My beloved dog, a liver spotted Dalmation, Darby, was recently diagnosed with dog cancer. When I started to search for information on her type of cancer, (carcinomatosis ) I found that there are not a lot of resources for dog owners as they go through the process of supporting their dogs through cancer. In Darby's case,her initial symptoms had a rapid onset. She began refusing to eat dry dog food, and then refusing to eat raw meat and cooked meat, and more.
I took my dog to the vet at Warner Pet Clinic where the first step was an abdominal x-ray and ultrasound. The vet discovered that the dog had a large amount of fluid in her abdomen, so much so that it was hard to see some of her organs. We did full blood work and the vet had suspected liver cancer. I then took the dog to a specialist at VCA west LA for another ultrasound and fluid cytology. The test results came back as an unspecified dog cancer.
I was advised that chemotherapy and radiation would not prolong my dog's life because the type of dog cancer that she had had already metastasized throughout her body and into her lymphatic system and lymph nodes. We are still unsure where the cancer started, but we suspect it is either pancreatic, glandular or intestinal. She was given predinosone for the swelling in her abdomen ( ascites ) and the vet drained almost a liter of fluid from her abdomen.
I was fairly successful for two weeks feeding the dog foods such as cottage cheese, hamburger meat raw and cooked, steak, eggs raw and cooked, pasta and rice milk, cooked chicken and brisket. The predinosone has seemed to cause a severe nausea in the dog and she has started drooling excessively because her lymph nodes are so swollen that she is swallowing less saliva. I also think the saliva is coming from her nausea. She is still able to urinate and poop outside but she is becoming very weak as she won't eat solid foods.
My dog also received two acupuncture treatments for dog cancer that focused on her immune system and to help reduce the abdominal swelling. This was done by a holistic vet at Sherman Oaks Veterinary Group. I don't know if this had a positive effect on her, but she did sleep very well the evening after both treatments.
I was also recommended a product called k-9 immunity which is a supplement to help dog cancer patients. I don't know if the product was able to help in my case as the cancer has spread so rapidly, but previous to the dog cancer diagnosis Darby had several small cyst like lumps on the outside of her ear flap and literally 3 days after she started the K-9 immunity they were almost completely vanished. I do believe that it was able to help in prolonging her life for at least a few more weeks.
The dog is now succumbing to all of the symptoms of the dog cancer. She is refusing most food and only drinking water. I have taken her to the vet for fluids and injections of steriods to keep her feeling better for a few more days. She is still moving around, rather slowly, still drooling excessively, and rapidly losing weight and vomiting, probably from both an upset stomach from the predinosone and also from the swelling throughout her body.
UPDATE: Darby passed away on January 31, 2007.
I had to make one of my hardest life decisions to euthanize my little Darby Dog. Her cancer had gotten progressively worse over the last week and she was starting to seem like she was in pain and going downhill fast. She was still drooling excessively, her glands were so swollen that it made it painful for her to swallow, and she had refused eating for the last 5 days. Most nights she would have restless sleep and would be dry heaving and gagging and moaning with labored breathing at the end. Monday I had taken her to the vet hoping they could give her some relief, and they gave her fluids and IV medications. When I picked her up she seemed to feel better and was wagging her tail but about an hour later she was miserable and kept going out the the yard and standing in the freezing cold. She seemed to be in so much pain that she couldnt lay down and I stayed awake most of the night rubbing her tummy and trying to get her to fall asleep. She was falling asleep on her feet and refused to lay down. Finally I feel asleep from pure exhaustion and awoke to her gagging (she had finally gotten on the couch and layed down to sleep). Because she was at the vet most of the day monday I wanted to have one more day with her at home. Her last day at home was very peaceful. In the morning, she had gone out and I went to the yard looking for her and she was digging a hole at the base of my rose bush. She rarely was a digger unless she was burying a bone, so I knew that she was preparing a place for herself to die. This is where I will bury her ashes and remember her by picking the beautiful roses when they bloom. I think this is where she wanted to be. Yesterday she slept most of the day and was drooling less and less nauseous after taking her off of the medications. She sounded more congested in her lungs and was occassionally shaking like it was hurting her to breathe. She still did not eat but at least she was able to have a restful night.
We went to the vet where they layed down some cozy blankets and darby
layed down with a little help. The vet was running late so i layed down
on the blanket next to darby petting her and talking with her. Darby was
very calm and we waited there for about 30 minutes and she was very relaxed.
She was not having breathing problems and she was not drooling.. almost
as if to say that she was ready... she knew she would no longer be in
pain. the vet came in and did not need to sedate her. She already had
a catheter in her leg from the monday's vet visit so there was no need
to insert any more needles in her veins. The vet arrived and i held darby
and told her goodbye and kissed her head as the vet put the shot in. Darby
passed so peacefully, she just slowly relaxed into my arms. We layed her
on her side and I bawled my eyes out kissing her soft brown velvety ears
and we tried to close her eyes. She did not gasp or twitch or loose her
bowels and it was only a matter of about 30 seconds before she was gone.
She passed so peacefully that I know it was the best, it was so terrible
seeing her in so much pain and rapidly progress so badly in the last 3
weeks. She will always be so special to me, as she was my first dog as
an adult... she gave me such joy and really helped me through rough times
in my life, always so happy to be with me and to greet and love people.
She will be SO missed.
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