Liver Cancer in Miniature Schnauzer

Liver Cancer in Miniature Schnauzer

by Jacqueline Blanks
(Brisbane, Australia)

Nelson 18.04.01 to 06.06.12

Nelson 18.04.01 to 06.06.12

I thought that I would share my experience with other dog parents about Nelson, my much loved Miniature Schnauzer of 11 years who I had euthanized about 4 weeks ago.

He seemed as healthy as could be until about 6 weeks ago when he started vomiting up his food, was lethargic and very unhappy. I had him at the local vet who couldn't seem to help him so they suggested I send him to a specialist clinic for further testing. He spent nearly 2 weeks with the specialists who tried everything to make him better. In the end, because he couldn't hold any food down and was completely miserable, I decided, with more agony that you could possibly imagine, that I should put him out of his misery. That was the hardest decision of my life but nothing was working to make him better and all the vets were scratching their heads to try and understand what was wrong with him.

Fast forward to today ... I finally received the results of his autopsy - he had full blown liver cancer which had spread into his lungs - it was termed a "miliary" cancer which means "microscopic" which was why the cancer was not picked up in any of the testing that the vets did and, believe me, they did every test possible and gave him every medication they could think of which cost me all of a small fortune but I loved him and I wanted to make him better. As it turned out, the cancer he had was extremely fast spreading and it's most likely that it would have only been present for a month before he died - I guess dogs are smaller than humans so it would have been equivalent to when a human is told they have 6 months to live.

Prior to the vomiting, Nelson had a blood eye which I had always thought, later in the piece, was connected to the his vomiting and illness but all of the vets, specialists included, felt it was unrelated to whatever it was that was making him sick (I did try to have the eye treated, for the record, prior to him becoming really sick - the pressure in his his eye was tested, he was given antibiotics and creams, etc, but nothing seemed to work to remove the blood). When he got really sick, I again asked if the eye (which by this stage had become blind) was related to whatever was going on and I think I even suggested liver problems (as his blood tests showed increased enzymes) but I was told no, the eye problem was separate and probably caused by an infection (an eye specialist checked him out also). I had always thought that liver problems can cause eye problems which is why I made the correlation.

When the vets rang me today to give me the autopsy report, they conceded that, yes, the eye problem was an immune reaction to the liver cancer. Personally, I think that they should have looked more into the liver when he was with them given the blindness of the eye ... mind you, I think the cancer was too full blown by then so nothing would have made a difference and he would have died anyway.

Anyway, I'm sharing this story for anyone who's wondering whether they made the right decision about euthanizing their pet when they've found out that they have liver cancer. Personally, if I had known that Nelson's problem was unfixable, at the start of his illness, as hard as it was, I would have put him at peace earlier because the last 2 weeks of his life were very unhappy for him and me - I was an emotional wreck hoping against hope that each day would see an improvement. We just didn't know what we were dealing with given the fact that the cancer was microscopic. I just don't know if there's a likelihood of a dog coming good after such a cancer be it microscopic or visible.

I chose to have an autopsy on my dog so that veterinary profession would have more knowledge if a dog was to present with the same symptoms as my boy did. At least then, an owner would have a better idea of what they are dealing with. I miss my dog with every part of me and I think it will be awhile before I get over his death. He was my best mate.

Jackie

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Sep 14, 2016
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D's Dawg Dayz
by: Jackie

My Nelson too had bad teeth and had to have a lot of them extracted and this occurred a few months prior to his illness. I sometimes wondered if it was all inter-connected. He had suffered from bad breath most of his life too.

I wish you the best for your dog. It's gut wrenching to watch them deteriorate before your eyes. Prayers.

RIP Nelson, Banjo and Molly - miss my Three Amigos.

Sep 14, 2016
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Bless you for sharing your pain...
by: D's Dawg Dayz

Thank you and bless you for sharing this painful experience with us all.

My beloved schnauzer son Mickey, who just celebrated his 11th birthday last month, has had a decreased appetite. We changed to moist food and he was good for a bit. But now has stopped eating it. He has always had bad teeth and has had a number removed In years past. So I thought he must have something going on in his mouth making it painful to eat.

Just yesterday the vet advised me that he too was anemic and also had a low platelet count. His liver enzymes, liver and kidney function all checked out fine within normal range. With the information you have shared I now will see if they can do anything to check for the micro liver issue you explain.

Again sorry for your loss. May you remain blessed by the paw prints of Nelson on your heart forever❣🐾❣

Much love,

D and my 3 Schnauzer angels, plus the many other Schnauzer friends and family members and pets I truly love!!

Sep 07, 2016
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Response to Holly
by: Jackie

Oh, Holly, that's so young. Your poor little poppet. So sorry you lost your baby. It's so devastating but I do believe that they wait for us on the other side and they're always with us in spirit.

My thoughts are with you. So sorry for your loss. I'm glad I could help you, even if a little, with my own sad tale.

Jackie

Sep 07, 2016
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Helpful
by: Holly

Dear Jackie,

I'm just trying to make sense right now of some terrible news I just received from my son, and happened upon your post.

Our beloved neighbor schnauzer, Gustov, has just been put down yesterday and we are learning it was liver cancer. Last time I saw him he looked fine, and out of all the dogs in our area, he would have been the last one we would have thought would have an illness.

I'm just devastated, he was such a sweet angel, but somehow your post helped me to understand that perhaps it was fast moving, and ultimately, I hope he didn't have to suffer for very long. He was only about 6-7 years old, and was the picture of health and happy pet.

Take care.

Apr 27, 2016
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That's so sad
by: Jacqueline

I'm so sorry you went through that. Sometimes you wonder whether the vets are right with their diagnosis. I'm so sorry you're feeling so much pain.

Jackie

Apr 27, 2016
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Minnie 6/2002 -4/22/2016
by: Anonymous

My sweet girl had an infected cyst between one of her toes that became infected. Antibiotic was not clearing it so Vet put her in surgery to explore and clean it out. Since she was under they also extracted 20 teeth and removed a small cyst on her side.

She was energetic after surgery and I cleaned and soaked her toe for a week. She was on thyroid medication and 2 different antibiotics. Gums and cyst on side was healing but not her toe. Culture came back as staph so they put her on a third antibiotic for humans.

After a week she became sick with fever and weakness. She collapsed on me. I rushed her to the emergency vet. Blood test showed her liver enzymes had sky rocketed to 1800. Less then 3 weeks before her blood was normal. I was told she was also anemic. They did an ultrasound and told me she had two large masses in her liver and one in a lymph node, along with lots of small nodules. They said most likely cancer and I should humanely euthanize her within the next 48 hours. They were concerned of one or more of them bursting.

My head was spinning. I took their suggestion but first brought her home. I took 3 days off work to spend every minute with her. They put her on cortisone to help shrink inflammation and make her comfortable. She never threw up or lost her appetite. I'm not sure I made the right decision. I keep thinking maybe they were wrong and they were not cancerous. I'm beside myself with grief.

Oct 14, 2015
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Rudy tootie
by: Anonymous

Our beautiful Rudy has cancer in the lumph glands and liver. Was happy and energy until last week. He is not eating and we were just told he hasn't but a few days. He has been our best friend and part of our family for 11 years, this is so hard to put a part of your family down. Our heart is breaking but we have to let go and be kind to our best friend.

Jul 21, 2015
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So sorry
by: Jackie

Thank you for sharing your story about Liesl. So sorry for the loss of your beautiful schnauzer. They are the greatest dogs.

Jul 21, 2015
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Liesl
by: Anonymous

My miniature schnauzer, Liesl, just started acting like she was having a very hard time breathing one evening, so I took her into the vet that night. Her gums and tongue were white, which meant that she was very anemic. They took an x-ray, but did not see anything. Her little tummy was swollen also. They gave her some pain medicine and has me bring her back that next day.

From that day for a week, I took her back to the vet office, and they said they did not know what was wrong with her, so they started treating her for what they thought was the problem.

The beginning of the second week on Monday night, she started breathing hard, like she was just grasping for air. She could not lay down on her tummy, because it hurt to much. I sat up with her all night and then took her back to the vet the next morning. They were making appointments to take her to a vet school to see what they could find, and before I could leave with her, she died...

They did an autopsy and found large balloon-looking pockets of blood all over her liver. Of course we do not know how long she has the cancer, but there was obviously nothing that could have been done to save her.

Please remember that no one knows your dog as good as you do. Do not wait until it is too late to change vets to someone that has the equipment available to do all of the tests that need to be done. I know that she was in great pain the last hours of her life...

Jun 16, 2015
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Lost My Angel Girl
by: Anonymous

Snooks had to be put down 13/06/2015 also from cancer of the liver that spread to the lungs.

Right now, I'm just devastated. She was such a sweet girl. Always trying to make friends with everyone and everybody. I miss her so.

Apr 24, 2015
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Losing my Baby
by: Dave

Thank you for sharing these posts.

My 9 year old Ruby June has been through so much with me. She suffered the loss of her 'other Daddy' to Cancer two years ago and made that transition in my life much easier. She has always been a gentle soul, loving, and full of heart. She is a quiet girl and suffers from epilepsy, but has been treated with medication since her first heat.

Last week I drove my Sister In Law cross country to her new home. Mid trip my niece (who was watching Ruby and her sister Kiyah) called to say that she refused to eat. Since she had been to the vet the day before I left I wasn't too concerned. She had a slightly enlarged liver but that is not uncommon with the meds she is on.

I brought her in the next day and her liver values were off the charts. Oddly nothing else is. Everything else seems normal. She roused yesterday for a bit and ate some boiled chicken...only to vomit half of it up. Her urine is dark and she's lethargic and shakes upon seeing food.

The vet is recommending an ultrasound but is not saying I should be really concerned. I can't help but be. Losing her feels like losing my husband all over again. She was my rock while I lost my Mother six years ago, my Husband, then my Father...all to Cancer. I fear that this is where I am headed with her too.

Doing some research I've come across how it only affects the liver values in some cases. I was wondering if anyone else knows of this being true? I am prepared for the worst and expect that I will lose her (it is inevitable...) but before I come to that point I was hoping to find out if others had experienced the same.

Love to all of you Mini Schnauzer parents, they are a very very special breed!

Oct 06, 2014
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Wonderful news
by: Jackie

I am so glad that your beloved Schnauzer is doing better. I'm going through something similar with my West Highland Terrier currently.

She's 13.5 years. I'm off to see the specialist today but my heart tells me that this is her time and enjoy what we have left with her. These beloved animals bring so much love into our lives. How lucky we are to have them.

Good luck to you and your beautiful dog. I wish him longevity and happiness. I wish you peace and lots of love from your furry friend.

Oct 06, 2014
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Thanks & Roger Update
by: patsquared

Thank you so much for your support. It means an awful lot especially in the current situation.

I spoke to an animal communicator Wednesday - Patty Summers. She was recommended by the author, Rita Reynolds.

She said Roger wanted to come home. He didn't want surgery. She mentioned that cancer might be there but he just wanted to be with us.

So I brought Roger home Thursday evening, $3000 poorer but happy to have him with me. The UTI is gone, the tooth has resolved (IV antibiotics will do that for you). But the other issues were still weighing on my mind.

I saw our country vet on Saturday and, no surprise, no surgery. Dr. Manning is practical and kind; he said old dogs have growths on their spleen so no splenectomy.

And, since the sonographer said the bladder stones were "small", Dr. Manning said that meant really, really small. He acknowledged the risk that one of them could get loose and lodge in the penile duct but he said he would not operate on Roger in his current condition.

Roger is feeling better and is eating but only boiled chicken! I sneak in a bit of sweet potato now and again but he has his mind made up.

He feels better. He has a bounce in his step and I am just glad he let me know what he wanted through Patty. And I am glad you were able to give me much needed support over the past week.
Thank you!

Sep 30, 2014
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Your beloved schnauzer
by: Jackie

Hello Pat,

I'm sorry that you're facing such a hard time with your beloved Roger. You're such a good soul to have given him a home and loved him. Schnauzers are such a beautiful dog. I have had two previously and a West Highland Terrier. Unfortunately, the two schnauzers have both passed and my little Westie, who is 13.5 years old, isn't doing real well.

Anyway, I am sold on the schnauzer breed and have another puppy - she's 7 months old. They really win your heart and are so interactive and loving. Whilst I dearly love my Westie, she has always been her own dog and fairly aloof.

The fact that you took Roger in would have meant a lot to him and he knows that you will do whatever is right for him. It is so sad when our babies get sick and even worse when you have to make that final decision.

You will do what's right ... your heart will lead you in the right direction. Whatever choice you make, Roger will be eternally grateful to you for everything you've ever done for him xx

Sep 30, 2014
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Thanks for helping me with Roger
by: patsquared

Your post is helping me with a very difficult decision, one you had to make and I don't want to make.

We rescued a mini-Schnauzer named Roger 8 months ago. He was 11 years old and his owner was dying so rather than put him down, we asked if we could home him.

We don't know schnauzers as a breed; we have Westies and have for almost 40 years but I couldn't let him die.

Thursday he stopped eating. He drank chicken broth but no food. He seemed uncomfortable but still wanted to play. Saturday, when his urine showed blood, we took him to the emergency vet.

Within hours they told us that he has chronic pancreatitis, a raging UTI and oddly an abscess on his gum above one tooth. Last night, they told us he has kidney stones and 4 growths on his spleen, one of which looks suspicious.

I am sitting here, crying for Roger. I know what the vets can do - operate, remove the stones and the spleen, patch him back together. But what should they do? I talk with them today and will do what's right for Roger even if it breaks my heart. Thank you.

Jul 13, 2014
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Sparky
by: Jackie

I know how raw you would be feeling at the moment. I lost my other schnauzer (Nelson's brother) about 3 months ago and I cried and cried. The pain does go but you never forget these wonderful animals. I wish you all the very best as you travel this unavoidable road in life. God bless.

Jul 13, 2014
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Thank you
by: Anonymous

Sparky was just diagnosed today. He is quite miserable and keeps waking up panting. It is breaking my heart at the moment as I cannot help him be comfortable. This just began happening about a week or so ago. He is fifteen and has had a full and rich life but telling myself that doesn't seem to be helping me now.

When looking at options, our vet is unsure how he would be with surgery to take the spleen out as just going "under" when he is feeling so weak is problematic. Any thoughts are welcome as I don't know how to help him feel better ... Thank you.

Feb 07, 2014
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My Lucy
by: Jim

I am touched by all the comments and wish everyone peace.

I had a beautiful sweet lil Schnauzer that I just had to put down due to what appeared to be Pancreas abscess/ Liver Cancer. Lucy was only 11 & 4 mos. but was not her usual self the past couple of months. She had never had any other health issues other than ear infections and dental issues, unlike her 13 yr old "sister" Schnauzer, Libby who has bladder stones at 2 yrs and epileptic seizures at 12 yrs. Still, these two were close and we took them everywhere, especially camping. My wife and I have an adult son, so these were our "children" and they give/gave as much love as any dog could.

Lucy then had a pancreatitis attack in May, 2013 and we nearly lost her. This past November she started losing weight suddenly (4 lbs/20), became frail and reclusive. We took her to the vet in January and she was diabetic, so we started on insulin. Weeks later she had another bad pancreas attack and ended up in the hospital. It was then that the vet identified a drop in red blood cell count and suggested an ultrasound. The results were shocking. She had a large mass mutilating her pancreas, maybe an abscess, and her liver was spattered with dark jagged edge masses. We didn't want a biopsy, we knew what it was, spent one more night with pain medication and then sadly said goodbye to our girl the next day.

It has devastated us and poor Libby is distraught searching for her lil sister. We are so sad. Please, please, please dog lovers... get screening done for your older dogs and look closely for any changes.

Nov 22, 2013
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My Little Man
by: Peggy

From one Schnauzer lover to another, I am so sorry. I too had to put my beloved Banker down due to a mass in his stomach. I don't know if it was definitely cancer, but probably was. He lost so much weight and was in pain. He was almost 15 years old and I was so thankful that I had him for that long. I miss him every day. He just had that "Schnauzer attitude", which I am sure you know about!

Oct 08, 2013
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Graciebelle
by: Kathy

My heart goes out to each and every one of you.

I have two mini schnauzers, who are 10 and 9. My 10 year old Grace started to feel very frail to me in the last few weeks. I just felt like when I picked her up, she was all bones. She still seemed like her happy self, wanting her walks and eating and drinking well.

This past weekend, I noticed what looked like swelling on her left side. 24 hours later, last evening, my husband and I had her at the vet. He drained fluid from her stomach and it was bloody. He ordered blood work which came back positive for a lot of stuff and on chest x-ray which she had done today, the chest was normal but her liver is very much enlarged. After a conversation between my husband, myself and our vet, we are going to have the vet operate tomorrow.

Best case is that she has a tumor and he will remove her spleen. He assured us that if she does have cancer, he will know as soon as he opens her up and will not proceed any further. We don't know if we are making the right decision but she does not seem to be in any pain, just very lethargic. These decisions are so hard. I am obviously hoping she is cancer free but with the above stories, I am more worried now. This has been her first sick visit in 10 years and I am so shocked at how rapidly this has progressed.

Please keep Gracie in your thoughts and prayers.

Kathy

Sep 04, 2013
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Pyper
by: Glynn

Hi and really sorry for all your losses.

I have been reading your posts over the last 24 hours and I want to thank you as I have taken comfort and understanding from them.

I today have just had to have my 11 1/2 year old miniature schnauzer called Pyper put to sleep. She has been such a happy little dog all her life but a few weeks ago her coat went flat and she started to be a bit withdrawn. 5 days ago she went really quiet and started being lethargic and struggled to get comfy. After tests and an ultrasound she too was found to have multiple lumps in her spleen and liver. The vet wanted to run more tests suggesting something might be possible although I had been preparing myself for the worse.

Within 12 hours and luckily I have managed to do the last things I wanted her to do as she took a dramatic turn for the worse. She had her favourite walk on the local fields which I have managed to take her on and she seemed so at ease, enjoying the scents and smells and views for one last time, her face was happy and smiling!

She suddenly stopped, looked at me and lay down as if to say goodbye. She had made her mind up herself. She wouldn't move from the spot and kept trying to go to sleep. Unfortunately she didn't mange it herself in the end, but I felt it was a fitting tribute to such a loyal and trusted friend, who I was lucky enough to have In my life.

Jul 26, 2013
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I'm so sorry
by: Jackie

I'm so sorry you lost your Remington. How very sad for you. I can imagine how sad you're feeling and how alone.

I still have Nelson's brother, he's 12 years old now, and I treasure every minute with him because I know I probably won't get a lot more time with him. If only they could live longer lives.

I will be thinking about you today. I wish I could help you with your grief but nothing I say will help. Unfortunately, it's a very sad part of life us dog lovers have to face eventually. Look after yourself and treasure those beautiful memories you have with your boy.

Hugs

Jackie

Jul 26, 2013
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My Remmington
by: Ellen

Jackie, I am so sorry for your loss. My sweet Mini Schnauzer Remmington was my beloved furbaby for 11 years. He was a rescue that came with pancreatitis and a slight heart murmur, but you would have never known he had medical issues.

I was on my way to his vet yesterday because of excessive panting and a choking like sound, unfortunately 3 blocks from the vets office he passed, I was able to give him month to snout just long enough to tell him how much he was treasured and love.

Remmy's 2 vets and a tweak of techs tried hard to bring him back, but it was too late. I was told his liver was huge and it was either cancer or heart failure that took him, and that if they could have saved him it would have been temporary.

My grief is overwhelming right now, it seems insurmountable. I applaud you for efforts and then letting your furbaby go, it's hard either way, but sometimes they need help passing.

God less,
Ellen

Jan 30, 2013
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Yes, very sad
by: Jackie

So sorry to read about Casper. I think it's better that they choose to leave on their own terms rather than having to make the choice of euthansia for them. I struggle wih my last memories of Nelson because I had to go down the line of ending his life for him. I'm sure little Casper is happier in Doggy Heaven. My thoughts are with you.

Jan 30, 2013
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So sad!!
by: Cecilia

My beloved Casper passed away Tuesday morning after battling cancer for 6 months. It had started in his spleen, which was successfully removed but he developed liver cancer very soon. The chemo which he had taken orally started to slow him down and lately he was not the same. Finally he lost his battle Tuesday at 3 a.m. next to me in his sleep.

Thankfully he passed away in his sleep and did not suffer.

I will never forget the great 8 years we spent together but specially the last 6 months. I cannot regret any single day spent next to him and I am convinced that he left us because he was not able to cope anymore with the illness and his little body had deteriorated but even more because he did not want me to suffer anymore for him!

Jan 13, 2013
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Sorry too for your loss
by: Jackie

Hello Nadine,

I'm sorry your pain is so raw. It's been over 6 months now since I lost Nelson - I think about him every day and find myself crying when I do think about him. I still have his brother, Banjo, who is such a beautiful boy - I love him with all my heart and wish I could hang onto him forever but, at age 11.5 years, I know my time with him is limited. I have a little Westie too, she's as sweet as a button, same age - they're my best friends through and through. There's something about miniature schnauzers - they're such a unique little dog - funny, loving, inquisitive and extremely loyal. I don't think I could now consider another breed as my boys really won my heart - I had never had schnauzers before.

Hang in there, Nadine. I'm really sorry that you're going through such a rough time. My thoughts are with you. If you want somewhere to share your feelings with about your little dog (and your dad), I'm happy to be a shoulder for you. Take care of yourself.

Jan 10, 2013
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So sorry
by: Nadine

Hi Jackie,

I'm so sorry for your loss. I had to put down my beloved mini schnauzer Willow three days ago. She also had liver and spleen cancer. She was my soul mate and I'm just heartbroken.

She started having a cough and I just wanted to check her out. The vet then did an ultrasound to check her lungs and that's how he discovered the tumors in the liver and spleen.

Saying goodbye to my sweet angel was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. I just lost my dad two weeks ago and she was my rock to handle that situation... It's just too much.

Dec 02, 2012
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Rocco
by: Stacey

Jackie, I'm so sorry about your angel. I'm still in shock after losing my yorkie, Rocco, to cancer a month ago. He was the best thing in my life for 8 years. I'm devastated and feel so responsible. Oddly, when I took him to the vet because of his breathing they shrugged it off. I insisted on x-rays and blood tests at that very moment. X-rays showed cancer everywhere in his lungs, and an ultrasound also found a tumor on his liver. Four weeks later Rocco was so weak and sick I helped him crossover. I still cry every night and miss him more than anything in life. Thinking back he had not felt well in months. I'm also surprised that the vet didn't order tests right away when I told him about his breathing.

God bless our babies and I pray we are reunited with them.

Jul 13, 2012
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Thank you
by: Jackie

Thank you Mary Ellen, for your kind words. They reach inside our chests and hold our hearts tight, don't they? Just hoping one day we're reunited.

Jul 12, 2012
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I share your loss
by: Mary Ellen

Hi Jackie,

First I would like to say I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved pet I too have lost my Labrador Retriever Coco to cancer. He had lymphoma and leukemia which came on very rapid. One day he was full of life next he was very ill then got worse after that. He would not eat without medicine, prednisone to give him an appetite. Put on antibiotics to relieve pain. He just kept getting weaker and sicker.

One night both of his eyes became red which scared me and I knew he was getting worse.

We figured due to the enlarged liver and spleen that Coco was bleeding internally. We took him to our vets the next day to put him to sleep which was the humane thing to do as we did not want him to suffer anymore. Our best friend and beloved pet will be gone from us since October and we can't believe it will be a year since he left us this October. He will never be forgotten and will also be in our hearts forever.

So I assure you that putting your pet to sleep was the right thing to do. I think all pet owners have doubts if they did the right choice to put them to sleep but if you love your pet like we do you don't want them to be in pain and have to suffer. So again I am sorry and I hope I have helped you a little. Take care.

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