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  • Cancer

    Hi all,

    it's been a long time since I posted here and a lot has happened. Lately, it's not been so good though. On Thursday our Roxy had what we thought was another bout of pancreatitis. But it was pretty soon clear, that this was different. Vet on Friday, they wanted to keep her over night. Saturday we picked her up as she had a specialist appointment for an ultrasound in town. The specialist found lots of little tumors in her liver A needle biopsy was done and we got the results today: albeit not entirely concluive, almost everything points to cancer. The question isn't so much whether it is cancer, but what type of cancer. Frankly I don't give a shit what type of cancer my dog dies off so we said 'no' to surgery, further testing and hospitalisation.

    The last few days she has been at home and it's frightening how much she changed. From Thursday last week (totally normal chasing balls into the dam) she has gone to a much lighter, much sadder version of herself. She eats, but can manage only very small meals so is being fed every other hour throughout the day. She is on painkillers but they don't seem to be strong enough anymore (am trying to get different ones tomorrow). She sleeps a lot. If she is comfortable enough that is and she doesn't want to come inside anymore. She spends most of the day in the garden in the shade. Either sleeping or her nose high in the air drinking in all the smells she can. In between there is a lot of pacing and sometimes she struggles to breathe. Her bellly is swollen and her eyes turn yellow slowly - actually nobody needn't tell me the results of the biopsy today so dramatic is the change she has gone through in a few days.

    It's devastating. She isn't even 7 yet and we're thinking about when is the time to say goodbye. Has anyone gone through something like this? Is it even possible that she goes downhill so fast ? When do you know that it's time for your dog to go? She has moments when she's almost back to normal, e.g. when she sees a ball. Today she tried to run off after a rabbit, but her hindquarter is rather wobbly and weak and a short sprint completely exhausted her.
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  • #2
    Welcome back Margoo, but with such sad news! I am so sorry
    Not even 7 years old and going through this... I can't even imagine how you must be feeling right now.

    I have not been through anything like this with a dog, I have however been through it with a ferret (Perhaps an insignificant creature to some, but my ferrets are just as important to me as my other animals). Almost 3 years ago my very first ferret (Scrat) was diagnosed with Insulinoma (cancer of the pancreas). She did okay with medications for about 7-8 months and then rapidly went down hill. Vets weren't exactly sure what was going on and she was too frail to anaesthetise for testing... Tried a range of different drugs for around 6 weeks, they made little difference though. She became progressively worse but despite that she still seemed happy and still had some good days in between the bad ones. It reached a point where she was evidently in pain (despite being on pain relief drugs) and all the medications were making her miserable so I opted to take the risk and put her under for testing... She survived, the vets found her liver was basically ruined, cancer spread. I opted to take her off all medications except pain relief and another one keeping her alive. She had her good days still, but over the following weeks they became less frequent and the bad days more frequent. It was exceptionally hard but on Dec 11 2015 I had her PTS. It's not easy doing that with an animal who still has good days where they seem happy... but on her bad days I could see the pain she was in and the look on her face, she just wanted peace.

    I feel like Roxy will let you know when the time has come, for Scrat it was when the bad days started to overcome the good ones

    And yes animals can go down that rapidly. Just this last November on cup weekend my beloved ferret Maverick went from completely normal (clear bill of health from the vet 2 days before) to deaths door in about 24 hours. He had insulinoma so I knew his time was limited but I did not expect his rapid decline. He passed away 24 hours after he first appeared unwell.

    I wish I had some good news/stories for you... some kind of miracle story of a pet recovering from these situations. Unfortunately the only advice I can give is to crave every moment you have with Roxy and make her life full of love and joy... and the hardest piece of advice is to listen to your pet if they are ready to go, let them go, don't hold on for your own gain.

    Look after yourself, it i so horrible going through things like this.

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    • #3
      So sorry for your news. Cancer is an evil disease. I lost my heart dog 3 years ago to cancer, She was 14 and still very fit and active. I noticed her sleeping a bit more and coughing a bit but she was eating like a horse. I took her to the vet on a Friday and she seemed okay, the vet gave me some medication and it was decided to do an x-ray the following week if she didn't improve. For a couple of days she seemed back to her normal self and then suddenly she went downhill very quickly. X-rays showed lesions on her lungs.

      I had fluid drained off her lungs as it is that build up that causes them to struggle to breath. After a couple of nights of her pacing and struggling to breath it was too awful to watch. I didn't even wait for the results from the fluid. As soon as she started pacing and struggling to breath I let her go. It was agreed that it was 100% likely to be cancer, which it was when the results came back after she was gone.

      Quality of life is paramount. I didn't want to let her go but I couldn't watch her struggle one more moment. I don't know if dogs tell you when it is ready, I don't really know what that means, I just know I had to make a decision to end her suffering as quickly as I could and as soon as I realised it was not going to get better.

      She died peacefully in my arms.

      Good luck with your decision I really feel sad for you because I know how awful it is. She is the first dog I ever lost to cancer and I really hope I never lose another one that way.
      Last edited by Kalacreek; 16-01-2018, 02:13 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Kalacreek View Post
        I don't know if dogs tell you when it is ready, I don't really know what that means
        To clarify... It's a bit hard to explain but I witnessed it with both Scrat and Maverick and unfortunately i see it all the time working at the vets, particularly in cases where owners are holding on and refusing to let their dogs go. It's like a loss of the will to live, all joy for life has gone from them and they just want to sleep and be peaceful. Maverick was the most clear example of this to me, he stopped eating and drinking and just completely lost his will to live, there was no fight left in him, I did not even consider treatment for him, euthanasia was the only choice for him.

        It's one of those things that is hard to explain without having an example to show. I personally now days try to let them go a bit before they reach that stage if I can... Nothing more heart breaking than working with dogs who are very ill have no will to live, I've had to groom dogs like this at the vet because the owner insists.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by maddogdodge View Post
          To clarify... It's a bit hard to explain but I witnessed it with both Scrat and Maverick and unfortunately i see it all the time working at the vets, particularly in cases where owners are holding on and refusing to let their dogs go. It's like a loss of the will to live, all joy for life has gone from them and they just want to sleep and be peaceful. Maverick was the most clear example of this to me, he stopped eating and drinking and just completely lost his will to live, there was no fight left in him, I did not even consider treatment for him, euthanasia was the only choice for him.

          It's one of those things that is hard to explain without having an example to show. I personally now days try to let them go a bit before they reach that stage if I can... Nothing more heart breaking than working with dogs who are very ill have no will to live, I've had to groom dogs like this at the vet because the owner insists.
          Yes I see, I watched my dad die of cancer far too young and it was barbaric the way that they made him hang on when he just wanted to go. I guess I try not to let it get to that stage with my pets.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by margoo View Post
            Hi all,

            it's been a long time since I posted here and a lot has happened. Lately, it's not been so good though. On Thursday our Roxy had what we thought was another bout of pancreatitis. But it was pretty soon clear, that this was different. Vet on Friday, they wanted to keep her over night. Saturday we picked her up as she had a specialist appointment for an ultrasound in town. The specialist found lots of little tumors in her liver A needle biopsy was done and we got the results today: albeit not entirely concluive, almost everything points to cancer. The question isn't so much whether it is cancer, but what type of cancer. Frankly I don't give a shit what type of cancer my dog dies off so we said 'no' to surgery, further testing and hospitalisation.

            The last few days she has been at home and it's frightening how much she changed. From Thursday last week (totally normal chasing balls into the dam) she has gone to a much lighter, much sadder version of herself. She eats, but can manage only very small meals so is being fed every other hour throughout the day. She is on painkillers but they don't seem to be strong enough anymore (am trying to get different ones tomorrow). She sleeps a lot. If she is comfortable enough that is and she doesn't want to come inside anymore. She spends most of the day in the garden in the shade. Either sleeping or her nose high in the air drinking in all the smells she can. In between there is a lot of pacing and sometimes she struggles to breathe. Her bellly is swollen and her eyes turn yellow slowly - actually nobody needn't tell me the results of the biopsy today so dramatic is the change she has gone through in a few days.

            It's devastating. She isn't even 7 yet and we're thinking about when is the time to say goodbye. Has anyone gone through something like this? Is it even possible that she goes downhill so fast ? When do you know that it's time for your dog to go? She has moments when she's almost back to normal, e.g. when she sees a ball. Today she tried to run off after a rabbit, but her hindquarter is rather wobbly and weak and a short sprint completely exhausted her.


            I am very sorry to read your very sad news ! Cancer is a truly horrible disease.

            I went through this with a neighbours pup just recently. She was a cute little Belgian Groenendael and was also not even 7 years old. It was devastating how quickly it all happened !

            Her heart eventually failed and so was put down at the vet surgery. She fought a brave fight and was still eating and mooching around as usual - though she was having a lot of trouble getting comfortable for sleeping of a night time.

            It is not an easy task you have in front of you. It is the last and most precious gift that you can give her - to ensure she gets her wings with dignity and without pain !

            I have now given wings to 4 of my previous pups. None of them were easy decisions for me. I think what I found was - when I looked at their quality of life - how much pain they were in, were they eating, drinking, pooing and weeing easily - under their own steam and were their eyes still bright.

            When you take these things into account - then the decision is easier to make. Because the last thing you want to cause is more pain and discomfort for your beloved pup !

            Take care of yourselves, be kind to yourselves and more importantly - look after yourselves !

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            • #7

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              • #8
                Thank you all. I guess I will just have to trust that I'll know. I've never been so glad about the fact that I'm working from home so much and can keep an eye on her most days. I really didn't know what to do if I had to leave her alone for hours every day.

                Last night was horrible - but I think it was more a side effect of non-suitable pain medication. She is much brighter since she is off it. I just got different medication for her and hopefully, we'll have a few more good weeks or even months ahead of us. I'll try and cram in as much fun for her as possible while she is still so keen.

                Maddogdodge... that's exactly my worry. That I end up clinging on to her longer than is good for her because I can't let go of her. That and she is as tough as they come. She is very good at hiding pain and discomfort unless it's really bad. But then I guess it's also not fair to take the fight away from them while they're not yet ready to give up. So difficult...
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                • #9
                  I am very sorry.

                  A friend of mine nearly balled on the phone telling me that her heart dog has cancer - and she had trouble getting it diagnosed because none of the vets in her area would biopsy the lumps - they thought they were normal fatty lumps but they were smaller pimply like lumps and eventually xrays were done and they were on everything inside and out.

                  Is such a nice dog too.

                  I guess we'd like our pets to stay healthy for as long as we do but only parrots and tortoises outlast us.

                  Thank you for updating us.

                  Time to go - I think I'd ask the vet "if it was your dog what would you do".

                  Pay attention to the dog's quality of life - does she still have some joy in some things - because people can be in pain and still enjoying life. So pain alone is not the only criteria. Can she take herself to the toilet ok, find her dinner bowl (that was a key criteria for one of my family dogs - when she couldn't find her dinner bowl she couldn't smell it, and was crashing into things)... does she sunbake to the point you think her organs are going to be cooked? Possibly time to go.

                  With most people and I look at what their dog was like at the end - I think maybe that could have been sooner but it's not just the dog that has to be ready.
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                  • #10
                    So sorry to hear this.......Cancer is horrid.... And liver cancer is difficult to deal with.

                    I really only know the human type as from where I work in a Radiology Department.... But usually more than one is not good.

                    As to knowing when they are ready.... They stop thumping their tail, Do not enjoy food and do not seem interested in what is happening around them. Sad time for you, I am so sorry
                    sigpicPets are forever

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hyacinth View Post
                      I think maybe that could have been sooner but it's not just the dog that has to be ready.
                      I have got to the stage after losing quite a few dogs in my lifetime that it has nothing to with if I am ready it is all about the dog. Same if something bad happens to me and my family have to make a decision I know we are all on the same page and they wont make me suffer because they are not ready. Just how I feel. My vet is very much the same, she lets me know in no uncertain terms what her opinion is.

                      You just have to make the best decision for your dog and solely the dog, based on your personal knowledge of your dog and what is okay and what isnt.

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                      • #12
                        Unfortunately 'the Vet' is another issue. We recently moved interstate, from SA to Vic and are still looking for a decent Vet here. So if anyone has a recommendation for the Strathbogie area I'd be very interested to hear. So far we have been to four and found them varying degrees of 'crap'. None I'd trust. The last one didn't even look at Rox, she just read the report and then informed me that they could cremate Rox for us. She is STILL HERE!! So we're now waiting until the dust settles a little and she has been on her pain meds for a while - and then we might make another attempt on finding someone we can trust.

                        Seriously, if you have a good Vet bring them a bottle of something nice every now and again. I never realised how amazing our old Vet was and now miss them dearly...
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                        • #13
                          There's about four vets directly connected to Agility where I am... I take my dog to see one of those. I will ask on an Agility FB page about good "palliative care" vets.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by margoo View Post
                            Unfortunately 'the Vet' is another issue. We recently moved interstate, from SA to Vic and are still looking for a decent Vet here. So if anyone has a recommendation for the Strathbogie area I'd be very interested to hear. So far we have been to four and found them varying degrees of 'crap'. None I'd trust. The last one didn't even look at Rox, she just read the report and then informed me that they could cremate Rox for us. She is STILL HERE!! So we're now waiting until the dust settles a little and she has been on her pain meds for a while - and then we might make another attempt on finding someone we can trust.

                            Seriously, if you have a good Vet bring them a bottle of something nice every now and again. I never realised how amazing our old Vet was and now miss them dearly...
                            I just asked a question on a FB page I am on. There are a lot of Victorians on it.

                            Got 1 response so far ! The person who suggested the following vet clinic - said they have been going to them for 10 years and are extremely happy with the care their pups get.

                            https://www.facebook.com/MansfieldVetClinic/

                            I will update - if and when I get more suggestions.

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                            • #15
                              margoo' !
                              Next one ! Southpaws Specialty Surgery for Animals

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