"Should I put the old dog
to sleep and how much do you charge? His urine is dribbling all over the
house and you had said that his bad breadth would go away after all the
decayed teeth had been removed by you and I had spent over two hundred
dollars." Mrs Tan said. "In fact, the smell is worse than
I must remember never to be optimistic and give more or less a guarantee
that old dogs would not have bad breadth after dental extraction and
antibiotics ten months ago.
In this 15-year-old Pomeranian, the bad breadth could be due to the poor
health leading to stomach, kidney and liver problems. The bad smell from
the dog's body would be due to the inability of the body to get rid of
toxins in the blood.
Sometimes, it is the veterinarian against the economics of the owner.
Blood tests would be useful but Mrs Tan did not want to spend more money
on her dog and the telephone consultation was free of charge.
"Shall I let the dog go out of the house and be lost?" she
asked me. No veterinarian would say yes.
"Euthanasia would be kinder" I said over the phone. There was
not a case of money as Mrs Tan could well afford the $30.00 for the
"It would affect my daughter as her final examinations are just
four weeks away. If the dog was lost, she would not be so
distressed as the dog had been lost before." Children are
kinder towards the old dogs and cats and have saved many from euthanasia
by their parents.
could be done in this case? The parents had put up with the urine
incontinence for so many months. The domestic worker was getting tired
of cleaning up. The dog was prohibited from entering the daughter's room
owing to the strong stench. Would it be kinder to put the dog to sleep?
Old dogs and cats, unlike old shophouses, cannot be destroyed as there
are always the children's feelings to be considered.
Children nowadays are knowledgeable and parents may not realise that
they understand the economics of veterinary treatment and the dilemmas
of living with a senile pet more than we give them credit for. Be frank
with them but they will resist euthanasia.
They cannot force parents to seek veterinary treatment but how the
parents treat the aged family pet may be a role model for how the
parents will be treated later when they grow senile.
The following major signs of cognitive
dysfunction in the cat and dog are:
Disorientation - leads to incontinence if the cat is unable to find
its litter tray.
Non-responsiveness - no longer greeting the owner
Disruption of sleep patterns.
Hypervocalisation. Previously quiet, becoming noisy for no obvious
The brain uses chemical
energy and chemical signals to power its thought process.
chemicals are called neurotransmitters, e.g. dopamine, serotonin and
nor-epinephrine. As the cat ages, the normal balance of these chemicals
is disrupted and result in a brain disease syndrome known as cognitive
Since the problem is
chemical deficiency, there is a potential to correct the imbalance by
boosting levels with the use of drugs which increase their production or
reduce the rate they are broken down.
There are drugs used in
humans to improve the blood supply to the brain and to alter the level
of certain neurotransmitters, but none are licensed for use in the dog
They do improve the quality of life of some elderly ones.
However, few Singapore owners are willing to pay for the drugs and review the use
of the drugs with their veterinarians.