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UPdate #32 I'm lost....what to do (Husky with reoccurring tumor)

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  • UPdate #32 I'm lost....what to do (Husky with reoccurring tumor)

    I just need some rational thinking here, from dog lovers. Sunny is our 11 year old, 90 pound, LabxHusky. She is 100% a farm dog - killer of ground hogs, chaser of rats and keeper of the critters in general. We have a large property and over the years she has covered every inch of it and it's showing - she has no cartilage left in one hind knee, but as long as we keep her from long trips, she does well on it. She's white, with light eyes and pink skin - she has small tumors all over her, none seem to bother her, except.....
    A few weeks ago she was shaking her head so we took her to the vet and he found a large tumor in her ear. We scheduled an appointment and he removed it. 2 weeks later I was cleaning her ear and there it was again. We scheduled a 2nd surgery and he did a lateral resection of the ear and hoped that he got all of the growths at that point. It was a rough week for her and it was hard to see our normally, very rambunctious dog so depressed. She started to perk up at about day 8. I took her last night to have the stitches removed from that surgery and low and behold, there was a tiny, budding tumor . She stayed the night last night and he did some more work on it.....but this morning he called me and said he doesn't feel good about it and feels that it will reoccur, and fast. There is one more surgery that he can try - it will cause her to lose her hearing, and he will remove a lot of the tissue down to the bone (sorry, I was in a daze as he told me and I didn't absorb all of the details).
    I just feel like her quality of life may be dramatically compromised - she is 11 years old and that's old for a dog with as many miles as she has, and for her size. But....but.....I don't know. I hate seeing her uncomfortable.

    I feel dizzy just trying to consider what is best for her. We just put down our 14 year old dog a couple of months ago, and nearly lost the other 11 year old a few weeks ago when he was apparently poisoned (it turned out to be blue/green algae). Our dogs are like our kids, so this has been a crappy summer.

    Oh, my husband is in nursing school and doesn't even know yet because he's got some big exams today I just didn't want to bother him with it until later.

    We have a pony that had a major surgery almost a year ago to remove a sarcoma from his face - that has has also returned. We've opted to keep him comfortable and with the first sign of discomfort, we will put him down. I have a feeling that that day is drawing near as well. This just sucks.

    Any words of wisdom? Maybe I just want a hand to hold since my husband isn't available at this moment.....either way, thanks for listening in for him.
    Last edited by hundredacres; Oct. 24, 2012, 11:13 AM. Reason: clarification

  • #2
    No words of wisdom for you hundred, but I'll definitely lend an ear, a hand to hold, and a friendly shoulder to lean on.

    I know it stinks and you've definitely had your fair share of crap happen to you lately, but I also know you'll do what's best for your dog, whatever that may be.
    Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.


    • #3
      Many hands here to hold yours

      You know your dog and your individual situation. Sounds like you are doing all you can and she has had, a very full, full of love, life.

      It sucks when they come all at once.

      Deaf is hard, but not unmanageable.


      • #4
        Since many dogs lose all or most of their hearing as they age and manage quite well, I would be inclined to let the vet do this surgery if the only drawback is loss of hearing. I am so sorry that this has happened to your dear friend and also sorry for the loss of your 14 year old recently. You have had a lot of heartbreak.


        • #5
          most tumors kill by spreading from their original location- if you can remove the tumor from its original location before it spreads, you have cured the dog. However, the fact that the tumor is growing back so quickly suggests it may be very aggressive and may have already spread into the rest of the dog. In which case the dog will suffer through the pain of the surgery and still end up being defeated by the tumor. However, even in that situation, the surgery may buy the dog a considerable period of good-quality life that is well-worth the pain of the surgery.
          You need to ask the vet some pointed questions about risks and possibilities and quality of life and surgery recovery time and then make a difficult cost/benefit guess before making your decision here. It's a tough one with no right or wrong and lots of guesses and what-ifs.


          • #6
            Before making any big, scary decisions, I would radiograph/ultrasound the lungs and perhaps liver, as those are very common places for metastatic lesions to show up, and perhaps try to get a needle biopsy of local lymph nodes. It would be a terrible shame to put the dog through a difficult surgery only to realize the ear tumor was not primary and cancer had already spread considerably. You don't mention if the ear tumor is cancerous or not, but with how aggressive it is, I think the likelihood is pretty high?

            I would also ask some very pointed questions about keeping the dog comfortable in recovery and while healing if you are considering the bigger surgery. You can't reason with an animal and tell them "life is hell now, but it will get better in a couple weeks...hang in there." They just know that life is bad NOW Without a very solid plan for pain management and control, I would be incredibly hesitant to proceed.

            So sorry you've had such a terrible summer I hate it when these things come in waves. Big hugs.


            • #7
              I'm a Registered vet tech, no longer in practice but spent three years in a surgical practice and the rest of my clinical work in emergency.

              First, did you have pathology done on the mass your vet removed? That might give you information on the type and behavior of that particular tumor. If it is a secondary or fast-metastisizing cancer, you may choose to just keep her comfortable.

              I also echo what Simkie recommended about screening for primary tumors. This can be as simple as three x-rays of the chest--one from each side and one while she's lying on her back. I'd also consider a fine-needle aspirate of the lymph node closest to the tumor (also inexpensive). An ultrasound of the belly and/or chest might give you more information, but would be more expensive and probably require a referral to an internist.

              The procedure your vet is describing it a total ear canal ablation. The entire ear canal is removed and sutured shut. It's commonly done on dog with chronic ear infections (cough...Cocker Spaniels...). Complications can include infection and breakdown of the surgical site, which is pretty much the same as any other surgery, but can also include damage to facial nerves that help the dog to blink. Some need eye lubricant for the rest of their lives. Considering that this appears to be a fast-growing tumor, your surgeon will need to be very aggressive in taking as much tissue as possible.

              I will be honest with you, it's a painful recovery from surgery. These guys really hurt for the first 24-48 hours, and we were quite aggressive with pain medication. Once they recover, though, they do really well, and we've had many owners swear their dogs could still hear them (although in the case of the Cockers, they'd probably been marginally deaf for a good period of time before the surgery and had already learned how to compensate for it).

              If you decide to pursue the surgery, you might want to consider having a specialist do it. In general, a boarded surgeon will have done many TECAs and will be able to provide 24-hour monitoring and pain medication. Some general pratice DVMs offer the same caliber of service, but IME, the range in quality of care is pretty vast.

              No one will look askance at you if you choose palliative care for her instead. As you've said, she's an older dog with a lot of miles who didn't cope well with the previous surgery.

              And I understand about all these things coming at one. Four years ago, I went from three dogs to one in a matter of weeks. We scheduled to put down our dachshund at 16 years because he was slowly deteriorating. Three weeks later, my "best dog ever" didn't come to breakfast, and when I took her to work and ran bloodwork she was pretty anemic. Rads showed nothing, ultrasound showed a small adrenal mass, but no explanation for her going downhill so quickly. ANA and Coombs were negative. My surgeon offered to do an exploratory, but I chose not to because 1. she was 14 and even if I fixed whatever ailed her, she'd still be 14; 2. she didn't recover well from anesthesia based on previous dentals; and 3. she was going downhill quickly. I chose to put her down and have never regretted the decision.

              Big hugs to you. I know this is tough.
              Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


              • Original Poster

                Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts. My husband and I have since talked, and we discussed it with our 13 year old daughter (who is suffering these losses probably harder than we are as these are her only "siblings"), and we are thinking we need to spend as much quality time with her as we can, while we can. When we told our daughter about the surgery, she shook her head and asked that we please don't put her through another. She is wise beyond her years, I think.

                This dog used to run like a train - chase, no RACE us on the 4 wheeler, follow me on a horse, swim with us in the lake and race me in my kayak. She'd jump onto the large round bales, in once pounce from the ground. Bringing in hay was her favorite time (next to our heaviest snow)....following the rake and pouncing on anything that scurried. When when we'd bring the bales in she'd jump on every one to inspect them, or play king of the hill...not sure really what it was about but she'd do it every time. She can't do any of those things anymore....it's taking an emotional toll on her.

                I'm not sure how the next couple of weeks will go, but please jingle for her - that she's not in pain and that we know exactly when the time is right. I will really appreciate it. Thanks again for your careful insight and responses. I'm going to reread them again later because it really helps so much.

                This was Sunny, just 3 years ago. Still very full of life. This past year has been very hard on her....

                And one of my very favorites:https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...e=3&permPage=1

                (in her element)


                • #9
                  Your daughter sounds amazing; may you have wonderful, quality time with Sunny for many months to come. Sunny is so beautiful and has obviously been loved and treasured as a big part of your family. Thank you for sharing the photos of a young and vibrant Sunny. Blessings upon your family


                  • Original Poster

                    Thank you so much, Flurry.


                    • #11
                      have you gotten a 2nd opinion? Maybe an eastern medicine approach to either treat the tumor or help with her quality of life? So sorry you & your pup are going through this. My older JR just had surgery to remove intestional tumor but found out it is malignant. Know how you feel.
                      Producing horses with gentle minds & brilliant movement!


                      • Original Poster

                        I forgot to mention that biopsies are out now and the doctor is pretty certain she has tumors elsewhere, and as simkie and mia mentioned, it's likely internal according to the vet as well. A couple of years ago she had a strange flare-up of uvietis (sp) but we did not do blood right away because she responded immediately to the medication/eye drops. The vet was shocked that she responded well to the treatment then, saying he would have guessed it was a lymphoma (I can't remember the correlation). She was still a very vibrant, active dog and I think I was afraid to know if it was something lurking....we never did do the blood work and I'm not sure if it's even related.

                        The vet has been kind and said the biopsy will tell us enough to know whether we want to do scans or ultrasounds. I'm not sure if we will....we've decided to let her be as comfortable as we can, but to do that we may need more knowledge once the tests come back.

                        We'll see...thanks so much for the support.


                        • #13
                          Not much advice, but lots of ((((hugs)))) to all of you.
                          "Radar, the man's ex-cavalry: if he sees four flies having a meeting, he knows they're talking about a horse!" Cptn. BJ Hunnicutt, M*A*S*H Season 4, Episode "Dear Mildred"


                          • #14
                            ((((hugs)))) and jingles for all of your family, tw0-legged and four-legged.
                            Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.

                            You call it boxed wine. I call it carboardeaux.


                            • #15
                              I'm so sorry you are going through this, it is never easy. I read that cimitedine has been used in dogs and cats for controlling tumor growth. You might discuss with your vet.


                              • Original Poster

                                Interesting Ticker. I've read about it for horses (I have a grey mare)...I will talk to him about it. Thank you.

                                And thanks again for the support everyone. It really helps to read through these posts - and I have, more than once.

                                Edited "great" for "grey"...I found my glasses .
                                Last edited by hundredacres; Sep. 22, 2012, 09:22 AM.


                                • #17
                                  Sunny is so beautiful. It is so hard when our beloved dogs age and health problems arise. I too think your daughter is very wise and compassionate in understanding the situation. Love Sunny as much as you can every moment you can. Consider every second a gift.

                                  I lost my elderly Basenji girl in a freak accident early Wednesday morning and while she was thoroughly cherished her whole life with me, how much I wish I had warning that goodbye was going to come so quickly. I know it is not a great deal of comfort, but at least with Sunny's diagnosis, you can begin to prepare.

                                  Prayers, jingles, and comfort to you, your family, and Sunny.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Originally posted by laskiblue View Post
                                    Sunny is so beautiful. It is so hard when our beloved dogs age and health problems arise. I too think your daughter is very wise and compassionate in understanding the situation. Love Sunny as much as you can every moment you can. Consider every second a gift.

                                    I lost my elderly Basenji girl in a freak accident early Wednesday morning and while she was thoroughly cherished her whole life with me, how much I wish I had warning that goodbye was going to come so quickly. I know it is not a great deal of comfort, but at least with Sunny's diagnosis, you can begin to prepare.

                                    Prayers, jingles, and comfort to you, your family, and Sunny.
                                    laskiblue, I'm so sorry for the sudden loss - that really is so much harder to get over. Godspeed to your sweet little girl. Do you have any pictures you can share?


                                    • #19
                                      Laskiblue, I am sorry for your sudden loss.
                                      OP,what a daughter you have. However, I hope something will come along that will help your girl for a while longer.
                                      My 16 year old Whiskers has had a couple of "this is it" moments. the other night he wouldn't eat and was wandering around and I was already rearranging my day to take him to be put to sleep. Next thing I knew, he was begging for my dinner.
                                      It is so hard to be the one responsible for the decision on our family members. good luck to you and your girl.


                                      • #20
                                        Thank you, Hundredacres and Shea's Mom. Ellie was with me for over 10 years after she retired from showing and had two lovely litters for her responsible breeder. She would have been 17 in December. I set this album to public and you can see my foster Basenji mix, Rufus, and my other two Basenjis, Tag and Taj, there. Rufus has since moved on to a loving forever home and I'm grateful for my two good boys, but Ellie has left a hole in my heart and home far bigger than she was.