We often have clients bring their pets in and say they just got like this yesterday. There are times it is true as animals can become acutely ill.
I recently had a geriatric dog whose primary complaint was acute ataxia and behavioral change. Both the husband and wife stated that it just happened yesterday afternoon. You know, sometimes a husband does not always agree with the wife. After several diagnostic tests, we found neoplastic metastasis all over the lungs and potentially also in the brain. As veterinary professionals, we know that tumor is high on the differential list for a geriatric large breed dog. However, the clients were shocked when we delivered the bad news. We gave a prognosis about a month and talked about everything that we could do to help the patient. Two days later, I was told by the clinician that the patient was humanely euthanized because it got much worse on the following day. It was just that quickly that they can deteriorate, which was very much beyond my understanding based on my limited experience.
We all know that if a Labrador is not eating, something is wrong. One of my patients in internal medicine was a typical Lab, she even wagged her tail as we placed the IV catheter. She was brought in because of a poor appetite for the past couple weeks and we diagnosed her with advanced kidney disease. Because her kidney values were so high even with aggressive treatment, we did not think she would be able to survive for even a year. Two weeks later, the client elected to put her to sleep because she would not eat at all and showed other signs as well.
I believe that we are all to various degrees emotionally attached to patients that we care for. It’s so hard to hear that they were totally fine and then suddenly declined rapidly. It’s just so hard to say goodbye.