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My doberman Jake has bone cancer

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  • My doberman Jake has bone cancer

    Jake was at the vet today getting x-rays because he'd developed a limp and a swollen hip. It turns out that it's bone cancer instead of the arthritis or dysplasia that we thought it might be. He's only 8. There is no real prognosis, and it appears to be progressing fast - two weeks ago it was just a bit of lameness. I asked about amputation, but the vet didn't think it would do any good. It's probably already spread.

    Two years ago I lost my other dobe, Grace, to congestive heart failure. I still have a standard Poodle, 2 german shepherds, a giant schnauzer mix and an English setter (who is not doing particularly well - old and had a hard life before landing on my couch.).


  • #2
    I'm really sorry. I hope you will be able to have some comfortable last days with him before you have to make the big decision. ((hugs))
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


    • #3
      I'm so sorry St. Germain. I've never experienced cancer with a dog, but I did lose my favorite broodmare to a returning Squamous Cell Carcinoma and I could not believe the growth rate after we discovered it had returned three years after removal. I feel your pain - hugs to you.
      Susan N.

      Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


      • #4
        I am so sorry I hope he can stay comfortable & pain free (or minimal). {Hugs} to you
        Certified Spiritual Medium/ Animal Communicator


        • #5

          I am very sorry to hear this news. My little terrier died of a horrible cancer two years ago.

          Bone cancer in dogs can be controlled by amputation of a limb. It sounds awful but the veterinary hospital here has a special cancer treatment center that sees a lot of bone cancer in big dogs. If the cancer has not spread, dogs adjust very well to motoring around on three legs.

          You have so many dogs to take care of, is the cost of treatment prohibitive? It can cost into the thousands for treatment.

          Best wishes with whatever decision you make.



          • #6
            Im so sorry

            I think a member here (Fish?) had good success with conservative treatment, Im sure she would be happy to share her information with you.

            There are lots of options, radiation, chemo, amputation...but if your dog is currently lame from this, these options are really not likely going to give you a much better outcome than treating symptomatically with pain meds. If you have the mind that needs to "know" all the options, having a phone consult with an oncologist may make your decisions a little easier.

            Osteosarcoma is a horrible disease, I truly am sorry and wish you the best of luck with your dog.


            • #7
              I am sorry. Amputation may help with pain control.


              • Original Poster

                I asked the vet about amputation, but the cancer is in the hind hip right at the joint. The vet said that the amputation would be a lot more difficult than a normal amputation, because the leg would have to be taken off up to and including the ball joint. And he seems to be going downhill fast. The vet saw him two weeks ago (he had a small growth removed from his eyelid) and he had deteriorated visibly in that time.

                I also don't see a reason to put him through the surgery and rehab when he probably doesn't have much time left. And to be honest, I don't want to throw money after a lost cause. That may sound callous, but it's the reality. I can afford to put out thousands, but it isn't going to be a cure.



                • #9
                  Totally understandale. We often find a good pain management program for palliative patients is tramadol, metacam and gabapentin together.

                  Regarding an amputation, you always want to remove at the most proximal joint (ie. all hindlimb amputations should have that "ball" aka. femoral head removed). Yes it is not a simple surgery, nor is it cheap. In my personal opinion, its also something a qualified surgeon should do. And while it can certainly buy you time (median survival I believe is about 1 year) if there is no current mets, if there are already mets in the chest (your vet said its likely spread) it definitely not going to buy you any more time with him. Sounds like your decision is a very reasonable one. Jingles for you and your dog.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SquishTheBunny View Post
                    Totally understandale. We often find a good pain management program for palliative patients is tramadol, metacam and gabapentin together.

                    Regarding an amputation, you always want to remove at the most proximal joint (ie. all hindlimb amputations should have that "ball" aka. femoral head removed). Yes it is not a simple surgery, nor is it cheap. In my personal opinion, its also something a qualified surgeon should do. And while it can certainly buy you time (median survival I believe is about 1 year) if there is no current mets, if there are already mets in the chest (your vet said its likely spread) it definitely not going to buy you any more time with him. Sounds like your decision is a very reasonable one. Jingles for you and your dog.
                    I've seen many leg amputations and never one that was removed at the proximal joint. The vets use a saw and cut the femur.

                    Back on topic, I'm sorry, OP. That is a tough diagnosis, but it sounds like he lived the doggie life. A whole pack lounging on the couch? That's the good life.


                    • #11
                      Cutting the femur halfway down was an old school way /cheaper method of doing an amputation. Many general practitioners will do this (and its still a decent short term method), as its simple enough to do. However, a half femur swinging on a useless joint is not ideal for the animal long term. A non-useful joint can often cause muscle, ligament and joint problems. In people, we can add prosthetics to allow the use of the joint, but in animals this is very rarely done. Hence the reason to amputate at proximal joint

                      As stated from the ACVS:
                      The most common location for removing a damaged or diseased limb in dogs and cats is up high where the limb meets the body. This is so that any remaining portion of the leg does not become a problem for the pet. Any portion of a limb that remains may become traumatized during daily activities or interfere with movement.

                      For the front leg, the most successful and cosmetic amputation is by “scapular disarticulation”; this means that the entire limb is removed from the toes to the scapula (shoulder blade). Since the normal anatomy of the front leg only has muscles that attach the front leg to the chest wall, it is straightforward to remove the limb by cutting these muscles and sewing the area closed. This complete removal creates a smooth, well padded amputation site on the side of the chest that will not get pressure sores or interfere with movement in anyway.

                      For the rear leg, there are two techniques that are commonly used. The first is a “high femur” amputation that results in a short, well padded stump at the level of the rump/thigh. The muscles of the mid-thigh are cut and the femur (thigh bone) is cut close to the hip. When the tissues are sewn together, this provides good padding for the pelvis when the pet is lying down and offers a cosmetic appearance by maintaining symmetry of the rump area. The second technique is often used when the disease of the rearleg is in the thigh area; the leg is removed by “coxofemoral (hip) disarticulation”. This means that the leg is removed at the hip joint; only the pelvis and the surrounding muscles remain. This amputation technique is very successful as well, with slightly less padding over the amputation site and a less symmetrical appearance.

                      People are often interested in saving more of the leg if the injury or disease is low on the leg. This is not recommended in the majority of patients for the reasons mentioned above. But in cases where multiple legs are compromised and preserving leg function is preferred or required, there have been some successful cases of prosthetic limbs being created for and used by pets. This field is not as well developed in animals as it is in humans; cases must be evaluated individually with veterinary surgeon and human prosthetic specialist working together to create a successful outcome. Ongoing management of prosthetic limbs in animals requires a strong commitment from the pet’s owner.


                      • #12
                        So very sorry to hear this, StG. Hugs. I love a red Dobie. My mom had one with natural ears. Ruby also died at a fairly young age - 7 or 8. Jingles for Jake.
                        What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


                        • #13
                          My Doberman boy, Chase, and I send our thoughts to your Jake. These sweet Dobermans are just too prone to life-threatening illnesses. I can't help but look at my guy and worry sometimes.

                          Hope Jake stays as comfy as he can for as long as he can.


                          • Original Poster

                            I just love dobies. They're my favorite breed. I think they're just about perfect. Low coat maintenance (my first dog was an afghan hound), protective but not aggressive (I live by myself out in the middle of nowhere), their world revolves around you without being neurotic about it.

                            I lost my dobie Grace to congestive heart failure a couple years ago. She was dumped near my farm and I took her in, just a week before my dobie Simon died in his sleep. I haven't been without at least one doberman in the last 25 years. Although I hate to think about losing Jake, I can't imagine being wothout a doberman.



                            • #15
                              I'm so sorry.


                              • #16
                                I lost my Boerboel to osteochondrosarcoma last Christmas and he was only 19 months old. He died on the surgical table as the vet "tried" to amputate the leg - she never suspected cancer!! No x-rays detected it! From onset to death was only 9 weeks (of pure hell). Love him a lot and hopefully you will not decide to cause him more trauma with an amputation. This is a HATEFUL disease. Note: It does progress more slowly in older dogs. Best of luck and hugs to you both.
                                Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                                • #17
                                  ((((HUGS))))) Horrible damn disease. Dobies are special, but they don't live ling enough. I wish both of you all the best, and just do what your heart tells you.
                                  I'm not sure if I grew out of stupid or ran out of brave.

                                  Practicing Member of the Not too Klassy for Boxed Wine Clique


                                  • #18
                                    We took Zelda to the vet yesterday because she started limping last week. I ignored it for a couple days hoping she pulled a muscle roughousing with our other doberman (Zelda is six http://pets.webshots.com/photo/21109...70916460wxwzEE ). I was worried because there is a lot of heat in her leg at her hock. I was thinking torn ligament, but my husband always accuses me of jumping to the worst-case scenarios. You can imagine my total horror when I saw the x-ray (even then I just looked at it wondering dumbly why she had inches of dead, black bone in her leg when I couldn't see a break, she'd just started limping, and in my head I couldn't firgure out what I was looking at) and then the vet told me she has osteosarcoma.

                                    This is the dog we spent thousands on a few months ago for blockage in the stomach and intestine from socks (perhaps you saw the threads, perhaps not). I guess I always thought she would die young (like 10 versus 12) but not now and not from this.

                                    I'm having a really hard time keeping my ___t together today, but I wanted to write to tell you I am so sorry. I just saw this thread when I came on and did a search. We are not looking at surgery, and I am also interested in learning about other drug coctails. The vet started her on Deramax (sp?) but I haven't really seen it really do anything. Maybe it takes awhile?

                                    My biggest fear is she will break the bone before we put her down.
                                    DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                                    • #19
                                      So sorry I fully understand having a dollar limit you can't pass in treatment options. I'm sure you'll keep him comfortable as possible, try to have special times together in these last days. So, so sorry. (((hugs)))


                                      • Original Poster

                                        TrotTrotPumpkn - I'm so sorry - it's so hard, isn't it? Jake still runs and plays (although less than before, and I can see him protecting himself from roughhousing with the other dogs) and eats like a horse. He still loves leaning against me and getting kissies. He's also still limping. I just tell myself that he's no sicker than he was before I took him to the vet, it's just that I know now what will happen. I hope Zelda has good time left.

                                        Originally posted by Arcadien View Post
                                        So sorry I fully understand having a dollar limit you can't pass in treatment options. I'm sure you'll keep him comfortable as possible, try to have special times together in these last days. So, so sorry. (((hugs)))
                                        It's not so much a dollar limit, although I'd have to consider that eventually. It's that, even with throwing money and surgery at it, it's not going to cure the cancer, or even give him that much extra time. I just don't see the point in spending thousands for a few extra months.