Feeling sad, guilty, and in pain: my favorite chicken died at the vet...

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by unicornia, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. unicornia

    unicornia Out Of The Brooder

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    Two days ago I took my sick Whitie, my sweet Whitie, who would come running to me whenever she saw me, to the vet because she was very sick. She was sick for days... I had tried all sorts of things to help her get better, and was researching everything I could. I finally decided that I was becoming too stressed out to handle this, and wasn't experienced or informed enough to help her. So, I took her the vet, I looked for an avian specialist, but there was none, and so I called the vet we use for our cats and dog, and she said she saw chickens. I suppose this was my biggest mistake! I took her there, and she died during the exam, I don't know if they were holding her too hard, or she was just that sick. The vet said that she had a very swollen abdomen, she was very hot, and that she was very skinny. I saw her whole body go into a spasm, and her head and neck thrown in a twist from this spasm, and I knew that she was dying and reached out for her, because I wanted to help her... The vet was a ***** about it, and said she had to finish her exam, and didnt even know that she had just killed my Whitie. I told them to put her back in the box, and she was limp, and I just left, running out, not even paying... I just feel so terrible, the image of my Whitie dying keeps repeating in my head. And I feel like I should have stopped them, or never taken her, or found a specialist, or noticed earlier that she was starting to get sick, or kept her home and given her the anitibiotics like I planned.... the list is endless of all the things that I could have done differently, and it hurts so much, because I just want my Whitie back. She was only 3 years old, but I guess from what I read, that is old for a hen bought from Tractor Supply. Maybe my original mistake. I just want her back! I can't handle loss very well. And I blame myself for everything. I feel so bad I let her down. I try to remind myself that she had a good life, free and running and scratching around the yard, raising a whole new batch of chicks, getting yummy treats when she comes to the door, her favorite was cantaloupe. I just want to know that she felt loved, I imagine she did, because I did love her so much. And now I just miss her so bad it hurts!
     
  2. unicornia

    unicornia Out Of The Brooder

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    I know other people have suffered losses like mine. I just wanted to post and hear from others so I might not feel so alone! I could really really use some support, even if it is just a line. Thank you for listening and responding, if you can.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2015
  3. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member

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    Sorry for your loss. [​IMG]Is this the hen that was standing like a penguin? If so, I suspect she had ascites, which can have many causes. Too much fluid in the abdominal cavity puts pressure on their heart, lungs and intestines and it will eventually kill them unless it's drained, which will allow them to live a little longer, but it's not a cure.

    You need to know this... you didn't do anything wrong and the antibiotics would not have save her. I commend you for taking her to the vet, and shame on them for not being able to see she was in distress, but at least they were willing to see her.

    If you want to see what I think killed your hen, look at this link, but be warned, the pictures are graphic.:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...scites-and-eyp-very-graphic-necropsy-pictures

    The hen in that thread was looked very much like the hen pictured in your other thread, and mine died in my arms while I was trying to drain off the fluid. If you can handle necropsy pictures I really think you should look at them, 'cause I think it will help you come to terms with the fact that nothing you could have done would have saved her.

    I hope you don't think I'm being insensitive, I'm just trying to reassure you that you did nothing wrong and nothing could have saved her.

    Take care of yourself,
    Kathy
     
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  4. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Unicornia I understand how you are feeling [​IMG] - it is never easy to lose a pet, and chickens have such wonderful personalities it is very easy to get attached to them. Some people may say "It's only a chicken", but everyone on BYC will know what you are going through [​IMG] I lost my absolute favourite girl a few months ago (to internal laying), and it broke my heart.

    Please be reassured that, as Casportpony says, there is nothing more that you could have done for your girl. Fluid build up in the abdomen is eventually fatal - you can sometimes put off the inevitable by draining the fluid, but it is not always successful. (As Casportpony found out).

    Your girl sounds like she had the best life a chicken could have had - free ranging, treats, being allowed to raise chicks - she must have felt that she was treated like a princess! You did just about everything you could for her - don't feel guilty at all.

    As hard as it is, try and remember that now you have experience of the symptoms of ascites, and you will be better placed to spot it earlier on if it happens to any of your other girls. Take that as a positive thought - it may well help you to give even better care to the rest of your flock in the future. [​IMG]
     
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  5. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Stop second guessing yourself, no one is to blame. You gave Whitie the best life possible and she knew it. Be grateful for the quality time you spent with her and have comfort knowing you provided her the best possible care and compassion. I wish you the best.
     
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  6. unicornia

    unicornia Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much! Casportpony, KayTee, and dawg53!!! You don't know how much you have helped me with your supportive statements.

    Casportpony, I think you are right, she did have ascites, the vet did confirm a lot of fluid in her abdomen (she was walking, standing like a penguin, not able to sit down, breathing heavy). I did look at the necropsy pictures, and they did help. A few doses of antibiotics would not have cured that. That is an ugly awful sickness, and it also looks sooo painful. I am now, at least for the moment, glad that I did take her to the vet, causing her to die a bit sooner than she would have if I had just kept her home, just so she wouldn't be in so much pain anymore. It must have been unbearably painful. She looked so peaceful just after she died.... like, relieved.

    As well, Kathy, I did not find your statements insensitive, but extremely reasonable and rational. I need to hear that I couldnt have saved her, and to see why.

    KayTee, you are right, my poor Whitie has taught me many lessons so that hopefully I can help others.

    May I ask, just to be certain, if these symptoms (walking like a penguin) arise again? I know how to do a cloacal exam and rule out if she is egg bound, and as well treat being eggbound with a warm bath, feed calcium, as I did all these with Whitie, first suspecting she was eggbound. But, what do I do if she is we rule that out and she is getting worse, swollen with fluid, walking like a penguin, having trouble breathing.... should I try draining and antibiotics? at least once? (I know it can just prevent the inevitable) Is it best to euthanize? (and how? the vet?) I am sorry to hear, Kathy, that you lost a hen while draining... oh, these little birds! They are so beloved!

    Thank you again, and may we all find the strength to keep loving these beautiful funny little birds,

    Allison
     
  7. MrsBrooke

    MrsBrooke Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You did everything you could.

    Heck, you did more than most would have done. You took her to the vet... That's saying a lot in the chicken world.

    I am so very sorry to hear about your loss. I know it's hard, especially when the hen was so very nice. Animals like that are special and they never seem to stay with us long enough.

    My heart goes out to you. No shame in grieving. [​IMG]

    MrsB
     
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  8. PulletNewbie

    PulletNewbie Out Of The Brooder

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    I am so, so very sorry for what your are going through! It is especially hard when the tragedy occurred while a veterinarian was "in charge."

    Your awful experience brings back a painful memory: A little Siamese kitten found our rural home, we're talking just barely weaned. Had no idea where he came from...

    The little guy took residence under a storage shed and, after a few days of coaxing and lots of needed nourishment, I was able to get my hands on him and we became inseparable. He preferred living under the shed yet would come running when he heard my voice or footsteps. If outside, he wanted to be in my lap or on my shoulder. There had to be physical contact to keep him happiest.

    One especially charming thing about him was that he and my six Red Stars also became friends. He would let the girls eat dinner with him from the same bowl while my husband and I relaxed in the driveway watching. My Siamese kitten with the ringed tail was a true gift that even my non-cat lover husband enjoyed.

    As a good parent, I took the little guy to the vet for neutering shortly after he turned five months. The vet called during lunch to say he died.

    Allergic reaction to anesthesia, she claimed. Sobbing, I retrieved his little body and buried him in a quiet spot in the garden.

    I've since checked with three other vets -- including one retired vet who sold his practice to this gal. None have ever heard of a cat having "an allergic reaction" to anesthesia. Each have said most likely she put him under too deep and hated to admit it.

    Should I have waited to have him neutered? Should I have just picked him up and carried him back home when he gave me that last panicked look?

    It's been seven months since his death. Time hasn't really changed my ability to beat myself up over my decisions. Nor has it softened the loss.

    So I send you love and support for the days you have ahead. There won't be another Whitie. But there ARE chicks waiting to be given the chance.

    All my best,
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. KayTee

    KayTee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you see these symptoms again, then I would consider trying to drain at least once, to see if it will work for your girl. However, before you do it, read up a lot about it - you need to be careful to drain correctly and not puncture an air sac whilst you do it. (I don't mean to scare you, but you need to be aware of what you are doing, and of the anatomy of the bird. As long as you know where you are putting the needle you will be ok). Some people have drained chickens on a regular basis for months, extending their time and giving them a decent quality of life in the process. However, each person has their own opinions, beliefs and abilities, and each bird is different. If you cannot bring yourself to do that, and prefer to euthanise early on, no-one should ever criticise you for that decision. Quality of life for both yourself and the animal is always the priority.

    For euthanasia, there are various options. The vet is the obvious (but most expensive) method. Other people use car exhaust fumes or medication. Some simply use the old-fashioned axe. Each method depends upon your own preference, funds and squeamishness. I have recently heard of some people tubing vodka into their chicken in order to anaesthetise it before using the axe, so that the chicken is asleep when you handle it. Personally I have only ever used the axe method - I hold the bird in a towel, and my husband wields the axe over the chopping block we use for our firewood. It is not particularly pleasant for us, but it is very quick for the bird. (I have never given the bird vodka beforehand, although if I am honest I have sometimes had a shot myself afterwards!) If the bird is very sick then there is often very little resistance, and you have the comfort of being in contact with it up until the last moment. (Possibly a silly sentiment, but it helps me feel a little bit better!)

    It is not a nice thing to have to think about euthanising a pet, but whenever we take responsibility for looking after another living creature we have to consider every aspect of their care, especially when it is for an animal that has a much shorter lifespan than we do (which is actually the majority of pets when you think about it, unless you decide that you want a Galapagos turtle as a companion!)

    As you say, we should all find the strength to keep loving our girls - they give us so much (and I don't just mean eggs), and I for one know that my life would be poorer without my flock. Everything in life has ups and downs, but I find so many more positives than negatives with my girls that I would never give them up.

    All the best for you and you flock, Allison - big hugs are coming your way from France [​IMG]
     
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  10. ernie85017

    ernie85017 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just went through nearly the same thing, except I didn't take her to the vet. I had seen it before a long time ago, but didn't remember. I treated her every way I knew how and finally realized it was never going to work. On necropsy, she was full of fluid just like yours.
    Even though, I kick myself heartily and feel terribly guilty, just like you. Sure, it's "only" a chicken, but they have personalities and life is life.
    I stopped seeing my expensive "avian" vet because his ego was larger than his knowledge. My first visit, he diagnosed bumble foot as GOUT! I can't believe the money I wasted at that place.
    Stop feeling guilty asap. Use this as a learning experience and know that all your other chickens will benefit from it.
     
    1 person likes this.

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