Should we put her out of her misery?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by katelk, Jan 22, 2015.

  1. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a pullet named Bebe who I know is dying from Lymphoid Leukosis. She has wasted away and I was letting her live out her short life and have been giving her treats and scraps and generally making sure she has had it really good and happy.
    She had been wasting, but was still running around acting normal with everyone else. She started slowing down this week and would kinda hang back or stand or lay around. Clearly she didn't have any energy.
    Today she hasn't even come out of the coop. She has just been standing in the coop. She isn't totally alone because there are a couple other hens in there I have been battling with over trying to be broody.

    My initial thought was that she would pass away when she is ready. Now that she is just standing around and not coming out of the coop, I am wondering if I should do something.
    I don't think she would be in pain, just weak/no energy. I have never killed one of my girls and was hoping she could go peacefully, but I don't want her to be suffering.
    What should I do?
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I have lymphoid leukosis is my flock. I just lost the fourth chicken to it two weeks ago. For the benefit of others reading this, there is no cure, no treatment.

    Her name was Joycie and she was five-years old. She had been sick off and on for over a year, going into remission, and relapsing several times. In between, during remissions, she enjoyed a normal life, and acted normal, eating well and was active. She had several bouts of sour crop, probably due to her compromised immune system, but I pulled her through each one.

    She supplied the egg for a little son named Izzy before I learned of this disease in my flock. Of course, he contracted the disease through his egg, and died around a year old from it. His liver weighed two pounds at his necropsy. That's how I learned the flock was infected, and it also gave me an idea of how the disease kills a chicken.

    Joycie got bad again very suddenly. She couldn't breath. She rattled when she took a breath and she was also battling sour crop again. The tumors growing in the organs finally make it impossible for the chicken to continue, either causing heart failure or crowding the lungs so they can no longer breathe.

    Joycie died when I was giving her a dose of Monistat for the sour crop. She stopped breathing, laid her head down and died.

    I think you'll know when your girl can no longer go on. But give her the chance to go into remission again before you do anything. She may have a few more normal weeks in her.

    Are any of the rest of the flock symptomatic? I have seventeen others and only one is showing signs of the disease.
     
  3. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your post made me feel a lot better. I am going to let her go when she is ready. She has no issue breathing. She is skinny as a chicken can get. I don't think she will have a period of bouncing back, but I will just let her go peacefully. With her weight loss and normal breathing, I imagine her heart will give out eventually. She is still spunky enough to run from me when I try to catch her (which I don't do to keep her from being stressed!)
    I have had one other pullet die from this, but she went very quickly. No others are showing signs. I hatched these ladies before I had a clue this was present. Needless to say, I am breeding very carefully from now on. Thank you for your advice.
     
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  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You know the disease manifests and kills in different ways. The hen that died before Izzy, was more like your Bebe in her symptoms. Like Joycie, she also battled sour crop. Over time she lost so much weight and had so little energy she could literally no longer pick up one foot and put it before the other. She steadily lost more weight and could move hardly at all. She was certainly beyond the capacity to walk very well, let alone run.

    Finally when I saw she was no longer able to even come close to being able to keep up with the others, I euthanized her.

    You will know when the quality of life is no longer worth the struggle for your Bebe.

    The one hen who is showing symptoms is presenting differently from all the others. She's going lame. But she also has remissions and relapses. I've learned that barometric pressure plays a crucial role in exacerbating her lameness. In between storm fronts, Flo, also five-years old, walks almost normally, though she can't run. She has a huge problem with the rest of the flock bullying her because of her disability, so I keep her separate.

    Here's Flo. Since she gets lonely when she has to stay inside because she can't handle the cold with her disability, I rigged up a mirror to simulate another chicken. I think she feels less lonely since she's spending most of her time sitting beside the chicken in the mirror.[​IMG]

    When a cold front moves in, she is in so much pain she can't even stand, let alone walk. I've learned that a baby aspirin every day helps with her pain. She spends nice days in the run in a separate enclosure for her peace and safety because she refuses to eat when she's not with the flock. But I bring her in to sleep in a crate in the garage because the cold as well as brutality at roosting time are no longer things she can cope with.

    Other than these limitations, Flo is normal in every other way, and has more good days than bad.

    I tell you, this disease is a real challenge! It's like having children cursed with a rare disease and you're trying your best to give them as normal a life as you can.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015
  5. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have sand in my coop, as well as a heat lamp. Even if Bebe decides to sleep on the floor she will stay toasty on that sand. One of my broody girls has scooped out a little nest in the sand and is sitting on a golf ball in her sand nest lol.
    She definitely can't keep up with everyone. I just checked and she has finally come out of the coop and is standing where the others are scratching around.
    How did you euthanize your Izzy?
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Early on, someone here told me about engine starter fluid, which is mostly either, which is an old time anesthetic. It's what the doctor used to put me to sleep when I was three when I had my tonsils out, and I remember it vividly.

    You get it in the automotive section of Wal-mart. Squirt out a liberal amount on a wash cloth. Get comfortable with your chicken on your lap, get a firm hold on the wings, holding them tightly to the body, say your good-byes, and then hold the wash cloth firmly over their face and beak. Your chicken will immediately go to sleep. She will probably snore. By the time the death throes occur, jerking and flapping, your chicken is already dead and is not aware. Keep the wash cloth in place for a bit longer to make sure there's no further signs of life.

    It's a non-violent way of euthanizing a chicken, and you are holding them close as they go.
     
  7. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Does this stink? Did she struggle or panic? Was the washcloth dripping or more like soaked and wrung out damp?
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    The smell is very pungent and sweet, not like W-D40 or other petroleum products. You do need to be outdoors in a well ventilated area to use it. Besides being flammable, it also can put you to sleep, so try not to breathe in the fumes. It won't kill you, though.

    Spray the wash cloth so it's WET, but not dripping. That way it will be more than enough to get the job done.

    This product is used to start stubborn engines on cold days by spraying the liquid directly into the carburetor. But either used to be used in hospital operating rooms back in the 1800s and early 1900s. It puts humans and large animals to sleep. Small animals like chickens and mice, it kills. But first they fall asleep, so they aren't aware they're dying.

    I have always held and cuddled my chickens, including Izzy. When it was time for him to go, I cradled him on my lap, snuggled him close, so he was very relaxed when I brought the wet wash cloth over his face. Chickens don't panic when their face is covered, it actually makes them feel secure. So he didn't struggle at all, just fell asleep. But don't mistake the death throes which occur just after death, when the nervous system goes into spasm. It's not the chicken struggling. It is already dead by then. It's simply the nervous system shutting down.
     

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