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Katie, The Great Dane

taking care of our girl

Katie, The Great Dane

And so it begins.

September 29th, 2009 · 8 Comments · Uncategorized

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So this is my first post. I just returned from the vet this morning and the news is not good. This morning we took Katie to the vet after noticing that while she was eating breakfast, she was holding her back leg off the ground, and there is a huge lump at her ankle. I immediately called the vet and the said come straight over. Our vet did an x-ray, and from the looks of it it appears to be osteosarcoma.

I can see on the x-ray where the bone has that “moth eaten” look where holes are starting to appear. She has also lost 11 lbs since the last vet visit. And Katie is also 6 yrs old, so she’s getting up there in age for a Great Dane.

Now we are trying to decide how we want to proceed. We’ve started her on pain meds. We are trying to decide…do we get a chest x-ray, do a biopsy, amputate. Right now my head is spinning from information over load. I’m a big believer in quality vs. quantity and from what the vet has said and what I have been reading, doing nothing could give Katie 3 – 6 months versus doing something which might prolong it her life to 9 months.

My dilema is 9 months worth it, if it’s not good quality of life. I definetly need a day to think.

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • admin

    I’m sure most here in the Tripawds Community would agree, that it is all about quality of life, not quantity. Thank you for joining and sharing Katie’s story. Best wishes with the decisions you face.

  • band09

    Sorry to hear about Katie:(
    I too am all new to this. Last week is when our life as we had knew it felt as if it was crashing down. My dog, Bandit tested positive for Spindle Cell Soft Tissue Tumor on his left front paw. Everyday I would just start crying…sometimes I didn’t even know if I was crying because I was so sad about him or because I was so tired from not sleeping, eating and over thinking. Like you my biggest fear is what to do and where to start. Wondering how will this all impact the life of my dog, will it take away his dignity, his happiness…it broke my heart. Scared to death I might make the wrong decisions along this journey. This Thursday we will be seeing our Vet to get a chest Xray and ultra sound done and I think once we get that out of the way and have that question answered we’ll have a better idea on how we’re going to pick up the pieces and keep living with or without cancer, maybe 4 legs or maybe 3. I am not going to let them biopsy it anymore it is what it is. Bandit’s cancer is slow growning and usually doesn’t spread so for us amputation could possibly save his life and this is an option I am considering of course. As for right now he is still using his leg to run, jump and play. You’ll like this site because everyone on here is kind and helpful…hey they’ve all either been in our shoes or are in our shoes. The only thing that is different this week from last week for me is the way I need to look at this….no matter what the Xrays and test show I have finally realized that no matter what….Bandit will continue to LIVE with cancer rather than be dying from cancer and I will be there everyday to support and love him unconditionally. The thing with cancer is it is unpredictable so I figure just about the time I think I have it figured out something else will come up regarding it….so from now on I am just going to take it one day at a time and remind him daily how strong he is! I hope you get some good news and find some answers. Other than the people talking to me on here another thing I found very comforting was watching the videos. People told me to go into the forums and post which I haven’t done yet but plan to soon, so maybe try that.
    Take care! Misty & Bandit

  • jerry

    We are so sorry to hear about Katie.

    And we understand how much there is to think about. Rest assured, you’ve got a lot of great people here to help you through this.

    We’ve had lots of Great Danes do awesome after amputation and living with cancer, there is definitely hope.

    Good luck, and many hugs.

  • YodasMom

    I was told by Yoda’s oncologist (and I think I’ve seen others quote the same statistic here) that the median survival with amputation and chemo is a year (half go more, half go less). So it seemed worth a try to me, since I was told that Yoda was an excellent candidate for amputation (skinny and 5 going on 6, still on the young side,no other health issues) and that some dogs make it through chemo (carboplatin was the chemo drug of choice at the Vet School) without any side effects, and when side effects do occur, they are usually easily taken care of with other meds (anti-nausea and anti-diarhea).

    Yoda’s recovery (though still scary for me) went very well after the amputation and re-mastered all his favorite activities – he was back at the dog park a month after the amputation, playing chase with other dogs. Results vary, of course, and my sense from reading posts on the forums, the bigger breeds can have rougher or longer recoveries from the surgery.

    Sadly, Yoda’s cancer spread to his lungs about 2 1/2 months after his amputation – before he even finished his chemo. Going by his last x-ray (this past weekend), his oncolgist says he has a few weeks left at most. But he’s nearly 4 months post amp and for the vast majority of that time he has been very happy and healthy. In fact, he’s nearly 100% as far as his activity level now, though he had to go back on a lot of painkillers this weekend to get him that way.

    Reading people’s stories about their dogs’ progress after amputation on the blogs and on the forums (which have been around longer), if you haven’t already, will give you a broader idea what to expect as far as quality of life after amputation. For the forums, you might want to try the search for large breeds, like Great Danes and Mastiffs, etc. in particular. Yoda is a doberman mix.

    Sorry you needed to find Tripawds, but glad you did!

  • AMidnightSoul

    Sorry to hear about Katie. I know it’s heart wrenching trying to decide which treatment is best.

  • jakesmom

    I’m sorry to hear about Katie’s diagnosis. There is alot for you to think about now… and the Tripawds forums and blogs will probably help you alot in making your decision. I was first told by one vet that the median survival statistics for a dog diagnosed with osteosarcoma, treated with amputation alone, is 4-6 months… up to 12 months with chemo. But I have seen so many others here, (big and small, old and young) that have lived so much longer than that! Some do chemo afterwards, some radiation, some do nothing else after amputation. Every dog is different, and so after lots of thinking, crying, talking to several vet friends, and doing lots of research, we decided to take a chance and go with the amputation for our 10yr old golden retriever, Jake. He was so happy and full of life right before his leg broke, and the bone biopsy revealed osteosarcoma…

    Jake is 12 days post amputation today… and he seems to be doing quite well so far. We don’t know what the future holds… how soon his cancer will metastasize to his lungs (or somewhere else)… He may just have a few more months… or maybe even a year. Maybe his leg was removed before his cancer spread… So far, his chest x-ray was clear, but of course that can change later.

    So I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that there is no right or wrong decision. You know your Katie better than anyone… If her chest x-ray comes back clear, if she has no other health issues or arthritis, etc… then amputation may be a good choice and give her a chance at some more quality time… without pain (once she recovers from the surgery). But if you truely feel that she would be miserable… then you do what you think is best.

    But before you make your final decision… read and post to the forums… read other people’s blogs, watch all the videos. Talk to other vets. There are several Great Danes, Mastifs, and other large breed dogs that have gone through the surgery. Some do really well afterwards, a few do not.

    Cancer really sucks… I know because I also work at a human cancer center… and see people die every day… but I also see quite a few that totally outlive their grim diagnosis and statistics.

    Keep us posted on Katie! I’m sending lots of good thoughts and hugs your way!!

    Jake’s Mom

  • tazziedog

    Hello, we have a 185# Mastiff named Tazzie and she lost her right front leg to osteosarcoma 13 months ago. We were a little worried about how she would do since she is so big and had surgery on both of her knees a few years ago. She was also 6 years old at the time of diagnosis and we were already treating her for a pre-existing liver problem. She is also kind of a wuss so I wasn’t sure if she would just give up after surgery and lay on the ground like a lump.

    Amazingly, she has done just great! The only thing different is that she can’t walk very far (no endurance) and we don’t let her do steep flights of stairs. She had 5 doses of caroplatin chemo post-op and is currently taking artemisinin and several holistic things such as Power Mushrooms and anitoxidants. Her latest chest xrays in August 2009 were still clear of lung mets.

    If I were you I would have chest xrays done and a full chemistry screen (bloodwork) to make sure that she is otherwise healthy. I would also skip the biospy for now and just get the leg off ASAP. (We sent in a biospy post-op to confirm OSA).

    If you have any questions please visit the forums or you can send me a Private Message if you’d like!

    I should also mention that although the average survival with amputation and chemo is 9-12 months about 20% of dogs can make it 1-2 years or more so there is some hope. 5% of dogs can be cured if the cancer is caught in the early stages.

    Pam and Tazzie

  • horacia

    Hi, you should definitely join the forums. They are very very helpful.
    I donĀ“t want to sound negative, but you should know that it does not always work out.
    My Horacia was 5 1/2 years old, absolutely healthy and rather slim. Our only alternative was amputation as she would have been dead within 2 months otherwise due to a very rapid invasive osteosarcoma. So we went ahead with it.
    She recovered slowly from surgery but two weeks post op she was hopping around quite successfully.
    Sadly she developed a heart issue and died of a stroke 4 weeks after surgery.
    My vet had warned me, that this might happen, her being such a big dog and taking into account the huge effort the amputation puts on the rest of the body.
    We wish you luck.
    Cecilia & Spirit Horacia

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