Our 13-year-old boxer mix was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on her right front shoulder on January 20. Amputation wasn’t an option because of arthritis in her back legs and a previous CCL surgery in one back leg and a soft tissue sarcoma removal from her other hip that took some muscle with it last year.

The oncologist started her on Rimadyl and Gabapentin and then added Tramadol to the mix a couple of weeks later after the tumor had obviously grown prettt significantly. She reacted poorly to the Tramadol - lots of panting and restlessness. We took her off of that for a well and she seemed much better. Then we tried Amantadine. Similar response, but not as bad.

I feel like the Rimadyl/Gabapentin mix alone works better to ease her pain and keep her comfortable. She sleeps better and seems much happier.

Has anyone else ever experienced this with their dog? Can less medicine actually be more effective? It’s counterintuitive, so that’s what has me second guessing myself.

Also - we tried a Pamidronate infusion, but it did absolutely nothing.

Thank you in advance!
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I would say you know your dog best, you are there with her in person, you have to go with what you observe. If the gabapentin and rimadyl are relieving her pain sufficiently, then why add another? Anytime you add more medication it puts a larger toll on the body to process it and remove it. When cancer is involved, there is already a build up of toxins from the cancer itself. Anything you can do to minimize the work her body has to do is helpful.

But, the elephant in the room disclaimer, I am NOT a doctor. I happen to have a dog that is sensitive to medications. For her, less is better. It puts less of a load on her liver. But in your case, this is something you have to determine. The tumor may be bigger, but if she’s getting sufficient pain relief with just the two, I don’t see the need for something else. It’s just something to be really careful about as dogs do hide their pain quite well.

I’m sorry you’re going through all of this! Cancer is very difficult to say the least. I hope the best for your girl, give her a scratch from all of us.
—Loving Riley, Rosy & Axl always 🐾

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Thank you, Riley’s Mom! I talked to her oncologist the next day and she said almost exactly what you did. I’ll stick with the Rimadyl and Gabapentin combo for as long as she remains happy and seems to be receiving sufficient relief.

Thank you for the kind words, and Lily thanks you for the scratches!
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Hi Knizer! I'm happy to hear Lily is doing better. Tramadol is a super powerful painkiller cause it's also kinda hypnotic. If you see Lily in pain again, talk to your vet and see if you can try with Meloxicam first. My mother is a doctor for humans and she has been talking a lot with the vet, and from what they've said, Tramadol should be one of the last medications you give your dog to ease the pain when it's due to cancer. It's awesome for after surgery and broken bones, because you only give it for a short time, but for cancer, yeah, less is more. Apart from the liver damage meds can bring, some medicines cause acid reflux, which makes the dogs restless and adds another pain to the list.

Hope you guys are doing better. Hugs and blessings.
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