him with me wherever. I work from home, so he's rarely alone, but he doesn't have a very rich life at this point. And that's just his quality of life. As his primary care-taker, groomer, nurse, medic, chef, trainer, etc my quality of life has been negatively impacted over the years. His issues probably bring me to tears more often than any other single issue in my life. Every other dog I've had was a source of love and comfort and fun, but this one is mostly just work and patience. But my husband has never had another dog and doesn't see it the way I do. He loves him and can't entertain the idea of euthanasia if Odin isn't terminal or incapacitated. My oldest daughter actually agrees with me that we should consider it. She loves him, but she sees how miserable he and I are and, as a logic-brained Aspie, she sees this as pretty straight-forward. But my youngest is both the most severely impacted by her autism, and the most attached to the dog. She's still sad about the death of my parents' old dog 4 years ago, and Odin's death will likely impact her the most. It's just a tough spot all the way around. It would make me incredibly sad to give up on him, but I'm sorry to say that the sadness would be mingled with relief, too. It may be a moot point, though, as it's not a decision I can make unilaterally.

I would be grateful for anything that increased his quality of life, even if it decreased his life expectancy. I've considered asking the vet how long he could make it on clonazapam. He was prescribed clonazapam to help with his 4th of July panics, and during the few times he's been on it we get a glimpse of the happy dog he might have been. He gets a real appetite and doesn't need hand-feeding--even sniffs at our food! He gets bouncy and even smiles. He wags his tail more and doesn't get upset by people walking down our street. He doesn't duck away from petting. Even fireworks and thunder don't make him try to dig a hole and die in the basement. It's like a little window into what his like might have been if he wasn't mentally compromised. But it's too powerful for every day use. :(
 

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That sounds horrible. I had to have a dog put down because of behavioral problems. It was hard.

If Clonazepam works, I'd just give it to him regularly. The risk with humans is addiction and abuse, but as long as Odin isn't indulging in alcohol, it should otherwise be pretty safe. There are other antidepressants that can be used with dogs too. At least with people, we sometimes have to try a few before finding the right one.
 

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I am so sorry you are going through this I was hesitant to write this for fear of judgment however here we go. I had a beagle who I had to put down at seven. She was of poor breeding and was given to me when she was five weeks old. She was my first dog and unfortunately I didn’t know enough at that time to know there were so many red flags about the whole situation. She was completely neurotic about food. I tried for seven years to help my poor girl. I tried trainer after trainer. I realize beagles are known for following their nose but this was more than that over the years she injured herself numerous times trying to get into the trash or trying to get something off the counter or out of somewhere she wasn’t supposed to be . She ate a lethal dose of chocolate more times than I care to admit. I had animal poison control on speed dial. After seven years of trying everything I could find to help her including medicating her by the vet I had to let her go. The meds made her so sedated that she would hide all the time and didn’t want to be around anyone. Rehoming wasn’t an option either. In the end her quality of life was not good and I lived in fear of her hurting herself and having to have constant eyes on her. I know this is not exactly the same however sometimes it’s the kindest thing we can do for them. I was relieved after she had gone over rainbow bridge. I was ashamed to admit it but my father told me if you feel some sort of relief then you know you made the right decision. I guess what I am trying to say is if you consider what is best for the dog and his well being and ultimately have to come to that decision be at peace about it you have literally done everything you can do give your dog the best life you can. I feel your exhaustion and if that is the route you do go know that children are resilient. If they understand that it was kind for their pet and you have tried everything they will be ok
 

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Applecelery, I grew up with beagles.The female we had once ate an entire fifty pound bag of dog food. It did not kill her, but I swear her little legs could barely reach the ground because of her huge balloon body. Another time she ate the lid off of a gallon of fish emulsion, and then polished off the fish emulsion.I don't know how but she lived for 17 years. Simsek, I can feel your fatigue through your words. I am so sorry that having a poodle has turned into such a nightmare for you. My only recommendation is that you sit down with your husband and that the both of you agree on a plan. For example, if the dog bites one of our children,or the veterinary bills get too high, our response will be.... Make sure you address several scenarios...like small bites, bites requiring stitches, bites requiring a plastic surgeon, what constitutes too high for vet costs; followed by concrete agreed upon responses. As for explaining euthanasia to children, I do not believe in lying. You can, however tell them that the dog was allowed to "move on" (whatever your beliefs allow) because he was suffering so much and that he was a good boy and had earned the privilege of leaving this world without the stigma of being a bad dog burdened with more illness. No one but you knows the words that will best fit your children and their circumstances. Sometimes it helps to know you have a solid, written back up plan in place; it can help making a final decision easier. I am not saying that the time for euthanasia is now, but with your dog's history I think having a euthanasia plan in place is a very good idea. Again, I am so sorry.
 

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I think if I had to choose, I would choose a shorter but happier life for my dog. So if Clonazepam is the only thing that makes a significant impact, that would be my choice.
Have you tried other behavioural modifiers than Prozac though? I've seen some good success with Gabapentin, plus it has the benefit of being pain control for when his GI acts up. There are other options too, like Trazadone.
On the medical side, a vet I worked with used to say "No animal should die without trying prednisone". As a steroid perhaps it could help cut down on all that inflammatory response. Obviously steroids can cause some side effects and may shorten lifespan, but I do know of some animals that were on pred for years and it did not seem to negatively impact them. Plus one of the side effects is increased appetite, which would be a bonus in your case.
 

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That sounds horrible. I had to have a dog put down because of behavioral problems. It was hard.

If Clonazepam works, I'd just give it to him regularly. The risk with humans is addiction and abuse, but as long as Odin isn't indulging in alcohol, it should otherwise be pretty safe. There are other antidepressants that can be used with dogs too. At least with people, we sometimes have to try a few before finding the right one.
I'll ask about that at our next visit, too. My concern is that a powerful drug like Klonapin might work for a while and then become less effective, but by then he'd be dependent on it, just like people become. Maybe there is something else that would be a good solution, though. Maybe the Prozac is just not helping at all anymore - so hard to tell. I feel like anything that improved his quality of life would be better than this. Of course, if it makes his gut worse that will be a problem, too. :(
 

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I think if I had to choose, I would choose a shorter but happier life for my dog. So if Clonazepam is the only thing that makes a significant impact, that would be my choice.
Have you tried other behavioural modifiers than Prozac though? I've seen some good success with Gabapentin, plus it has the benefit of being pain control for when his GI acts up. There are other options too, like Trazadone.
On the medical side, a vet I worked with used to say "No animal should die without trying prednisone". As a steroid perhaps it could help cut down on all that inflammatory response. Obviously steroids can cause some side effects and may shorten lifespan, but I do know of some animals that were on pred for years and it did not seem to negatively impact them. Plus one of the side effects is increased appetite, which would be a bonus in your case.
We haven't tried other antidepressants, but I am certainly open to it. I will ask at his next appointment. And if prednisone kept his gut calm I'd do that round the clock. Seriously. Shortened life span is ok if it means better quality of life. I wouldn't want to live sick the way he's lived all these years.
 

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Applecelery, I grew up with beagles.The female we had once ate an entire fifty pound bag of dog food. It did not kill her, but I swear her little legs could barely reach the ground because of her huge balloon body. Another time she ate the lid off of a gallon of fish emulsion, and then polished off the fish emulsion.I don't know how but she lived for 17 years. Simsek, I can feel your fatigue through your words. I am so sorry that having a poodle has turned into such a nightmare for you. My only recommendation is that you sit down with your husband and that the both of you agree on a plan. For example, if the dog bites one of our children,or the veterinary bills get too high, our response will be.... Make sure you address several scenarios...like small bites, bites requiring stitches, bites requiring a plastic surgeon, what constitutes too high for vet costs; followed by concrete agreed upon responses. As for explaining euthanasia to children, I do not believe in lying. You can, however tell them that the dog was allowed to "move on" (whatever your beliefs allow) because he was suffering so much and that he was a good boy and had earned the privilege of leaving this world without the stigma of being a bad dog burdened with more illness. No one but you knows the words that will best fit your children and their circumstances. Sometimes it helps to know you have a solid, written back up plan in place; it can help making a final decision easier. I am not saying that the time for euthanasia is now, but with your dog's history I think having a euthanasia plan in place is a very good idea. Again, I am so sorry.
Agreed. We've already agreed that if he bit one of the kids it would be the end. I don't know if there's an amount my husband would agree is too much to pay at the vets, but I'll ask. I would have said enough is enough when he bloated - we could have bought a used car for what that cost - but my husband felt strongly that we should save him if we could and figure out the money later. As for telling the kids, I wouldn't lie to them. Especially with kids on the spectrum honesty is always the best approach. They're very black and white and lying is devastating. So it would be discussed openly and honestly, but gently.
 

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If euthanasia is the only answer, tell the kids that your dog is confused and hurting... sometimes lashing out in his pain. That he is too precious for this life. That what he's looking forward to is the Rainbow Bridge.
 

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My girl Iris had a littermate with systemic lupus. He became anxious and leash agressive and a behavioral vet put him on prozac. This allowed him to calm down enough to respond to training which helped limit his anxiety. He did well and lived a relatively good life to age 14. Our family had a dog with chronic pancreatitis, about 50 yrs ago. There were not many helpful treatments at that time and after 2 yrs a lot of pain and discomfort we had her put to sleep. My current spoo has a littermate brother who was diagnosed with EPI...that is worth looking into for your kiddo. She joined a facebook group for people who have dogs with epi. She was able to manage his disease easily through simple diet changes and enzyme replacements. It was not difficult because of the great support she received from her vet and the facebook group. He is doing extremely well now and gained back all his lost weight. It might be worthwhile having him tested for EPI I am sorry you are having to deal with this....I know how difficult it can be. I wish you well.
 

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Thank you. He’s been on Prozac for years at the advice of the behaviorist, but it only took the edge off. And unfortunately, the side effect of loss-of-appetite has been rough with his GI issues.

This week we went to a new vet for the first time. He went over our history and just couldn’t believe everything we’ve been through. He was super supportive and willing to help us manage Odin’s chronic issues without endless office visits, and supportive of euthanasia too if it gets too be too much. He felt we’d drawn an unfortunately short straw in the genetics.

Since the force feeding is one of the most onerous, thankless, and time-consuming parts of my week, and the Prozac further depresses his appetite, we’ve decided to wean him off of it to see if having a better appetite improves his GI stability. Already he seems to be eating more independently, which is a start. Once he’s cleared of the Prozac we’ll get a new baseline for both his gut and his behavior and decide whether to try a different mood med, or what.

I have researched EPI, and I don’t think that’s his problem. He’s not ravenously eating, nor is he wasting away, or eating feces. I’m glad that the profile doesn’t fit because managing that also looks like a like of work, and the enzymes are expensive, but I didn’t dismiss it on those grounds. I just don’t think it fits.

For now, this week, he’s been eating better and his stools are still good after finishing his last metronidazole last Tuesday (although last Monday he refused to eat and threw up bile all day long) and while he may be a little more excitable as the levels of Prozac recede a bit, he’s not showing any increased aggression or panic.

My youngest woke up in tears 2x last week because she noticed how gray Odin’s muzzle is and was afraid he was getting old. In her mind that meant he might die when he has another birthday, because old dogs die. I explained to her that birthdays have nothing to do with it, and that seemed to help, but when the time comes she’s clearly going to have a broken heart. 😔 For her sake, I hope he can be relatively stable for a while longer.
 
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