Chemotherapy for dogs

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 23, 2011 2:33 AM GMT
    Have you had to make a decision regard chemo for your dog?

    Our big Bosco, an eleven year old standard poodle, was just diagnosed with bone cancer, osteosarcoma. He had to have a rear leg removed, and now we're faced with deciding what treatment , if any, to pursue.

    At first, we flatly refused the idea of putting him through chemo. We have no desire to submit him to the side effects of nausea, hair loss, and general misery.

    But further research suggests that our first impressions have not been really based on fact, but fear and horror stories. My reading suggests that doggie chemo isn't really all that awful, and the side effects are not as pronounced as they are in us two-leggers.

    One article suggests, 8 days of nausea and diarrhea for 365 days of a happy, active life. A pretty good deal.

    For us, the difference means a prognosis of three to six months vs. A year or more.

    Any experience here?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 23, 2011 4:45 AM GMT

    I had a standard poodle that was kinda in the same boat... She had cancer in a few places. We tried to have some of the tumors removed including removing one of her eyes. In the end she only lasted another 6 months. Given the amount of pain she was undoubtedly in I don't think I would go that route again.
  • safety43_mma1...

    Posts: 4251

    Apr 23, 2011 5:24 AM GMT
    i lost my big boy Sparticus to Cancer and i didnt even think about chemo for him because it would be harder on him and it would be worth and might kill him anyway. it was hard to put him down, but he went with pride he was a very proud dog.
  • awayfromtheci...

    Posts: 154

    Apr 23, 2011 8:10 AM GMT
    Heartbreaking - and so sorry to hear. You should at some point, read the book "Inside of a Dog" by Alexandra Horowitz who is much better at making the point that I will attempt. I had to go through this with one of my dogs and decided with deep heartache and anguish, to put him to sleep because it was not fair to him. The potential days, weeks or months that I would gain was not worth all of the confusion, sickness and pain that he would endure without understanding or the ability to cope or handle the why(s). A dog that is trained not to puke or poop or urinate in the house to now suddenly not have control is so hard on them and so much more that is too hard to write about. (grew up in a family with a lifetime of animals and in a family of great vet's). When I took my dog in to be put to sleep, they asked if I wanted to stay in the room and I said yes (much to my own surprise and later was grateful to them that I did). He slowly went into gentle sleep and I lie on the floor with this 99 pound dog and balled my eyes out for what seemed like an hour....they kindly let me be as I said my goodbyes and pulled myself away to leave. I struggled with the decision for two days beforehand and was even guilty in the end that I allowed him to suffer that long....never ever easy or pat answer.

    They are not human and do not feel, internalize or view life like we do. They do however suffer like we do (those poor dogs in whatever study said that they do not) and we are the ones who can ease or end that suffering for them. Trust that you will do the right thing and take care.

    PS. A key to what you said is that it means up to another year or "for us". Sadly, this is one of those situations that is not about you, it is about the animal and what is best for them. I know that sounds harsh and it is tough.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 23, 2011 8:12 AM GMT
    My mom put our late golden retriever through chemo. It was expensive but I think it prolonged her life by a year or 1.5.
  • BardBear

    Posts: 533

    Apr 23, 2011 11:24 AM GMT
    Decisions like this never come easy, especially for someone with no voice, like our own pets. Our community puts a strong, important value on our animals--I think due to the fact that they are, in reality, our own children. We care for them probably more than we should, but the rewards are ten fold. Your dog doesn't know what it is going through. It does, however, understand its pain and your pain. Dogs are weird. They sense our feelings more than most of our human companions. They tend to react to that.

    Keeping that in mind, how will prolonging the life of your dog effect you? Yes, it is a rough treatment for another year or two. Will the suffering be less on the other side of those years? Do the research. Postponing suffering is not eliminating suffering. However, it could give you the time you need to be emotionally ready.

    All the meanwhile, your dog is still your dog. They just want to see us happy and safe.

    If that makes any sense. I don't envy you. My husband and I would have a tough decision on our hands if we were in the same boat. For US (not you), if we had the cash and patience, go for it. Believe it or not, having the dog go through chemo also means that any results are charted and researched for other pets---helping many more. And since we have a smaller dog-the length of time on earth would be greatly extended.

    I'm slowly learning that there is a compassion underlying much of the RealJock community, just beyond the hot pecs and biceps. To say, "you're not alone" is a bit cliche, but here? There's a grain of truth to that. So, you're not alone. Keep the dialogue going and let those who can, help you through this.

    And yes, I've been down this road before. And probably will again. Heck, my do is even part of my profile, which should tell you volumes.

    Peace out,
    Bardy

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 23, 2011 2:22 PM GMT
    "One article suggests, 8 days of nausea and diarrhea for 365 days of a happy, active life. A pretty good deal."


    What does your vet say the length of treatment will be? Has he said what drugs he wants to use and what the expected side effects are?

    I think it's important to remember that a dog's underlying drive is to LIVE. They also want to be with you (think of separation anxiety). icon_wink.gif
    We're dog people, and have always had three. All of them (other than a genetic defect in one that was a puppy mill rescue) lived til about 16-17.

    For years, as well as volunteering in palliative and elder care for people, I've volunteered in palliative and elder care for animals (cats and dogs). If there's anything I can offer at all, let me know.

    -Doug
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Apr 23, 2011 3:01 PM GMT
    Hmmm .... First I am very sorry to hear about your pup

    Of course this is your decision to make
    but we all have to remember that our animals cannot make any of these decisions for us or put in any input in the final decision
    It's our decision alone and no one else's and that's why we need to search our souls to know if this decision is in the best interest of your pet
    and doesn't reflect what WE wish the outcome will be

    From that Great humanitarian film ....................... Jurassic Park icon_rolleyes.gif
    There was a very pertinent statement made
    "Because we can ...... doesn't always mean we should"

    You need to verify from a well-informed Vet that the outcome looks good
    are the chances that if you put him thru this that he's likely to pull thru?
    Second ... is he likely to suffer badly during the process?

    wishing you and your pup the best
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 23, 2011 3:25 PM GMT
    My biggest question I guess would be how has his quality of life been impacted by the amputation? 11 is not young for a dog, especially a large one, but just as with humans, dogs who are fit, exercised and fed a healthy diet do not age as quickly. That's the great thing about dogs, no victim complex. As long as you don't make a big deal out of something, they won't either. I have a 10 year old mixed breed larger dog, who's still very active. If I were in your shoes I think that if I was assured by a vet that there was a chance she could continue living the life she is living today for a few more years I'd go through with the treatment. I definitely wouldn't put her down before she was ready to go...

    Good luck with it. I hope it works out!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 12:56 AM GMT
    Thanks, guys, for all the heartfelt replies. I really appreciate it, and it's helping me think things through. Here's where we're at...
    The whole quality of life for our Bosco is what is driving our decision.

    Exactly one year ago we had to put down our other dog - and Bosco's lifelong companion - named Napa, a beautiful energetic black standard male. You can see their pic in my profile. Napa was suffering from a deteriorating spinal condition. We were all devastated, but it was the right thing to do at the right time.

    Bosco's leg amputation removed the source of the pain, but not the cancer. We can expect the cancer to return, most likely to the lungs, within the next three to six months without chemo, within 12 months if we do pursue chemo.

    Until then, Bosco will recover quickly from the surgery and be back to his happy active self.

    We are so fortunate to have an outstanding vet and an oncologist working with us. I made it clear at the onset that I'm not one of those people who insist on keeping a dog alive no matter what, nor am I one who thinks they should be put down at the first sign of a health challenge. Rather, I'm somewhere in between.

    We are very keen on extending the quality of his life - not prolonging the suffering. The heartbreak will come in finding out where that line is.

    We still have a lot of homework to do, and questions to ask the oncologist. If the side effects are, as we've read, not as bad as the horror stories we will likely pursue the chemo.

    We've also decided that, once he is back on three legs, we want to bring a new puppy into the home. We've identified a candidate already, a four-month old black standard poodle male.


  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 1:28 AM GMT



    "We still have a lot of homework to do, and questions to ask the oncologist. If the side effects are, as we've read, not as bad as the horror stories we will likely pursue the chemo."


    YES!!

    We've also decided that, once he is back on three legs, we want to bring a new puppy into the home. We've identified a candidate already, a four-month old black standard poodle male."


    ...and double triple YES!!


    You just made Easter for us!

    -Doug and Bill of meninlove
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 5:54 PM GMT
    sfinthecity saidHeartbreaking - and so sorry to hear. You should at some point, read the book "Inside of a Dog" by Alexandra Horowitz who is much better at making the point that I will attempt. I had to go through this with one of my dogs and decided with deep heartache and anguish, to put him to sleep because it was not fair to him. The potential days, weeks or months that I would gain was not worth all of the confusion, sickness and pain that he would endure without understanding or the ability to cope or handle the why(s). A dog that is trained not to puke or poop or urinate in the house to now suddenly not have control is so hard on them and so much more that is too hard to write about. (grew up in a family with a lifetime of animals and in a family of great vet's). When I took my dog in to be put to sleep, they asked if I wanted to stay in the room and I said yes (much to my own surprise and later was grateful to them that I did). He slowly went into gentle sleep and I lie on the floor with this 99 pound dog and balled my eyes out for what seemed like an hour....they kindly let me be as I said my goodbyes and pulled myself away to leave. I struggled with the decision for two days beforehand and was even guilty in the end that I allowed him to suffer that long....never ever easy or pat answer.

    They are not human and do not feel, internalize or view life like we do. They do however suffer like we do (those poor dogs in whatever study said that they do not) and we are the ones who can ease or end that suffering for them. Trust that you will do the right thing and take care.

    PS. A key to what you said is that it means up to another year or "for us". Sadly, this is one of those situations that is not about you, it is about the animal and what is best for them. I know that sounds harsh and it is tough.


    I truly believe our Bosco bear wants to be with us as much as we want to be with him, for as long as possible. but it's up to us to act in his best interest, not in ours. Putting down my sweet Napa last year was one of the toughest things I've ever had to do, I cared for him that much. But this is what we sign up for, it's our responsibility and, in a way, our greatest gift to them as well as the greatest anguish for us.

    This might come across as crass but I think I struggled more with the loss of my dog than I did my parents and previous partner. I had no choice in their matter, but I made all the choice in my dog's departure. Playing God ain't no picnic.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 5:56 PM GMT
    ridinglow328 said
    I had a standard poodle that was kinda in the same boat... She had cancer in a few places. We tried to have some of the tumors removed including removing one of her eyes. In the end she only lasted another 6 months. Given the amount of pain she was undoubtedly in I don't think I would go that route again.


    We've struggled with the whole notion of whether my decisions will be in our dog's best interest, or for our own selfishness. It's a very tough call.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 5:59 PM GMT
    safety43 saidi lost my big boy Sparticus to Cancer and i didnt even think about chemo for him because it would be harder on him and it would be worth and might kill him anyway. it was hard to put him down, but he went with pride he was a very proud dog.


    Everyone in this position struggles with the question "am I doing the right thing?" For Sparticus you clearly did. I'm sure he would have been proud of you too.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:01 PM GMT
    onexepshyn saidMy mom put our late golden retriever through chemo. It was expensive but I think it prolonged her life by a year or 1.5.


    I hope it was a great year for her, and that everyone helped make it one of her best. That's what I really hope to do for my poodle.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:05 PM GMT
    Squarepeg saidThis might come across as crass but I think I struggled more with the loss of my dog than I did my parents and previous partner. I had no choice in their matter, but I made all the choice in my dog's departure. Playing God ain't no picnic.


    I understand this.

    We recently had to make this decision for a cat with an aggressive sarcoma, and we decided not to do it. Cost was a consideration, but also we figured that if we did it it would be for our own selfish reasons - the kitty was already very sick and miserable, and did not appear to be enjoying life any more. If you have the disposable income to do it, the dog is still happy and content, and the vet thinks he will remain so while on chemo, I would say, go for it. Otherwise, I would urge you to let your friend go now rather than prolonging the inevitable.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:09 PM GMT
    BardBear saidDecisions like this never come easy, especially for someone with no voice, like our own pets. Our community puts a strong, important value on our animals--I think due to the fact that they are, in reality, our own children. We care for them probably more than we should, but the rewards are ten fold. Your dog doesn't know what it is going through. It does, however, understand its pain and your pain. Dogs are weird. They sense our feelings more than most of our human companions. They tend to react to that.

    Keeping that in mind, how will prolonging the life of your dog effect you? Yes, it is a rough treatment for another year or two. Will the suffering be less on the other side of those years? Do the research. Postponing suffering is not eliminating suffering. However, it could give you the time you need to be emotionally ready.

    All the meanwhile, your dog is still your dog. They just want to see us happy and safe.

    If that makes any sense. I don't envy you. My husband and I would have a tough decision on our hands if we were in the same boat. For US (not you), if we had the cash and patience, go for it. Believe it or not, having the dog go through chemo also means that any results are charted and researched for other pets---helping many more. And since we have a smaller dog-the length of time on earth would be greatly extended.

    I'm slowly learning that there is a compassion underlying much of the RealJock community, just beyond the hot pecs and biceps. To say, "you're not alone" is a bit cliche, but here? There's a grain of truth to that. So, you're not alone. Keep the dialogue going and let those who can, help you through this.

    And yes, I've been down this road before. And probably will again. Heck, my do is even part of my profile, which should tell you volumes.

    Peace out,
    Bardy



    It will be tough knowing that we'll have to make the decision at some point, that we're just kicking the ball down the road a bit. I don't know if I'll be any more ready then, though.

    No, postponing suffering is not eliminating suffering. Fortunately, Bosco's pain has been eliminated along with his left hind leg. And I'll have enough time now to be aware of whats coming and what to look out for. I just hope I don't get too neurotic looking for every little sign or symptom. I don't know if I'll ever be emotionally prepared.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:13 PM GMT
    GQjock saidHmmm .... First I am very sorry to hear about your pup

    Of course this is your decision to make
    but we all have to remember that our animals cannot make any of these decisions for us or put in any input in the final decision
    It's our decision alone and no one else's and that's why we need to search our souls to know if this decision is in the best interest of your pet
    and doesn't reflect what WE wish the outcome will be

    From that Great humanitarian film ....................... Jurassic Park icon_rolleyes.gif
    There was a very pertinent statement made
    "Because we can ...... doesn't always mean we should"

    You need to verify from a well-informed Vet that the outcome looks good
    are the chances that if you put him thru this that he's likely to pull thru?
    Second ... is he likely to suffer badly during the process?

    wishing you and your pup the best


    Thanks for the insight and well wishes.

    Yes, theres still much to learn about what to expect from chemo. It will NOT cure the cancer, this we know. But we do expect it will allow and extended period of quality time, for him and us.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:22 PM GMT
    Runninchlt saidMy biggest question I guess would be how has his quality of life been impacted by the amputation? 11 is not young for a dog, especially a large one, but just as with humans, dogs who are fit, exercised and fed a healthy diet do not age as quickly. That's the great thing about dogs, no victim complex. As long as you don't make a big deal out of something, they won't either. I have a 10 year old mixed breed larger dog, who's still very active. If I were in your shoes I think that if I was assured by a vet that there was a chance she could continue living the life she is living today for a few more years I'd go through with the treatment. I definitely wouldn't put her down before she was ready to go...

    Good luck with it. I hope it works out!


    Bosco is quite a battle wagon. He's been through a variety of medical issues in his lifetime and keeps going strong. He's recovering from the amp very well and is already bored out of his skull just lying around the house. He'll need time to build up the strength on his remaining rear leg that now does the work of two.

    And you're right... Dogs don't have the emotional attachment to their limbs that us two-leggers have. Booboo is ready to hit the dog park as soon as he gets clearance from the oncologist.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:26 PM GMT
    meninlove said


    "We still have a lot of homework to do, and questions to ask the oncologist. If the side effects are, as we've read, not as bad as the horror stories we will likely pursue the chemo."


    YES!!

    We've also decided that, once he is back on three legs, we want to bring a new puppy into the home. We've identified a candidate already, a four-month old black standard poodle male."


    ...and double triple YES!!


    You just made Easter for us!

    -Doug and Bill of meninlove




    I SO much appreciate your comments, guys! I'm sure you know how gut-wrenching it is to have to be asking yourself over and over "am I doing the right thing".

    Your encouragement is a big help.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:35 PM GMT
    showme said
    Squarepeg saidThis might come across as crass but I think I struggled more with the loss of my dog than I did my parents and previous partner. I had no choice in their matter, but I made all the choice in my dog's departure. Playing God ain't no picnic.


    I understand this.

    We recently had to make this decision for a cat with an aggressive sarcoma, and we decided not to do it. Cost was a consideration, but also we figured that if we did it it would be for our own selfish reasons - the kitty was already very sick and miserable, and did not appear to be enjoying life any more. If you have the disposable income to do it, the dog is still happy and content, and the vet thinks he will remain so while on chemo, I would say, go for it. Otherwise, I would urge you to let your friend go now rather than prolonging the inevitable.


    Yeah, well, there is the whole cost thing too. And we have to learn more about that. Unfortunately there's no part of my income that's disposable right now, but neither is Bosco. He's just too full of life and energy right now to just turn it off. So the decision is either to allow the cancer to return and run it's course without a fight, or start the treatments and push back the reoccurrence for as long as we can.

    I just got an REI VISA card with a huge limit. I'm thinking Bosco is going to pay for my camping trip this fall.
    icon_biggrin.gif
  • dhinkansas

    Posts: 764

    Apr 25, 2011 6:46 PM GMT
    Yes, I tried it on a little dog I had about ten years ago. Didn't work, in fact the chemo had to be discontinued because it made the little dog so sick. Think twice about doing it, and make sure your vet is being 100% honest about the side effects facing your dog.

    Good Luck!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:49 PM GMT
    Hey Squarepeg,
    You know, once you have the info on what the chemo therapy is, you can shop around for a low cost vet to administer it. We have three vets, lol.

    One is very high end, and was used when Rupert broke the growth plate in his knee when a pup. The next one is expensive but not as much as the first, for any operation not requiring a specialist. The last is our low cost vet who we use the most.

    It's our humble opinion you're doing the right thing. 8 days of discomfort is worth a year in a dogs life, which is a very long time indeed for them.

    Spencer has cancer - running up the optic nerves behind the eye into his brain, and on his flank, likely from his kidneys. The tumours behind the eye get infected, so he goes on a course of bioclav for 14 days when this occurs , about once every 3 or 4 months.
    He had a stroke ( a huge one) last year that took all functions from his left side. Being a stay at home daddy (Doug) I rehabbed him and he's fine (though a little kooky, lol)
    His cancer bothers him now and then but the pain is not constant nor severe.

    Today he chased the other two around the house, made a huge mess with them eating soft boiled eggs, went and shrieked at the back door to go outside, played with his ball (crashing into furniture because he's blind on the left side). Performed fellatio on Emma (our little brown dog in pic w/Bill) then dragged his old blankie into the livingroom rolled it in a ball and then peed on it - his usual way of telling us to wash the damn thing already. icon_lol.gif

    We've had several people frown at us and say how cruel we are to not put him down. Spencer clearly disagrees.

    -Doug and Bill

    PS he's going to 17 this year.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:50 PM GMT
    dhinkansas saidYes, I tried it on a little dog I had about ten years ago. Didn't work, in fact the chemo had to be discontinued because it made the little dog so sick. Think twice about doing it, and make sure your vet is being 100% honest about the side effects facing your dog.

    Good Luck!


    Ugh. These are the stories I hate to hear. I'm so sorry.

    I'll definitely be talking side effects with the oncologist. Lucky for us, she has an excellent reputation and we have great confidence in her. Thanks, dh.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Apr 25, 2011 6:57 PM GMT
    sfinthecity said:

    "A key to what you said is that it means up to another year or "for us". Sadly, this is one of those situations that is not about you, it is about the animal and what is best for them. I know that sounds harsh and it is tough."

    As much as I love animals, this I find ONE of the most (if not THE most) important point to consider when making a decision like this. Is it really in the pets best interest to have them with us, even though they might be in pain?
    I think the quality of the pet's life should come first.