Saying Goodbye to Golden Retriever Bella Who had Gastrointestinal Lymphoma
Our story starts out with a beautiful 72 pound healthy 4 year and 2 month old golden retriever girl. Bella was our third golden and We did everything for her, she was a very happy healthy girl.
Until one day our Bella refused to eat, this was on November 13, 2016. With trying all of our efforts to get her to eat, it all failed. Knowing this is an abnormal behavior from a golden retriever we knew right away we had to take her to the vet.
Our first vet visit was on November 15, 2016. We then were told there was "nothing" wrong after her blood work and x-rays came back normal. The vet handed us an antibiotic because he said maybe her teeth looked a little inflamed and "maybe" that would do the trick. With another 4 days passing with no eating and showing behavior of wanting to go outside multiple times, we decided to go to a different vet.
Now vet #2 did the same tests and blood work and x-rays came out normal again. Puzzled and confused, they prescribed us an anti-nausea medicine called cerenia. With going home again confused and frustrated seeing our dog not eating we hoped that the new medicine would help settle her tummy. Also I would like to make a side note that her behavior was normal, urinating fine, making solid formed bowel movements and playing cheerfully. We were so puzzled that no one could give us the answers we desperately needed.
So we made a 3rd vet appointment the same day as vet #2. We told them about the past 2 vet appointments and they then decided to check for pancreatitis. That came out fine, so pancreatitis was then ruled out and the vet sent us on our way telling us our next option could be a barium test. We didn't feel that was absolutely necessary right away so we decided to make an appointment to see a new veterinarian who specializes in oncology. They then did an ultrasound, and that was when we found out our beautiful Bella had a massive tumor in her digestive tract and her lymph nodes were swollen.
She had gastrointestinal lymphoma. We learned this was an incurable cancer and that the only treatment would be management treatment which includes chemo and prednisone, which could give us a little more time but the vet said there was no guarantee.
Now going on 10 days not eating, Bella was presenting symptoms of urinating on herself, not being able to make bowel movements, vomiting pure bile, very lethargic and just wanting to lay around outside and wanting to be away from us. We were very distraught and didn't know what to do; we gave her an antibiotic that would attempt to increase her appetite and a stronger cerenia medication but nothing worked. Her stomach was swelling and she was getting weaker. Her vet said we could do an open examination to see how many tumors were inside her but there was a chance she could bleed out right there on the table. With hearing these choices and knowing our Bella doesn't even handle anesthesia well, we knew that an open surgery could not be a possible option. Please know that we would have done anything for her if it was curable, but we could not let her suffer any longer.
This is a fast acting cancer and progressed to the point where our dog was dying before our eyes. So on the 11th day, we decided against chemo and prednisone, because if she is not eating then treatment would be for nothing. Bella made her choice for us. We decided to euthanize her and it was the hardest thing my family and I had to go through.
I share her story because this is a horrible cancer that varies from the lymphoma of the neck. Gastrointestinal lymphoma is a much more aggressive cancer and we could not let our baby suffer any longer. Golden retrievers know how to mask their illnesses well and you normally don't find anything wrong until it is too late. She was brave and tried to be strong until the end.
Please go get ultrasounds and get your goldens checked yearly.
I hope Bella's story helps anyone whose dog is going through a cancer diagnosis. Please share your story and know you are not alone. I pray for all the families out there to find peace throughout and stay strong for them. You are their voice and their everything.
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