After being hit with the news that my beloved pitbull/lab mix Piggy has cancer cells present in fluid that had accumulated in her chest, I was referred to a veterinary oncologist who performed an abdominal ultrasound and chest tap for her. The oncologist informed us that she had located a rather large tumor in her stomach and the fact that Piggy's chest is filled with fluid is a sign that the cancer has metastasized.
The oncologist also added that with chemotherapy (50% success rate in this form of cancer) we can have up to an additional four months with her. Without treatment, she could last up to a few weeks. This news was absolutely devastating for us and we could not make an immediate decision knowing the negative side effects dogs endure during chemotherapy. The oncologist proceeded to remove 1.5 liters of fluid from Piggy's chest cavity and prescribed her four medications: Prednisone (anti-inflammatory + appetite stimulant), Carafate (to soothe stomach lining), Tramadol (for pain) and Mirtazapine (appetite stimulant + anti-nausea).
Piggy has already lost a drastic amount of weight, refused basically all food except small amounts of spoon fed boiled chicken and sleeps 85% of the day. I have been so stressed trying to get her to take her medication. Last week she seemed fine, and now she's bed ridden and extremely sick. We found out so late and the news hit us so fast and we feel that we don't have much time with her left. We are still in shock. I probably won't go forward with the chemotherapy because it seems ineffective for her form of cancer, even the oncologist advised us that Piggy is a stage four.
Has anyone dealt with canine gastric cancer before? During what stage did you find out and how much time did you have with your dog before you had to say good bye? Thank you all for your responses.
Oh I am so sorry this is the result. It is very difficult for you, I do know. I feel in my heart-of-hearts very much in tune with your decision however, not to put Piggy through the chemo treatments. Especially as it may only alleviate her cancer slightly and for a short time, as she is stage four. It doesn't quite seem right to put her through tough treatment for an extra few weeks, does it?
No I don't have experience of gastric cancer with any dog I've had, but I do have experience of being it with a stage four cancer diagnosis with my last dog (who had prostate cancer) It seemed one minute he was fine, and the next, sick, and in two weeks seriously ill with little time left. And it does seem to me it is often that way with dogs. They don't show symptoms very much until their bodies are becoming overpowered.
In my circumstance, from the time of diagnosis (which was a couple of days after he showed symptoms for the first time) to his passing away (the night I had him put to sleep) was two weeks.
But strangely, those two weeks felt like a whole space of time, it was as if time didn't even matter. It was, I suppose, a different state of mind I entered. We had a lovely time, punctuated with nudges from reality, when I sought palliative treatment of one kind or another which definitely helped him. I called it at the end because he couldnt pee. Medications didn't work. Catheterizing him was the only option (which the vet did once to relieve his symptoms that final night) I knew he couldn't live like that, and made the final decision at 2 am. And called out the (very sweet kind lady vet), and he fell asleep in my arms by the log fire.
In those last two weeks, we went beyond living one day at a time, we lived right inside every single moment. And the short time had a feeling of being very sacred in some way, and quite stretched-out. Hard to put that state of mind into the right words. And at the end, we lived right inside every single second.
I didn't say goodbye to him until the very last moment. Up to then -we lived.
I really do feel for you. Just love her, live day to day -moment to moment, try not to grieve while she is still alive, still with you (I know that's hard to do) let her feel you are and always will be, her rock and protector, let her feel your love and your gentleness.
If it's hard to get the medications down because Piggy won't eat, crush the tablets to a powder, mix with honey and water, and syringe them down. At least if medication takes effect, she may very well start eating something of her own accord.
ginger899, that was so beautifully written and helps immensely. It is definitely the most heart felt response I have ever received on a forum and I will think of your words often.
Today, Piggy has regained a bit of her appetite back and has feasted on three chicken breasts, a can of her favorite dog food and a few jerky treats- she even willingly licked up the multivitamin filled syringe. This is progress and I believe her increased appetite with contribute to more time.
Your outlook on the situation with your last dog is very inspiring. It has reminded me not to spend our last moments angry and regretful but to spend them filled with exclusive love and appreciation. I'm going to make every second, day, moment count with her. Thank you so much for your advice, ginger!
I am so glad she's eaten something because of course that will give her some strength.
Cancer usually is a very "up and down" disease. There will be days when she will seem very much her old self, she'll make you smile, she'll bark at something, she'll beg for food, maybe play with her toys. And there will be days when she'll be delicate, may not want to do much, may not want to eat, or may vomit. And just when you think "is this the end?"....that day will be followed by a sunny day when things seem much better. Just ride out the rollercoaster, let Piggy lead the way about what she wants to do. If she has appetite one day and not the next, that's partly to be expected.
She will let you know when she's had enough.
God bless her, and you.
My son's just had to put to sleep his dog today from stomach cancer. So very hard. Zoe lived about 5 months after finding out and the vet was extremely surprised. Once she started passing blood in her stools, and we could see the pain on her face and she would not really eat, we knew it was time. We all miss her so much. Don't make your baby suffer, they can not get well. I am so very, very sorry for this news. I'd give anything to tell you something different.
We have just put our doggy (AMBER) to sleep yesterday at 15.30 pm SA time. She had a scan on 14/10 which showed a lump on the liver. Had to travel overseas on business for TWO weeks. Excellent vet he had her in for another scan on 21/10 while we were away overseas, the lump had increased in size. We got back 30/10 and she was very listless and her eyes were VERY tired although she was ECSTATIC to see her mom and dad. Sat pm I noticed blatant deterioration called our extremely compassionate vet late at night and he said bring her in. He gave her a temgesic inj some tramahexal for pain, anti nause meds and an antibiotic and some panado to boost the tramahexal. I also want to add that she had polycythemia (a blood condition which led to her kidney problems) hence medicating this ANGEL Amber Doggy is tricky. We stopped the special kidney diet a few weeks ago when she started to lose her appetite and vet said give her boiled chicken (although I used to mix the boiled chicken with her special kidney biscuits to try and keep hey system slightly balanced --- when the first liver lump appeared our goal was to get her to eat irrespective. She did but with a rapidly waning appetite. Yesterday Monday am back to vet as Sunday was NOT a good day her back legs collapsed and she was visibly struggling - apparently gait is a problem with liver issues. Called vet and he asked me to increase pain meds. She still would not eat. yesterday vet discussed all sorts of intensive testing that he would conduct. he did however start with a scan and alas the liver lump was much larger and other spots appeared on the liver, he also noticed a massive swelling in the muscosal layer of the abdomen that went all the way up to the pyloric valve and that was the PRIMARY CANCER which presented in the liver as seconday. The vet is great and we know he did everything he could as I saw the initial full scan on 14/10 and except for the liver lump all looked normal. Amber was just over 11 and we did not have many options due to the aggressive progression of the cancer and her kidney problems and her polycythaemia and she was visibly tired and in pain. We met the vet again at 15H00 spent time with her and put her to sleep at 15:30 hardest thing to have done HOWEVER for her it was the BEST gift we could have given her. She died in my arms with my husband and daughter holding her as well. We are devastated and I particularly as she was part of my soul. We have 1 dog and four cats left and they all know something is missing. Im NOT handling it very well but feel that I have done what is BEST for her. The sttress for her of visiting the vet back and forth for just palliative care and no guarantee that she would live a quality life is NOT FAIR ON HER !!! (IN SA house calls are not the norm and very expensive) she would have been very stressed and like I have said she was tired and I know she was telling me "MOM I am VERY tired help me please". Her eyes said it all - her demeanour and lack of energy and all she wanted to do was sleep with either my husband or myself near her was soul destroying to observe. I had and will always have a VERY SPECIAL bond with this special girl. Heartbroken. It is a HARD decision to make but I believe one must do what is best for the animal and PUT them first.
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