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Advice desperately needed

Posted by: Claire Jackson Posts: 2 - Joined: Mon Jun 18th, 2012 04:58 pm

#268 - by Claire Jackson >> Mon Jun 18th, 2012 09:10 pm

Hello to all,
This is my first post as I am new to this site having seen a poster in my vet’s surgery.
First of all what a wonderful site I never knew such a site existed and am very glad I have found it.
The reason I am posting is for my Bertie, he is a black lab cross that we got 5 years ago from a rescue centre. Not much was known about Bertie as he was found wandering as a stray but he was the sorriest looking thing there and we knew we just had to have him and give him a proper second chance at life. He is approximately 8-10 years old, but possibly older.
On Friday Bertie collapsed and was rushed to the vets and after spending all weekend having tests, x-rays and ultrasounds he has been diagnosed with a tumour on his liver. The one thing you have to know about Bertie is he hates the vets, and I know most dogs don’t enjoy the vets but seriously Bertie will try anything to get out of there as soon as possible. We visited him every day over the weekend and it was clear to see he was very depressed at being in the vets.
The vets have done a wonderful job and managed to stabilise him enough to come home today (Monday) as we were confident with the right meds we could get him eating again at home (in true lab style Bertie loves his food). However so far he has refused food and his meds have to be given with food. We are trying everything to get him to eat as the vet says it is vital now that he eats to gather strength. Our other option is to have him tube fed.
Not much is known at this stage about his tumour apart from that it is quite large however his liver has not failed and his kidneys seem to be ok.
This is where it gets complicated and I need advice – from here our options are to support him with meds and the right diet to let him live comfortably for as long as possible. When his time does come we want him put to sleep at home.
Or to have him referred to a specialist centre who can do mri, ct and cat scans and a bioposy with the hope of operating, however the chances of an operation being a success are very slim and it breaks my heart to think of him being cut open to just never come round. Also the specialist centre is in Solihull and I am in West Yorkshire so if his time did come while he was in there we would not be able to get to him in time and also he would be miserable at the vets and we wouldn’t be able to visit him.
Does anyone on here have any experience of tube feeding the vet is very much in favour of this? Has anyone had a dog with liver cancer (you don’t have to discuss it if it is too painful for you)? Also what is the general opinion on should I agree to let him be tested and scanned more and possibly operated on or should he just be left now and he can show us when he is ready.
Posted by: Fiona Posts: 30 - Joined: Sun Jan 15th, 2012 07:34 pm

#269 - by Fiona >> Mon Jun 18th, 2012 10:28 pm

Hi Claire

I am so sorry to hear your sad news. I lost my dog Louis to cancer 7 months ago, he was only 6. He had intestinal cancer, which was operated on as they believed he had a chance as he was so young and fit. I am sorry to be negative and hope your outcome is different, but Louis lasted 4 weeks from diagnosis to having to make that heart breaking decision to let him go. He had one dose of chemo, which I think gave us a bit of extra time with him, but in hind sight I wouldn't have put him through it. All I would say is unfortunately we in the UK aren't as advanced in treating animals with cancer. It is a horrible disease and our innocent furry friends do not deserve to have it. Let's hope a cure is close.
I hope I have a been a little help, all I say is don't let him suffer with force feeding, unless the vet truly believes that they have a really good chance of survival, there is nothing worse than seeing them suffer. We could see in Louis eyes that he had had enough.
Love to you

Fiona x
Posted by: Claire Jackson Posts: 2 - Joined: Mon Jun 18th, 2012 04:58 pm

#270 - by Claire Jackson >> Tue Jun 19th, 2012 03:00 pm

Hi Fiona,

Thanks for replying and so sorry about Louis.

I took him back to the vets this morning as he seems ok in himself he's been on short walks and can make it up or downstairs fine, didn't mess in the house during night and when i took him to vets he was playing in waiting room with another dog. He seemed interested in food last night but just at the last minute he seemed to just think oh god i can't eat that as he had been sick and messed himself many times in the vets. I think our plan from here is to have the feeding tube put in as I ain't about to let him starve to death or have him put down when we haven't seen what he is like with some food in him. As I said the vet is very pro the feeding tube and i think we will give him a week on the feeding tube and if he still doesn't start taking on solids or improve then we will make the call. We are still pretty sure we will not have the op, and the vet has said that chemo just won't work on the liver. We just want to know we have done enough but not too much for him if you see what i mean.

We are trying to stay positive and hope we can give him a good few weeks but i think unless we see a massive improvement on the tube then he will be set free from this life to play in the clouds.

All anyone of us can hope for at the end is that we were happy and we were loved and there is no doubt in my mind that Bertie was both.
Posted by: Fiona Posts: 30 - Joined: Sun Jan 15th, 2012 07:34 pm

#271 - by Fiona >> Tue Jun 19th, 2012 08:59 pm

Bless you Claire and bless Bertie. Keep us in touch on how things go. Thinking of you both. X
Posted by: Shailen Posts: 100 - Joined:

#272 - by Shailen >> Wed Jun 20th, 2012 12:19 am

Hi Claire,

Sorry to hear about Bertie's problems. I am a vet who specialises in Emergency & Critical Care work and as such have worked in one of those small animal referral centres seeing referral cases - not the one in Solihull but I know the one you mean and in fact have friends who work there. Anyway, it is always difficult for me to comment on people's pets from a medical point of view without knowing all the available information so I won't comment on Bertie specifically. But I would say that sometimes it helps to visit the referral centre for them to be able to gather more information than your primary care vet can. Although this means Bertie would have to spend time there it would allow the specialists to be able to give you a more informed opinion on whether surgery was an option and what they thought the prognosis may be. It may be that for example even just by doing an MRI and/or CT scan they could tell if the problem has spread elsewhere which would influence the choices, or these tests may lead to biopsies as you suggest and those results can take a few days depending on what type of biopsy is done. But perhaps Bertie could come home while the results are awaited; I am not sure without being involved in the case. I just wanted to make sure that you knew that going to the referral centre for a consultation and some investigations does not mean you are then obliged to put Bertie through surgery. People are different in how they view these things but I know some people have found going this extra step to get more information and a specialist opinion worthwhile in terms of not having any regret later on down the line. I have certainly done consultations with people who then decided not to proceed with anything but said that they just wanted to come and get a second more specialist opinion about the problem. Just something to think about.

As far as the feeding tube, again I cannot comment without knowing what sort of tube is being proposed etc but nutrition is clearly very important and you are absolutely right that starvation is not a reasonable way forward.

Give Bertie a kiss from all of us here and take care.
Shailen (The Ralph Site founder)
Posted by: Clare Green Posts: 4 - Joined: Thu Jun 14th, 2012 09:29 pm

#273 - by Clare Green >> Thu Jun 21st, 2012 12:33 pm

Hi Claire, sorry to hear about Bertie's health challenges. I too only found this site last week after having just lost one of my own animals. It's been a huge support. Back to Bertie, I've had a lot of animals over the years (& I work with animals) & I've made decisions such as the one you're facing dependent on the individual, so for some, I've gone back & to, to see specialists, because they're quite happy going in the car (including one particular cat!), but for others, the stress (& their age/other health complications) would've made it unfair. There is no black & white answer, so whatever you decide is right. I agree with Shailen, that if he seems well enough to travel, take him just to see what the options are. That way, you can make a more informed decision. I've also used Holistic Vets extensively, especially when there was nothing conventional medicine could offer or in addition to conventional medicine. There's often lots you can do with a good diet/supplement/etc, to support the animal's overall health &/or slow down progressions of disease. If you do decide to travel him, why not use a natural calming product to help alleviate his stress? I've seen good results with KalmAid for calming pets that struggle with travelling/trips to vets. It's not a prescription medicine, but always best to check your vet is happy for you to use it. Good luck to Bertie & know whatever decision you've made, you've made with his best interests at heart. Clare x
Posted by: Clare Green Posts: 4 - Joined: Thu Jun 14th, 2012 09:29 pm

#274 - by Clare Green >> Thu Jun 21st, 2012 12:38 pm

p.s. I've also just remembered one of my other puss cats (the one that liked travelling in the car!), had a liver condition. Whilst I appreciate it's not the same as a liver tumour, it was a serious liver condition that she did succumb to in the end. However I was going to say that liver issues often make animals nauseous & therefore reluctant to eat. She had flares up over a year and a half, and I periodically had to syringe feed her Hill's AD, sometimes for a few day's at a time. The specialist also treated her for the symptoms of the liver condition, e.g., nausea & lack of appetite, etc.

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