Pregnant after 35

dog end-of-life issues - WWYD? NPR

We have a total NPR issue here and I'd like some unbiased opinions. Please don't sugar-coat it.

We have a wondefulr black lab who I got from a lab rescue 10.5 years ago. She was full grown and already had at least 1 litter of puppies when I got her, so we're guessing that she's minimum 11-12 years old.

She has a few medical issues. All are stable but slowly going downhill - arthritis, digestive problems, heart murmur, cataracts, etc. We know she won't be around much longer. But she is still a happy dog who follows us around, plays, lets the toddler climb on her, begs from the table, etc.

She was diagnosed with a tumor this week. Biopsy was inconclusive regarding the likelihood of an invasive / metatastic tumor vs. one that just takes up space. Given the location and her age, statistically it is more likely an aggressive tumor. Also, given the location, it still needs to come out even if it is benign.

The tumor has to be removed and surrounding lymph nodes examined to make the final diagnosis. The vet thinks she is healthy enough to handle the surgery, but we don't know if we want to put her through it or not. IF it ends up being benign, we only have to deal with the surgery and post-op complications, then we're good to go. Once removed, there should be no further issues. However, statistically, it is more likely malignant and would require post-op chemo. We don't want to put our dog through chemo. If we're not willing to do the post-op chemo, then why do the surgery to begin with? Why have her spend her last weeks / months in post-op pain and complications?

WWYD? Surgery or no? Put her down or let it run its course?

No, we're not going to do whatever you say. But I wonder if anyone has arguments pro/con which we haven't considered yet that can help us figure this out.

Thanks in advance!

**siggy warning**

Current Age 35, DH 33

Married 9/2011

BFP 8/2012, Miscarried 9/2012

BFP 9/2012, DS 6/2013

BFP 6/2014, Miscarried 7/2014

BFP 7/2014, DD 4/2015

Re: dog end-of-life issues - WWYD? NPR

  • My 10 year old yorkie had major abdonominal surgery this summer and you would be amazed how quickly he bounced back! Within a week he was back to himself and the hardest thing about his recovery was keeping him from jumping, running etc. I say this because it seems one of your concerns is your dogs post surgery recovery- I wouldn't be too concerned about that as they bounce back much quicker than we would. If it were me I would go ahead with the surgery, if it's benign that's fantastic. If it's malignant assess at that point but you will know you did everything you could for her (I agree chemo seems like a lot depending on outcome).

    Really sorry you are going through this.
  • Here are 2 situations that were handled differently.

    My little schnauzer mix starting having kidney disease.  It was diagnosed 3 years before she passed.  She was first dog, my fur baby and we kept her going as long as we could.  In hindsight, we probably should have put her down sooner.  6 months before she passed, she could hardly see and would just pace around.  However, she still got excited to see us, ate her food, and moved around, so we thought everything was good.  The 2 days she went down hill was horrible.  She could hardly move, stopped eating and was lethargic.  That is not how I wanted to remember her.  I wish we had just put her down when she lost most of her vision.  Looking back, I was just keeping her around for me, not her. 

    My parents were a lot better with their dog.  He started having spine issues.  The dog was going to have to be on pain medicine for the rest of his life and would have to be kenneled so he would not jump on the bed.  One band landing would break his back.  They decided to put him down instead of kenneling and meds because his life would be so different.

    Both of the dogs were old.  I won't tell you what to do, but suggest really looking at what the rest of their life will be like.  It is an older large dog and probably only a few years left at most, so that may play into your decision.  Also consider cost.  We had to have my dogs kidneys analyzed every 6 months and the blood test was over 100 dollars.  We would never have been able to afford chemo, dialysis or other stuff they can do for dogs now.

    I am so sorry you are dealing with this.  I know it is a tough decision and you guys will do what's best for your family. Don't worry about anything else, just what you are at peace with and can live with.   Good luck with everything.
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  • First off-very sorry you're going through this

    We had a black lab who made it to 18. She had a large tumor on her belly for three years that we did not operate on. She went blind, her back legs were weak...but she was so happy, ate a ton, played a lot and never once winced like she was in pain.

    Two weeks ago she had a sudden stroke followed by seizures. She had to be put down at that time because the vet said there was no helping her situation

    So-I say make her comfortable. If she stops eating/drinking or acts like she's hurting, then I would consider the alternative.

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  • I don't mean to be callous, but perhaps it's because I have a different relationship with my dogs.  If my dog lives to 10 and has a tumor and I think we are close to the end of life, I'd probably leave the tumor in, and let her live happily until she either needs to be put down or dies from whatever cause.  I probably wouldn't put out the money for the surgery.

    That's me though.  I love my dogs but they are dogs.  If mine was happy and doing ok, I'd let her keep on trucking knowing one day eventually she will die from something.

    Hope that doesn't make me too much of a jerk on this board.  My BMB would tear me apart on this one.

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  • First of all, I am very sorry about your dog. These are HARD choices to make and they are like members of our family.  :( 

    We had a chocolate lab who got sick and were faced with the same types of decisions. It was very hard.  We spent $6,000 total.  He spent 7 days inpatient at an ER hospital. He was 7 years old.  He had every test you can imagine with negative results for anything.  Every vein in his legs were collapsed almost because of all the IV fluids and meds he was on. When they discharged, they called me (ironically I was actually on my way home from the hospital after having our daughter! Timing huh!)  and they said that if he did great on the steroids and great once we took him off the steroids.. then we fixed whatever it was.  If we wien him off the meds and he gets bad again then we know that he has some type of microscopic cancer that we couldn't locate and he's going to keep declining.  So we took him home.. he did great for several months. He gained his weight back. He ate. He was his normal peppy Sammy.  But when once he was completely off the meds.. he got bad again. No eating. Not even water. Lethargic. he would go outside and sit under the deck and not move.. it started to rain and I still couldn't get him to come inside.  I knew then that putting him through anything more would be for me and not for him.  We made the choice that day to put him down and it makes me cry just typing this. It's a hard hard thing to do.  But I have to say that I do not regret the money.. the testing.. any of it because at the end of the day I know that I gave him the best chance that I could give him.. I tried.  I had to try.  I think that's the hardest thing about these types of situations because what if it's not malignant... I kept thinking that.. what if they fixed it.. what if it was an infection and he's better. 

    Good luck to you. These things are definitely not easy.  
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  • I have no advice but wanted to send you some hugs. Tough decision. All these stories are making me cry :( Good luck...

    ME:46 MH:44 DE IVF 2014
    Met with RE 4/11. 2 IUI's BFN. DE best option. Switched clinics to do "shared" program. Had to retake all tests and a mamm that put me behind and then on a DE waiting list for 12 months. Picked a donor!! (10/13/13) Got matched. Estimated transfer in December. After 2.5 years of patiently waiting I will finally cycle....can hardly believe it. DE cycle got cancelled. One of her tests came back positive.  Waiting for another donor. Donor picked!! (1/18/14)

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  • @topaz7777 - You're not being harsh at all. I tend to think like you do. She's a dog. I love her, but she's a dog. Our philosophy has always been that we would not do treatment which would give her X amount more time if that time was beyond what we expected her to live without the condition. We only want keep her comfortable. If removing the tumor is the difference between 2 uncomfortable months vs 6 comfortable months, great, we'll do it. If it won't make her comfortable or give her more time, why bother? The chemo would give us 2 more years, but we're not expecting 2 more years out of her anyway. There's no way we're doing chemo. Our biggest decision is whether or not to do the surgery if it is the metastatic cancer.

    The way it stands right now is that the doctor thinks this is the aggressive metastatic form, but that we caught it early enough it hasn't spread yet. She thinks our dog is healthy enough to withstand surgery, and removing it would be the difference between her living a few more weeks vs. her normal life expectancy. However, there are a few markers to look for on lab and x-ray that can tell us the likelihood that it already metastasized. The vet is going to do them the morning of surgery. If it looks like the cancer already spread, no surgery.

    **siggy warning**

    Current Age 35, DH 33

    Married 9/2011

    BFP 8/2012, Miscarried 9/2012

    BFP 9/2012, DS 6/2013

    BFP 6/2014, Miscarried 7/2014

    BFP 7/2014, DD 4/2015

  • We just had to put our first dog down in October. She was 9, and absolutely fine one minute, and in major pain the next.

    Turns out she had a tumor rupture in her spleen. It had to come out right then. They couldn't tell us if it was cancer but 70% of the time, it is.

    Such a hard decision, but her outcome was not good at all. Even with surgery, it only would buy her a couple months and we would not put her through chemo.

    If I were in your shoes, I would probably not do anything until you saw a decline in your dog's condition. I wish we would have Had that option.

    I am so sorry you are going through this! It is so difficult!!!
  • @mattandlora your last post sounds like what I would likely do.  So sorry you have to make this difficult decision.  I lost a dog to lymphoma about 2 years ago, and it was such a hard decision what to do.  He was about 13 years old, and chemo was given as an option, but I decided against it, for reasons similar to yours. I really treasure the last few weeks I had with him.
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  • That is such awesome news!!!  
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  • Great news!

    Me: 37                                               
    DH: 45
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  • Great news! Fx that the pathology report confirms!
    Me: 38, DH: 35
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  • Just joining this board but happy to hear the tumor is benign!  Dogs are the best things, and they need us. Your dog is so lucky to have you there to help!  So many owners don't try enough, whether because they can't financially, or they don't think dogs are important enough to bother going the extra mile for. You're so great to try!  FX for a healthy rebound!  Love that dog every day.  That's all you can do.  :)

    Married April 13, 2013

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