Dog dying of aggressive cancer

sweetchastityJuly 9, 2010

We got the worst possible news our beloved Misty has cancer in the bones of her lower jaw. She's 12 years old but the vet said even in a young dog the prognosis for this type of cancer is not good. It is one of the worst cancers she could get and its metastasized to her lungs and possibly her liver. Average survival is about 104 days. This is terrible for us but devastating to my mother. Misty is the first dog to bond with her instead of my dad. Misty is her baby and fulfilled her needs for love and companionship.

We know there isn't anything we can do except to keep her comfortable and happy. In fact she doesn't seem sick at all given her awful diagnosis, except for the blood. She is dripping blood from her mouth constantly. It was the first thing that tipped us off that she wasn't well. That and a truly offensive smell that was alleviated when the vet removed some of the black tissue in her mouth. She bleed more after the surgery and we expected the blood to diminish a bit as it healed but we were wrong.

Its hard enough knowing that she's dying but seeing blood everywhere is killing my mom. Its a constant reminder that she's going to lose Misty and the blood gets worse. Its not huge puddles of blood but like a leaky faucet the constant drips are getting more and more and she drools a bit when lying down so when she gets up the floor is bloody where her head rested. Her water is constantly red with blood.

We noticed the blood and bad breath 2 weeks ago today. We took her to the vet on the following Monday. They did surgery and x-rays and sent the tissue for biopsy last Friday. Two days ago we learn that she was dying. Today my mom is considering putting her to sleep. Its all happening so fast and my mom hasn't had a lot of time to really accept the inevitable. This is devastating for my mom as it is but I know she wants to enjoy the time she has with Misty. Misty is on pain meds for her back/hips but she is eating/drinking, she gets excited to go for walks and car rides, her weight is good, energy seems to be normal... she doesn't seem sick at all. If she seemed like she was in pain or was struggling breathing mom would feel better about doing the right thing because she won't let Misty suffer. But putting her down now would feel like killing a healthy dog.

Does anyone have any advice on how we can make the blood more manageable even just for a couple more weeks. Mom wants to make turkey and feed her the way she did when she was younger before she could eat table scraps. We don't want to let her get truly sick but another 2 or 3 weeks would give mom time to spoil her and remember the love they shared instead of the constant blood.

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So sorry to hear about Misty. It sounds like you need to "do the right thing" and end this poor dog's suffering. Dogs don't show pain like people, so your Mom may be missing the signs. Surely your Vet has talked to your Mom of the pain Misty will have with this disease. Again so sorry.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 11:01AM
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I don't know how often you see the dog but you need to sit and watch her 'objectively' for several hours a day. When we love an animal we tend to overlook subtle signs that show us our dogs aren't comfortable. In addition, they do a good job of hiding their pain for brief periods when they're able to be happy about something.

Is she restless when she sleeps, does she have trouble getting comfortable when she lies down, does she turn her head certain ways when eating, is her breathing normal, does she pant a lot, and is she taking short breaths holding it then exhaling? These are just a few signs of a dog in pain. If you see changes you need to let your parents know. Problem is, these changes may occur suddenly so hopefully you see the dog daily.

Since the vet removed cancerous tissue from her mouth it's doubtful there will be any healing or growth of new tissue due to the cancer. Because of that, I don't see how you can make the blood manageable. At best, you can only isolate her to a certain area of the house to limit where the blood stains occur.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 11:42AM
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I live with my mom so I do get to see Misty everyday. I was home and got the call from the vet so I asked her about pain and how we would know and she mentioned several of the signs you mentioned Annz. We are softening her food but I think she seems to prefer to chew on one side of her mouth. She doesn't seem restless or find difficulty getting comfortable. She sleeps well at night. I told mom the signs and she's watching too for panting or difficulty breathing. Poor mom lies in bed listening to her breath for any signs of laboured breath. Mom doesn't notice changes as much as I do unless there is reason to watch, then she pays close attention. I'm more likely to pick up things that might be unusual or unexpected. I've been watching and interacting with Misty, kissing her snout, rubbing her belly, listening to her breath. When I rub her belly she rolls back a bit and bends up her paw and looks up at me with those beautiful eyes and there is nothing in those eyes that say she's hurting.

I called the vet for some options and she's going to cauterize to help stem some of the bleeding. Misty didn't eat this morning except for maybe a couple of bites, her food dish looked largely undisturbed, so we brought her in and hopefully it will help reduce the blood she leaves everywhere. If it was just here and there that would be fine but when mom gets up in the morning she has to wash her bedsheets because of the blood and the carpet, well carpet sucks.

As long as Misty is comfortable and happy then we want to enjoy the time we have with her and give my mom a bit more time to spend with her before she has to let go. If we thought she was in pain or struggling mom says she would take her right in, she doesn't want Misty to suffer even one day. But right now all we see is blood otherwise she seems like her normal self, nothing that would make us think she's in pain or suffering physically or mentally.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 12:14PM
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i'm so sorry you're going through this, how very sad. i lost my female corgi to nasal cancer one year ago. from diagnosis to her death was only one week although she had exhibited symptoms that went undiagnosed for a couple of months. it took a CT scan to discover the cause. maggie's nose often bled and toward the end, when it was getting more frequent, i could tell she didn't feel well so i sent her over the bridge.

it's never easy, whether you have 2 hours, 2 days or 2 weeks. there is never enough time to prepare. i would rather do this a day too soon rather than a day too late.

best wishes for a peaceful passing for your girl. (((hugs))), i know how hard this is. :(

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 12:14PM
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I'm so sorry.

I think what everyone is saying is that, since dogs mask their pain, Misty will act "normal" until the pain is too excruciating for her to bear in silence, & the presence of blood is a pretty big sign that she's already suffering.

Please pin your vet down & grill him/her about this;
ask direct, blunt, bald questions.

One or two questions should tell you all you need to know.

I would start with:
How fast does this kind of cancer progress, & how much agony does the dog feel?
How far along the road has my dog already come?
& If she were your dog, what would you do?

I'm sending you thoughts for perceptiveness, strength, courage, & determination.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 2:17PM
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Well the vet tried to cauterize the bleeding but it was coming from her teeth. Inspection of the teeth the vet realized that they were not secured down but floating in cancerous growth. The teeth were so loose that she removed two of them by hand and the bleeding just wouldn't stop. She applied a compression bandage and called us and we went down to say good-bye. Our vet is a wonderful woman and even she didn't know how far and fast it had gone. She hasn't seen this kind of cancer in about 3 years. She hoped that Misty would have the summer but it wasn't meant to be. The vet could have probably found out more by performing more procedures but my mother has always been honest with money being tight and wanting to maintain a good quality of life for Misty but not being able to afford extensive medical treatment. Especially since nothing they could have done would have extended her life or made her more comfortable. In a younger dog they'd amputate the lower jaw.
When my mom was crying over Misty and saying how she didn't know how she was going to be able to live without her the vet told her that the spirit leaves the body and you can feel them still with you. That she still felt her old dog at times. I think its a beautiful sentiment and hope it comforted mom. I am glad we brought her in because if her teeth were that bad then a tooth could have broken off and I can't imagine the blood there would be then.

Thank you all for your thoughts and words.
Here are a few pictures of our lil angel :(
What is that saying you use here? She's gone over the rainbow bridge?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 3:13PM
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I'm so sorry.

She was a beautiful dog and so lucky to have had such a loving home.
Give our best to your Mom and let her know we understand the void she now feels.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 3:29PM
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i'm so sorry for your loss and for how much your family is hurting. you did the right thing and always remember, death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.

if you have never seen the rainbow bridge story, this version is lovely...


    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 5:03PM
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I'm so so sorry about Misty. I read your post this morning and was trying to put some thoughts together for you; as I see, the decision was made for you. It is never easy however it comes to pass.

My mother lost her dog about 10 years ago and it was something similar with the dripping blood from the mouth. Her dog left us very quickly after the first signs were noticed.

(((HUGS))) to you and your mom. Misty is a beautiful pup, she reminds me a little of a lab/German shepherd we had. I have a few unhealable holes in my heart from fur friends I will never stop missing. The pain never gets any smaller, but in time you grow bigger than the pain.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 5:45PM
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I am so sorry for your loss. Misty was a beautiful dog. I lost my Gus to old age at 18. It's been 6 years now and I still miss him at times. I wrote this poem in his memory and it helped me with the grieving process. Maybe it will make your Mom feel better as well.

Somewhere above my little dog waits;
He patiently sits at a glistening gate.
His eyes, once clouded, are shining and clear;
His ears, long deaf, prick when my voice he hears.
When he sees me, heÂll bound high and low
On legs that used to be stiff and slow.
Instead of a collar, he wears a circle of light;
HeÂll welcome me Home, and all things will be right.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 9:22PM
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Thank you all for your kind words.
Thank you ninapearl for that link! It was beautiful! I'll wait a bit before giving it to my mom, I don't think she is ready for it yet.

Thank you quasifish, jeane_gallo, annz, sylviatexas and housefairy for taking the time to reply and thank you everyone who took the time to stop by and read this thread.

jeane_gallo that is a beautiful poem! When my best human friend died I wrote some poetry to help deal with the grieving process. I wish my mom would try something like that but she has to grieve in her own way.

I got a few more pics, I think that is how I also deal with lose.

A couple of pictures of her snuggling with mommy on the couch.

Sleeping on mommy's bed with one or both my cats.

Just a couple of months ago at the park.

This is a few years old back when Jessie was still with us and my niece was visiting. The rest of the pictures, except the park, were from this past Christmas.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 1:05AM
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This is a very sad time for you and your family. Your dog was well loved and looked it. Animals live too short a life span, but they do all leave a little bit of themselves with you always. I'm sorry for your loss.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 1:33AM
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Hugs and kisses to you and your mom. I honestly think that dogs have a short lifespan compared to humans because they move on to do more important things. They teach us as much as they can in the short time they have with us lesser humans.

Such a "pure" life surely means they need less time on this earth than we do. They learn faster, don't sin, and live perfect -albeit shorter- lives. Then they move on to another plane and guide other dogs or people. They comfort us while they are here -- they teach us to love more, give more, be more compassionate -- then the move on to help something or someone else.

Hug your mom for me.. but tell her that Misty taught her what she could while she was with her.

I'm hoping I learn a lot while I have Mocha, Ginger, and Rusty while they are here. But they are old too and I know I can't keep them forever. I just hope I can learn something from them while they are here. I'll give it to another dog when they are gone -- or maybe to another human.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 4:35AM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

sweetchastity, so sorry for your loss. My dog, Murray, passed in December and I miss him every day.

cindyandmocha, that is a wonderful way to think about dogs and their shorter lives. Thank you for giving me a new way to look at my four legged friends.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 8:47AM
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I can understand how you feel and how very hard it is. My boxer Taser had cancer on his thymus and from beginning to end it was only 2 weeks. This was last January and I still miss him so very very much . Hugs to you and your Mom

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 8:57AM
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I am so, so sorry for your family's loss.

My best friend lost her dog recently (he died in his sleep following a year and a half battle with congestive heart failure). I wrote this in an email to her after he died, and she thought it perfectly summed up losing a pet: "It is the worst part of the best part of our lives."

I wish your mom (and you and your dad) peace, in the days, weeks, and months to come.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 4:45PM
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I'm so sorry.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 1:28PM
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I'm sorry.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2010 at 11:57PM
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I'm sorry for your family's heartache. Five years ago this week I said goodbye for the last time to my beloved dog Born. He also had cancer of the jaw and did have jaw surgery/removal. It did not prevent spread. All these folks are right in their wisdom. The pain comes with the love..... but I wouldn't have missed the love for all the world!
May you and yours find peace.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 10:38PM
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sweetchastity I am so sorry about your dog. They become our children, and it is heartbreaking to give one up.

cheryl p thank you for posting your story. Several years ago we lost a 4 yr old pomeranian to cancer of the jaw. We opted not to have surgery, and I always wondered if we could have done more.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 10:20AM
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I'm so sorry to see that Misty is gone. Your family is in my thoughts.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 3:04PM
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Thank you all for your support! I've done what I can to help mom get through this but with her being retired and home all day with no hobbies or interests I can distract her with, it was very hard for her. So we got a new puppy :) I'll start a new thread to introduce her.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 3:42PM
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