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Topic: Just found out our dog has cancer...

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Subject: Just found out our dog has cancer...
Date Posted: 11/25/2008 11:32 AM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2008
Posts: 11
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We took our golden retriever, Laura, to the vet yesterday because she was making a coughing sound. We thought she might have a respiratory infection or bronchitis. Our vet listened to her chest, but found no fluids. Instead, she took an x-ray and found that her lungs are white which indicates cancer. Though she does not think the cancer has moved to any other organs. Blood work was taken and sent to the lab to confirm her diagnosis. Now we're faced with making a decision about her care. 1) do nothing (which we're obviously not going to choose). 2.) give our pup steriods to make her comfortable and take away any pain.  3.) chemotherapy.

We're leaning toward chemotherapy because if we can give her a chance, why wouldn't we? Dogs aren't supposed to get sick like humans do from chemo because they use a lot less of the drug. Although we think , on the other hand Laura is 10 years old. She has lived the majority of her life with us and we should be happy to have had her and to make her comfortable. We just can't decide.

I'm not looking for anyone to tell me what I should do, I know that this is my decision. I was just wondering: if other pet owners have experienced their animal having treatment for cancer, would you choose the same course of treatment again if you had to? Why or why not? Etc..

Date Posted: 11/25/2008 4:18 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,352
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Hi Melissa,

Our last three dogs and two cats had cancer. My husband went through chemo and said he would never do that to his animals. So with two dogs we went the steriod route, and before the suffering became over-whelming, we brought them to the vet. The other dog was never firmly diagnosed because they knew he had cancer, but couldn't find it. He had gone blind with cataracts (sp) which made everything more difficult, and then one night he went sour so fast, we had to bring him in. They think it was brain cancer. One cat died before we even started him on medication, and the other one was twenty-one and I never started her on any medication, she was too old.

All these animals were over ten, and only one dog and one cat were little when we got them...the rest needed a home and were already older when we got them. I still have one cat that showed up on my deck starving and frozen. It bothers me now and then that I have never tried the chemo route, but mostly I'm comfortable with the way we went.

If I were you I would look into exactly how it's administered, pill or whatever--how ill will the dog get--what are her chances of survival. Hopefully someone here will chime in if they have tried the chemo, especially if it was recent. Things can change drastically in just a year. I do know a man that did it for his dog because the dog was so young. It didn't end well, but that was many, many years ago. Pin your Vet down...don't let him soft-soap anything. And let me know how it goes.   Roni

Date Posted: 11/25/2008 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2008
Posts: 3,308
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I have seen many dogs go through chemo.  I will tell you that the difference between Chemo in Veterinary and Human patients is that the aim of chemo is veterinary medicine is to prolong quality of life and usually NOT to eradicate the cancer, so the side effects tend to be less .  The doses usually are lower and most animals tolerate it well.  As with humans, however, results vary and some animals do have side effects.  It really depends on the kind of cancer the dog has (lymphoma tends to respond better than some others), how advanced it is and what you feel is best for you and for her.  The steroids and the chemo are both very valid options and can offer her quality of life, and I've seen dogs do well on both for a while. 

Once the results come back you can think about asking for a refferal to a veterinary oncologist either at a Vet school is there's one close or a specialty practice.  Even if you want your vet to do the treatments, a specialist can help figure out what's best for your dog, how long each option could buy you,  and what's possible and he or she will be up on the latest research, so will be able to devise a treatment plan.

I'm so sorry that you received such terrible news, and I hope Laura is feeling well.  I'm of the opinion that as long as your priority is that she will have the best quality of life possible, you'll make the right decision whatever that is.  It sounds like that's what you're doing already.

 

Karen

Date Posted: 11/26/2008 10:32 AM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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I'm sorry to hear this!  I understand that chemo is sometimes more effective in dogs than in humans since dogs were used in the early tests when chemo was being developed.

Date Posted: 11/29/2008 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2005
Posts: 571
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did they do abdominal xrays and/or ultrasound? primary lung cancer is not very common. it's often spread from elsewhere (spleen, liver).

i'm glad that you already know that most dogs tolerate chemo really well. that's the one thing that everybody should know before making a decision one way or another- that quality of life is the most important thing during chemo with pets.

i'm very very sorry for your lousy news, and i wish you and laura well, whatever choice you make.

Date Posted: 11/30/2008 8:30 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2008
Posts: 11
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Update:

Our vet thinks the cancer has spread from another area to the lungs upon a better inspection of the xrays. Laura is my childhood pet. I recently married in July and live about an hour from my parent's home. I wasn't with my mother at the vet during the diagnosis. I am unsure if they did an ultrasound, too.

Laura is about 12 years old by our vet's estimation, maybe older. We got her from a shelter about 8 years ago. Since she is an older dog who's led a great life, we decided to give her the prednisone and keep her comfortable for her time with us. We won't keep her on earth just for our benefit. When it is her time, we'll help her go peacefully. It is a hard thing to think about right now. She is such a wonderful part of the family and a great companion for our other senior golden, Casey (10).

She's eating well but hasn't deficated in a few days. We're going to call the vet to see what she can recommend. Laura had a hard time with passing her stool even when she wasn't ill.

Date Posted: 12/5/2008 10:08 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,352
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Hi Melissa,

My Lab had intestinal cancer, but other than that, it's the exact same story, and I made the exact same decision. I know all this is so hard, but with all the animals I've had, it's a good feeling that I was the one that rescued them and made their remaining years good ones.

Date Posted: 12/5/2008 2:38 PM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2008
Posts: 3,308
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I'm so sorry to hear the news, but it sounds like you made the right decision.  Pred does make them much more comfortable and keeps their appetites up.  As for an ultrasound, to be honest if it has reached her lungs, an ultrasound is really an unecessary expense as far as making Laura feel better.  You are doing for her what I think the best pet owners do for their pets, making her every minute happy and comfortable as possible.  I hope you all have some wonderful time together. 

Karen

Date Posted: 12/14/2008 5:34 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2008
Posts: 253
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I just read this and wondered how things were going. Hope you're doing ok.

Date Posted: 4/26/2009 3:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/11/2006
Posts: 12,826
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how is dog doing.

Date Posted: 5/12/2009 7:48 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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gosh I'm all teary eyed now..my girls are 8 and I'm already dreading having to make a decision like this.

Date Posted: 5/16/2009 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2009
Posts: 6
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I just lost a 20 year old cat to cancer a week ago, and my 12 year old dog also has cancer.  I have gone the minimal route.  Meds to keep them comfortable, but no chemo or surgeries.  I know many people who have been through chemo, and I personally would never put my animal in that kind of pain.  JMO.

I am so sorry to hear about your dog, and hope that she does well with what ever treatment you decide on.

Stacy

Date Posted: 6/1/2009 9:25 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 56
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My vet told me that dogs actually tend to do fairly well with chemo treatments - she said she knew of one dog that lived another 2 years (that's 14 in dog years!).  However, that wasn't really an option for our dog.  He was 13 and a half with a large cancerous tumor on his throat.  We decided against any treatment at first, mainly because any type of surgery on a dog that old (along with a tumor attached to such a dangerous place) would most likely have ended badly.  He was doing fine for about a week, then literally overnight a few days ago he could hardly get up, wasn't eating, drinking and was having trouble breathing.  Poor guy, the tumor had moved upwards into his mouth.  He got a very high fever and was in a lot of pain - we put him to sleep on Friday.  That's the worst thing with old dogs, when stuff like that happens (and you don't have the extra money for expensive pet treatments) it's about inevitable that they'll be put to sleep eventually.  I just feel lucky that I got to enjoy so many years with my dog, he was a large breed - even living past 13 is pretty good for his size.  One of the hardest possible things for an owner, I think, is deciding to put a pet to sleep.  You have to fight with yourself and figure out what is best for your animal, not yourself.

Date Posted: 6/3/2009 3:24 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2005
Posts: 254
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Sorry for your lost.  I know it is very hard saying good-bye, but sometimes it is for the best.  Just remember all the joy your dog gave you and all the love he recieved from you.  Big Hugs.

 

Pam

Subject: My heart goes out to all of you...
Date Posted: 6/9/2009 4:05 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2009
Posts: 3
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I have had english bulldogs for quite some time.  About four years ago, I lost one of my dogs to pulmonary hypertension before she reached her seventh birthday.  Although this is not the same illness as cancer, my best advice is to get a second opinion if there is even the slightest doubt about her cancer.  I would also not listen to any negativity - In my case, Daisy-Mae's prognosis was terminal, but she was never in pain.  In order to continue to give her the quality of life that she was so deserving of, I ended up keeping her alive for an extra year with the treatments and certain medications she required.  I had been laid off from my job to make matters worse, but I did what I had to do.  I spent over $10,000 throughout the year she had the illness - money I did NOT have.  I refinanced my condo and charged what I could.  I could not put a price on her life.  I am not sure if this helps, but I think that the best thing to do is what is in your dog's best interest.  If she is not in pain, do what you have to do.  When her life is no longer a quality life, it becomes selfish of humans to allow a dog to suffer.  Daisy-Mae passed away in her sleep but I struggled with this day since the onset of her illness.  She actually passed away when I was visiting my parents to "just get out of the house for an hour."  This is when it happened.  I truly believe this happened for a reason - when they are ready, they let you know.  Ugh - now I made myself cry - It never gets easy but I will keep my thoughts and prayers with you and your family.  All my best, Nancy

Date Posted: 6/30/2009 7:03 PM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 6,852
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Melissa & Stacey I am so sorry.  It breaks my heart - I hope the best for both you of you and your furry friends.