Ok What would you do?
My Chi dog has tumors he is believed to be 12 yrs. (I have had him 8 ys was told he was 4 when I got him) there are treatments are pricey but thats not my concern. At 12 he is happy and active but arthritic but not to un comfortable at this point.
My Brother has a Golden who is also 12 with cancer and they have been given him a ton of meds and restricted his diet to nothing he likes to eat. He is always sick and has diarrhea and depressed and just lays down . But before that is was still happy and active til the meds started.
So Knowing that even if the dog was healthy the normal life span is not much longer. Would it be better not to treat and let them be happy and have the treats they love and be able to still play as they can or treat them?
I have seen my Brothers dog just be so miscible since the meds .......Just a question.......
At this point we are weighing the opitions since being told the cancer is advanced and his time is very limited.
Last edited by spook1; Nov. 15, 2011 at 10:32 AM.
Reason: UPDATED post #35
I treated my wonderful, dear, fabulous Ridgeback for lymphoma in the spring of this year. We started the CHOP chemo protocol and she had a relatively good prognosis, as she had not begun to show symptoms of her disease and she had b cell lymphoma. She did not respond to the chemo and she only responded to the prednisone for a few days. Her decline was incredibly rapid and we did not make it to the second dose of chemo. Time from diagnosis to euthanasia was only about 2 weeks. I really needed to TRY with her, though, and I can't say I wouldn't do it all over again. Her quality of life was good until it wasn't, and then I put her down. It still brings a tearful smile when I recall how she got up and barked at the door when the vet arrived--I am really happy that I was able to end her life when she still felt good enough to get up and bark, wag her tail and demand pets from him.
I am now faced with a cat with grade 3 mast cell cancer, and it appears to be systemic and metastatic. I am not doing chemo, but we are treating with steroids. The consensus is that her cancer is quite advanced, and we are focusing on palliative care for her. She is her happy kitty self and is not showing any effects of her disease. When she does start to decline, we will have the vet out to the house again.
Quality of life is my #1 concern, and nothing trumps that. Once the quality of life question is addressed (and continues to be readdressed as the animal progresses with the disease and with any treatment), it's really just a question of how well (or if) the animal will respond to chemo and how much the owner wants to try. Some animals tolerate chemo VERY VERY well and a few more months/years can be really valuable for owners.
My first rottweiler had cushings disease and then we found out there was a spleen tumor on top of it when he was closing in on 11 years old. We opted to keep him comfortable and not rush in with heroic methods. I think when the dog is a senior, treating the symptoms is the way to go.
If the dog were younger like 5, 6, and even 7...I would go for a more aggressive treatment plan.
IMHO, for a dog that age, I would not actively treat the cancer. I would do whatever I could to maintain quality of life, even at the expense of length of life remaining. So ... if I were in your shoes, I'd be talking with the vet about palliative care and pain management.
If it were a younger dog, say maybe up to 8 or so, I would consider treating the cancer, but each diagnosis is different.
Me too. Although I've heard that chemo doesn't normally affect animals as badly as it does people.
Yes, this is very true. Many, many cats and dogs come through chemo without ever experiencing negative effects from it.
Also important to note: "no treatment" is NOT the same as "no chemo." There are drugs that DO have an effect on cancer that are NOT chemotherapy agents. Steroids (usually prednisone) fall solidly in this category. Steroids can make the animal feel a LOT better and do usually have an anti-cancer effect. The response is generally not durable, but quality of life will often improve for a short time if the critter is already experiencing symptoms of the disease, and steroids can lengthen the time from diagnosis to symptoms, if symptoms are not present at diagnosis.
I am sorry your dog is sick and I wish you both well.
One thing you may want to consider is your dog's breed and age - your dog is an older dog, sure, and if he was a medium or large breed I would agree to not treat. However chihuahuas can get pretty old - my friend had one make it to 17 years. So, would it be worth it to try to treat if he could possibly have that many years left? I'm really not sure what I would do in your shoes and I am sorry you have to make that decision. I just wanted to throw that out there.
However chihuahuas can get pretty old - my friend had one make it to 17 years.
This. Not to say the OP would be wrong to decide not to fight the disease, just that the dog's age should not be a major reason. 12 would be ancient for a Great Dane, but it's advanced middle age for many, many toy breeds and even a few of the longer-lived medium/large breeds.
Another point I'd like to make is that the OP shouldn't assume that her dog, if treated, would have same experience as the brother's Golden. Different dogs react differently to the same medical treatment. An outgoing dog might be fine with long hospital stays while a more one-man dog would pine. A chowhound might mope on a restricted diet while a finicky eater wouldn't.
A Vets goal is to treat the patient - not the cancer. Oncology is a really tricky subject with animals, but as owners we need to rememeber... CHEMOTHERAPY IS A TRAIN, YOU CAN GET OFF AT ANY POINT!
Why not start chemo, see how your dog responds? There are MANY different types of chemotherapy for certain cancers. Some of the stronger chemos do have more potential side effects, however these side effects are known and generally treated for before the chemo is even given.
The less "potent" chemotherapy agents such as vincristine, CCNU, vinblastine, cyclophosphamide, L-spar have very few patients react with side effects.
Doxyrubicin is known for causing GI symptoms, and is always pre and post treated with an antiemetic and anti-diarrhea drugs.
We had 12 dogs in for chemo treatments today, all are happy, overweight, rediculously cuddly and sweet dogs (oh...and 2 cats...not so cuddly lol). Each come in for their injection or pill, and then go on their merry way.
Now not to say they all do well either. We have had some cases where the dogs just dont tolerate the chemotherapy well, so after a treatment the owners decide to stop. No problem. Again, its nothing you have to commit to, you can stop treatment at any time.
The biggest thing to remember, is that in animals, our goal isnt to prolong the life - it is to create a better quality life for what they have left. We have dogs that come in once a month for their chemo shots, they are on year 2 survival for lymphoma. Their life is great. We also get some patients that just dont go as long as we would like, and as owners/vets we get to decide when enough is enough. Chemo should never put a patient's life at risk, it is a therapy to extend quality. MANY dogs this works well for, but there are more than a handful that it doesnt.
I would say give it a try, and if your dog doesnt tolerate it well than stop or change the protocol - but it cant hurt to give it a chance as I have personally known MANY dogs to live well past their median survival time with it.
As far as other drugs (non-chemo) such as prednisone and piroxicam - well,there are just as many side effects to those too. Prednisone can make dogs extremely hungry, increase thirst and urination (big time!), can also cause steroid induced hepatopathy and muscle wasting. Again...not to turn you OFF of treatment, but just because its not chemo doesnt mean there arent side effects.
...and as far as age goes, 12 is nothing Says the 17 year old beagle who just finished up year 1 in complete remission!
It's very individual. What is the dog's prognosis with and without treatment? what are the expected side effects of treatment? is the treatment expected to be potentially curative, or just palliative (relieve symptoms)?
Once you weight the pros and cons of treatment for each individual dog it's usually possible to come to an acceptable decision.
Sorry to hear about your dog, hugs! We have fed a 'cancer diet' to dogs that we have had great success with in the past.
Low cal cottage cheese
Organic bee pollen
Organic flax oil
We fed this to a dog diagnosed with oral sarcomas, he was given 3 months to live by the canine oncologist. We put him on this diet (recommended for humans by the american cancer society) and the tumor stopped growing and the dog lived for another 18 months until the tumor finally began to grow again. The dog was totally fine during this time and only displayed distress the day prior to having him euthanized, which was scheduled.
I know a number of folks that have fed this diet to dogs with cancer and had wonderful results. Of course it won't work on every dog but it is worth a try. Also the dogs really like the cottage cheese and it helps them keep weight on and gives them a healthy option for feeding. We would also add a bit of their regular dry food to the mix at least once a day and some steamed veggies at other times plus a multi-vitamin mix.
Good luck with your dog and I hope it all works out for you.
Thank you for all the posts and well wishes. My Chi dog was a rescue and is a Min Pin mix. He is happy and in no real pain he is arthritic but still playful. We go back to the vet next week for another appt to see what out course of action will be. The tumors seemed to have grown very fast in the last two weeks which is very concerning but we will get some answers at the appt.
Thanks again for the thoughts and ideas to consider.
My little dog is on chemo right now for an autoimmune condition that requires immune suppression. My experience is that the chemo has been easier on him than the high dose steroids have. I have been very back and forth about his treatment the entire time, so I completely understand having reservations. It's completely OK, either decision that you make.
agree with quality of life.
I lost my heart dog to cancer on Oct 20, 2009. Worst day of my life. So many vets missed the signs. They were there. I know better now. I don't think an earlier diagnosis would have changed much. He went down hill so fast when I lost him. There was no question as to what needed to be done. As th Anniversary of his death is upon me, I am sad (I have seriously contemplated cuddling with his ashes). I miss him as much today as I did 2 years ago.
Cancer is an evil biatch.