Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

≡ Menu

Survival Times and Dog Cancer

I recently got a comment from a reader who was quite upset with her veterinarian.

Turns out her dog underwent a splenectomy (spleen removal), presumably for treatment of a hemangiosarcoma (a malignant tumor of the blood vessel walls)  of the spleen. This dog lover was incensed that the vet  indicated this procedure, combined with removal of a lipoma (fatty tumor) at the same time, would extend her dog’s life for a “long time”.

Following the splenectomy, she was dismayed to find out, according to certain people, that this procedure would only extend her dogs life for an additional 3-6 months.  Whereupon she became “furious” at her vet, reasoned that the vet was trying to get her money, and sent in the comment.  My quotes indicate her wording.

I think there are various aspects to this scenario that deserve attention.

First and foremost, hindsight is 20-20. In cases of dog cancer, foresight is never 20-20.  However, foresight can be sharpened considerably by education.  I often will ramble on about “being your dog’s number one health advocate” and stress how information gathering is one of the initial steps that must be taken.

Most of us will research before buying a car.  However, the health professional industry, over probably thousands of years, has created a mass-consciousness belief that information from a Doctor should not be questioned.  I am sure that a whole book could be written about how and why this came about. Regardless of the genesis of this belief, it is now counter-intuitive for us to gather our own data about the care of our four legged family members.

Being your dogs primary health care advocate implies that the information is gathered before the action is executed.  Although it is not always natural, I think it is so important for everyone to please try to gather as much data as you can before embarking on what can be a complicated journey.  This was one of my main reasons for writing the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

In the case of this blog reader, it could be argued that, from her vet’s perspective, the removal of the spleen would indeed extend her dog’s life for a long time.  What does that phrase mean, anyway?  A “long time”?

If one were to look at years of life in proportion to lifespan, a one year would be half the life of a creature expected to live two years.  A year would indeed be a long time for this creature.

One year, in a dog with an average life expectancy of 12 years, is 8.3% of this dog’s life.  (Here is a good link for average life expectancies.)  Suppose a human were to live 80 years.  8.3% of that 80 years would be 6.67 years.

How about, say, 7 months for a dog?  Well, for a dog expected to live for 12 years, this turns out to be 3.88 years of life for a human with a life span of 80 years.

Is 3.88 years a long time for a human?  I don’t know.  Could be.  I guess it depends on your viewpoint.

A dog with a splenectomy following hemangiosarcoma and no further care of any kind could live 3 months (more than 1.5 “human” years) or longer.  With chemo maybe 7, and with diet, supplements, and the rest of the full spectrum plan maybe much longer.  Every dog is different.  These details are included in the Guide.

Anyway, the bottom line is this:  everything is relative.  Gather the data before you set sail and do what makes sense to you while using “compass”-ion as your compass.

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://www.DogCancerBlog.com.

  • Pingback: Survival Times and Dog Cancer | pawpawsg blog

  • http://www.louiesbathhouse.com christina

    well said Dr D!

  • Jen

    Enjoyed reading this, since my 10-year-old Golden Retriever is going through chemotheraphy treatment for hemangiosarcoma of the spleen as I write this. When I tell friends/family that chemotherapy will extend her life from 60 days to maybe 6 months, they always ask if it’s worth the cost, discomfort, etc. But I always respond that 6 months is longer for a dog’s lifespan than a humans….that’s equivalent to a few human years! So, i appreciate the perspective. Have enjoyed reading your blog and books!

  • Barbara

    Interesting article, Dr. D. My 8-year-old Jack Russell terrier is currently in his 6th week of chemo for lymphoma, and his vet is hopeful for a 1-year remission even though he was misdiagnosed for 2 months and started off behind the curve. I just did the math, and a year for him is almost 6 years of human life….well worth it!

  • Therese

    My Golden Retriever was dx with a certain cancer, I don’t remember which, a number of yrs ago. But we ended up having h

  • Therese

    One of my Golden Retrievers was dx with a certain cancer, though, I don’t remember which, a number of yrs ago, and we had to amputate his r front leg. About 18 mons post surgery, I had to take him in for shots at which time the young vet, who had performed the surgery, was “astonished” at his current health and attitude and overall well being. I asked why she was so surprised, and her response was, “in his case, a large dog w/that cancer & amputation, statistically, their survival rate is just about 6 mons!” I was shocked as I clearly didn’t remember any sort of conversation to that outcome. We ended up helping him cross over the Rainbow Bridge 1 week prior to, what would have been, his 5 yr anniversary of that surgery.

  • Sue

    You have to decide first and foremost with any dx how far you are willling to go. 6 mo for me would be well worth the effort. I have had 2 dogs with cancer, a 13 year old malamute dx at age 11 with a stage 3 fibrosarcoma of the sinus,with tx (radiation and chemo) she has exceeded all expectations and is still with us. They guessed she may gain 12 months with tx as there is not much research with stage 3 outcomes. Our other dog was dx with stage 3 osteosarcoma and lived 18 months with an amputation until it “returned” (surgery does not cure the cancer in osteosarcoma) and then she went quickly. Do not fault your vet for giving you another 6 months,hopefully more. You will be grateful for the time you have gained. I highly encourage you research,research,research. Both our dogs were on an organic vegetarian diet after dx which I believe contributed to their longevity.

  • Katie

    Our 10 year old black lab/golden retriever mix was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma in August of 2008. We were told from our vet, if no treatment after the surgery, expect 1-3 months extension of life. Well, we decided no further treatment after her splenectomy, *a huge tumor removed was cancerous* and would enjoy our Magic for whatever time she had left with us. Here she is today, healthy and happy and amazing us each day. I am sure we are an exception as from all I have read here and on other sites and words from out vets, our dog really beat the odds so I quess one can never know for sure. I do like your answers tho when you figure “long time in dog years vs. humans”, very good point to consider.

  • Cyndi

    We just had to let our 12-year old Weimaraner Jasper go on Saturday, 11/07/09. At age 5, he was diagnosed mast cell cancer (with nine grade 3 tumors popping up at once). He had surgery and chemo. Since he was young, working search and rescue dog and otherwise seemingly healthy, we thought chemo made sense at that time. He kept getting back tumors and, as he got older, we stopped doing the chemo as he grew more sensitive to it and it didn’t seem to effect whether or not he got more tumors. He had some periodic surgeries to cut them off. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in late July. Since the statistics are something like 90% of dogs will get a year remission with the Madison Protocol, we thought the odds were pretty good and, at 12 years old, he was not an old dog: not arthritic, could see and hear fine, and was still his happy self. Unfortunately, he turned out to be the 10% with chemo-resistant lymphoma. We tried CCNU (lomustine) as a last ditch drug as liver damage can be substantial and that worked for a partial remission for 3 doses. So, he only lived 3 months post-diagnosis with the chemo for lymphoma. So, he far outlived the vet’s expectations with the mast cell cancer and he didn’t live nearly as long as expected for the lymphoma treatment. While I believe everyone should educate themselves on the statistics and use that to help guide you in treatment decisions, please keep in mind that your dog might not follow them. I don’t think he would have made it the 3 months without the chemo and I cherish every good day he had that I could take him to the park. But, because of the statistics, my heart believed he could make it that year. I think its almost made it harder to accept his death. Just make sure every day counts because you really don’t know and understand your dog’s response to treatment may not follow the “norm”.

  • Barbara Kerkhoff

    Four years ago my then 10-year old Beagle came down with hemangiosarcoma and had surgery. We were supposed to have had
    chemo as a follow-up. We decided against it. He lived two months
    pretty much at full speed, enjoying life, then deteriorated rapidly
    and we had him put to sleep. Right decision not to have chemo?
    I don’t know. It haunts me to this day. I had read that urine from
    a dog on chemo could put other pets at risk. We had an older Border
    Collie and I had her in mind when I made the decision no chemo.
    Like I said, it still haunts me.

  • http://sassylee@bellsouth.net Leona Wollesen

    My collie, Sandie has a mass in her bladder. To large to remove
    says the Vt. She said that we would start the medications and see
    how she does. Clvamox for 14 days, DES one a day for 5 days then one a week, Pinoriam.Well she improved, no wetting her bed, and she started eating real good, i changed her diet after research. She has
    gained 3 pounds in the last month.
    I have an acre back yard of woods, she still walks her path around
    the property about four times a day.
    She still has trouble, she squates and it takes awhile for her to
    finish. However she does not seem to be in any pain.
    In fact yesterday she bolted out of the garage after a cat.
    But this Monday we visited the Vt. and had urin test still some
    blood in the urin, so now on another medication Zeniguin 100mg
    one a day for 14 days.
    With this medication she is spending more time in her bed and she
    is not eating very much except what I feed her.
    There should be something more that I can do to shrink this mass.
    The Vt did not make any suggestions on this subject.
    Sandie is 12 years old and she has really been my buddy. I am 89
    and will 90 next August. So we are both seniors.
    I am still researching for ideas and suggestions to extend her life.
    All suggests are appreciated.

  • Connie

    Life expectancy in regards to cancer, to me anyway, depends on so much. What my dog’s life quality will be during and after the treatment, the current age and temperament of my dog and unfortunately, my financial situation.

    When my dog Sigmund was diagnosed with a tumor on his pancreas that kept causing his sugar to plummet and him to have seizures, I was told that removing it would give him another year. Unfortunately, Sigmund was 13 years old at the time and arthritic. I couldn’t see putting him through a major surgery. I might have been right, I might have been wrong, but that is always the problem with having to make these choices.

    When my dog Skye was diagnosed with lymphoma, she was 6 years old and seemed in good health otherwise so I choose to do the chemo. Unfortunately she developed severe arthritis in her hips, but she and I got to spend another 1 1/2 years together and I have never regretted it. She was young enough to deal with the side effects and her personality was such that everyone who met her fell in love with her.

    But its always an educated guess when these decisions come around. I trust my vet, I know she won’t tell me to do something just for the money. But, I also know that in the end, it is up to me to do the necessary research and find out what I can find out.

    There was no guarantee that Skye would respond as well as she did to her chemo. Some dogs get 5 years, some dogs 5 months. There are so many variants involved, no one can give you a definite time frame.

    So I feel bad for the woman who felt betrayed by her vet, but in her vet’s defense, for some people any option, even another 5 months, is better than nothing at all and it doesn’t have a thing to do with money.

    There is also, unfortunately, a learning curve involved in care for a pet. After having and losing 6 dogs in my adult lifetime, I know more about what to expect and do than I did that first time I took a dog into the University’s emergency care for an MRI only to find out (over $650 later) she had advanced liver cancer and her body was already in the process of shutting down.

    My advice for people who find themselves in these situations, follow your heart, but make sure your head understands what your choices might mean. In the end, we are the ones responsible for the decisions we make, or we allow others to make for us, but whatever happens we all only want what is best for our furry children.

    Make sure you love and enjoy them fully while they are healthy, and ensure them as much dignity as possible when they are sick and/or elderly.

  • Danielle

    On September 16, 2009 my lab underwent a spenectomy for a hemangiosarcoma. Unfortunately 4 weeks later others ruptured. On October 20, 2009, he was bleeding and had to be put to sleep. Although it was very expensive for the emergency surgery and the chemo plus other drug treatments he went through, his last weeks you would never had known he was sick. The doctors said 2 months with out treatment and up to 10 with. Every dog is different. He had treatment and didn’t make it to the minimum months they gave him. I do not regret it. It gave us 5 whole weeks to spend together. It’s not much time to some people, but it is more than if he did not have the surgery. To those out there reading this please think of the possitive. If you elect surgery or other means of helping with the cancer, every day is a gift to you. Whether it’s days, months, or years, it never seems enough. But be thankful for the days you do have together.

  • Gail McTune

    Our 12 or 13 yr.old Rat Terrier was diagnosed with bladder cancer some months ago. Piraxocam was prescribed at 10 mg. Peree is a Decker Rat, so, is a 47 lb. pooch, but, I was not comfortable with the side effects I read about. I also believed that the dose was too high. I took him off all kibble–he was previously only given low inflammatory grain products—Solid Gold dog food with raw tripe from grass fed cows. He is now eating only raw organic chicken, raw grass-fed bison, raw lamb and the raw bones that are in these meats. We cut that Piraxacom dose in thirds, sometimes in half if it seems he nrrds more, and he gets Graviola herb tincture 3 or 4 times a day. This doggie is way too wiley for us to get anything at all in hin except food, so, it went in a little spray bottle and it gets sprayed on areas that are vascular and mostly hair free—-the inside of the ear flaps and all over his belly. He has a big thirst still—gets a water based homeopathic in his water for arthritis (he was hit by a car before we rescued him at 3 yrs of age), and still pees constantly. He has a big appatite, strong vital force, is happy to be with us, as we are happy to have him still here. I personally could never do some of the prescribed modalities that are suggested for our cherished pets that are diseased, and would rather spend the extra money on excellent nutrition and the highest quality non-toxic but powerful nutrients that I can get. There is a plethora of wonderful non-toxic choices out there if you can find the information on em.

  • Gail McTune

    Another non-toxic cancer remedy is POLY-MVA for pets

  • Karen B.

    I am the person that Dr. Dressler is talking about. There was a lot of conversations with the vet prior to this splenectomy that make me believe he put Janie through it to make the payroll. The biggest thing you should know is that I asked him in his office if my dog would have a good quality of life. I actually said that I didn’t want to put her through a traumatic surgery to just have her “expire in 30 days”. At age seven she had radiation for mast cell tumors. She took it well and her life was extended for another 4 1/2 years. She is 11 1/2 now. I throughly questioned him. He knew I did not want to put my elderly dog through another procedure unless she had a year at least. He is not a young, inexperienced vet. He has a huge staff and also other full-time and part-time veterinarians under him. He is very proud of his state-of-the-art facility. I find it really hard to believe when I told him that she was having a bleedout (I guessed what it was by hearing about it belonging to multiple dog cancer groups on line due to Janie’s prior cancer.)I recognized what it was and he examined her and took ultrasounds and x-rays that he didn’t know it was hemangiosarcoma.

    Karen Bruce Des Moines, Iowa

  • McKenna

    Every dog is different. I found out today that my 10yr Shepard x Lab has cancer after 1 of 3 tumors burst on his spleen. Only opition surgery, I said my goodbyes and he came through. He is doing strong – then on the over hand my 5yr beligum x german shep had cancer, gave me a year if I did chemo – 2 months later i had to say goodbye. Now in the same sistuation, i am not doing the chemo.

    I am looking for another way. Has anyone got any ideas of a diet that i can put him on? I have heard lots of protein and fish oil?

  • http://kricket_uekce@hotmail.com Kricket Uecke

    Our youngest sons 15 year old Springer Spaniel was just diagnosed with cancer of the spleen. They give three weeks. She lives with us and plan to make her as comfortable as possible. She has lived a very full life and is very much loved. My walking partner for over 10 years. I retired her after surgery for nerve cancer several years ago. We have reassured our son we would follow his wishes for her whatever they maybe. She is on Meds for arthritis which has gotten her this far. Pain meds on hand when needed. All depends on our sons wishes which i know would be a pain free ending. It is great to read about other pet lovers and their history with their pets. Anyone want to share with me any tips that may help us. Thanks for listening.

  • Nancy

    I would be so grateful for 6 months….even 3 months at this point. My 7 yr old Shar Pei, the love of my life, underwent mast cell removal from her front leg on 7/2/10 and we fully expected everything would be fine (clean margins, Grade II). Within 1 month the surgical site had another huge tumor (seemingly popping up out of nowhere). One week after that there were 4 tumors, then 7, and now (6 weeks post op) both legs and arm pits have tumors, and last night I found a large, golf ball sized mushy mass on the front of her neck (below her chin). She’s on Prednisone, Benadryl & Prilosec…..if the love I have for her could give her time, she’d live to be 100 but this horribly agressive cancer is taking her away from me more quickly than I ever thought possible. There wasn’t time for chemo or radiation before the recurrence, but if there had been I’m not sure I would have gone that route anyway. I spend every moment with her that I can and we play as much as she can (she gets to chew on my socks, my shoes, and drag the toilet paper out of the bathroom any time she wants!!) but every day I see her slipping away a little more. My once goofy side kick isn’t very goofy any more but I cherish every moment we spend together. I’ve cried more tears than I thought was humanly possible, taken lots of pictures, phone videos and even recorded her bark so I’ll be able to listen to it down the road. I’m rambling now….sorry. Thanks for letting me share.

  • Priscilla

    Our lab mix wa diagnosed with undifferentiated carcinoma cancer in he nose. We did radiation and now she’s doing chemo. her cancer is so agressive it’s not stopping to grow and she’s having a hard time breathing… It’s so frustrating and sad at the same time. We’re doing hollostic stuff too but I’m not really sure what direction to take. It’s emotionally and financially draining.

  • Kathryn

    I have a 4yr old Boxer. 9 months ago we were told he had a small growth on his belly. Vet told us to let her know if it grew but otherwise not to be concerned. 2 weeks ago we noticed swelling from his arm pit to the growth. We took him in, saw a different vet at the same clinic. She put him on antibiotics thinking it was an infection because he did have fever at the time and we had been battling ticks for a couple weeks. After a week of meds, yesterday I took him because the swelling had not subsided. Doc decided to do a biopsy and just by looking at it, she told us it is cancer. It is now from his armpit all th way to his tail. His one leg is swollen, cancer is cutting off the circulation. Yesterday morning i had decided that we would bring him home to say our goodbyes and then put him down today. Yesterday when i went to get him, i talked to the vet, trying to make sure im making the right decision. He is verry happy, very active despite it all. She said we could try steriods to see if it would help and if it did, then we could proceed to test the samples to see what type of cancer it is. Because of our financial situation, seems the best route for now. I dont know if im making a mistake trying to keep him. He isnt suffering and i promised everyone that first sign of suffering i see, ill let him go. But i feel the need to try. I am just heart broken and the tears wont stop coming. If i can have any more time with him, i want it. I know its a long shot, especially in boxers. If anyone knows of any other way, please do share.

  • Nancy

    Kathryn, my Nikki (the Shar Pei) is also on steroids and the cancer is spreading like wildfire. BUT….she doesn’t seem to be in any discomfort, she still wags her tail, and she still eats, drinks and poops……all the normal stuff. Yes, she is dieing. I can’t change that. And, yes, it will probably mean I will have to make a decision soon but until I feel she is suffering, I am loving her like every day is her last. I’ve convinced myself that she wants to be with me as much as I want to be with her. I love this crazy dog more than I would ever have imagined and want to capture as many days as possible, as long as it is not a painful experience for her. Love your boxer and show him all the attention you can. When he is in pain, you’ll know. And that’s when you’ll have to make the decision but for now, make some more memories with him. Even if it’s just a week…..that’s a week you’ll remember forever. Believe me, I am so glad I got pictures and recordings of her while she was still energetic enough to perform for me.

  • Nancy

    I lost Nikki on 9/4. She lasted two very short months. My heart is broken and my world is shattered. I wish all of you the very best with your loved pets.

  • Debbie

    Hi Nancy,
    I am so sorry to hear that you lost Nikki after such a short amount of time. I can only imagine your sorrow and lonliness. My Buddy has had cancer for a few months now – melanoma of his foot. We had part of his toe amputated and his lungs and liver are clear as of now. I lost my mom a year-and-a-half ago to lung cancer. Scary disease… It can hit anywhere, anytime. I will keep you and Nikki in my prayers.
    Debbie

  • Sophia

    My dog, Roscoe, was diagnosed with spleen cancer 7 weeks ago; the vet said he had ~2 weeks left. We insisted not to put him to sleep as he was still active (not as active as before), but still enjoyed life with everyone. This evening he started to have problem getting up; he was still going to park this morning and fetching ball though his energy has gone down a bit. The whole afternoon he was panting a bit. How much longer would my friend have left? I hope that he would not have to go through much pain. I hope that he can go in peace, but I don;t believe in euthanization.

  • Nancy

    Debbie – thank you for your condolences. I miss Nikki every second of every day.
    Sophia – I prayed every day that Nikki would go peacefully in her sleep, but that didn’t happen. As the tumors spread like wildfire all over her precious body, my prayers because frantic cries for her suffering to end the natural way, but again, that didn’t happen. But then the tought of her dying alone at home while I was at work seemed a terrible thing to put her through since she was such a huge part of me. I will never recover from losing her but I have a fraction of comfort knowing she went in my arms and the last words she heard were mine, telling her how much I love her.

  • Vicky

    I have to empathize with Karen’s experience and I appreciate and have implemented Dr. Dressler’s advice to research and be your pet’s own best advocate.
    Our sweet 11 1/2 year old lab was dx’d with hypodermal hemangiosarcoma 2 months ago. She has a mass of several tumors covering her upper hind leg that the vet said surgery was not an option due to the irregular margins. Two biopsies, a host of other tests and $1500 later we were told she had 2 months to live but if we started chemo she potentially could make it another 6 to 12 months. At first we signed right on thinking we were on the verge of losing her forever. It wasn’t until I started doing more research that we put the brakes on treatment. Though there is a lot of information on hemangiosarcomas and prognosis after surgery and chemo there seems to be very little information available regarding hypodermal hemangiosarcomas and the prognosis when no traditional treatment is given. I could not find anything that told me that hypodermal hemangiosarcoma had the same life expectancy as visceral tumors of the spleen and heart which seems to be the prognosis the vet was going off of. I’m still looking. In the meantime, her “expiration date” has passed and she is still doing fine for an older dog with arthritic hips. We’re watching her closely for signs of pain or illness. She’s on an anti-inflammatory for her arthritis and is eating well and takes her daily walks. I intuitively feel we are doing the right thing by her by not subjecting her to chemotherapy. I hope she stays around for a good long while, we love her so.

  • Jeannette Botza

    Lost my most precious girl to Hemangioscarma, My life was shattered as 4 four
    months xrays showed nothing. Then on Christmas Eve. she beame ill and xrays
    showed it had spread to her speen and liver. we had done all the chemo
    sessions, acupuncture, and some at home chemo, plus spent
    thousands of dollars I did not do the metronomic chemo as when I did it made
    her ill. My vet said if I didn’t give it to her it would all come back and she
    would bleedout, and I would lose her and it would be my fault. I did lose her, and
    i continue to live with these horrible words from the Oncologist.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Jeannette,
      you should realize that dog cancer, and the complications from it, are not your fault at all. Remember, chemo does not cure metastatic hemangiosarcoma, so the statement that if you do not do chemo it will be your fault that your baby passes is simply false. You should allow yourself the forgiveness that comes with this understanding and let yourself off the hook. You did everything possible.
      Dr D

  • Erin O’Hara

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    Thank you for these resources. My 12 year old hound, Frank, was diagnosed with subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma last fall. He has undergone multiple surgeries to remove the tumor with wide margins. We also traveled to North Carolina State to have a thorough follow up done. He was scanned, pricked, and prodded. Several large nodules were found on the spleen, but none of the aspirated sites came back positive for cancer. Frank just had an ultrasound that showed a large mass on his spleen. My vet does not want to remove the spleen. He worries that removal may accelerate the cancer and lead to a declined quality of life. He knows that Frank’s happiness is very important to me. Although I know that statistically the mass on the spleen is hemangiosarcoma, I keep thinking it may be something else. Frank’s energy is down, but he is still chasing rabbits for hours each day.

    I have researched this cancer extensively. I really wanted to pursue immunotherapy, specifically use of the CA IL-12 in combination with a TKI currently used in humans for angiosarcoma. However, I have found these treatments are not available. Although there are a variety of Interleukins available on the internet, including human IL-12, CA IL-12 is not even available for purchase.

    I don’t know what to do. I am constantly torn concerning Frank’s spleen removal. I would greatly appreciate any thoughts you may have.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler

      Dear Erin
      I would have no problem doing a splenectomy, personally. You can get a biopsy done too for definitive diagnosis.
      I hope this helps.
      Dr D

  • Mayra

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    My 12 1/2 year old Golden was diagnosed with lymphoma in Dec 2011. She received chemo (Madison-Wisconsin) for 6 months, and she is still in remission and going strong. We are very happy with the decision. My other dog, 13 1/2 year old golden mix just had her spleen removed two days ago, She had four ultrasounds in the past three months because we were monitoring a small mass in her liver. When the surgeon went in to remove the liver mass she found the spleen mass! She also found a few other very tiny spots around the liver, which she biopsied. We are waiting results from pathology. I am praying and hoping for the best, but scared that this may be hemangiosarcoma. Since the spleen never ruptured (the spleen mass was about 3 centimeters) and they have now revomed the spleen and the liver mass, will chemo extend her life? I have been reading your book and it’s given me hope, but the reality of cancer is still so hard to bear.

  • Jim Craft

    I need help. My Akita/German Shepherd mix (Micro) is 8 years old and was just diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. The vet has given me some advice, but, I’d like to get your opinion, Dr. D. Realistically, what might be the expected life extension and quality of life that she might have if we amputate her front leg and treat with chemotherapy. Cost is not a factor, so, if it makes sense to do it, then, I’ll do it. I could REALLY use some advice.

  • Joanne

    My almost 11 yr old choc lab was dx with a brain tumor three weeks ago…. she started having seizures and we had numerous tests on her and she had an xray of her chest and blood work. All was fine, but the Emergecy Hospital we took her to was really mad bc we would do a 2 thousand dollar MRI I consulted w/ her vet of 10 years and he said not to do it. She had all the classic signs of a brain tumor, pacing for hours, getting lost in the house in corners, sleeping a lot and not doing anything she used to like bring us her na nite blankey when she was tired and wanted to take a nap, or her water and food bowls, kisses and no emotions whatsoever. We have her on Phenobarbital for the seizures and are just trying to make her comfortable. We love her so much and her brother is going to miss her terribly but the her doc said its a quality of life thing. He is so good to her/us. He only charged us $20 for the visit and then meds and blood work to make sure her levels were in the right range, which they are. He did exploratory surgery on my cat for free and only charged me $50 to not wake him up if he had cancer and he did in 2 spots. I am home with her all day and noticed she was falling a lot yesterday. I think the time is near and my heart is breaking. How long do you think she can live after being dx Dec 14 2014 FYI I noticed near Thanksgiving that she was in and around me almost all day and didn’t really think anything of it. Thanks so much. Joanne

    • Susan Kazara Harper

      Joanne, I’m so sorry to hear that you are all going through this. It sounds like you have some very knowledgable professionals to work with, and please remember that this is YOUR DOG. You make the decisions that want to, for her, based on the information you are given. It’s your decisions my dear. I know that is also a burden, but you are her greatest champion, friend and parent. There is no way to predict what is ahead today, tomorrow or next week. If treatment for the tumor is not an option, then you have lots of ways to keep her happy and comfortable. Super good, natural food is a must. If you haven’t yet, please download the Dog Cancer Diet from http://www.dogcancerdiet.com. You can also search brain cancers on this blog and find some of the wisdom previously shared. If she is having seizures you need to be careful for her protection and yours, against being injured. Remember, even if she appears to be in her own zone, or unresponsive to you at some times, that may not mean that inside she isn’t just feeling the love and the vibes of her family. Talk to her honestly. Ask her to let you know what she wants you to do. Spend quiet time with her and listen to you heart, and hers, and you will know what to do with no regrets. All the best my dear, for you both.

      • Joanne

        Thank you so much for those encouraging words Susan. We bought a crib mattress on our way home from Garden State Animal Hospital bc we knew she would be unable to snuggle on the bed and I wanted her to be comfortable. Her brother a lab mix (rotty-lab-staffy) is so loyal guy, where she is so is he. We have a $1700 bill from the GSAH that we are making payments on and with the cost and her age my vet said he wouldn’t do it. I asked him (crying) am I a bad for not doing it and he said not at all. Even with surgery and treatment which would be outrageous and the 2k for the MRI it would extend her life anywhere from 6-10 mo. I don’t want to put her through that. My grandson is turning 14 next week and he sobbed when we told him about Mocha. He spent the weekend and wants to spend another weekend. He sleeps over all the time. He’s the one that is my human velcro out of all the kids and there are 6 of them. I was reading that sometimes they don’t bark bc they have a headache. I don’t want her to be in pain and yesterday she was falling often. I am observing her and taking notes and she will (by her actions) let me know when it’s time. Thanks again Susan

        • Susan Kazara Harper

          Joanne, you’re absolutely right, you are keying in to her and you will know. Sometimes when our dogs feel our grief and dread of what may come, they struggle to hold on for us. I found it really important to gently let my dogs know that whatever they want is ok, and I love them enough to do everything I can and also to respect their choices. It’s hard, but it also deepens the relationship to an incredible degree. Stay on top of any pain with your vet, get good food into her, and follow your instincts. There are good days ahead, and happy days. Enjoy each moment. Share stories of when she was younger and crazy, have a few laughs. Your grandson sounds like a special young man. I’m glad he’s with you and your dogs. All the best.

  • Susan Kazara Harper

    Wise words Joe. We all, truly, don’t know how long we have, and it’s always unfair that our beloved dogs have shorter lives. But you’re doing such a great job for your boy. It’s the moments that count, not counting the moments. Thanks for sharing your story. Give him a big hug from everyone on our team!