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Next Step Suggestions for Swollen Stomach?
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Next Step Suggestions for Swollen Stomach?

Hi everyone,

I have a female Lab mix who is at least 5-6 years old. Ever since we adopted her in 2010, we noticed she had a large abdomen. We mostly brushed it off thinking she had a round belly. We also discovered she has moderate to severe hip dysplasia on one hip, and a rotated knee on the other leg. Those being our primary concerns for these few years, we've seen a couple of vets and were ultimately told she has such complex hind leg issues she could never be 100% even with intense surgeries. We now give her pain-killers from time to time when her leg gets lame and she begins limping.
Recently, we brought her to the vet to get a prescription for more pain-killers when we brought up the stomach issue. An x-ray of her abdomen and blood work was done. The blood work looked good except for excess blood being created. He mentioned, though, that in the x-rays there looked to be some kind of mass which is contributing to her bulging stomach. It could be an enlarged spleen or an enlarged lymph node...was that they told us. My dog is super calm inside the house but is incredibly eager to go for walks everyday. She has a great appetite but doesn't drink much water. She used to pee very little but marks territory now. She does, however, randomly pant very hard sometimes. The vet said perhaps that might be due to some heart trouble. She doesn't seem to have constipation as she poops about 1-3 times per day. She does vomit sometimes but I wouldn't say she does it often. I have mixed feelings about paying over $500 for an ultrasound and then an additional 2K for surgery.
I would greatly appreciate any insight or thoughts. Thank you!
5 Comments Post a Comment
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612551_tn?1247839157
Sorry for the health problems, and thank you to adopting the dog and hiving it a good home, she seems to be enjoying life, thanks to you.

The answer to your question is difficult.  There are those who would get a second mortage on their home to pay for veterinary care, others will not even take their dog to a vet.  From your question I assume you, like I, are somewhere in between on that.

We adopted an 8 year (est) old Westie a year ago and we have at least $2K invested in his health, with ongoing expenses, he is not a "plug and play" dog.

Still I would baulk at some point.  Our biggest single expense was about $1K the other $1K is an estimate of three or four other visits to the vet and prescriptions.

I can't draw a line for myself and obviously one's "available" funds is a factor, but I can say a cost much higher, say several thousand for a single issue, would make be give careful consideration to pain management and reduced life span - much as I read out government in the USA is considering for its old folks.
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi Jerry,

Thanks for the response. We've already spent well over 2k having her hips x-rayed, getting pain-killers and cosequin for her. I guess I just want to have more assurance as to if this will even help her. She seems fine, but then again she can't exactly tell me how she's feeling. I have no idea what pains she is feeling as she has so many complex problems all over.
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974371_tn?1364538460
Boy, you are dealing with some complex and major issues here on a relatively young dog.  Kudos to you for giving this dog a good home and I am sure you did not anticipate having to deal with these issues.  Jerry makes some good points when it comes to expenses.  Wish we all had unlimited funds but seldom the case.  This is tough and I am trying to step back and give this some thought.  Sounds like major leg/hip issues that will be chronic and surgery may or may not correct.  Either way, painful conditions that will require pain meds, which can cause other problems with long term use.  Does your Vet recommend regular blood work to check kidney and liver function?  Ok, this condition can be somewhat managed but will probably be progressive.
Putting that aside, my concern would be this abdominal issue and the cause of that.  $500 seems like a lot for an ultrasound?  Have you checked around, although not all Vet's offices have the equipment or training to read and interpret the test.  You happen to have a Vet school near you to check with?  
I can't see doing surgery until/unless there is a diagnosis on this abdominal issue, could be any number of things that may or may not be able to be resolved.
Personally, I am not in a financial position to put out thousands of dollars in Vet bills but my animals get the best care I can afford.  I had a Greyhound diagnosed with Lymphoma at age 12.  After talking to 3 Vets, discussing treatments, etc. I decided to do palliative care only.  He lived comfortably for 6 months longer than expected and was in no pain.  He had a good quality of life his last months as opposed to going through treatments and side effects that probably would have done little in the long run.  Having had many animals over the years, dealing with health and old age issues. It comes down to a quality of life decision.  
These are just my personal feelings.  Only you can make these decisions but you either need to bite the bullet on the ultrasound, keep treating the hip and leg issues.
Wish I had answers for you but sometimes you need to step out of the emotional box and look at things objectively.  Hope this doesn't sound too harsh.  
Good luck and do keep us posted.
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675347_tn?1365464245
$500 for an ultrasound of her spleen and abdomen is too expensive in my opinion. The one done on my dog cost £180 (British pounds) So it is possible you could get an ultrasound cheaper than that. Also for EMERGENCY spleen removal I was quoted approx. £800, which (translated into dollars) is a LOT less than you were quoted for the surgery, under regular conditions -not an emergency.
Yes it is possible she has a spleen tumor. They are very common, and also among certain breeds. They can be benign as well as cancerous. Some can bleed into the abdomen. Usually removal of the spleen is recommended.
Have you noticed....does she have pale gums? I so, or if they are pale at times, and she is lethargic sometimes, while at other times better -then it could be a tumor that bleeds sometimes into the abdomen.
The only way to diagnose that for sure is either -an ultrasound (non-invasive) or exploratory surgery (probably more expensive...?)
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for your responses.
The $550 quoted price for the ultrasound is for a specialist. I have found an in-house price for $250, but am told they may not see what a specialist can see.
Her blood work showed that her liver and kidneys look fine. We were able to at the very least get the prescription that we initially went there for.

She also appears to have black-pigmented gums so it's hard to see if they are pale or not. According to the specialist who looked at her x-rays, she didn't seem to have any fluid in her abdomen. Because she also has chronic pain in her legs, it's hard to pinpoint why she's lethargic in the house.

I am looking into a Vet school which supposedly has lower prices than any regular vet in my area.

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