Kindness in the Waiting Room

From the Dog Cancer Blog

Kindness in the Waiting Room

kindness-dog-cancerA beautiful thing happened in my waiting room this week.

It’s pretty common for my oncology clients to chat in the waiting area during their pet’s chemotherapy treatment. This is helpful: new clients hear about the experiences of pets already undergoing treatment. They see happy wagging dogs coming back from treatment, and hear firsthand from the pet Guardian that there really are minimal side effects from chemo. The dog is enjoying his daily activities. The dog is doing so well, the Guardian forgets the pet has cancer.

This week Jack and Mickie were being treated on the same day. Jack is a bull dog with a high grade mast cell tumor (MCT) of this back leg that has metastasized to his sublumbar lymph node under his lower back spine. He was in only for his second vinblastine chemo treatment, and so far has had no side effects. Mickie is a kitty with a recently removed high grade injection site sarcoma. Mickie was also in for her second treatment.

(This blog is really dedicated to dogs, because cats are so physiologically different – but this story happens to be about a dog and a cat, and I have to share it with you, so bear with me.)

Mickie the cat came to me a few months back with a large infected and ulcerated tumor on her left flank. It was oozing pus. The tumor was so large, my surgeon and I knew we would not achieve margins with the surgery. There was no way to get a normal rim of tissue around the tumor, which is critical to prevent recurrence. Typically, four weeks of radiation is recommended for these connective tissue cancers after surgery, similar to the soft tissue sarcomas in dogs. But these tumors also have a higher spread rate, and so chemo is also recommended. As you can imagine, it’s very costly to treat these tumors in cats as they often need all three: surgery, radiation and chemo. Not only that, but I also diagnosed a urinary tract infection in Mickie.

Mickie’s mom could not afford all treatment options. She’s an elderly woman on a fixed income. But she explained to me that Mickie means the world: she belonged to her brother who had passed away.  She had to treat Mickie.

So she got the money together and our surgeon removed the tumor, which was good, because I was concerned the infected tumor could start to affect Mickie’s overall health.  No chemo, and no radiation, even though we all knew it was less than ideal to only do surgery. We didn’t get clean margins, as we feared … and these tumors typically recur in six months without clean margins.

Still, Mickie healed well after the surgery. And then, at the suture recheck appointment, Mickie’s mom surprised us by telling us she wanted to give chemotherapy after all. Paying for treatment would be challenging, but she had to do it for her brother. We reviewed the cost and side effects so she could be prepared. She scheduled the next treatment, but had to delay a week when she needed just a little more time to get the money together.

I love when pet moms want to treat cancer, of course, but I worry when to finances are such a burden.

But Mickie’s mother was determined, and this week found her at Mickie’s chemo appointment just as Jack’s mom came in to pick him up after his treatment. And of course, they chatted. I don’t think they were waiting for too long together, but it was enough time for them to get to know each other’s pet’s story.

This is the part that still brings tears to my eyes.

As Jack’s mom went over her bill with my nurse, she quietly asked to see Mickie’s bill, too. In addition to the chemo that day, and the routine complete blood count (CBC) we ran, there were also some charges for extra blood work and urine tests we ran for her early kidney disease. The bill was almost $700.

Jack’s mom paid for it on the spot. She left with Jack and said a warm goodbye to Mickie’s mom, but didn’t mention her kind deed. My nurse had a hard time keeping her emotions to herself, but she respected Jack’s mother’s wish to keep it quiet and tell Mickie’s mother only in private.

So, I had the privilege of telling Mickie’s mom. We both cried. That was a lot of money for her, and an amazing act of generosity.

Jack’s mother didn’t just help Mickie’s mother. She also helped me, by reminding me that in a world filled with random and inexplicable events like planes that disappear, horrific ferry disasters, devastating tornados, high school stabbings, and loved ones with cancer, there are still moments of generosity and hope.

Live Long, Live Well

Dr. Sue

About the Author: Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology)

Susan Ettinger, DVM. Dip. ACVIM (Oncology) is a veterinarian oncologist at VCA Animal Specialty & Emergency Center in New York, and the co-author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity.

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Need Some Help Affording Veterinary Care?

eagle's nest, raton, trinidad & monarch lake hikes 3.28.15 4

I am always looking for resources to share which help people afford health care for their sick pets. This article from Dog Heirs/Where Dogs Are Family offers a numbers of options, ideas, and suggestions. Check them out. Do you have other suggestions? Please let me know in the comments section of this post.

Resources To Turn To If You Are Having Trouble Affording Veterinary Care For Your Dog

Dhicon_thumb By DogHeirs Team | March 13, 2015 | Comments (1)

If you have a pet there may come a time when you will need to pay for veterinary medical bills, which, depending on the medical emergency or condition, can be astronomical. Pet insurance can certainly help cover some of the costs, if you have it. But there are times when a pet’s medical emergency or illness will exceed your resources. In cases such as these, pet owners may face an agonizing choice.

With this in mind, here are some financial resources and options you can look to for help.

RedRover.org

The RedRover Relief program provides financial and emotional support to Good Samaritans, animal rescuers and pet owners to help them care for animals in life-threatening situations and resources to help victims of domestic violence escape abusive environments with their pets. They also have a program that helps with disaster relief, criminal seizures and hoarding cases.

The Pet Fund

The Pet Fund is a registered 501(c) 3 nonprofit association that provides financial assistance to owners of domestic animals who need veterinary care.

The AAHA Foundation

The benevolent arm of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the AAHA Foundation offers the AAHA Helping Pets Fund which works with AAHA-accredited veterinary practices to identify pets in need. Accredited practices may then apply for assistance from the Fund for emergency and non-elective treatment of abandoned pets and pets whose owners are facing financial hardship.

IMOM

This all-volunteer 501(c)(3) charity helps people cover vet bills when they just can’t do it themselves. They also help with spay/neuter and have a staff on hand to answer questions or get you the resources you need for any issues with your pet.

Harley’s Hope Foundation

Harley’s Hope offer several services for low-income pet owners, service animals, seniors and short-term foster care.

Brown Dog Foundation

This organization is dedicated to helping families who find themselves in a temporary financial crisis at the same time their pet requires life-saving treatment or life-sustaining medications.

Banfield Charitable Trust

The Banfield Charitable Trust has numerous programs including grants to help with veterinary care, food programs (like Meals on Wheels), helping homebound pet owners and owners in hospice care among others.

Shakespeare Animal Fund

They help elderly, disabled and those whose total income does not exceed the current federal poverty guidelines to obtain emergency pet care. The fund was founded after the loss of a beloved cocker spaniel “Shakespeare”. He died after a very costly illness, and in his memory this fund was founded to help others who might face financial problems while trying to save their pets.

The Onyx & Breezy Foundation

This is a privately run nonprofit started in memory of the founder’s dogs.  This foundation has helped animals in a variety of ways: from spay/neuter programs, to getting dogs on death row out of high-kill shelters, to providing emergency medical care to animals whose owners have fallen on hard times.

Handicapped Pets Foundation

The Handicapped Pets Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation dedicated to the health and well-being of elderly, disabled, and injured pets. They also donate mobility equipment to pets in need.

Credit Cards for Veterinary Care

Since many veterinary hospitals do not take payment plans, getting one of these specialized cards may be a solution if you are not able to afford the whole cost of treatment all at once. Your veterinarian must offer this service, in order for you to use so check with your veterinarian to see which cards are accepted.

Dog-Breed Specific Support

There are many rescue groups and associations that support specific dog breeds. Reach out to your local breed clubs for information on local, state and national groups involved in dog breed-specific veterinary care assistance programs. Examples include groups like CorgiAid, Special Needs Dobermans, LabMed, Pit Bull Rescue Central.
Disease Specific Support

There are groups that help with specific canine diseases such as Canine Cancer Awareness, The Reidel & Cody Fund, The Magic Bullet Fund, Helping Harley Fund, and Muffin Diabetes Fund, The Big Hearts Fund.

Working Dogs / Service Dog Support

There are also special programs for veterinary care assistance for working dogs and service animals, such as Assistance Dogs Special Allowance Program and The Gandalf Fund.

Crowdsource Funding

Try raising your own funds through fundraising platforms like GiveForward, YouCaring.com, GoFundMe, that let you create a personal fundraising page to raise funds for your pet’s medical care. They charge a small percentage of funds raised.

There are many other local groups and rescues that may be able to help, or point you in the right direction for assistance. Many will know of low-cost vet clinics and possible solutions for funds.

Keep in mind the groups listed above are primarily for helping families with emergency medical situations. If you are looking for low cost-spay and neuter and vaccinations, try calling your local animal control or rescue organizations for information. Another good place to check for this information would be with veterinary schools in your city or checking with veterinary associations such as The American Veterinary Medical Association.

Read more at http://www.dogheirs.com/dogheirs/posts/6603-resources-to-turn-to-if-you-are-having-trouble-affording-veterinary-care-for-your-dog#w6kUumiI3xtK1JRs.99

MoseyLove!

Diane, Mose, and Jasper

5.6.15

mosey and me

Diarrhea Help

Mosey had diarrhea often during his 9-month battle with cancer and I know it is a common ailment for all dogs. The following article from Healthy Pets provides many helpful tips to prevent, diagnose and treat. Please visit their website for additional resources.

What to Do When Your Dog Gets Diarrhea

by Dr. Becker

I think it’s time for another discussion on how to handle the problem of doggy diarrhea.

If you own a dog, chances are you’ve lived through at least one bout of doggy diarrhea.

It’s not a matter of if it will happen – just when.

When will your dog get diarrhea?

Knowing ahead of time the steps to take when your dog develops diarrhea or loose, watery stools can give you peace of mind when the time comes.

And as we all know, the time will come!

Causes of Diarrhea

There are a lot of reasons dogs develop loose stools. The most common reason is dietary indiscretion, which means your dog ate something she shouldn’t have. This was the cause of all the phone calls and emails to me over the holidays.

During the holidays, when people are cooking and hosting a lot of events that involve food, a really ripe environment is created for the ingestion of new foods dogs have not consumed before.

Sometimes it’s leftovers that cause GI upset. And sometimes, owners don’t even know their dogs have gotten into food.

That was the situation in my home, actually. My dogs were tearing open the garbage bags that we had put outside by the garage. They foraged all afternoon and into the evening on a feast of leftovers and we were clueless until we came upon the mess.

Many dogs spend much of their time sniffing around the house for morsels and tidbits anywhere they can find them, including gas grill grease traps, bathroom garbage cans, bird feeders, bird baths, ornamental ponds, and certainly the garden.

Another cause of diarrhea is a sudden change in a dog’s regular food. Also allergies to certain foods and poor quality dog food in general. I see a lot of kibble-related diarrhea in dogs.

Parasites like giardia can cause intermittent diarrhea. This microscopic parasite causes a wax-and-wane type of diarrhea that just pops up out of the blue. And about the time you think you should call the vet, the stool firms up on its own. You assume all is well – until another bout of diarrhea occurs days or weeks later.

Viral and bacterial infections in the digestive tract can cause diarrhea. So can certain medications such as heartworm preventives.

Even stress can bring about an episode of diarrhea in dogs and puppies. While you may think nothing very eventful is going on in your world, your dog can experience stress over even a slight change in routine. Suddenly you’re looking at a bout of watery doggy poop that seems to have come out of the blue.

Symptoms of Diarrhea (the obvious and not-so-obvious)

The most obvious symptom of diarrhea is when your dog is standing anxiously at the door and needs to get out quickly. Once he’s out he runs urgently to a spot and often passes loose, watery stool.

Or … you’re not around when the urgency hits and you find an accident on the floor when you get home.

A less obvious and often confusing symptom of diarrhea can be when your dog strains to go. It actually looks more like constipation than diarrhea.

Diarrhea upsets the normal rhythm of the muscle contractions in your dog’s intestinal tract. This can give him the sensation that he constantly needs to poop. So even though he’s hunched over and straining, his colon could be empty from repeated bouts of loose stool.

Other symptoms that can go along with diarrhea include fever, lethargy, malaise, loss of appetite, and dehydration.

Most healthy dogs experience an occasional episode of loose stool or diarrhea and it’s done – over with. It resolves all by itself. In this instance the underlying issue is probably something she ate she shouldn’t have, or perhaps stress was the trigger.

But any dog has the potential to become very ill from chronic bouts of diarrhea. Puppies, small dogs, and seniors are at higher risk of dehydration from just one round of explosive diarrhea.

It’s important to make sure that your pet has access to clean drinking water at all times, and encourage your pet to drink if you can.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your dog seems fine after a bout of diarrhea — meaning she’s acting normal, with normal energy – it’s safe to simply keep an eye on her.

But if you notice she’s also sluggish, running a fever or feels warm to the touch, or there’s a change in her behavior, I certainly recommend you contact your vet.

If you see blood in your pet’s stool or she’s weak or shows any other signs of debilitation along with the diarrhea, you should make an appointment with the vet.

If your dog seems fine but is experiencing recurrent bouts of diarrhea, you should make an appointment.

It’s important to bring a sample of your dog’s stool to your appointment, even if it’s watery. Use a plastic baggie and shovel a bit in there to take with you. This will help your vet identify potential underlying causes for the diarrhea.

Home Care for Diarrhea in Healthy Dogs

If your pet is an adult, otherwise healthy, and behaving normally except for the diarrhea, I recommend you withhold food – NOT WATER – for 12 hours.

At the 12-hour mark, offer a bland, fat-free diet. I recommend cooked ground turkey and plain 100 percent pumpkin.

Cook the ground turkey to remove grease and extra fat. And make sure the pumpkin isn’t pie filling, just plain canned or fresh cooked. If you can’t find plain canned pumpkin, substitute cooked sweet potato or even instant mashed potatoes.

This is a different bland diet from the traditional ground beef and rice combination that is often recommended. Even the leanest ground beef contains a lot of fat, and fat can worsen a case of diarrhea.

Rice, even though it’s bland, is very fermentable. Fermenting rice in the colon of a pet with diarrhea tends to increase gassiness. Also, rice tends to just zip right through the GI tract, exiting with the next bout of explosive diarrhea totally undigested.

Because of its large surface area (when compared to kernels of rice), many pets do much better with pureed pumpkin or sweet potato. Even through a bout of diarrhea, it is readily absorbed.

Mix the cooked ground turkey and pumpkin or sweet potato 50-50 in your dog’s bowl. Feed 2 to 3 small meals a day until stools are back to 100 percent, which should happen in about 72 hours.

My favorite all-natural anti-diarrhea remedy is an herb called slippery elm bark. I recommend always having some on hand so when you need it, it’s right there. You don’t have to run to the store.

Slippery elm is safe for puppies, adults, and geriatric dogs and it is completely safe blended with other medications. I recommend about a half teaspoon for each 10 pounds of body weight, mixed into the bland diet twice daily.

I also recommend you add in a good quality pet probiotic once the stool starts to firm.

Feeding a bland diet and supplementing with slippery elm bark is a good plan for about 3 days, at which time your dog’s stool should be back to normal.

If after 3 days the diarrhea hasn’t cleared up, it’s time to check in with your veterinarian.

MoseyLove!

Diane, Mose and Jasper

2.7.15

mosey and me

Should I Take My Dog The Vet Appointment?

mosey-ft collins 1.9.14

Honestly, this question never occurred to me. A vet appointment without the pet? But the following article from the Dog Cancer Blog poses some interesting thoughts? What if you just need advice? What if your dog is too sick to travel? Our oncologist is a three hour drive from home so Mosey is in the car for six hours on visit days. Do the benefits outweigh the inconvenience? Read below for the reasons your vet really needs to examine your pet in person. And, as always, thank you to the folks at Dog Cancer Blog for their very valuable information:

Don’t Forget Your Dog at the Veterinarian

When booking a new consultation with me, pet Guardians often ask if it is necessary to bring their dog to the appointment. From their point of view, they are often concerned about the stress of the visit on their pet, or maybe the travel itself.

But from my point of view, a consultation without the pet is like a visit to the pediatrician without your toddler. So, yes, you should bring your dog!

In some ways I am happy that someone wants to meet me and listen to the overview of their pet’s cancer and ask questions. Educating yourself about your pet’s cancer is important. But the visit is so much more than hearing about an overview of the how the cancer presents, behaves, treatment options, and prognosis. I also review your pet’s medical record; including previous history, previous tests and the cancer cytology or biopsy report.

But a critical part of the consult is my personal evaluation of your dog.

vet-with-dogFor example, if a mast cell tumor has already been removed, but the surgical margins are narrow or incomplete, I can only discover if a second surgery is possible with a physical exam. I need to see the previous scar on your dog. I may lift the scar, and see if we can remove more tissue.  I may even show the dog to our surgeon so see what she thinks and decide if surgery is even an option. If she says no, I just saved you the time and cost of a consult with the boarded surgeon.

Or, I may feel a small mass already coming back at a scar. If the tumor is back, it changes the recommendations. I only can determine that if I examine and feel the dog in person.

Measuring Is Key

I’ve also had cases where the biopsy report lists a soft tissue sarcoma (STS) as completely removed, but the vet notes the mass was 2 cm and the scar is 3 cm. Well, we need 2 to 3 centimeter margins AROUND the tumor … so a 2 cm STS should have an 8 cm scar. I will literally measure scars to make sure that they are actually as complete as reported on lab reports. If not, it’s unlikely the margins are clean and recurrence may be likely. And if that’s true, we need to know, so we can make the best plan.

I may also need follow up tests, like an ultrasound to monitor progression of an abdominal mass or to get a baseline.

Finding Other Tumors

Just last week, I saw a dog with a mass in the bladder, most likely a tumor called transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), based on the ultrasound at the primary vet. Penelope had the classic signs of TCC – straining to urinate and blood in the urine. The vet said the mass was not in the trigone area, which is great, because then we could remove the tumor with surgery before starting chemo. (Many tumors are in the trigone where all the nerves and the urinary tubes that connect from the kidneys and out the urethra. This area is usually inoperable.)

From the ultrasound at the primary vet, it looked like Penelope was a surgery candidate.

To be safe, I recommended a repeat ultrasound. This time the boarded internist not only saw the mass in the non-trigone area but also a larger mass in the urethra, the tube through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside.

Unfortunately, that discovery meant surgery was definitely not an option. With this new info, I changed my recommendations and we discussed medical management like NSAIDs, chemotherapy, and even a stent to keep her peeing if she gets blocked.

So Penelope’s prognosis and treatment options all changed based on the exam and tests. If she hadn’t been physically present, we might have gone ahead with a surgery that would be unnecessary and not even treat the larger mass.

Finding Metastasis

I may also discover something new on the exam, like an enlarged lymph node. If we aspirate that lymph node and find the cancer has metastasized (spread), it may change the prognosis and recommended diagnostics and treatments. If a cancer has spread to the lymph node, we may need to have it removed, radiated, or it may be the reason we add chemo.

Finding Other Problems

Without the patient, we could also miss other problems, like a fever, an infection, a heart murmur, or a lameness so severe that it changes recommendations.

Just yesterday, I had an appointment with Lady, a 11-year-old Russian Blue Terrier. She came to discuss CyberKnife radiation for her recently discovered aggressive bone lesion in her humerus (shoulder), consistent with osteosarcoma.

CyberKnife is an alternative to amputation, and we typically start with a CT scan of the leg to make sure the bone is structurally strong enough to be a good candidate for it. If the tumor has already destroyed too much bone, it puts the dog at increased risk for fracture even if we kill the tumor cells with high doses of radiation.

But looking at Lady (not her X-rays), I saw that she could barely get up and walk. The family was lifting the 100 lb dog to get up and go outside to relieve herself.

I was worried that her limping and disability wasn’t just because of tumor pain. It could also be neuromuscular disease, orthopedic issues, or worse, bone metastasis. I wasn’t going to do a CT scan (very expensive) and recommend CyberKnife radiation if there was some other major underlying medical issue that prevented her from walking. We had to figure this out, first.

So, during that appointment, I consulted with my surgeon, who looked at Lady and isolated the severe pain to her knees and hips, not just the shoulder with the tumor. X-rays confirmed severe degenerative joint disease and arthritis. Unless that can be helped, removing the tumor with radiation would not help her to walk. Even amputation was out, because a dog with this severe pain wouldn’t be able to recover easily.

This information was really helpful, because now we knew a few things:

  1. We can add pain meds, specifically non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to her treatment to help bring her some relief.
  2. Her underlying arthritis is too severe for an amputation.
  3. By treating her arthritis we can improve her comfort and mobility.

Once she is feeling better, THEN we can do a CT scan to see if she is a CyberKnife candidate. She may still be!

Bottom Line: Bring Your Dog

So … will I occasionally do a consult without the dog? Yes I do make exceptions, but it really limits what I can do for the pet and the family if the pet is not there to be evaluated.

Live longer, live well,

Dr. Sue

About the Author: Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology)

Susan Ettinger, DVM. Dip. ACVIM (Oncology) is a veterinarian oncologist at Animal Specialty Center in New York and the co-author of Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. She blogs about dog cancer at http://DogCancerBlog.com.

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

4.6.14

mosey and me

Lymphoma

mosey marist college habitat build 3.20.14 instagram

Mosey at the Habitat for Humanity Taos College Spring Break build

One of the objectives of this blog is to help educate and inform pet parents fighting cancer in their furbabies. Sadly, Mosey’s cancer is very rare and he is not a candidate for surgery or radiation (except a palliative version). I reached out to the canine cancer community to see if anyone would be willing to share their stories of fighting more common forms of cancer. I was very happy to receive the following facebook post:

Hi Diane! I’m actually a veterinarian and run a FB page for my pup that is going through chemo for lymphoma. That way there is info from both the doc and mommy point of view. Erin Houser Kelly
I confirmed that she was giving me permission to share her story and am so pleased to say she agreed. Her dog, Wrigley, is in remission from lymphoma. Here is their story from both Erin’s and Wrigley’s point of view:

On Monday, October 14th Wrigley was diagnosed with lymphoma. This is his page– dedicated to him and what is important to him (hint: it includes food, his 4 legged sister and the 2 little girls that share his residence– as well as his adopted parents

A humans guide to canine chemo: My lymphoma journey, by Wrigley
wrigley

Wrigley!

Welcome to my site old and new friends… Whether you have met me in person or are just an animal lover in general, I have deemed myself an ambassador for canine chemo. Why? Because it’s something a lot of pet owners ask themselves about– “would I put my own pet through it”? I hope to take away some of the scary thoughts about the process. By no means am I an expert– I mean, I’m just a dog (although I am pretty smart) and I’m not going to load this down with a lot of medical jargon. This is just my side of the story and I hope to be able to help some pet-parents along the way.Lets face it– cancer is a scary word for anyone. And chemo conjures up visions of hair loss and violent sickness– which is all very common in human treatments. However, in the animal world chemo doesn’t have the same side effects. The goal is to keep me happy and comfortable and my mom keeps using the term “quality of life.”

The sad reality is that I was diagnosed with a terminal cancer (Stage IIIa, B-cell lymphoma) and without treatment my life expectancy would have been 4-6 weeks. There is a good chance I would be gone by now or nearing the end of my life if my parents chose not to go forward with chemotherapy. The day I was diagnosed I didn’t look or act sick, mom just noticed my lymph nodes were a little big. However, it’s a rapidly progressive disease that would have caused me to go downhill very quickly. And my family wasn’t ready to say good-bye just yet.

A few days later my mom had me seen by a veterinarian oncologist (Dr. Back actually graduated vet school with my mom back in 2007– but she went back to become a specialist– she’s obviously SUPER smart!). They started chemotherapy that day and a week later I was determined to already be in remission. The Dr is doing something called the “CHOP protocol”which is an acronym for the different types of meds they use to treat me. It’s a 6 month protocol and after that point I am just monitored for return. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of IF it comes back, it’s a matter of WHEN. However, with chemo my life expectancy went from 6 weeks to up to 12-18 months (maybe 2 depending on how well my body does). That’s a big difference– especially when you calculate that into “dog years.”

The biggest question people ask my mom is “how sick does the chemo make him?” And she can easily say that there have been very, very few side effects. The biggest problem I had was with a steroid that was used at the beginning of treatment that makes me drink a lot of water and so I have to urinate a lot too– so started having accidents in the house. Plus the steroid makes me very hungry so I’m not above breaking into cabinets, purses and the trash can to steal food. The good news is that the steroid dose has tapered and I’m done with it next week– and I’m no longer having accidents in the house. Overall, no one can tell I’m sick… The chemo hasn’t made me throw up and I still have all my hair– I will have about a 6 hour window once a week where I’m sleepy but that’s the extent of the effects so far. Overall, my quality of life is amazing– I’m still romping around the house with my sister, love to take walks and lay on my back in the grass under the sun.

If this blog can help someone else along the way then I think I’ve done a good job. Lymphoma is a tough diagnosis (and my mom cried for 2 days straight when she found out)– but chemotherapy is giving me a chance to spend an extra year (hopefully more) with my family.

If you feel this note has helped you, or may be beneficial to friends/family that may have a pet in this position, please feel free to share this note or my page. And I’m always open to questions. Both my parents work full time so I have plenty of time to blog during the day while they are gone 😉

Yours in Remission,

Wrigley

I so appreciate hearing this success story…remission is something we all hope and pray for. If your pet has been diagnosed with Lymphoma and you have specific questions for Erin or Wrigley please ask them in the comments section of this post. I will continue to provide updates as to Wrigley’s prognosis.

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

3.29.14

mosey and me

A Vet Shares 10 Warning Signs for Cancer in Your Dog

SHARE this, it might save a life!
Read more at http://theilovedogssite.com/do-you-know-the-warning-signs-for-cancer-a-vet-gives-you-10/#lsF6XQLx6cgViDlS.99

Everyone knows that the quicker you find and diagnose cancer, the better chance you have at fighting if off and prolonging your dog’s life. While annual check-ups at the vet are important for bringing your attention to something you may not have been aware of, a year in the fight against cancer is just too long.

Be proactive and look for signs that your dog, regardless of age, may have cancer. Dr. Kelly Ryan, DVM, at the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America and Humane Society of Missouri has 10 warning signs that dog owners should know and watch for.

Canines are susceptible to the same types of cancers as humans, but they can metastasize at a much faster rate. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

1. Unusual odors. While “dog breath” is common, if you notice unusually foul odors coming from the mouth, nose or rectal area, it may be due to a tumor.

2. Bumps or lumps on or under the skin. Get into the habit of checking your pet’s skin monthly. Don’t forget to check behind ears and around the face. Even if you find a very tiny lump or bump, cancer can grow very quickly. Any new lumps or bumps should not be ignored. If the bumps are bleeding or there is discharge, see a veterinarian immediately.

3. Weight loss. Unless you’ve put your pet on a diet, their weight should remain consistent. Sudden weight loss is a cause for concern.

4. Appetite changes. If your dog has lost interest in meal times, illness is likely the cause. Many health conditions cause appetite loss. Cancer is a very serious one.

5. Lethargy. Learn to tell the difference between a lazy dog and a lethargic one. You should know your dog’s personality fairly well. If he doesn’t seem himself and is spending more and more time sleeping, talk to your veterinarian.

6. Respiratory problems. Dogs can get lung cancer, and some indicators could be coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath after very little exercise.

 

Healthy gums are bright pink, and when you press your finger into, the color comes back quickly

Healthy gums are bright pink, and when you press your finger into, the color comes back quickly

7. Behavior changes. Has your dog been snapping more than usual? Are they spending more time away from you? They could be in pain. Also pay attention to how they are walking, eating and playing. If you notice any limping or struggling – it’s time to see the vet.

8. Open sores. If your dog has an open sore or other wounds that aren’t healing properly, it could be because of a larger medical issue.

9. Vomiting and diarrhea. If you notice that your dog is vomiting frequently, and/or has diarrhea, you should see your veterinarian. Especially if it’s accompanied by any other of these symptoms. Also check your dog’s abdomen for bloating and distension.

10. Pale gums. Know what a healthy dog’s mouth looks like so you can tell when your canine’s isn’t. Very pale gums could mean blood loss – cancer is one of many illnesses associated with this symptom.

SHARE this, it might save a life!

Read more at http://theilovedogssite.com/do-you-know-the-warning-signs-for-cancer-a-vet-gives-you-10/#lsF6XQLx6cgViDlS.99

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

3.9.14

mosey and me

Buried Next to Your Pet? B.F.F. in Albuquerque, NM

I saw this post today on the Albuquerque Journal News website. What a fantastic idea!

Rick Brittain, a Family Services consultant, sits in a room used by families to have a private moment with their pets before they are prepared for burial. He holds an urn shaped like a collie. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Rick Brittain, a Family Services consultant, sits in a room used by families to have a private moment with their pets before they are prepared for burial. He holds an urn shaped like a collie. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

When Laree Perez passes away, she will spend eternity near her whole family – not only her late husband Jerry, but also their three black Labrador retrievers, Fudge, Hershey and Kiss; and Perez’s three horses, Wilbur, Smooth and Splash.

With them will be Qwendy, another German shepherd Perez lost two years ago, and DIXI, her 2-year-old German shepherd, the newest member of her family.

Laree Perez rides her horse Wilbur In 2013. She said she will be cremated, placed in an urn, and buried near Wilbur when she dies. (Courtesy of Laree Perez)

Laree Perez rides her horse Wilbur In 2013. She said she will be cremated, placed in an urn, and buried near Wilbur when she dies. (Courtesy of Laree Perez)

Perez has purchased enough burial plots for the whole brood at a unique interment area at Sunset Memorial Park. Created so the remains of pets and their human companions can be buried together, it is called Best Friends Forever, or BFF.

The quarter-acre area, landscaped into a Zen-like garden and separated from the rest of the cemetery, is believed by the staff at Sunset, who regularly attend national conferences, to be the only cemetery in the Southwest that buries the remains (in most cases cremated) of both animals and humans together.

“We can all be together again,” said Perez, 60, an investment manager and Sunset Memorial Park Association board member who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. A resident of Corrales for 20 years, she also has a ranch in Yeso.

Her husband died almost 18 years ago in a plane crash at age 52, a tragedy that the dogs they shared at the time, which she referred to as her “four-legged children,” helped her get through.

“It’s the answer for people who think like I think, that animals should have a place to go, just like we should, at their time of death,” she said in a recent interview.

To continue reading please click here

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

3.9.14

mosey and me

Chemo Side Effects Help

Mosey and Zola at Substance 3

Mosey has been back on Palladia for a full month. We received really good news yesterday…at our monthly check up with the oncologist we learned that, not only has the tumor not grown, the tumor has shrunk a tiny bit! We compared x-rays from December and then had the radiologist confirm. We are ecstatic as we did not dare to hope that the tumor would cease to grow for a bit…the icing on the cake was the shrinkage. So we are staying with the Palladia as we think this is what is causing the good prognosis. That means we need to deal with the side effects. Mosey suffers from very soft stools a few times a week. We also learned that there are increased levels of protein in his urine which means yet another drug to counter this condition. The following article from The Dog Cancer Blog offers valuable tips and advice for dealing with side effects from Chemotherapy.

Chemo side effects: What should I do?

by DEMIAN DRESSLER, DVM

 

Chemotherapy does have side effects that need to be considered.  About 5% of these will require your pet to be hospitalized, on the average, and there is a 1% chance of fatal reactions overall with chemotherapy.

Although I have not seen any published data, unpublished estimates on overall risks of any side effect are roughly 25-40%.  This means that about one in three dogs will have some kind of adverse effect, but it could be a mild one.

Some of these milder side effects include loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Other adverse reactions include lowering of white cells (leukopenia, which causes immune system suppression), heart damage, lung damage, kidney injury, anemia, blood clotting problems, liver injury, and others.

Of course, this is a summed list for many different drugs.  A given drug will not have all of these.  You should certainly be aware of side effects with all drugs but particularly Doxorubicin (Adriamycin), cyclophoshamide, prednisolone or prednisone, Lomustine, Palladia,  vincristine, L-asparaginase, and more.

You should ask your veterinarian or oncologist about the specific effects of your dog’s treatment, and what to watch for.

For example, keeping track of body weight is quite important during cancer care.  You may need to increase the amount of calories your dog consumes.  When muscle is lost, the amino acids loss in the body hinder the immune system and the lining of the intestine.

Similarly, it is also important to monitor your dog’s rectal temperature.  The reason for this is that a low white blood cell count can often lead to infection in the body.  Most commonly, infection will produce a fever.  Most chemotherapy drugs used in cancer protocols can cause low white blood cell counts.

If your dog is drooling or smacking his or her lips, it could be a sign of nausea or too much acid in the stomach.  Usually this means we need to temporarily rest the stomach, then go on a special diet, offer antacids like cimetidine, give ginger, and consider branched chain amino acid supplements to help restore stomach or intestinal health.

Keeping an eye on the quality of the stool is vital too.  Many chemo drugs will cause diarrhea.  If this occurs, your vet should also temporarily change to a highly digestible food, and consider using something to help with the diarrhea.  Slippery elm, pepto bismol, kaopectate, or other medications and supplements can all help.

The Dog Cancer Survival Guide has more information about what you can do to help with some of the more serious side effects by giving certain supplements.  Please consult with your veterinarian and the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for proper doses for your individual dog.

Best to all,

Dr D

About the Author: Demian Dressler, DVM

Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM is known as the “dog cancer vet” and is author of Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. Visit his blog and sign up free to get the latest information about canine cancer. Go to http://DogCancerBlog.com.

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

2.26.14

mosey and me

How much activity is appropriate for my cancer stricken dog?

I saw this post a few weeks ago and it was perfect timing. Mosey was just recovering from a few really bad days…so bad that we actually had made an appointment to send him over the rainbow bridge. Earlier that week, when he was happy and active, we were at the park playing his favorite game of catch/retrieve with a tennis ball. After the bad days were over, our vet said that perhaps we had overdone the exercise. Imagine my guilt…I thought playing and exercise were good things. The advice and tips below came directly from the Dog Cancer blog:

Enhancing Life Quality for You and Your Dog with Cancer: The Joy of Play

by SUSAN HARPER

play-for-dog-cancerWe love it when our dogs want to play. The repeated nudges and insistent offers of their toys are charming, aren’t they?

Just like us, a dog who doesn’t feel well may go through periods of not wanting to play, or being too tired or not physically capable of regular play. Responding to surgery, chemo or radiation treatments, and just the exhaustion of the emotions and perhaps the tension of vet visits affects them, just as it does us. Even our wonderful senior animals, with or without a cancer diagnosis, may appear to be “past” the playful stage of their lives.

We can get so wrapped up in the drama of their situation that we may over-encourage rest and quiet.

“Don’t use your energy, Ziggy.”

“You’ve got to rest and heal, Oreo.”

It’s so easy to forget how important — and actually healing — play can be for us all.

Using Joy to Heal

In The Dog Cancer Survival Guide Dr. Dressler has included valuable information about dealing with our own emotional state.  Our dogs are so sensitive to our moods, the last thing we want is for them to take on our depression or worry.  We need stress relief and joy; our dogs need stress relief and joy.

Your Dog’s Job Is Joy!

In addition, our dogs want something to do. A job. A purpose. Play fulfills this need beautifully. Here are some suggestions to modify the usual games for our recovering pets, and bring back the joy for us both.

Ball Fetch: My boys and girls spent their youth flying down hills and across fields to get the prized tennis ball.  When my senior could no longer walk I discovered he still loved that ball:  I just had to change the game.

I’d sit in front of his bed and tempt him with the ball.  As the temptation grew he’d follow my magician’s hands. Where’s the ball?  I’d bounce it in front of him, closer, further away, closer again. When he started reaching for it with open jaws and bright eyes I aimed the bounces to land just in front of his nose.  He’d catch it and chew with complete joy, then spit it back at me for another go.

Involving my family in ‘keep away’ teasing added to the fun and within minutes we were laughing and my dog was thoroughly enjoying his ball again. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t chased it.  He’d caught it, and the prize was his!

Puzzle Toys:  The pet industry is full of great choices in puzzle toys these days.  Everything from balls in which you can hide treats like the Ethical Contempo Halo Food and Treat Dispense for Dogs, to Nina Ottoson’s Interactive Dog Toy and the Ethical Pet Seek-a-Treat- Shuffle Bone Dog Puzzle.  You can find these and many variations, and we’ve listed a great selection in the Dog Cancer Shop.

The secret to all of these toys, though, is that you play with your dog.  Our busy lives are such that we’re used to handing over a toy and walking away. How much better is it to play the puzzle with your dog? Add your excitement to hers as she wonders where the treat is?

Find-It Games: ”Find-it” doesn’t have to be a high-speed chase game outside.  Simply playing “which hand” adds a dose of joy to the regular “here’s your treat” action.  Showing the treat, then hiding a few in another room and taking your dog in to look together is easy and fun.  Don’t hesitate to ask for the old bargain, a ‘speak’ for a treat or a ‘paw’ for a treat. They love to be involved.

Tug and Tussle: It doesn’t need to be rough play, but this variation of keep-away gets their juices flowing and tails wagging.

Food Games: My dog loves his food, and we hand-feed because of his throat surgery. A few months ago I found myself in a routine.

1. Make good food.

2. Feed good food to dog.

3. Done.

I was just feeding spoon after spoon like a robot.  It was time for a wake-up call!  No longer did the food simply appear before his mouth. Occasionally I would present it just near enough that he’d reach for it.  Or I’d offer it higher, or lower than before, or circle it round his nose. Where would the food be next?

He became more involved and more interested because I was more involved and interested.  He got back at me, too, when he wouldn’t let go of the spoon. Who says dogs don’t have a sense of humor?

Licking and Chewing: Dogs release tension through their jaw, and we know how much our pets love leisurely licking their paws or a nice treat. Using a Kong, or a kong-like toy is a great way to give them long periods of content.  Fill one with a little bit of healthy peanut butter, honey, or some of your own healthy, pureed food that will stick to the inside.  If your dog cannot hold it for any reason, join in and hold it for him.

You can also make tasty ice-licks. I take the chicken broth from my cooking, fill very small saucers and freeze them.  My dog loves licking the tasty, cold treat.  However, don’t leave them alone with it …  once the ice is gone he may forget that the saucer isn’t edible!  Chicken broth ice cubes are also a great treat, and frozen treats are easy to make and keep.

Laugh:  Finally, I found a wonderful and surprising resource; Laughing Dog.  The website explains how dogs vocalize when they are happy, and gives a brief demo on how to mimic their laugh.  Other resources are available along with the research that went into the development.  I regularly laugh with all my dogs, and you know what? They laugh along with me.

These are just a few suggestions to try. And here’s another: remember to bring variation into the environment too. Move your dog’s bed around with the sunshine, because the vitamin D is so important for them. If your dog is often confined inside, wrap her up and take her out.  Go for short drives. Sit on the floor together while you watch TV. Share a bowl of popcorn. Offer different bedding options. Take a nap on the floor with him.

Don’t just tell him how much you love him, tell him how happy you are that he is your dog.

Now’s the Time:

I’ve spoken to so many people who feel as I do; that this journey has actually brought me closer to my dog in ways I hadn’t considered before.  Enjoy the moments. None of us know what’s ahead, but it’s really not as important as this moment, right now.  So thank you for reading, and I hope this helps.

Now get off your computer and go play with your dog!

Happy tails!

About the Author: Susan Harper

“I’m a member of the Dog Cancer Support Team & a Dog Cancer Survivor! Two of my beloved dogs have had cancer, and with the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, Apocaps, and full spectrum help given with boundless love, Shadow lived 10 times longer than his prognosis, and Keymos triumphed, cancer-free for nearly 4 years, passing over peacefully in our arms at the age of 16. As a Member and Assistant Teacher with the Healing Animals Organization (MHAO) I’m passionate to help dogs and their people get through this journey. Early on I asked the Team how I could help, and here I am.”

Thank you Susan…This really helped.

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

2.16.14

mosey and me

Anti Cancer Canine Diet (part 1)

mo, maddie & di 7.2.12When Mose was first diagnosed with cancer I went into shock…grief and shock. My husband and I cried all night and every time I looked at my dog my heart broke. The next day I was angry…and determined to do whatever I could to stave off the progression of the growing tumor. I researched anti cancer treatments and asked Facebook support groups for suggestions. Food and diet were first on the list. So I immediately put Mose on an anti cancer diet.

I found the website dogcancerblog.com which provides a ton of tips, ideas, facts and programs to fight cancer. They sent me a free download with their philosophy on the proper diet for all dogs, but most especially those with cancer. The diet is an excerpt from their book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. I have implemented many of their suggestions along with learnings from other experts. This post is the first of a series leading to the diet I have implemented for Mose.

We have always fed Mosey what I thought was a healthy diet. A high quality, organic dry food along with “treats” made from wholesome ingredients. He also always got “bites” from our meals. He loved bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil. I am a food blogger and use organic/sustainable, local ingredients in our meals so I was ok with him eating what we ate. Meat, fowl and seafood is grass-fed, organic and grain free and/or wild caught. So I felt pretty comfortable with the diet we fed him all his life. Imagine my dismay when the first thing I read regarding an anti cancer diet was to go grain free.

From the Dog Cancer Diet:

“You’ll see very few grains in the ingredient list. There are also no added sugars. Most grains and sugars are absent because they are not part of a dog’s natural diet. Perhaps more important, most grains can feed cancer. Let me explain. Grains and sugars are packed with starches and simple carbohydrates, otherwise known as simple sugars. Cancer cells love simple sugars. They feast on simple sugars. They grow stronger and faster on a diet of simple sugars. In other words, cancer is a junk food junkie.
Very few dog lovers actually feed their dog pure sugar, but many feed their dog simple carbohydrates without realizing it.
Most forms of corn and wheat break down very easily into simple sugars. If you look at the ingredient list on most commercial dog foods, corn and/or wheat are often first on the list.

Cancer is a junk food junkie. Cancer thrives on a diet full of sugar. Cutting out any foods that are sugary – or that break down easily into simple sugars – is very important. Most forms of corn and wheat break down into simple sugars, and these are often major ingredients in some commercial pet foods and treats.

Even dog lovers who feed their dog homemade food often include carbohydrate-rich potatoes, peas, corn and carrots in their meals. The body breaks these vegetables down very quickly into simple sugars.Because simple sugars feed cancer, I advise you to avoid carbohydrates and sugars in your dog’s diet. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, can be a good source of energy for your dog’s body while she fights cancer. Oatmeal and brown rice are both good sources of energy. There is even some evidence that the polysaccharides in their bran are cancer-fighters!”

taste of the wildSo we have eliminated all grains from Mosey’s diet. I shudder to think that I used to make him homemade treats from organic white, wheat and corn flour sweetened with honey. I thought because I used organic ingredients I was doing a good thing. I am trying so hard to stop feeling guilty. The excuse of “I just didn’t know” rings hollow. I now feed him a mix of dry and canned food from a very high quality grain free brand called  Taste of the Wild. Their philosophy is to create meal blends delivering the proper mix of protein, fruits & vegetables and natural antioxidants similar to what canines would eat in the wild. Mosey needs a combination of dry and canned food because an all soft diet causes very loose stools. (his whole life…not a result from the cancer) This mixture is supplemented with poached chicken or fish, steamed cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale or swiss chard (I will discuss reasons why in a separate post) and flax-seed oil stirred into a 1/4 cup cottage cheese.

The cottage cheese and flax-seed oil blend comes from another source…The Budwig Diet officially known as the

Dr Johanna Budwig Anti-Tumor Diet

The philosophy for this diet comes from Dr Budwig’s belief that mixing cottage cheese with flaxseed oil (called quark) can stop or reverse cancer.

“One of the keys in the Budwig diet is consuming foods that offer nutrients that help cells absorb oxygen. Dr. Otto Warburg received the Nobel Prize in 1931 for discovering that when cells can no longer absorb oxygen, cancer can develop. Dr. Budwig built on that knowledge and was the first to develop a diet and protocol that restores cells to 
normal functioning.

At the heart of the Budwig diet is organic, cold pressed, liquid flax-seed oil blended with cottage cheese or “quark.” Dr. Budwig discovered that when these two foods are blended together, the sulfurated protein components in the cheese, such as cysteine, bond with the oil, making it more water-soluble and easier to digest and metabolize. 
Consequently, more of the essential fatty acids and electrons in the highly unsaturated flax-seed oil reach the cells and have a healing effect on the cell membrane where carcinogens attach themselves. The membrane of each cell is made up of lipids. Flax seed oil can improve this important outer cell lining that is crucial to cell function and division.”  (from canine cancer.com)

The good news is he absolutely loves this diet. Is it doing any good? I hope and pray that it is. There is so much more to an anti cancer diet. Future posts will discuss raw foods, protein, supplements, properly cooking meat and vegetables, proper weight for pets with cancer, ideas for dogs who won’t eat and holistic options. Please note, I am not a Dr or in any way an expert. I review any changes I want to implement to Mose’s diet with our local vet and our oncologist. In many cases we are learning together. Please discuss any changes you want to make to your dog’s diet with your vet prior to making the changes. Different drugs will react differently with food and supplements so be careful!

MoseyLove!

Diane and Mose

2.09.14

mosey and me

 

diane padoven

MoseyLove!

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