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Two older horses...euthanize together?

I have the same dilemma that many have posted about before. I have two older horses and I’m not sure how to tell when it is time for them to go. I got them about a year ago when I found them in a not-so-good situation.

One is about 24-25 and is a retired barrel racer. He has Sweeney shoulder and arthritis in both back hocks. Even a daily dose of Bute or Previcox doesn’t seem to help his pronounced limp at all gaits. I’ve already spent the money on lameness exams, ultrasound, blocks, etc. So he is essentially lame in three legs. He eats well and is a easy keeper, loves people, goes crazy when separated from his herd. He also has seedy toe in two feet.

His very best friend is at least 28-30. He has a lot of small problems, but no one huge thing. He is incredibly itchy right now. His face is swollen on one side from rubbing it so badly. He has bleeding sores on his head from rubbing. He is recovering from a corneal ulcer in one eye and the other eye has recurring inflammation. He has scratches now, and a little rain rot, missing a bunch of mane. He has seedy toe in three feet. His body condition is never above 4 despite all the senior feed and supplements he receives. It has been very hot lately and it seems that he is not sweaty and just getting a bit lethargic. He just wants to stand in his stall under his fan. He is pretty stoic so it is hard to tell if he is truly suffering or not. He only perks up when I bring the food bucket out or have a carrot in my pocket. :wink:

Is it unfair of me to think about euthanasia at this point? I’ve thought that if I did put them down, I would do it together seeing as how they are the very best of friends and have been together for years.

Thanks for any advice or suggestions you may have. I’m feeling pretty miserable at this point.:frowning:

Letting them go together is the kindest thing you can do for them. They are old, in pain, and won’t get better. It is the best thing for them.

I really miss my old man but I don’t miss watching him working so hard to get the flies off and swishing so vainly with his funky tail, pouring feed down him, medications. By August it would have been horsefly season and he would have been doubly tormented.
If the two of them are best buddies and the one is itching half to death and can’t keep on the weight, although a 4 isn’t bad, then sending them over together might be a good deed. It’s a horrible call to make, but better a day too soon than let them melt down, trust me, I know. Wishing you strength and good thoughts.

Definitely let them go together. The oldest guy sounds like he will just get worse as summer progresses. Maybe now while he is still eating? :o

So sorry you have to make this decision. It’s never easy, but if you follow what your heart says you will feel better about it in the long run.

I’ve found this article from the AAEP helpful when trying to decide if it was time.

If you do decide it’s time, you have given them a good last year. That is a gift worth giving, even if it is a shorter time than you thought it might be.

I put down two 34 year olds last winter. Both were show/hunt horses I had bred and they had been together for their whole lives. They were both “pasture sound-ish” and plump, but I worried that mid winter I’d find one down and it would be a traumatic end. I had them both put down together and buried close together in their pasture. Kindest to them both. Good luck OP.

I let my two old dogs go together. One was in worse shape than the other but they were littermates and other than for a few months they had been together their whole lives. They would not have been happy without each other.

My vet very kindly had someone help him and they both went at the same time right next to each other.

Hugs to you. It is the hardest gift to give.

I think you are correct in thinking it may be time for both of them.

I put down my mare last winter after pouring my heart & soul and checkbook into her for a year. She would always turn a bright eye to me so I didn’t think it was time despite the fact that daily Previcox wasn’t keeping her sound. I had a horsey friend stop by one day and she saw the situation with fresh eyes: horse was in daily pain and showed it when I wasn’t looking. So I let her go. She was shiny and fat and happy and getting progressively lame with no end in sight to the pain.

Sending you best wishes.

I think it sounds perfectly reasonable to put them both down together.

I am facing putting down a relatively “healthy” horse this fall. He is only 14, but between some behavioral issues (manageable but he can be aggressive towards people, and I have small kids around), and some physical issues (a degenerative suspensory injury, reinjured a few weeks ago, that is deteriorating quickly), I have decided to let him enjoy the summer and then put him down before winter. I dont want him hobbling around out there on the frozen ground. he could probably do ok for a couple more years with some very specialized care, but he wouldn’t be happy being kept in away from his friends and it will increase the likelihood of someone getting hurt due to his aggression issues if he is in more. So, he will have one last hopefully lovely summer and leave is before he is aware of what suffering is like.

You’re doing the right thing, sorry for you to be in the position to make the decision. It really is difficult.

My 2 old guys are 32 & 40 years old. Neither has any huge problems, but they are both requiring more and more and more TC Senior to hold weight (and by weight, I mean a 3/4, nowhere near plump).

When it is time, which will probably be soon, they will both go together. I have owned one since 1987 and the other since 1996. It is not going to be easy to say goodbye.

I don’t think they could survive without one another. They have literally never been apart in 20 years, and are stuck like glue to each other in every herd/pasture situation they have been in over the last 20 years of moving around the US.

I think it’s a good decision.

I did it with a very arthritic, lame gelding I’d owned most of his life when he became unable to stay comfortable and his elderly pasturemate, who was extremely sound but had a lot of GI issues we couldn’t get on top of. It was easy to make the decision with the first, but I wondered, since the other was sound, if I’d regret throwing in the towel. I didn’t, and they never had to worry the other was gone.

It may be a moot point, but if your old horse is lethargic in the heat but not sweaty, he may have anihidrosis, lack of sweat. That can cause lethargy as his internal temp creeps up, and also a host of skin troubles.

I took over the care of a 33 WB who had congestive heart failure, Cushings, thyroid problems just after he was released from the hospital after a virus. The BO couldn’t get him to eat anything. He was a puzzle for sure but I enjoyed figuring him out. He lived a very happy and healthy two more years with me, fat and happy. I thought he was a gift. Do what you think is best. There isn’t any right or wrong.

I always try to sit down and in my mind create ‘a day in the life’ of the animal, be it horse, dog, cat, whatever.
If this day is not comfortable and pleasant - both physically and/or psychologically, then quality of life is not there.

Yes, there are levels within this quality, and it is our responsibility to determine when that fine line has been crossed.

It has to be all about them, period. Which, as humans, can be insanely difficult due the fact we over-think things and do not live in the present only.
Our wonderful brains can absolutely be a hindrance in these situations.

Thank you everyone for your support for a total stranger. It does comfort me and there are great words of wisdom here. Again, thank you. It is such a difficult place to find yourself. :frowning: