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?
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Although I have not seen any published data, unpublished estimates on overall risks of any side effect are roughly 25-40%.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,
Mosey has had such a tough time the past two weeks. We came home from the unsuccessful trip to Ft. Collins and he was doing really well. Happy, energetic, huge appetite. Then a week ago Tuesday he woke up listless and not interested in food. He finally ate but was quiet all day. Wednesday he seemed fine…gobbled up his food and wanted to go on a walk. That afternoon he started vomiting and this continued all night. The following morning he was listless with such a sad look on his face that I really felt he was saying goodbye.
I have joined so many support groups for people dealing with cancer in their pets. Every post says the same thing. “You will know when it is time. Your pet will give you a look and you will just know” The problem is…I don’t. Last Thursday, when he was so sick, I thought “this is it”. I phoned the vet who asked us to immediately bring him to the hospital . She said that her first priority was to make him comfortable. Once that happened we would make the call. (I cannot seem to say the words…”put him to sleep” “euthanasia.” I just keep saying things like “his time” or “time to say goodbye” but you know what I really mean.) Anyway, they put him on IVs for fluids and anti-nausea drugs. The vet phoned me in the afternoon and said that they had given him some baby food and chicken which he ate and had kept down. She said that if he continued to improve I could take him home that night.
I brought him home around 5:30 pm and kept him on a bland diet and anti-nausea drugs for the next few days. He looked totally fine…back to a big appetite, energy, happy dog. Monday was a warm, beautiful day so we brought Mosey to the park. He ran around chasing tennis balls and looking like his normal self. I was so very happy. But…in this horrible roller coaster of canine cancer…the happiness was short lived. Mosey woke up Tuesday with low energy. He hesitated before he ate, then finished his breakfast but slept all day. Yesterday was the same. Today, Thursday, he has no interest in food, no energy and just looks so sad. I fear this is the end…this is the “he will tell you” bit that I was fearfully waiting for…but I am just not sure. He will eat bits of chicken..as much as I hand feed him. He perked up for a bit when we went to view the progress on an addition we are having built. (He loves the attention he gets from the construction guys). He is still drinking water. The vet told me he will have good days and bad. Are these “bad” days with good ones to follow? Or is this the end? I honestly don’t know and am so afraid of making the wrong call.
They say that a day too early is better than a day too late and I don’t want Mosey to be in any pain. But what if there is no pain but his quality of life is gone? If he no longer enjoys food…or playing…or walks…or chasing his favorite tennis ball? Is that a life? Am I keeping him here for me…or for him?
I don’t know the answer today. But I need to figure it out really fast. I have decided to give it the rest of the day and , if he shows no improvement by tomorrow morning, take him to the vet for a second opinion. It is possible we may be saying goodbye tomorrow. Please pray for us and keep us in your thoughts. Pray that Mosey is pain free and that his journey is peaceful. Pray that I have the courage to do what is right. God…I hate cancer!
Diane & Mosey