Ozziesmom
Greeings all,
I am new to this forum. I have a 15 year old maltipoo rescue named Ozzie who was originally diagnosed with pancreatitis. His was throwing up his food and not eating much. He is also on heart meds. This was not my first rodeo with pancreatitis for dogs that I have had. I home cook for my dogs and thought maybe their food may have had too much protein, so I tweaked and started using Judy Morgan's recipes, but when he was not improving, I had an ultrasound done and was devastated to find that it was very bad news with his lymph nodes enlarged as well as his pancreas and kidney. The vet said that my options were another ultrasound under sedation to get biopsies and if they could not get adequate biopsies that they would have to cut him open to get them. Reading prognosis for treatment IF it works is maybe a year maximum for remission. My husband does not want to put Ozzie through this. I tend to agree, but am torn on what is best for him. I have read about Fidocure (targeted DNA testing for what treatment would be best) but it is not offered in our area. I am asking for other member experiences on treatment results for lymphoma in senior dogs affecting multiple organs. The vet said the type of cancer he has can't be diagnosed without a biopsy, which of course I know, but not sure I want to put him through that. He has been losing weight, eats very little, drinks alot of water (which is good) and is on pepcid ac and cerenia for nausea. Apologies for the length of my post
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CK1991

Hi Ozziesmom, Two things occurred to me when I read your post.
1. Thank you for adopting Ozzie and providing him with such a wonderful home and so much love!
2. I’m wondering about his background since you mentioned that he is a rescue dog and if he’s already been through a lot .. just some thoughts..  For me it has always been about quality of life. I think that Fidocure is great but it all depends of course upon the diagnosis. From what you have described in the findings it unfortunately sounds very serious. I’m so sorry!! I hope you’re able to find peace with your decision.
Hugs to you!
CK

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P_Mom
Hi OzziesMom, I agree with CK, thank you for rescuing Ozzie and providing him such a great home. The love and care is so evident. These decisions we're faced with are so incredibly difficult as we always want to do right by our babies.

I lost my boy in February at 15. I had blinders on the past 1.5-2 yrs of his aging. Really thinking he'd be with me until his late teens as he was always full of life and joy, despite some ailments.  Then I suddenly lose him to kidney failure in February. But looking back over pictures, videos, and what I saw happening the past past year, the decline was so obvious.  While his spirit was always the same, he wasn't just 15, he was pushing 80 in terms of his mind and body.  I feel like we don't fully understand their age when we refer to them in teen years.  After the love of my life passed, only then did I look at my other dog, now 12, with fresh eyes to his true age 64. 

My long winded point is, I think age and quality of life is the biggest consideration when thinking of surgery. What about recovery? What if there are complications because of his age?  What will you do with the information you find out? Further invasive tests and treatment? Or will there be even more to consider going down this path? The list of questions go on and on. The list of options Vets give us make it difficult to discern what's best for our pups. There is a holistic Vet you may be familiar with, Dr. Karen Becker, who says, 'pet owners sometimes do all they can (in terms of testing etc) to know they did all they could, but it is at the detriment of their pets.'

I'm with your husband and think you are too as you 'tend to agree', but have so many options to weigh. I think our gut tells us as their Moms - we know them best and always know their needs.  Don't forget your gut check and intuition as you weigh through this.  I also recommend the HHHHHMM Quality of Life Scale for pets to help objectively assess where he is.  

Sending lots of love and caring thoughts to you and Ozzie. XO
Jennifer
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Ozziesmom
Hi CK,
Thank you very much for responding to my post. Ozzie was found by a rescue wandering the streets and we have had him for over 12 years (most of his life). I find it hard to ever be at peace with any decision that leads to the rainbow bridge, but I do know that it was a bad diagnosis with a scary disease and he gets very stressed going to any vet including the car ride there and I definitely dont want them to cut him open, which they said that they would need to do, if they could not aspirate a biopsy with a needle during an ultrasound. And go through treatment ( if that is even a possibility) for what? Another year at best?  I asked our vet what she would do if it was her dog, and she said that she would want to know and get the biopsy. I said, well if not cancer of multiple organs, what else could it possibly be and she said it was probably cancer. I was just posting to see if anyone had put a senior dog through treatment with lymphoma (which is the probable diagnosis) and if it was worth it for the dog (not the person). I had a 10 year old rescue that was having seizures and spent over $5000.00 between emergency vets and a neurologist who said that he had a stroke. The last one left him unable to walk right, but we decided to nurse him back to health. He learned to walk, but his mind was declining, and his quality of life was not the best. I still regret that decision, but sometimes you dont know until you try. I am trying to fight the little voice in my head that keeps telling me to at least get the biopsy if it can be done without surgery to confirm exactly what we are dealing with and hoping that they say it is a bizarre intestinal infection and not cancer. Just looking for feedback on others that may be in the same sinking boat
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Ozziesmom
Hi Jennifer,
Thank you for also responding.
I am so sorry about the loss of your pup as I know how that feels.
I am currently viewing Karen Becker's 2 part webinar on aging pets/end of life.
Hopefully that will help me not feel guilty.
Although I cherish the time left to spend with him, it is emotionally draining for me to " hope that he eats today without vomiting", but his tail is still up, he still follows my husband around everywhere he goes, and when he sees him put on his shoes, he barks because he thinks that he is doing that because he is taking him to the dog park, which he then does. He loves the ride there also, so I think, that, at least today, he has quality of life. It is just the days/weeks going forward that saddens me terribly, but trying to keep a positive vibe going for Ozzi's sake.
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P_Mom
Thank you for your kind words. I love that webinar. Fortunately I watched it several years ago (and took pics of some of the slides to go back and refer to) when I had both my pups Patch and Sam and again a few months ago as a reminder for my boy Sam.  She talks about the 2 different Vet styles (we should all be aware of this) and the slow decline and mac truck scenario - so important. Get the tissues out but I'm so glad you're watching these as I think it will help your decision making. As you know you will likely feel guilty no matter what happens. It's part of the process, but being proactive to get the knowledge and all perspectives will help you.  Big hugs!!! ❤

Ps the HHHHHMM scale is good to assess and monitor now and in the days ahead to keep track.  I didn't know about this until after I lost Patch and wish I had it to assess when he too began not eating, vomiting etc. 
Jennifer
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CK1991

Hi Ozziesmom,
I felt so sad reading (your post) and reply. I’m also very sorry about your other rescue dog but please don’t blame yourself.  You tried to give him more time because you loved him.
Thank you for the info on Ozzie’s background!  It’s hard to think of a dog wandering around alone but luckily he was found and then you brought him into your lives and have given him 12 wonderful, happy years!  As Jennifer said, it’s so hard to really see that our pets are getting old.  I’m just wondering if it might be helpful to get a second opinion as opposed to the needle biopsy.  To be honest, I’m a little surprised that your vet told you so definitively that she would want to know. Please don’t let this influence your decision or make you feel that you have to know.  Your reply to the vet was right on target.  Good for you!
I loved the quote that Jennifer shared: “Dr. Karen Becker, who says, 'pet owners sometimes do all they can (in terms of testing etc) to know they did all they could, but it is at the detriment of their pets”  
I think this is so true. I had a similar situation with my 2 beloved Shih tzus. I still feel guilty for putting my first dog through so many tests.  As soon as it was determined that he had cancer and he didn’t seem to be enjoying life anymore, I did make that awful decision but I wish I could have trusted my gut instincts a little earlier on. When his sister became ill and stopped eating I did everything so differently. I had blood work done and it was abnormal which was consistent with what I was seeing so I said no to invasive testing and instead I made the absolute most of the time she had left.. I took her to the dog park every day and tempted her with every treat she’d always loved.  When she completely stopped eating and didn’t seem interested in the park any more, I had the vet come to my house and let her go peacefully.  I’ve never felt guilt about that decision but of course the day itself was the 2nd worse day of my life.  If I can offer some advice it would be to take each day as it comes and try and keep your thoughts in the present. Enjoy Ozzie every day while also keeping an eye on how he is doing.  I’m so glad he still has quality of life and loves to have your husband take him to the park. All any of us really has is today so enjoy this day with your beloved boy.
Please keep us posted. My heart goes out to you!
CK

To Jennifer (P_Mom), I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved boy! 

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Ozziesmom
Hi CK,
I am so sorry to hear about your Shih Tzus as those times are definetely the worst 5 days in my life as well. I was also surprised as my vet's response about what she would do if it was her dog, as I feel that sadly, her answer was based on more money for her office or maybe she would just want to know what cancer he has. My previous vet was wonderful and never would have answered that way, but we have since moved to FL and this practice is the most innovative as far as diagnoses and treatments go, or so I thought. I had Ozzie's ultrasound done at the emergency vet clinic, as they would do it, and my vet's office only does ultrasounds under sedation, which I did not want to do because of his heart condition. He also saw his cardiologist that day and the ironic part of it all is that his heart is good (not worse) shape and he ok's ditching all of his meds except the pimobenden. When the emergency vet came out after the ultrasound he said that he had some very bad news and that he would forward the results to my regular vet as she ordered (allowed the referral) and she would go over the results. I prodded him to tell me that both lymph nodes were significantly enlarged, a thickened bowel wall, and enlarged inflamed pancreas. Even with biopsy results, the end game with the best (unlikely) scenario would be another year of life with who knows what other obstacles. Plus, now, he is so skinny and I would hate to treat him and cause even more loss of appetite. Yesterday was a "good " day as he took his Cerenia and ate 3 very small meals. Today, he is not eating and will not take his pill. I was able to give him a little raw goat milk mixed with gastro elm plus to see if that will help. I am researching in home euthanasia services in my area so that when the time comes we will be prepared. But it is heartbreaking to watch things unfold knowing that I cannot fix this. We also have 2 other rescue siblings including a 15 year old Brussels who is still very spry and athletic, and a 10 year old shih tzu but it doesn't make this any easier. I have found that rescue pups have more medical and emotional baggage (my other 2 are puppy mill rescues) but I love it when they realize that they have now just hit the lotto living with us. I love living here in FL but wish Dr. Karen Becker or Judy Morgan were closer so that they could be my vet. Sorry this was so long winded but I am overwhelmed with sadness and it is not even the end of the road yet. 2020 has definitely not been a good year.
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Sunny88
Hi Ozzie's Mum

I am equally sorry to hear about your Ozzie. He certainly did fall on his feet with you as you clearly love him so very much. I know that feeling so well. I lost my girl from Lymphoma as well on 20th August and it is very, very hard. the sadness goes on for a long time and yes, you will feel overwhelmed - just as I do. Try hard to focus on the good times and the love you gave him and not the rest.

Sunny1
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P_Mom
Sunny1, I'm so sorry for the loss of your baby girl. 💖

OzziesMom, I'm with you and CK on the Vet wanting to push further.  Also only doing ultrasounds under sedation seems a bit much and risky? I'm sure there are certain situations that call for this, but I thought most ultrasounds were not invasive/ relatively easy.  My boy was on pimobenden (Vetmedin) and began spitting it out/ would not take it.  He missed 3 doses over a weekend (had never missed a dose in 16 months) and I knew something was off. I tried forcing it in but my husband told me to back off.  I still feel guilty trying to force it in him but I was scared.  

You never have to be sorry here.  We all understand what you're going through. Sending much strength and love to you, Ozzie and your family.  
Jennifer
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Ozziesmom
Sunny1 I am also so sorry for the loss of your fur baby. Thank you for your kind words.

Jennifer, I am half way through on Karen Becker's webinar on letting your dog "die well" and it is helping me with the process and the guilt. It seems like most of my dogs wind up on meds and I know all too well the spitting out of the pill or pretending to take it only to find it on the floor.
I am taking it day by day. It is not easy and I know that it will get worse but Ozzie is still engaged with life and his tail is up.
Thank you for caring.
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twodogmom
Hi, Ozziesmom, 

I'm so sorry that you are going through this difficult time with your baby. There is so much going on with Ozzie, and I am not sure I can adequately respond with anything that will be helpful to you, but I will try.

My poodle mix, Lucy, a former puppy mill mom, first was diagnosed with mammary cancer, at about 12 years old. We did two surgeries and then chemo. Upon completion of this treatment and my thinking the cancer was gone, she still saw the oncologist for check-ups on a regular basis. She was then found to have lymphoma, and we began chemo again. A couple of months into that, her chest cavity began to fill with cancerous fluid. My choices were to repeatedly drain the fluid every 2-3 days by needle, or let her go with euthanasia. I chose the latter. My vet told me that if I did nothing, Lucy would feel she was drowning and then suffocate, and I was so fearful of seeing her afraid or suffering. Lucy never seemed to be in any pain or to mind the treatments. She seemed to me, she was always herself. But she was diminishing slowly, and in looking at pictures I took through her life, I can now see that the illness did impact her, although she never stopped eating and seemed to be as happy as ever.

Although I truly trusted our oncologist, if she ever stated or hinted that Lucy's life would only be extended a few months with all of this treatment, I totally missed it. I truly thought my little girl would get well. After reading more on the subject, now I believe that is more to be expected that there won't be a cure, it will be a year or two longer living, if even that.

Asking myself if I would do it all again, or advise someone else to, I would say, "It depends." It depends on how well your dog does in undergoing medical treatments. Lucy wasn't fearful and seemed cool with it, she had no issue being taken from me and handled by strangers. It depends on how much money you are willing to spend. It will be several thousand dollars. While quoted the price of surgeries and chemo treatments, they didn't tell me about the necessary and frequent x-rays and blood tests that also ran into quite a bit of money. There is an emotional toll for the humans involved, as well as time spent taking the baby to treatment and possibly needing to stay home from work if the baby is sick after chemo treatments. Most of all, it depends upon your willingness to accept that the outcome may not be as you hoped, even after you've spent all the time and money and ridden the emotional roller coaster. I am not sorry we underwent treatment for Lucy, because I am confident that I did all I could to keep her with me and healthy. But if the same illness happened to a dog that was afraid of the vet, strangers, and medical treatments, I think I would feel differently about it.

At times like this, it is hard sometimes to reconcile our passion and love for our babies with rational thought. For me, it was more desirable to have my baby die in a controlled, loving setting than to risk seeing her suffer fear and pain. My vet, while preparing for the procedure, told me she felt I was doing the right thing for Lucy. It did give me a little peace and relief to know that she died without fear or panic.

I pray that you find the answer that will give you peace of mind.

Jan
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Ozziesmom
Hi Jan,
Thank you so much for sharing your story and I am so sorry about the passing of your angel, Lucy. Out of desperation to get my dog to eat, I stumbled upon a post about Weruva dog food on a pancreatic facebook group post. I went to the local health food pantry store that sold that product and the owner had survived  terminal cancer and opened her store to help others. She set up a plan for Ozzie with raw sliders and CBD oil and raw goat milk.  to start, and it has literally been a miracle so far ( key phrase here). He went from an anorexic dog not eating on death's door, to eating and being engaged with life again. I had literally called an in home euthanasia vet prior to starting this regimine. Will it cure him? I am thinking that the odds are not in his favor, but for right now, I do not have to cry myself to sleep every night because right now he is eating and taking his meds and he is enjoying ife once again. Fingers crossed but I believe that all commercial dog food including prescription food is rendered crap, and I will be looking for a vet that also embraces holistic medicine for future check ups. All I can say is don' t drink the Kool Aid as veterinary practices are all funded by the pet food industry, which I  already knew by watching "the truth about pet cancer" which scared the hell out of me and convinced me to never give my dogs kibble again. Thank you again for sharing, as I was looking for feedback about treatment and chemo experiences with senior dogs.
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twodogmom
Hi, Ozziesmom,

Thanks for the info you shared about the diet. Many others who are on this forum may find it helpful. I also want to read about the things you're discussing in case (I hope not) we go down this road again with another dog.

I hope that the diet and holistic care helps Ozzie to live a happier, healthier, longer, and fuller life!

Jan
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