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Readers Respond: Dealing With Osteosarcoma

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From the article: Canine Osteosarcoma
Bone cancer, also known as osteosarcoma, is fairly common in dogs. Even with early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, the prognosis is poor. The first step is usually amputation of the affected limb, although newer limb-sparing technologies are being researched in addition to traditional chemotherapies.

After diagnosis, it is typical to have only days, weeks or months to make a decision. This space is for sharing your experiences with your pet's osteosarcoma.

NOTE: This is not a question/answer forum. Please see these articles for information:
Canine Osteosarcoma I
Canine Osteosarcoma II Share your experiences

Osteosarcoma Diagnosis

Bandit is 9, I felt a lump on his side on his rib and once all the testing was done it was diagnosed as osteosarcoma on his ribs. I am devastated, I love this dog so much. Surgery & radiation/chemo are not an option because he was found to have several tumors. It's breaking my heart to see him lose weight and become a shell of his former healthy proud self. He is on pain meds but I noticed his eating and drinking habits are changing. He loves his yellow glow in the dark ball and will get up to play but he gets winded easily. I cry everyday but try to enjoy every minute with him. I look forward to seeing him after work and it's hard to think he is not going to be here much longer. I want to put him down but as long as he is still eating I am going to make him happy by doing the things he loves. He was given 6-8 weeks, that was 4 weeks ago. I can see his body becoming smaller and weaker. This is a horrible disease and I hope a cure is found soon.
—Guest Bonnie Lambert

Dixie

Our 7 1/2 year old Great Dane, Dixie, was diagnosed with bone cancer almost 2 weeks ago. The vet said it has spread as she as swelling in the groin area and has probably affected her lungs. We noticed swelling in her hind leg the day before taking her to the vet. I keep wondering how we did not see the swelling before and if it appeared suddenly. Amputation is not an option. We are giving her 150 mg of Rimadyl morning and evening and applying DMSO on the swollen area 2 times a day. She has no limping or lamesness when she walks; her appetite is normal; she wants to go outside with me when I go out; she does not flinch with I apply the DMSO, her breathing is not labored nor does she have a cough. I am worried about the bone breaking suddenly. We keep her inside primarily. Everything I read says bone cancer is the most painful. I feel for everyone that has posted on this site about their beloved pet they lost or have one that is going through this.
—TxCherylAJ

My sweet Lexie

First and foremost, I feel for you all because many of your dogs are so young. I am so lucky for many respects. Lexie is a German Shepherd/Doberman and she is currently FIFTEEN YEARS, EIGHT MONTHS old! I am so blessed. She was in the palm of my hand,8 weeks at the humane society and has been with me ever since. My parents and friends have been so good to Lex and even with my travels, she's been watched carefully or with me, never boarded. She was diagnosed about three weeks ago and today, the back leg is so lame she doesn't even use it anymore. I talked about amputation and chemo but reading here has helped. The worst thing is...yes, she's chowing down, breathing normally and having no accidents. This is a GREAT DOG and so very sweet. Her favorite place is on the beach in Michigan and as long as the weather holds out, when it's her time (as I've asked her for fifteen years) I will ask "wanna go beach"? I hope she tells me and I can take her home. I love you Lexie. Love, Da
—LexiesDad

Third dog with bone cancer

I have had three dogs with osteocarcoma. All have been Rottweilers. The first came on quickly when she was 12. Small mass in morning was twice that size by afternoon. From diagnosis to good bye was about six weeks. She was ready to go... Austin was diagnosed at the age of 10 when he broke a toe, the first vet thought it was something I had done, the second vet knew right away what it was. The tumor was still small, but in a bad place. We opted for no surgery. Two weeks later his leg fractured from the cancer. He was still trying to get around, wanted to eat, but physically he wasn't a good candidate for amputation. Chloe (age 10ish) was diagnosed three months ago, we amputated her rear leg almost a month ago after it fractured. No sign of cancer in lungs. She is doing really well. I would have done the amputation sooner had I known the cancer would not spread as quickly as it did for my other dogs. Now we just enjoy everyday that she is happy to see us and hitting us up for biskies.
—rottngirl

Hard to see her go through this

My baby girl Cheyenne is an 11 yr old Rottweiler who went in fro an X-ray when I noticed her favouring her left rear leg, in my head I thought it was arthritis turns out its much worse, when the vets told me it was Osteosarcoma I broke down. That day I got her home she was drugged up and just slept, today I stayed home from work to be with her. She now can't use her leg, removing the leg wasnt a option she has arthritis in her front right leg, she doesn't need extra strain on it, so hard to watch my baby go from healthy & happy , to a sore, sad looking girl. The drugs are not working well.in my heart I know that easeing her pain means I have to make the hard choice before she gets worse . I hate Osteosarcoma because the only way I can help her is to say goodbye
—Guest Kate

6 year old Rotti

My 6 y.o M rotti was diagnosed this week witg Osteosarcoma R front shoulder. He had been limping for about 2-3 weeks, got to the point of obvious pain. X-ray & poor diagnosis, told 4-6 weeks before a fracture. I wonder if i should get it amputated? He's only 6! Hes on Tramadol & Prenisalone, so far thats helping with the pain, as far as i can tell. It will be a sad day when that decision needs to be made.
—Guest Aussie Rotti

Cancer

Our German Shepard mix was diagnosed with bone cancer about 4 weeks ago! She was put on pain meds and started to feel better with her limping! About two weeks after being diagnosed she stopped eating dog food and would only eat certain things I fed her and then one day stopped all together! She threw up bile and had black diarrhea for about 4 days and sadly my husband found her dead at home!! I am devastated and I can't stop crying knowing she was alone! I do understand what happened, was it the medicine or did she starve to death? It just sickens me!
—Guest Jennifer

My Great Dane's Osteosarcoma

Our Great Dane, Isabella, started acting funny in Mid-July and being a large breed I immediately took her to the vet where they did a full set of exams, blood test, ekg, and so on. They found nothing wrong and I told them she had started limping. She is old and had a toe infection and we all thought that was it. Less than three weeks later I was bathing her and discovered her left ankle looked swollen, again my wife and I thought over compensation due to the infected toe. Three days later the limp was so bad we took back in, it was osteosarcoma. Due to her age and size amputation was not an option. In less than three weeks it has destroyed my otherwise healthy baby girl. We know she only has a few good days left and we are trying to make them as happy and comfortable as possible for her. We are going to miss here but we are so grateful she has been in our lives.
—Guest Isabella's Dad

Osteosarcoma

My Doberman boy Lance 10yrs old was dx with osteosacoma on 7/23 he had a chest x-ray no mets to the lungs. What can I do to help my boy. I was leaning towards a holistic approach but now I'm thinking it would be better to amputate his leg. It's the left front leg. He's a wonderful boy but I'm afraid to subject him to such major surgery.
—Guest Geri Martin

My trailriding buddy..... Butter.

My 12.5 year old yellow lab begin limping. Some time went by & it didn't get better so I took her to one vet & they said what it "could" be and that they would have to give her a bunch of pain meds and sedation to x-ray it & gave me crazy high quotes. I gave her the pain meds & previcox they prescribed without getting the x-ray. A couple weeks later I took her to a diff vet who did the x-ray w/o sedation, it was Osteocarcoma, well they were about 95% sure it was. I opted not to do a biopsy as they figured it had moved to her lungs because of her fast short breathing. Tomorrow will be one week from the time I found out, and I am trying to prepare myself to put her down this Saturday. She has lost her appetite for dog food, all she will eat is chicken & sometimes not that. She's getting bad diarhhea as well about once every 2 weeks. She was my trailriding buddy. I had her since she was 6 weeks old. I literally cannot stop crying. I feel for anyone going through this.
—kheather507

My choice

My heart goes out to all of you dealing with your best four legged friends. My Max 11 plus year golden retriever mix was diagnosed with ostescarcoma Wednesday. The thought of my Max dying or being in pain devastated me. The Dr. said that they could amputate his leg and give him chemo, but he would likely die anyway. I opted not to but him through this, instead, I am keeping him medicated and enjoying each day as it comes. Everyone's choice may be different but if you are doing it with the best interest of your pet and not yourself, then you are make the right decision with love for them. I have decided when his quality of life decreases, no energy, not wanting "cookies", unable to go outside to urinate, etc...or obviously in pain...I will do the humane thing for him..It won't be easy....as most of you all know. My prayers and thoughts are with all of you dealing with this. I deal with these last days remembering what a great blessing Max was to myself and all he met!
—sandiego91910

Our Experience with Osteosarcoma

It was October 2011 when our 12 year old Golden RetreiverxHuskie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his humerus. The leg was amputated and he started a course of chemo. He was quite overweight and we worked hard to bring the weight down so that the remaining front leg had less stress. It is now June 2013 and he is still going strong. He has a check-up by the oncologists every three months and so far, no secondary disease. He is now pushing 14 years old and as an old dog, isn't as mobile as he used to be but he still follows me around or finds a spot where he can see me if I'm working outside. He seems pretty content to sleep a lot but still chases the occasional cat, comes to be patted or to get treat, etc. Our biggest concern is his quality of life so we watch him very carefully. He just had a check-up by his vet and that was fine. In July he will go back to see the oncologists, fingers are crossed for that but we are very optimistic.
—Guest Snowyowl

2 Days Post-Amputation

Our beloved 7 year old Golden retriever Sonny's leg suddenly swelled up to about 3 times normal size two weeks ago and he began carrying the leg. It was on a weekend so we called an emergency vet who suggested it was a snake bite. As the swelling persisted, we took him to another vet who immediately said it was bone cancer but suggested no treatment (jerk!).. We took him to another vet for a second opinion and she told us our only options were to amputate the leg or put him down. Seeing as he is still a healthy, happy dog aside from this, we opted for the amputation. I'm aware of the statistics and timelines for this awful disease.. But I'm believing in a miracle for our Sonny! He is sleeping a lot as a result of his pain meds but adjusting very well.. And his appetite sure hasn't been hurt! :)
—Guest Brooke

Breaker

6 weeks ago our 6 y/o Golden Retriever, Breaker, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his front right leg. My heart goes out to those who have posted here or are reading these messages. There's nothing easy about this, and there are no simple answers. The treatment we've pursued with Breaker has been radiation and now Pamidronate drips. The story posted above about Katie and her experience is remarkable, and shows that amputation and chemo can and does work. In Breaker's case, he tore his ACL a month before the diagnosis so to remove a limb was not an option. The treatments have helped some, as have the pain meds (Tramadol, Gabapentin, and Rimadyl) but this is only pain management. There is no one proper response to this diagnosis, to the question of what to do. Trust yourself and your intuition as to what your dog is saying.
—Guest Kirby

It's not fair

2 weeks ago I was bathing my 2 almost 3yr old Bragle max when I noticed a small hard lump on his rib cage... I took him to the vets where they X-Rayed him and took a biopsy - the results came back as cancer! Myself and my wife broke down. But we had a tiny glimmer of hope as it might not be the terrible osteosarcoma. Another Biopsy was taken and this time the boney lump had increased in size.. The following day (yesterday - 17th May 2013) we received a call saying its definitely osteosarcoma! Again heartbroken and left with 3 options! Leave him as he is (on pain meds) and we'll have him for about a month, remove 5 ribs and have him for about 3mths (1mth being recovery) or the op and chemo, which gives us a year! At the moment max is running, eating well, being naughty - his normal self! But I can tell he is in some pain as he licks the lump (or tries to).. We decided not to put him though anymore operations etc... Instead we'll take it day by day and enjoy the time we have left :(
—Guest Max the Beagle

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Dealing With Osteosarcoma

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