My Dog Millie Has Oral Melanoma

My Dog Millie Has Oral Melanoma

by Andrew Petty
(Lancaster, Ca)

Millie came into my life three Christmases ago. I got a call from Zach at Marley's Mutts in Tehachapi, Kern County. Millie had been tied up and abandoned. She was a scared skinny girl about five years old. She has transformed into the most beautiful friendly and lovable companion I have ever had. This year Millie and I drove up to Northern California to meet Dana from the Northern Californian Weimaraner Rescue to meet a Whyatt (now Wilson). Millie and Wilson hit it off immediately and have been inseparable since.

Wilson has done something for Millie that I could not - he has taught her to play. In July Millie, Wilson and I spent a week in San Diego - the beach and in the sea were such fun. Wilson is a natural swimmer, Millie was a real Princess and initially would only get her paws wet. When she realized the fun Wilson was having, she took the plunge. What a great day that was.

About a week ago, Millie started bleeding from the right side of her mouth. We cleaned it and when it did not stop bleeding we went to see our local Vet. Millie had a growth in the roof of her mouth. It required surgery.

I prayed that it was not malignant but I guess the gods were not listening. She had an oral melanoma, which was excised. The prognosis for these types of fast growing tumors is not too good. The Vet and I discussed chemotherapy and radiation but I am not convinced that this is the right choice because I do not think that the pain and suffering of these therapies is going to give my Milliemoo any quality of life.

I am looking into natural remedies and diet. I would be eternally grateful for any information, ideas and stories of hope.

Millie and Wilson are my life and I cannot explain the depths of devastation I feel. I deal with these sort of tragic stories in my work - I am an ER RN but I do not think. I have never felt so useless and inept.

I do not want my Milliemoo to suffer but if I can give her some extra quality time with a family that loves her so very much, I will do whatever it takes.

If you have any ideas I would be so pleased to hear them.

Thank you for reading this and letting me tell you all about the brightest star in my sky.

Andrew Petty,
Millie and Wilson's Dad

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Jul 25, 2017
by: Linda

My beautiful girl has just been diagnosed with oral melanoma. I just dropped her off for X-rays (they had to sedate her for that because she wouldn't keep still).

If the cancer has not spread they told me the options are removing the tumor and surrounding area. I guess that means they will be removing part of her jaw. After that they will treat her with the melanoma vaccine to help her body fight the cancer. It is very expensive but of course she is my baby and I will do what I can.

The thing that worries me is that removing part of her bone and/or jaw will cause her a lot of pain and suffering. I'd like to hear from someone whose pet has gone through the procedure and vaccine and the outcome of that. Did your baby seem to be in a lot of pain and discomfort? Did all of this add quality time to your beloved let's life?

My Sallysuzy is a 10 year old miniature schnauzer, so she could still have a few more years. The vet says there are no guarantees of course, but if all goes well, it could give her another 2 years or more. I just want to make the decision that is best for her and not put her through this for my own selfish reasons.

May 15, 2017
My Sweet Sadie has Oral Melanoma, too! :(
by: Susan

Thank you for all of these messages. Sadie is my nearly 11 year old white lab mix, hiking buddy, protector and best friend (got her from a shelter at 6 months old). She too has an oral mass that is most likely melanoma.

We're on day 6 since my discovery of it after noticing bad breath for about 3 days. The white fur on her legs was randomly pink (bloody licking) and I kept searching for the origin but never found it. Eventually I realized she was systematically keeping me away from one side of her mouth. The horrifying mass looked to be about the size of a golf ball but was very difficult to see or notice because of how far back it was in her jaw. I got her into the vet the next day.

She is now on day 5 of a couple of different antibiotics, I think this has brought the swelling down some. I have switched her to all soft wet food now and I chop up her treats so they are like powder with my pampered chef chopper. I did chop up her dry food for a couple of days but it just seems like that must be problematic for the tumor so I have stopped giving her any form of dry food. The tumor is now starting to bleed and I find blood splattered across her white snout at least once a day from when she shakes her head.

She's a strong dog that loves to hike and go for car rides. We have been hiking about 6-7 miles strenuous desert miles every weekend up until about 2 weeks ago. The only reason we stopped was because the outside air temps have just gotten too hot here in Arizona. I had no idea she had cancer. I probably would have cut way back on the hikes.

Surgery isn't really an option, they can't do a biopsy because they are afraid she is too old to handle the sedation without first doing an 800.00 x-ray to verify her chest area is clear. How do I help her now? There are no obvious signs of pain (yet). Can I give her anything for the pain? Is there anything to stop the bleeding?


Mar 07, 2017
Our love
by: Anonymous

Our beloved 12 year old, Basil, was diagnosed with mouth cancer 4 months ago. He had a CAT scan and bone biopsy for a complete diagnosis and really suffered afterwards... cried for hours and developed stress induced gastritis for a week.

His big problem now is breathing as he tends to try to breathe through his nose. He has lost a couple of teeth but is able to still eat and drink, walk and wag his tail!

Sometimes he lets me very gently massage his snout which seems to relax him. It is very hard to watch him decline so quickly. He used to be full of energy and now cannot run at all. We love him and don't want him to suffer.

Jan 28, 2015
Beantoo's diagnosis
by: Rebecca Skelnik

I just learned my 16 year old Shih Tzu has cancer of the mouth. It's in the forefront of his upper jaw under his nose. His breath got bad and I thought he needed his teeth cleaned again. He had just had his teeth cleaned the year before. His mouth was too sensitive for me to touch, but the vet saw the problem immediately and so ordered blood tests and a body scan. I would suggest a body scan to see if cancer has spread.

In Beantoo's case it showed spots on his liver indicating cancer has spread along with other issues. At this point and at his age, my vet said there is nothing more to do but keep him comfortable.

I have to hand feed him or he would not eat. I will not let him suffer. I love him too much. He has been the best dog I have ever had. I cannot imagine living without him, but I will do what is best for him in every way. I got him when he was 10 weeks old.

Apr 14, 2014
My Darling Skipper
by: Jean from Scotland

I strongly sympathize with your predicament. My
darling Skipper - 13 year old black Labrador - was
put to sleep 4th April this year. Our vet had tried massive antibiotics, which initially reduced the swelling inside his mouth, but it spread lengthwise in his mouth rapidly and that sorrowful decision had to be made.

I held his face in my hands as he slipped peacefully and beautifully away, where there is no
more pain and suffering. It is the last kindness we can do for pets we love and I certainly did, and always will, love Skipper. Hope this is of help.
and/or comfort to you.

Feb 24, 2013
Recover from Bone Surgery
by: Dave

Where in the mouth is it?

My dog had a small growth in the very front, between her incisors. They had to take all of those teeth out and her right upper canine tooth. Her right upper lip now gets stuck behind her lower cainine tooth on that side, so she looks like she has a grin goin, but it's minor. AND WELL WORTH IT.

It's a double edged sword. If you don't have the surgery your dog will probably continue to suffer with that growth getting bigger and/or recurring (if they don't do a deep removal with the jaw). It's expensive.

I'm in Detroit Metro area and the specialist costs were the following:

CT Scan to find out how much bone needs to come out: 1700.
Surgery: 3-4k quoted, actual cost was 3300.
Melanoma Vaccine: 2250 (4 shots one every other week), and a booster every 6 months until death (the booster is separate charge at 500 a piece).

I was fortunate, we caught it very early, on a fluke. I got very overprotective when her sister died, and then I pushed for the surgery and vaccine to start immediately. If it's a highly aggressive cancer, you need to decide sooner than later. You don't want it to spread.

We are fortunate. Her cancer did not get to the lymphnodes, thank God.

As far as recovery, my dog seemed to act normal after about 1 week. She deals with pain well though. I still have her on soft food, going into week 4 now. She's acting normal, poor thing. The vet told me that dogs do well with these surgeries, and so far I believe they are correct.

If you go to more of a holistic vet, they'll probably tell you there's no point to doing all of this. I highly beg to differ. I got an opinion like that and I'm glad I ignored it.

Best wishes.

Feb 24, 2013
Tibetan spaniel oral cancer
by: rosco

Hi, I am awaiting on a biopsy for my 11 year old Tibetan spaniel - he has a tumor in his mouth, and 3 vets later they all think it's cancer but not sure what type. The surgeon recommended the surgery but I see how he is suffering with the biopsy and pain meds let alone doing bone surgery. Please tell me how well your best friend is recouping from the surgery.

Thank you,

Jan 31, 2013
Some info for you...
by: Dave


I'm going through similar. I just posted my experience today (Diamond is her name).

I just got back from the specialist a little while ago. Diamond is there awaiting surgery. They recommended she get aggressive surgery to remove part of the jaw bone (more like grinding it down, not cutting her snout off or something like that). To get 'clean margins', which means they will grind the bone down until they feel they removed the cancer from it. They determined the destruction by the cancer using a CT scan. But of course, there's no guarantees.

And then they recommended she start the vaccine which is supposed to tell the dog's immune system that the cancer is foreign, and the immune system will fight the cancer every step of the way, slowing it's spread.

I thought I'd pass those on to you.

When I was considering not doing the surgery and only doing the vaccine, the oncologist recommended vaccine with radiation or chemo during the first 6-7 weeks before the vaccine becomes therapeutic.

Not sure where you are from, but just an idea of the cost, is 3-4k for the surgery + lymph node removal and biopsy, and 2200 for the vaccine (first 4 shots, then every 6 months she gets a booster shot and each one of those is 500 bucks).

The removal of the jaw bone prevents recurrence of the tumor in that area which significantly would otherwise lower quality of life. The vaccine extends her life. I have had my vet and the specialist both tell me that it's a better case that the cancer spread into her organs because she won't feel that, but if it's growing in her mouth, every time she tries to eat or drink it will affect her, and it will get infected and bleed over and over.

I'm so sorry. I am very frustrated for you. Like I said in my experience, this whole thing not only hurts tremendously my heart, but it is very aggravating.

I'm an engineer, and when I see a problem, I try to fix the problem with a solution, and there's ALWAYS a solution. I don't do very well with responses like "we don't know", when it comes from a specialist trained specifically in cancer in dogs.

I just don't get that one. But that's the medical world I guess. You know, for all of the medical advances the world has made, we still can't cure simple things like the common cold. We still don't understand how or why cancer occurs, how to cure it, barely how to treat's just aggravating.

And then when something happens to a loved one, it is very hurtful. Last night I lost it, because I feel completely helpless. There is nothing I can do to save her.

Please update us on what has happened the past couple months.

Oct 25, 2012
by: Hazel, Site Editor

Hi, Andrew,

So sorry about your Millie.

I guess the first thing you can do, if you haven't already done so, is to switch Millie's food to a natural home-cooked diet. No grains, no sugar - as that's what cancer cells feed on. Feed Millie good quality proteins and fat. Also consider the Budwig Diet (see this page).

Quite a few dog parents writing in this forum have reported good results using ESSIAC Tea. Recent research has also pointed to the efficacy of AHCC (extracts from certain mushrooms). See Herbs for Cancer for more information.

Last but not the least, try to stay positive and upbeat! Don't feel despair especially when you are with Millie, as dogs can pick up on our emotions.

Good luck, and please keep us informed of Millie's condition.

Oct 23, 2012
Thinking of you
by: Anonymous

I am so sorry for what you're going through. Our dogs are such a major part of our lives. I really feel your pain and send my thoughts to the universe that you will get through this. Poor Milliemoo - at least you have given her three years of happiness. Poor puppy.


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