Rapid Deterioration in Beagle Mix Due to Liver Tumor
Wow...I've been reading the stories and comments about liver cancer, and it seems to be the same story over and over again: The dog gets sick and deteriorates really fast.
About three weeks ago, our 12 year old Beagle/Setter mix started drinking lots of water and then peed in the house three times in one week (and he hadn't had an accident since he had blown his hip and needed it reconstructed two years prior).
We took him to the vet (two and a half weeks ago), and his urine showed some signs of a UTI, so we figured that was the cause of the incontinence. CBC and urinalysis showed that his kidneys were normal. His liver enzymes were slightly elevated, but the vet chalked that up to old age and the pain killer for his hips (Tramadol). She didn't think we should be worried, or stop the Tramadol (because then his quality of life wouldn't be as good, and we were giving him much less than the allowed amount anyhow).
He was put on Amoxicillin for 14 days. During those 14 days, he stopped peeing in the house, but he was still drinking lots of water. He was reasonably energetic and eating OK. Towards the end of the 14 days (the beginning of this week), his appetite plummeted. At that point, he deteriorated rapidly. He was still drinking water and going outside to go to the bathroom, but he seemed uncoordinated when he walked, and his back legs kept slipping out from under him when he tried to walk on tile. We thought (a) the antibiotic had upset his stomach so he wasn't eating enough and was weak as a result, and (b), he had strained his hip while chasing a possum (which he did one week ago).
By yesterday, he would only eat if we fed him with a syringe. He seemed weak but not critically ill this morning — he even went outside to pee, although he dripped a bit on the way out. He still refused to eat, so I called the vet and asked if I could bring him in. They said they could board him and see him sometime during the day. By lunchtime, when I took him in, his gums were shockingly pale. I had to carry him in to the vet. I laid him down on the examination table, kissed his face, and then left (because I still thought they were going to board him, maybe give him an IV to fix his weakness and pallor, and all would be well until his tummy recovered from the antibiotic).
A minute later, the vet's office called and said to return immediately. I turned my car around right away and went in. They informed me that his abdomen was full of blood, and that he was dying. His gums were both pale and yellow at that time, so the vet concluded that he had a liver tumor that had ruptured. I'm not sure if he was conscious at that time (and now I regret leaving him for those few minutes, and I feel stupid that I didn't recognize that he was dying). He did blink when I cleaned the crusties out of the corners of his eyes, but his pupils were dilated.
They gave him oxygen and waited about an hour for our family to congregate (I was petting him and kissing him the whole time). By then he was breathing laboriously and his legs were twitching violently, and I'm fairly certain he wasn't conscious. We all finished kissing him and saying goodbye, the vet injected him with an overdose of anesthesia, and his body relaxed and he looked like he was sleeping. Some solid, relatively healthy-looking poop came out at that point, which was bittersweet because I had been wondering if he was impacted or constipated (he didn't poop much over the past couple of days).
I think I want to do an autopsy, to find out what kind of tumor he had, how big, etc. I feel like I won't have closure until I can figure out exactly what happened. Does an autopsy bring as much closure as I hope it will, or will it just lead me to play a million "what if" scenarios in my head?
And can someone answer me this: how come he didn't vomit once during this whole ordeal?
Note: I'm writing this as if it's Friday evening, but it's actually 7:00 AM Saturday! I never went to sleep. :( It's so odd to think that less than 24 hours ago, I didn't anticipate losing him any time soon.
(Submitted Saturday Dec. 08, 2012)