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Old 09-20-2010, 11:13 AM   #1
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sick fur-kid....

10 minutes after getting to WY, where I rode on the cattle drive (more about that sometime later), I received a call from my vet. Pathology results of a lump on my little girl Kimmi stated "suspicious but inconclusive". The vet said it appears to be a soft-tissue sarcoma and, if it was her dog, she'd have it removed. Seems that there is a fairly good chance of getting it all - BUT, the surgery is aggressive and invasive as they have to remove quite a bit of surrounding tissue.

Problem is.... Kimmi has a protein-related kidney disease that will eventually cause renal failure. She has done MUCH better than ever expected but the disease IS progressing. This little whippet has always been quite *spirited*. Her enthusiasm and mischiviousness has gotten her into a lot of trouble over the past 9 years - resulting in numerous trips to the ER and multiple surgeries. She's always bounced back to be her usual gregarious self. However, the past 6-9 months, she's been more difficult and seems to do worse with stress. I don't know if it is due to the kidney disease or just typical aging... or how much is just my over-anticipation for decline. I am a bit neurotic about her health - and many have commented on my sanity

Kimmi's vet is at a referral hospital that is highly regarded. I like the vet and although she has been fairly aggressive in treatment for the kidney disease, she has also refrained from other optional (exploratory type) surgeries in the past. So, I have always trusted her judgement and felt she's doing the best for my little girl. I don't know why I am now second-guessing her recommendation???

I just wish I KNEW if scheduling surgery is the right thing. No way to measure the affect anesthesia will have on her kidneys, no way to know how quickly her disease will progress anyway, no way to know how she will react to the surgery, no way to know if the tumor will reoccur...... it just sucks.


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Old 09-20-2010, 11:22 AM   #2
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Second opinions are a great thing for animals as well as for people. Third opinions are OK too. More information is always good.

Hope it all works out OK.

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Old 09-20-2010, 11:40 AM   #3
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Just my humble opinion here... If you're having second thoughts or questions, then it usually means that your inner mind is telling you to hold off. Perhaps your dog is telling you. I can't say, exactly, but I'm just getting a feeling from what you've written that your dog would be happier without the surgery.
I am all for prolonging life but also I have strong feelings about letting things be what they should be. Just my 2 cents.

Love your baby and ask her what she thinks. I do think you know already...


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Old 09-20-2010, 11:43 AM   #4
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My thoughts and prayers are with you and Kimmi. First of all, how old is kimmi? Second, they can stick a needle in it and get an idea what it is. If kimmi is elderly and the renal failure might take her first then there is no sense in putting her through the surgery.
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:07 PM   #5
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sick fur-kid....

Laura, so sorry to learn of Kimmi's illness. I understand how difficult it is to make decisions about our fur-kid's care as I was in a similar position with my 9-year-old Chihuahua, Dutchess, back in 1989. She had kidney disease, and was diagnosed with a form of lmphatic cancer about a year after the kidney disase diagnosis. When faced with your decision, I asked my vet whether it would improve her quality of life and life span. The response was a less than 50% probability, I chose to keep her on the treatment for the kidney disease . . . she made it 9 months before she went into acute renal failure . . . It was a sad situation, and today, I feel like I did the right thing . . . she didn't suffer but she was much more listless than before her diagnosis. I know that many changes in the technology have occurred since my experience so there may be a greater likelihood of a good outcome for surgery than there was then . . .
My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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Old 09-20-2010, 12:11 PM   #6
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We sadly put our little kitty through an operation the vet strongly suggested we do to remove a lump. The recovery was painful for her given she was older, and she never fully recovered. She went from being bright and aware and enthusiastic about being with us, to laying about a lot, not truly excited about anything. She loved her pets and being brushed both before and after, and that was about it. She passed six months later. The operation and follow up visits cost over $4 grand.

We still feel that we should have let her go with dignity and enjoying life as much as she could right up to the end. I will not do this to another of our little ones again.

But that is just us, and our situation. It is different for everyone.

Best of luck to you and Kimmi - and what ever you decide will be the right decision because it is what you've chosen, with much thought, to do
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:17 PM   #7
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There's no easy answers. After having gone through 3 years of cancer treatment with Alki before she passed this March, I know how hard it is to make these decisions and second guess yourself later. Just try to remember that we all have a limited time here, and try to make it as comfortable as possible, take the advice of experts you trust, and give your dog lots of love every day

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Old 09-20-2010, 12:25 PM   #8
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hi laura

not being NEAR the pooch right now, makes this much harder on you.

the vet is aware of and has been dealing with the renal issues.

she has very specific lab tests that can be used to evaluate IF the renal condition limits a surgery approach.

while anesthesia and surgical stresses are real, dogs seems to recover quickly from most surgery, even old dogs.

yes your pooch could expire ON the table, this happens and the small risk cannot be ignored.

based on your description of them both (vet and dog) and the vets statement "if she were my dog..."

i'd assume the renal condition has been factored IN to the assessment and recommendation.

the immediate and long term impact on the kidneys from this ONE surgical procedure are small.

sarcoma is sorta generic medical lingo for connective/soft tissue tumor.

the needle biopsies are often 'inconclusive'.

the primary treatment is surgical removal,

and depending on LOCATION (where on the body) can be an easy or hard procedure.

prognosis is based on PATHOLOGY (cell type and tissue invasion) and staging of the tumor.

some types of sarcoma are very slow to grow, others grow rapidly.

so while doing NOTHING is a very sensible option and the lump may not change much...

IF it is a growing cancerous thing,

that will ADD to the renal/kidney stress (cancer is metabolically/protein active)

many (most) sarcomas can be essentially cured if removed early enough...

IF the worst case pathology comes back (after the removal) that it's invasive or an aggressive cell type...

there will be more decisions to face.

there is no easy solution, and fortunately WE are the ones in pain (heartache), not the pooch.

older dogs do have sensory and temperament changes,

things like increase shyness/withdrawal, aggressiveness, confusion and may not tolerate daily stresses like a pup.

again NOT being near home, this time U really do need to trust/consider the skill/training and sensibility of your vet.

best wishes to you AND the hound.

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we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:57 PM   #9
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thanks for the thoughts

I'm sooooooo back and forth on this. I moved the surgery a day out so that I can (1) speak with my local vet - who has known me and treated Kimmi for over 8 years - for her opinion and (2) speak with the vet specialist to get a better understanding on the surgery.

The lump appeared suddenly on her side about 3 weeks ago. I initially thought it was another fatty tumor. The lump hasn't grown but has become more firm. Vet is concerned that it is growing underneath and, if it is cancerous, it could metastasize into the lungs.

Iíll keep reading and thinking. Hereís a picture of my girl resting on the curbside bed:
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Old 09-20-2010, 03:03 PM   #10
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This is the toughest part of having pets. In situations like this with our pets we have tried to think of what was best for the dog or cat, and not for us and our understandable emotional attachment/love for them. Of course that decision can still be a proceed and is not always a don't proceed. However, the animals comfort not ours, needs to be foremost. It's hard. God bless.
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Old 09-20-2010, 04:42 PM   #11
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So sorry to hear of your sick baby. Our 12 year old Brittany Spaniel developed a very aggressive cancer. We treated him with chemotherapy for several months and bought him about another 1 1/2 years. It was agonizing to deal with his illness, even more so with his death. It was also very expensive, and if we'd had kids at home we couldn't have afforded it.

We had always said we would not do extreme life-saving measures on a pet. However, when it happened to Gus we loved him so much we had to do what we could to save his life. We hated to see him be in pain, but nursed him through it and he didn't seem to hold it against us. We trusted our vet and, through this and other illnesses, found him to be more compassionate and attuned to the needs/best interests of our pet than many physicians are to their human patients. We asked very frank questions and he gave very honest answers.

When it was time to let Gus go, our vet came to the house early on a Saturday morning, gave him an injection outside on the patio and he was gone in seconds. Gus was terrified of the vet's office, and we didn't want his last emotion to be terror, which the vet understood.

Only you can decide what is best for you and your pooch, but if you trust your vet(s) I would go with their judgment as to whether it is reasonable to put him through this and whether it will improve or diminish his quality of life. Have very frank discussions and trust your instincts.

Good luck to you, and kiss your baby's nosey for me.

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Old 09-20-2010, 04:44 PM   #12
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Our local vet returned my call this evening. She too feels that Kimmi is up to the surgery and feels that it is best, for Kimmi, to proceed.

I took both my fur-girls down to the river. They both swam and Kimmi was wayyyy too interested in the dead catfish on the bank. She carried one in her mouth for about 20 minutes. Thankfully I did not have to fight her for it when we needed to get back in the truck. At home I gave her a snack and she ate it well. I know activity gives them energy, and it worked well this time. Then she chased lizards for a bit and now it's time to rest.

I have been warned that I am too anxious about their health. Not long ago, both vets told me to *get control* because my girls feel my anxiety. So, I guess I am too often thinking (overthinking) the worst. My last whippet died of renal failure and the last hours keep running through my mind. The disease progressed exponentially in the last couple days and I can't erase the memory...... My whippet before that didn't recover from radical surgery (spleen removal due to tumor that had metasticized) and passed a couple days later.

So, for now, I'm thinking she'll be okay. I discussed my concern about "breaking her spirit" with my local vet and she thinks Kimmi has enough spirit to do well.....

Thanks for the thoughts, explainations and sharing.

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Old 09-20-2010, 06:56 PM   #13
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I sympathize with you. We lost our our first dalmation to kidney failure a couple of years ago. It was a sudden onset and we kept him going for about a year before he finally crashed. Sadly we were in the progress of moving overseas and it was pretty clear the stress contributed his rapid decline in the end.

By contrast, we have a collie/Aussie mix that has addisons disease which severely damaged her kidneys to the point she suffered kidney failure twice while we tried to get control of the addisons. At the time our vet gave her 6 months tops. That was 5 years and 2 overseas moves ago. She's now 14, suffering hip displaysia on top of the Addisons and still routinely lays down the law to our other young dogs.

From all of this I've learned that you do what you can for them, and if their spirit is strong they'll check out when they're good and ready. They way you describe your dog her spirit is still strong. Trust your vet and pray for the strength to be strong for your pup.

Best wishes.
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Old 09-20-2010, 07:44 PM   #14
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When you have the power of life and death over a pet, decisions are very hard. They are family members and we tend to think of them as human. But in many ways they handle disease better than we do. They don't complain much and don't agonize the way we do about treatment. They accept injury and disease as part of life and do the best they can.

When our dog developed arthritis some years ago, we watched the progression of the disease and in her last weeks she had great difficulty moving. She never complained, a lesson for us when we felt sick. She seemed otherwise healthy, but for a dog arthritis is a very bad disease. When I had to carry her outside and hold her up to pee, we knew we had to make a decision. Were we letting her live for us or for her? The answer was hard. We knew we had to let her go and take her to the vet in the morning. We slept on the floor next to her that night, not sleeping very well at all. She still didn't complain, but it was obvious she was suffering. It was only going to get worse. It was a very bad morning, but we never have had regrets because it was best for her.

Laura, you are not in that place and the situation is not as bad, but it is hard nonetheless to make such decisions for a family member. I hope this works out for Kimmi and you.


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