If you’ve shared your home and your heart with cats and dogs over the years, inevitably you’ve been faced with making a decision about whether your beloved, infirm pet needs to be euthanized. Most veterinarians are strong advocates for euthanasia, in lieu of protracted suffering at home with a terminal illness. We are fortunate with our domestic pets to be able to say “I love you so much, I’m not going to allow you to suffer.” That is a noble and selfless decision, but sometimes an excruciatingly difficult one. Since dogs, and especially cats, are often capable of hiding symptoms of serious illness, it can be hard to determine when the time has come to say goodbye.
My name is Dr. D and yesterday, I removed a cat’s eyeball. Gruesome to think about, I know. Fortunately, enucleations (eye removal surgeries) are rare, but we do perform them on occasion. Why on earth would we ever remove an animal’s eye? There is a short list of reasons, but all are compelling since they result in significant pain for Fluffy or Fido. By removing the eye, we remove the source of pain.
What’s that weird, pink, warty-looking growth on Fido’s lip? Don’t worry, Fido isn’t disfigured for life. We commonly see young dogs (typically under 2 years of age) whose owners have noticed a warty growth on the lips, nose or muzzle. These warts don’t bother Fido, they don’t seem to grow or change rapidly and they are almost always confined to the face, especially the lips or mouth.
Picture these too-common scenarios: Fido is chewing on a rawhide, his absolute favorite treat; you walk past him to get to the laundry room, and he growls repeatedly until you walk away. Fido is eating dinner voraciously from his bowl when your toddler toddles past; Fido growls and snaps at your unsuspecting 2 year-old. Fido is outside, chewing on a tennis ball, when your other dog Fifi runs over to play; Fido lunges and barks at Fifi to scare her away. You’re comfortably reading on the couch, with Fido next to you; your husband sits down, and Fido growls until your husband moves to another seat.These behaviors seem quite frightening and yet they happen every day in many dog-owning homes. There is a name for this type of behavior: possession aggression or resource guarding.