Euthanasia Options for Abdominal Adhesion

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by tgooberbutt, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. tgooberbutt

    tgooberbutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As the title suggests, this is not going to be a happy thread. For future readers, it's the beginning of December.

    I will start with the current situation that my Dominiquer is facing, as a need moral help (strength) right now. I'll them move into the lengthier background story with the medical/diagnosis information in case others are dealing with abdominal adhesions and similar situations with their beloved chickens.

    THE CURRENT SITUATION:
    After seeing a vet, and a week of antibiotics and anti-inflammitories, and over two weeks of tube feeding, and a week if hand feeding prior to that, both the vet and I believe Phineas's illness is terminal. Most likely an abdominal adhesion that is likely to tighten further, and which is already causing her visible pain. The pain is likely what has taken away her appetite and any desire to eat or drink. The pain is also evident when she: 1)tries to clean herself and can't bend over, turn/twist around, 2) walk quickly, 3) whenever she poos. She spends almost all her time standing still with her eyes closed.

    There is no cure for an abdominal adhesion - surgery can be used to remove adhesions, but are discouraged (in people/humans as well) as the scar tissue/adhesions are usually stronger than the tissues they adhere to and the procedure is likely to cause more damage. Even if the surgery is successful, areas of adhesion are still more likely to form new adhesions. The adhesions and scar tissue toughen and strengthen over time - so the rigidity caused by the adhesion will only get worse with time. Phineas' condition went downhill fast. She lost her appetite, but would still eat in the beginning of November. I had to start hand feed her within a week, tube feeding food and liquids by the 15th. It's now December 2nd.

    The vet does not think there is anything else that can be done for Phineas. And I have finally come to the same unfortunate conclusion. The vet said that the can conduct a humane euthanasia where Phineas would be given an anesthetic, go to sleep, then given a lethal injection to die peacefully in her sleep.

    I also spoke with my sister, who's brought up a good, ethical point about people and animals and how they choose their deaths. In particular, she pointed me to a NYT article on how doctors choose to die (link here). And then she reminded me of how my parents' dog (and the dog knew that she was sick), waited until my dad came home just so she could jump up into my dad's lap to die while being held by him.

    I'm pretty sure Phineas knows that she is dying. I believe that is why she stopped eating, drinking and moving. I already feel guilty for having kept her alive for so long while I waited to see if antibiotics would cure the underlying problem, or even if the problem would plateau and she could live a relatively happy (if a bit handicapped) life with abdominal issues. I know Phineas needs (and likely wants?) to be in a better place without the pain. So my question about euthanasia is a moral one - do I let her die by herself? So do not tube feed her food or water, and let her pass on her own, like how she would have in nature? Perhaps with the aid of painkillers from the vet? Or should I have the vet anesthetize her and give her a lethal injection - where she would die without knowing what was happening?

    Please. I know many of you here know and love your chickens as pets and family members. Any insight you can provide on how Phineas would choose if given the option on how to die (there is no longer a doubt in my mind that that is what she wants and needs at this point), would help me through this heartbreaking time.

    I'm emotionally exhausted, but if anyone would like to read about the background diagnosis of abdominal adhesions and the therapies the vet and I tried, please let me know and I can start documenting them here for future reference.
     
  2. pwand

    pwand Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our bodies do signal when it time. People dying will stop eating and drinking. Its nature taking its course.

    I watched both my dogs pass away, not by choice either. One was 5 yrs old and the last one was 7 yrs old, 2 yrs apart to the day exactly. It was upsetting, they had taken that choice away, it was hard and unexpectected. My 5 yr old was missed diagnosed as having upper respiratory and he died in our living room on the floor, he looked at us to see we were there and took two deep breaths and he was gone. The vet pulled in the driveway and he died. It was actually peaceful. The vet thinks it was lymphoma. He was dead in 5 days. She had a fill in new vet who missed diagnosed him.

    My other dog was 7yrs old and we woke up in the night with her painting heavily. Her breath was cold, we rushed her to the vet, i knew she was going to die, she collapsed in the car and was dead. The vet did a post mortum ultrasound. She showed us the tumours. She was full of Splenetic tumours which most likely had spread. They bust, she was dead in 30 minutes. She had a lovely two hour walk that evening, so it was probably the best way to go. This was the hardest death. My two dogs grew up together from puppies and died exactly two years apart.

    Its what you are comfortable with. Is this your first chicken?
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  3. tgooberbutt

    tgooberbutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @pwand, Thank you for the thoughtful reply and for sharing. Phineas is part of my first (and so far) only batch of chickens. She came in a 15-pack from Meyer, of which 9 were killed in a raccoon attack 2 weeks in, one more was caught in a cat attack at about 4 weeks, and Phineas escaped with a crooked beak and blind left eye. She lived by my bed for a week when I was treating the wounded eye, and has been my favorite, special bird every since. She came when her name was called, and followed me around in the house whenever I would let her in.

    She's been living inside for the past three weeks, and I've only let her outside when she's been particularly stubborn and just stands waiting at the back door to the yard.

    I believe your younger dog knew what was coming and wanted to make sure that her loved ones were around when the time came. Your older dog might not have had the chance given the speed of tumor. But yes, a 2-hr walk is not a bad last memory to have before passing, whereas weeks of tube-feeding and pain would be miserable.
     
  4. pwand

    pwand Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Were she is your favourite, it will be like your first to die. We get really attached to these birds. Just remember, everything you did for her is out of love. Don't beat yourself up for trying to save her life. This is a life learning experience. The next bird you may tube feed may survive. I am sure you have more knowledge now than what you had before helping her. You can teach others of your knowledge. Look at her now with love and have peace with her eventual death. She lived her life with love and fun and now her time has come. Remember all the fun times you had with her and she had a great life and is very spoiled. What ever you choose, she will be ok with it. She will be at peace.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  5. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    In not sure I see the reasoning in drawing out her suffering by making her die naturally. I imagine they die that way in nature because there isn't any other choice, not because they want to draw it out longer.

    The dog on the lap could simply be the dog looking for comfort as it was in pain or scared not it holding on till it could die in its arms. I think that's a human thing to romanticize death but I think the reality was probably less hold out more hold me.

    So yeah, I think personally I'd have it put down and stop prolonging both its suffering and also your own.

    Sorry you have had such a sad thing happen.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  6. pwand

    pwand Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What ever you decide to do is what best for you and the hen. Its hard when we have to make that decision.
     
  7. tgooberbutt

    tgooberbutt Chillin' With My Peeps

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  8. pwand

    pwand Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am so sorry for your loss. [​IMG] I know it was a hard to have her put down. You did the right thing for her and she loves you just the same. :) She is most likely hatching out as a new baby chick some where in the world, putting smiles on a happy family somewhere. Next few days will be hard, it does get easier. Hugs.
     
  9. appps

    appps Overrun With Chickens

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    I think you made the best decision, for both of you as it must have been very hard on you dealing with this as well. Im sure she knew she was a very loved member of the family.
     
  10. Twixie

    Twixie New Egg

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    Hi, so sorry to read about Phineas. I am wondering if your vet was able to give you any answers as to the cause of the adhesions, was it due to some sort of inflammatory process? I just went through almost the same thing with one of my hens. The vet did a necropsy today, said there were adhesions causing a functional bowel obstruction, that he had never seen this in a chicken before. It sounds very like my situation- two weeks of antibiotics, subQ fluids, metacam, tube feeding... her crop was emptying very very slowly. She died at home on my lap, I had checked on her and thought she was probably on her way, so I held her. It is a difficult decision, it seems often with chickens the proper diagnosis isn't arrived at until after death (by necropsy). A bowel adhesion isn't going to show up on an ultrasound...maybe an obstruction would show on an xray, but in your case (as mine) it presented more like an infection, so the treating with antibiotics etc. I may have missed part of it but how did they determine she had adhesions? I think is always good to give things a try and have hope, but I feel sad that I may have worsened her situation by tubing, if she had a partial obstruction. I think you probably made a good decision for your friend. It's a tough choice either way but my normal thought is if the animal is suffering and they are terminal and in dying process...euthanasia is probably the humane choice. I wish in a way I had made the choice for my girl... very sad, either way.
     

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