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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
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Senior Golden issues

Hello all,

This is my first post here. I never knew about a Golden Retriever forum until now. I am very happy to be here, but have sad news I'm sure many of you have delt with. I am looking for opinions because I simply don't know what to do.

Me and my husband have a 13 y/o golden. We rescued him from a high kill shelter in Florida days before his time would have been up. He has been a very loyal friend and family member for the past 8 years. We knew early on he would have some health issues, as he was showing signs of standing up, probably due to hip issues.

In November 2009 we noticed he was limping. We took him to the vet where they took x-rays and told us he had bone cancer. I can't think of the scientific name of it, but I'm sure someone here is familar. They placed him on dermax? I believe. A month later we took him back because the problem wasn't letting up, and they prescribed him more dermamax and tramedol. I am sorry if I am spelling these things wrong.

Now lets fast forward to now. The cancer on his back right leg is HUGE. He can not put pressure on that foot hardly at all. I notice he uses it as a crutch occassionally. He can not get up stairs by himself anymore, but manages to get down them, but very slowely. I took him to the vet on Friday and was told his leg is probably broken. The vet stated she felt like he was in pain. He pants almost all the time now. He seems completely sane but I can tell he is sad. He attempts to play ball, but I think its more so him trying to compete with the other 2 dogs we have in the house.

I made an appointment to put him to sleep on Friday. I am feeling so guilty simply because he is fine mentally.

Opinions? thoughts? anyone else have experience in this?

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 12:20 PM
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So sorry to hear about your baby's cancer and progression. The panting is definitely an indication of pain.

Have you considered using a harness to help get him up and down? It is a harness made for this purpose, not the type used instead of a collar.

Making the decision to put your dog down is such a difficult one. It sounds like your pup is in pain, however, so hopefully that will help you with the decision. When I had to make that decision last July, my Maggie, too, was 100% mentally sharp but her body was just not able to keep going. She tried so hard to make me think she was ok but in retrospect, I think I waited to long to make the decision.

You gave your pup some great years. Take lots of pictures this week. Let us know how you are doing.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your reply. We had tried using a towel around his waist, but steep stairs + 114lb dog, its a task

I just realized there is a cancer forum. Sorry..... my first time here.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 12:32 PM
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Whatever decision you make for your dog will be the right one.
do you know if the cancer has spread into the lungs? If not, you still might want to consider amputating the leg instead.
It does NOT cure the cancer, but it does cure the pain. A lot of dogs go on to have many more quality months after the cancerous limb is removed.
But that, of course, depends on the overall health and how well he may be able to get around on 3 legs, given his age.
A happy/sad story. A customer of mine with an 11 year old golden retriever got a diagnosis of bone cancer in the rear leg the very beginning of July of 2009.
They opted not to amputate the leg, because the vets said she would only live a couple of months.
They now regret it, it's been almost 8 months. She's in a fair amount of pain from the cancer, and the leg has been broken now and is splinted. BUT she is still happy, eats well, and loves life. AND it still has not spread into her lungs! So they think they may still have a fair amount of quality time left with her.
Thoughts and prayers go out to you. Do consider asking your vet what, if any, benefit might be had from amputation instead, as long as you understand it's done to control pain, not to cure the cancer.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 12:42 PM
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I was also going to ask you if you'd consider amputating the leg. Don't let her age stand in the way of surgery. My Carmella was 13.5 years old when she had her chest cracked open and a tumor removed from her heart, and she bounced back faster than I could have ever imagined.

Senior goldens are tough animals, and if the cancer hasn't spread, I think your dog would do really well on 3 legs.

I'm sorry you're going through this, it's always so hard when our babies get older.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your replies.

I questioned amputation on Friday when I was at the vets... she shook her head and stated that its too late and would do no good. I see how Frisco is getting around on 3 legs right now, and its not good at all. He can hardly hold himself up to use the restroom. Perhaps if he was lighter? he's just too big...

She told us about amputation in the beginning but said most of the time after they do a bone marrow sample, its already too late. I don't know if I would want to see him limping around on 3 limbs. I think it would be pretty unbearable for me to deal with.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 02:49 PM
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I am so sorry to read your posts. It's tough making the decision about euthanasia for your dog. It's a very personal decision. Whatever choice you make, please don't second guess yourself. You've had 8 wonderful years with Frisco and he will remember that in the end. My heart is with you right now. It's tough.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 03:13 PM
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I am so very sorry. Have you gotten a 2nd opinion about the advancement of the cancer?
It sounds like your vet is pushing for euthanasia. You know your dog and you don't want him to be in pain. As someone else said: it sounds like with the constant panting, limping, he is in a great deal of pain.
Our last two goldens were fine mentally also but their poor bodies were not and they were both in horrible pain so we had them put to sleep. It is a very difficult decision but I did not want either of them to suffer just because I couldn't bear to lose them. I miss them every day but know we did the right thing.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 03:20 PM
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Sneeks, I would never presume to advise what you should do in this situation. Here are my thoughts for me and my animals. When I bring an animal into my home, I make an unspoken covenant with them that I will always keep their well-being and dignity at the forefront when making any decisions for them. Part of that for me is that no animal of mine will suffer if I can help it. If there is pain that cannot be managed in the face of a terminal disease, for me it is better to let them go with their dignity intact and their suffering relieved. Saying goodbye to my Cody **** near killed me, and that's not an exagerration. But I never had a moment's regret because keeping him alive would've been selfish and only so I could keep kissing his precious face. When your dog looks at you with sorrow, it may be time to listen with your head, despite the pain it will cause your heart. You asked for anyone's thoughts......and I am so very sorry that you and Frisco are traveling this too sad road.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-08-2010, 03:27 PM
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I am so sorry to read about your sweet girl.
Having recently let a 13 1/2 year old go I feel I understand your predicament. Your dog's mind is functioning fine but her body is betraying her. I made a decision a long time ago that I would not let my dog's lose their dignity nor a quality life. When the time either of these things are gone it is time to let them go. You need to access him along those terms and if the answer is he has lost either you need to dig down deep for the strength to follow thru for him. When the time comes it is truly the greatest gift we can give them - no matter how much it breaks our hearts.



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