Prognosis isn't good...(25 Posts)
Posting here mainly so I remember what's happened and when, but also for some handholding - it's been a rough couple of days and it's going to get worse. (Sorry it's long)
Dog (11 year old lab cross) developed a limp at the beginning of last week. I thought she'd pulled something on the few rare occasions she's jumped out of the car before I've managed to lift her out. By Thurs morning it's not getting better so I've booked a vet appointment that evening. Vet takes a look, feels all the bones and manipulates the joints, then pronounces that the pain is in the knee and she wants to x-ray. We book Dog in for an x-ray the following day.
Friday morning I drop Dog off at the vets, telling myself it's fine, the anaesthetic risk isn't that high, all is well. The vets say they'll call at lunchtime and let me know when I can pick her up. So I go to work, a little anxious, but otherwise as normal.
1pm comes, no call. 1:30, no call. So at just before 2 I call them. I get put through to the vet, which is never a good sign. The vet says it's bad news, which is a much worse sign. Then she says the words I was in no way prepared for. Bone cancer. She asks me to come in and I make an appointment for 3:30, then get the hell out of the office before the tears come.
I get to the vets at 3:30, convinced they're going to put Dog down. I've cried, I've called my family and they've cried, I went to my Dad's so as to not face this on my own and he cried (which made things so much worse; I can count the times I've seen my Dad cry on one finger) and eventually I've pulled myself together enough to do what has to be done.
There are 3 or 4 other people in the waiting room, but the receptionist recognises me and nods me over to take a seat. I can hear two dogs; one baying and one barking. A small hope sparks - Dog's a separation anxiety barker, and if she's barking then she's not on the edge of awfulness. The vet's with someone, but the vetnurse comes out and invites my father and I to the second consultation room. She then brings Dog in and I'm this close to falling apart - Dog looks as well and lively as she had that morning; ok maybe a bit groggy, but she's there and I'm on the floor unable to let her go.
Eventually we see the vet, and it's a sobering experience. She shows me the x-rays; Dog has a large tumor in her rear right leg; just above the knee. Osteosarcoma. There's a tiny spur coming off it. She also, to add extra joy to the mix, has hip dysplasia, and a touch of arthritis. It's only because she's a skinny minx that the latter two haven't caused her problems.
The prognosis isn't good - Dog's in a lot of pain, and the cancer's almost certainly spread to her chest. This is the beginning of the end; it's only going to get worse from here.
We've got painkillers and anti-inflammatories - Tramadol and Previcox. I can get top ups on a weekly basis, and it's pretty much down to me how long we continue the pain relief.
The most upsetting thing is, now she's on the painkillers, Dog's just like her old self; before the limp - she's alert and alive and happy. I can't imagine having her PTS. A lot of my mind is in denial right now; she seems fine, so she must be fine. Except I know she isn't. The painkillers are making her ok for now, but maybe next week, maybe the week after, maybe even a month from now, but someday soonish the tumours are going to get worse and she's going to be in pain again. And I've got to make the call; to know when she's reached the stage where keeping her going is no longer the kindest option. And I'm not ready for that. I'm not ready to lose her. But it won't be right to keep her alive just for me.
So for these next few weeks Dog is allowed on the bed. She's allowed wherever she damn well wants to go. She can eat what she wants (within reason) and she is going to get more hugs and cuddles than ever before. For the next however-long, it's all about her.
This is the shitty part of pet ownership, dog ownership the most (I can say that; I have cats and ferrets too, and although I know losing them will be hard, I know it couldn't possibly be anything near as hard as this) - there was never any chance of her outliving me, and so this moment was always going to come. I'd just hoped it would be in another 4 or 5 years.
Hi fretchen . Didn't want you to go unanswered. I'm a vet and I know how horrible it is to have to tell someone that what you were hoping was just arthritis is actually cancer. Osteosarcoma can be horrible and when the time comes you will know that is the kindest thing for your dog. For what it's worth the actual act of euthanasia is peaceful and gentle and you can be with your dog throughout if you wish. It really is just a going to sleep. For you it is tough, especially afterwards, but you have to look back on the good times and happy memories. And allow yourself time to grieve too.
Not all dogs improve on pain killers so it is great that she is back to her normal self for now. At least with this disease you know there is nothing you could have done differently or to prevent it. And if it is on her chest then there really are no other treatment options available.
So your job is to spoil spoil spoil and love her to bits.
I lost my beloved dog suddenly and unexpectedly recently. I sobbed and sobbed. But it really does get easier in time. I wish they lived to be 30 or so but sadly they don't. Now I can look back with real love and happy memories of all those times together.
I thought I wouldn't cope with the saying goodbye bit but when it actually happens you find it somewhere inside.
I hope you can enjoy whatever time you find you have left together x
I am really sorry I cried reading your post, and I am sending you a virtual hug.
It really is shit that dogs don't live as long as humans, they are so important to us and bring us so much joy that it seems evil that they get taken from us so soon.
I don't know if you have been through this before with another dog, but IME, you really will know when it is 'time', and when your gorgeous girl has had enough. In the meantime, it sounds like you are doing everything right and making her time really special. She is lucky to have such a caring owner
The Blue Cross has a pet bereavement phoneline- maybe you could give them a call? I've not used it myself, but have heard good things about it, and they may be able to help you come to terms with it all?
I am really sorry, please give your lovely dog a huge cuddle from me, and I really hope you are okay.
Frett, I am so sorry to hear this news.
Osteo is quite common in greyhounds so I've seen it a lot and just wanted to share a couple of points. A lot of osteo tumours can weaken the bone so the dog is prone to having a sudden leg break - agonisingly painful. Also, even with the pain killers your vet has given you, the pain can get worse very, very suddenly and when it does happen, it's a very severe pain. Also, if there are mets in her chest, and possibly elsewhere, she may take a turn for the worse very suddenly. A week is a very long time in cancer in dogs.
I realise this is an awful thing to write, but it's really important that you are prepared for this and have a plan in place if she suddenly takes a turn for the worse (and invariably, this will be on the weekend or evening). So, make sure your vet's number is in your phone and you are up to speed about OOH arrangements. I'd also discuss with your vet about having a backup supply of stronger painkillers and about those decisions you'll need to make about PTS. For instance, you might prefer if at all possible for her to be PTS at home. Planning and preparing for this is a huge act of love and will also require a lot of courage, but by the sound of it, you only want the very best for her.
Wishing you and her all the best, for these last precious times together.
Frettchen, I am so sorry. I had a thread just like this a couple of months back. My girl was a belgian shepherd x border collie and was 13 and a half. She had osteosarcoma on her right rear leg, just like your beautiful girl.
We went the palliative route, tramadol and anti-inflammatories and our girl was happy and comfortable for a few weeks.
As Scuttle posted, it is an agonisingly painful disease and in our case, even on the tramadol our girl didn't use her leg again. She was eating well, being cheeky, begging for food, even wanted to play with her toys (although we couldn't let her due to the risk of fracture) but she must have been in a lot of pain, as she wouldn't even touch her foot to the floor.
She coped ok initially, then three weeks in we noticed she seemed to be coughing a bit and she went in to be xrayed to check for lung metastases.
We had just under 4 weeks together from diagnosis to saying goodbye and the decision was taken out of our hands when they discovered she had sustained a pathological fracture. We had seen the vet on Monday evening and she said she felt our girl was coping and there was no welfare issue or urgency, she checked her leg and it was stable - so no break then. We kept her calm and quiet at home, but by Thursday morning, when she went in for the xrays, the vet checked her leg again. It was unstable and she had somehow sustained a pathological fracture. I had seen her wobble onto that side a couple of times and the vet said the bone was so brittle it wouldn't have taken much to fracture.
I have to say that we had no idea she'd broken it, she didn't behave any differently and the vet said some dogs are incredibly stoic in their response to pain, but doesn't mean that they aren't feeling it just as badly.
Our vet was amazing and did her best to gently persuade me to let her go, but I was desperate to keep her with me as long as possible and too scared and upset to make the final decision. Looking back I wish I'd been brave enough to take the decision to free her from her pain before she fractured her leg, but hindsight is always 20/20.
I am so, so sorry you are having to go through this with your girl. It really is the most cruel disease.
Thank you for your comments. The advice given and stories shared really mean a lot to me.
We had a lovely, relaxing bank holiday weekend; I was gardening and she spent a lot of time in her bed in the garden, soaking up the sun. We're back at work today; I'm lucky enough to bring her in everyday anyway. As before the diagnosis we're using the lift rather than going up the stairs. I'm going to start using the lift to come down the stairs too - just to safeguard against a break as much as possible. I figure she doesn't know how breakable she is, so it's my job to be a little bit paranoid and to wrap her in cotton wool.
The vet did mention the different options for when the time comes; that I can choose whether it happens at the vet surgery or at home (I'll be choosing the vets if possible - home is a place of good memories, so if it makes no difference to her, Dog and I will go into the vets to do it.) The vet also mentioned the options re: what happens afterwards; and I've picked cremation. With previous animals (cats) I've not wanted anything from the vets, but in this instance I think my mother would like to put the ashes in her garden with her old dog.
I'm finding it easier to think about these things now, when I don't yet have to make the call. It also solidifies it in my head that it's actually going to happen. I was so convinced I would lose her on Friday that the relief at finding out she was coming home sort of over-shadowed the reality of things.
So sorry frett
We lost our old girl in January in identical circumstances to you. The only difference was that we didn't bring her round from the sedation for x-ray. As a large and active breed and a serial vet hater it seemed kindest all round, though equally as traumatic.
FWIW we as a family were destroyed (I have tears in my eyes just writing this) but it does get easier. For us it was the arrival 4 weeks ago of a little male working cocker puppy who has finally allowed the door to begin to close on that horrific time.
Enjoy the time you have, spoil her as much as you can and remember the good times. Wishing you all the best for the next few weeks xx
Reading this I realise how lucky I've been; my familys dog was PTS when I was at school so was spared the decision making process. That being said my mum regrets the choice she made which was to keep our dog alive for an extra 6 months in which she became more and more fragile.
Thinking of you, frett
I'm so sorry. Someone said upthread you will know when the time is right and that's true, you will. Much love x
Don't discount having her pts at home - we have done with both dogs and it was so very peaceful. Quietly in the sunshine, on the grass after a last wander and sniff - they were good memories for us rather than at the surgery, and slinking out all red eyed which I had to do after the cat had to be pts as an emergency.
Thinking of you at this terribly hard time.
Dealing with a terminally ill dog is truly awful and I send you so much love.
I lost my beautiful Scottie dog in February 2012, he was everything to me and I still find myself in tears over him now, he was 9. He was sent home from the vets with liver failure, he was given about a week in August 2011. I never gave up with Jack and took my lead from him, as long as he was in no pain and his tail still wagged I swore I would keep going.
I spent one day a week home cooking food for him which I froze, I put him on a 'liver diet' which consisted of fish, parsley, asparagus. OH joked the dog ate better than us (and he did!) I gave him various vitamins and minerals daily. He cost me a fortune but he was worth every penny.
When February came along he collapsed one afternoon and stopped being the waggy little scottie we adored. We knew then it was time to let him go. Over the months OH and I had spoken so much about 'The time'. I was adamant I'd know when it was and instinctively we all knew as I think you will too. After he'd gone the vet told me she would never have imagined him living out the week let alone the 6 months he did. He was a fighter, stubborn to the end.
Enjoy your time, spoil her, treat her to half your ice cream, cuddle her lots, let her sleep on the sofa, make lots of new memories. Take each day as it comes. We took Jack to the seaside and I have some lovely photos of him chasing seagulls on the beach, full of energy.
Some mornings I'd firmly expect to find he'd had passed in the night, I'd get up to a wagging tail and no sign of the problems from the night before. Some nights I'd go to bed and hope he did pass in his sleep so I didn't have to make the decision, a selfish thought I realise now but looking back I'm so very glad he didn't as I didn't want him to be alone.
It's not easy, the next few months will bring lots of tears and lots of heartache but you'll get through.
My thoughts are with you x
Thank you everyone. It's so sad to hear of your losses, and it means a lot that you're sharing with me.
I've just been to the vets to pick up her next lot of painkillers. I expected them to only give me a week's work, but walked out with 100 tablets (50 days) so am starting to believe that, with the medication, she might be with me a little while yet. I'm trying very hard to stay realistic, but she's acting like nothing's wrong whilst I'm hovering behind her paranoid she'll do herself an injury. I don't like the not knowing, but I'm just so grateful she's not in pain.
She's getting so many treats. There's cheese to help the medication go down; extra treats on our short walks, one of my colleagues brought her a pack of dog treats (she comes to the office with me, so everyone here knows her) and last night I gave her half a tin of tuna, just because it was sitting there. The cats got the other half, so everyone was happy.
I've noticed she's sleeping a lot more than she did, but I think that's because the pain's gone, or at least lessened - she used to grumble throughout the mornings, but now she curls up happily. She is a bit stiff with her bad leg (or rather her worse leg; the cancer's only in one, but I guess the hip dysplasia's affecting both) and we've stopped using the stairs at work; and limit ourselves to only one trip upstairs at home each day, rather than moving around the house we stay downstairs until bedtime, then up to sleep. She has extra pillows in her bed, so it's easier on her joints. I cook up some chicken, a bit of lactol and some of her dry food all boiled in water, then blitzed with a blender to go, luke warm, on top of her breakfasts and dinners, so she's being completely spoilt. Now I've figured out it's not a case of waiting for the worst to happen, but instead is a case of making each day a good one, it's all a bit easier to bear.
I've put a couple of pictures of her on my profile, along with the other critters.
The tramadol might be making her sleepy, it did my girl.
I went to Pets at Home and bought a memory foam base for our girl's bed and she seemed really comfy on that. Extra large bed and it only cost just under £20.00, so not too expensive.
Glad to hear you are trying to focus on making sure she enjoys each day, rather than just waiting for the worst to happen. As I said upthread, we had a month with our girl after she was diagnosed, but from what you've said I'm pretty sure our girl was much more advanced before she was diagnosed, so you are most likely to have much more time to thoroughly spoil her.
Just had a peek at your profile. She's beautiful.
That's a good plan, we decidede to make our lovely dog's life so much nicer by just feeding him ham on request ) Even if you get a sunny afternoon sitting on the grass with your dog its priceless and ever day is a bonus. enjoy the summer x
The tuna was a bad idea; she's had a bad tummy today, but she ate her dinner (after refusing breakfast) so I think we'll stick to the blander treats than anything too unusual.
She's sleeping on my bed this evening. She did her big brown eyed puppy trick and I couldn't say no!
I've got to go out for the day tomorrow, so she's staying with my Dad, who will spoil her rotten, but then I'm off work half of next week, so we're going to make the most of our days off; maybe we'll go out for a picnic - I like the sound of that, and it looks like we're going to have some nice weather for a change.
I've spent the last week commuting to London (leaving at 6am and returning at 7ish) and so haven't seen much of my beloved dog. She has been with my dad for most of the week, and has been looked after incredibly well, but it's clear to see she's gone downhill.
After the last update I moved my bedding down into the lounge so she didn't have to use the stairs. We continued practising our tricks and training as usual, but cut out anything which might put pressure on the leg. She's been crated in the car to stop her from being too jostled in the boot. But in the end the cancer's doing what cancer does; slowly breaking her down.
The leg she was hobbling on, she's now completely not using. She's pretty much sleeping/staying in bed all day. Her appetite is a bit off - she'll still wolf down any treat, but she's not so interested in her meals unless they've had lots of yummy things added to the kibble. She's still in control of her bowels/bladder, and can get from one place to another without more than a little wobble. Her tail wags like anything when we get to somewhere she knows -she was as happy as anything when I dropped her off at my dad's this morning (I think coming in to the office would be too much for her).
I know it's the end, and I know to keep her going until the better parts of the above paragraph have faded would just be cruel. So I've called the vets and have made an appointment for Friday evening to take her in and let her go. I could have arranged for it to be sooner, and will do if she seems to get much worse, I just want to make sure I'm not rushing into it. Until then she'll be dining on chicken and treats and anything she likes.
Friday will be exactly 4 weeks from diagnosis.
Frettchen - its a horrible thing - my last dog only lasted 3 wks before we knew that the time had come. It is, however, the last kindness that you can give them.
Sometimes it takes a time away to actually appreciate the extent of the deterioration It is utterly heartbreaking (I was in your place 6 months ago) but please know that you are doing the very best thing for her.
Try and make the best of the last few days. Will be thinking of you
Frett, so sorry to hear this. Will be thinking of you.
So sorry for you Frettchen.
We had to have our much loved 14 yr old pts almost 2 years ago & I still miss her & cry about it. But I wouldn't have not had those years with her for the world.
Focus on the happy life she's had when Friday comes.
Wishing you all the very best for today frettchen (((hug)))
Hi all. Thanks for your words of support and sympathy. It's really meant a lot to me in this past month to know there are peope like yourselves who understand.
I lost so much more than a dog yesterday. She had been my life for so long, and had helped me through some of the hardest, darkest days. Now she's gone I feel empty and bereft and numb, but I also feel relieved. The past four weeks have been so filled with worry for her and with the crushing realisation that each day was just that little bit harder than the one before, and that her pain was that little bit worse. Letting her go was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but no matter how much I miss her, I couldn't have done anything different without causing her more hurt. It's small comfort, but it's the thing I'm clinging to.
I went to work Friday morning; it's a very dog-friendly place, and my beautiful girl had come to the office with me so many times she was as much a member of the team as I am. My boss told me at lunch time that I could leave whenever I needed to, so I inished up and hurried to my dad's, where she had been spending her days since becoming too ill to come to work. I had three and a half precious hours with her, soaking up the sun rays together. Then at six we went to the vets. The staff were lovely, and so gentle with the two of us. I signed the papers and was sat, stroking her head as they administered the injection. It happened quickly and, for her, painlessly. I have her collar, and have asked that she be cremated, although I haven't really decided what to do with her ashes. Her name was Holly, so some sentimental part of me wants to plant a holly tree in her memory.
In four weeks I will be welcoming a new puppy into my house, my life and my heart. He'll not be a replacement for my dear Holly; no dog could ever take her place, but there is a dog-shaped hole in my world and I would be forever broken if I didn't fill it with the next lost and lonely creature in need of a home.
Dogs only live long enough to break your heart and I am so sorry to read Holly died. We lost Jake 5 weeks ago now and I still miss him and totally think a new pup will ease the pain, never replace Holly but will fill a dog shaped hole. When we come back from hols in Aug, I'm going to get another one too. It's horrible without your companion. Much love x
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