I couple of months back, I diagnosed a bone tumor in a wonderful dog named Dolly.
Dolly is one of the world’s happiest dogs. She is an elderly family member (she would not be happy if I told you her age). She is a Boxer.
As many are aware, Boxers are one of the breeds of dogs that are very prone to cancer.
Dolly’s humans came in to my practice and related that she had been having a hard time with her back leg, and that it seemed stiff and sore. Naturally, the first thing that popped into their minds was some arthritis or maybe a sprain.
The problem was that when I examined Dolly, I was able to feel a firm swelling above her knee joint, coming from deep within the leg. I did not like the feel of it, especially since things like arthritis or ligament injuries in that area cause swelling of the knee, not of the area above the knee.
Knowing about the incidence of dog cancer and the breed’s tendency, I advised X-rays without delay. Sadly, it was clear from the X-ray films that Dolly had bone cancer.
We discussed all of the usual steps, including core biopsy, staging the disease with further testing to see if there was obvious spread, assessing the other limbs to make sure she could handle an amputation, considering the MDR-1 test to see if she might be more prone to side effects of doxorubicin chemotherapy if we were to use it, supplements (of course Apocaps), pain control, diet, deliberate steps to promote cancer-fighting brain chemistry, and so on.
Dolly’s people needed a bit of time to consider everything, so they went home. They got their Dog Cancer Survival Guide. After careful consideration, they decided against surgery and chemotherapy and wanted only to focus on life quality enhancement. They would have had to travel for palliative radiation to help her pain, so we decided on diet, Apocaps, and various medications for her pain control. So we started the treatments and I discharged her to see how she did.
Time went by and she was been very happy. This is the kind of dog whose life quality will stay high even when she is enduring bone cancer. She just wiggles and wags her little stumpy tail no matter what is going on, licking your face happily and excitedly. Her joys of life most certainly were intact.
The other day, Dolly’s humans called and said that she had fallen down the stairs and her limping was worse. I advised she should come get it checked out, fearing the worst.
We took X-rays again, and my fears were confirmed. She had broken the leg at the tumor site. This is not that rare in dogs with bone tumors and is called a pathological fracture, meaning a break in a bone mainly due to weakness from a disease. Of course the tumble down the stairs did not help matters.
The amazing, wonderful thing about Dolly? There she was, happily bobbing her head up and down, her stumpy little tail furiously wiggling right along with her whole rear end.
In spite of it all, that little tail wiggling furiously.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.