The world’s tallest dog is a now a cancer patient.
I recently came across this story, from a local news website in California. Gibson is a Great Dane, weighing in at a whopping 170 lbs.
Gibson is presently 7 years old, which is definitely a senior citizen for a dog of this breed. Recall that larger dogs have much shorter lifespans, on average, compared to the little guys.
So even the most powerful among them are afflicted by this disease.
Gibson underwent an amputation, the typical treatment of choice for his cancer. Osteosarcomas are most commonly removed by amputation.
The good news is that most dogs will recover very quickly. Learning to walk on three legs for a dog is much easier than learning to walk on one leg for a human. They are usually getting around well within just a week or two.
As long as their pain is well controlled and they are helped along with a towel under the belly or any of a variety of harnesses to help develop the strength, they do quite well.
One tip from the trenches is to make sure you remind your vet to check the other legs to screen for problems that would make it hard to bear more weight on the remaining three limbs. X-rays and an orthopedic exam are usually enough.
This story reminds me of the importance in thinking outside the box. Here we have a dog who is literally a giant among his peers, and even he is afflicted with this epidemic sweeping the nation.
Want to know a fact that is hard to believe?
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If you ask many vets what the number one cause of death in dogs is, most will not be able to give you a direct answer. More commonly a list will be given.
Meanwhile, one in three dogs gets cancer. Some estimates put it at one in two.
Half of the dogs that get cancer end up succumbing to the disease, and the only cure, when possible, is surgery.
So we have a sleeping, invisible giant, this cancer. It is all around us yet medical professionals (of which I count myself one) have been unable to see it for what it is.
On top of that, cancer survival time has only increased 5% since the 1950’s! After decades and millions spent, this is the payoff.
This invisible giant has been outdoing the best that conventional care has to offer. In the face of this adversary, we have been almost totally powerless.
The story of Gibson reminds us of the importance of thinking outside the box. It is time for sideways steps in evolution now, not continuing down the same path as before.
We now need to leap.
We need to create new pathways of investigation, and be bold. And you, the guardians of these loved ones, need to lead the charge.
Have courage, and my thoughts are with you.
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.
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