Saying Goodbye to My Precious Angel Who Died of Canine Liver Cancer
by Brody's Mom
We lost our precious Brody, early this past Tues. morning, to what our vet is almost positive was liver cancer. It was so heartbreaking and has been soooo hard.
Brody was a 10 1/2 year old mixed breed dog, appearing to be mostly German Shepherd and Lab. He had been part of our family since he was six weeks old and was a pure joy. We miss him terribly and our family will never be the same without him.
Most of the symptoms he'd been having in recent months were assumed to have been caused by the chronic renal failure (CRF) he'd had for the last four years, due to his six bouts with Lyme disease (even with faithful Frontline use).
He had been on a high blood pressure med. since his CRF diagnoses to try to prevent further kidney damage. Though our vet had told us his kidneys would get worse and the CRF would, most likely, eventually be fatal.
Last Jan., routine lab work showed his kidneys had gotten a bit worse and he was started on prescription food. After two or three months, he wouldn't eat it, so we started him on holistic food again.
A month or so later, we wouldn't eat that food and kept on with that pattern and we had to keep changing his food. His loss of appetite seemed to be selective though. Whenever we forgot to put our cats food up where he couldn't get it, he would sneak and eat it all, he still begged and never stopped wanting a biscuit after coming in from going potty.
His symptoms were all thought to have been due to his kidney problem or age related. About a year ago, he started having bad breath and awful smelling gas. Then, about four months ago, his belly started gurgling really loudly when he was laying down sometimes.
He'd also been having soft BM's and went from 88 lbs. last Oct. to 77 lbs. the day he died. All those symptoms were thought to be due to his CRF. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss are all associated with that.
He'd also been acting stiffer, had been having some difficulty climbing and jumping, was less alert, less responsive and was sleeping much more. We had his shoulders and hips x-rayed and all were normal. We thought he had arthritis and when nothing showed up the vet didn't pursue the issue any further.
We really don't know what all the Lyme disease he had could've done to his body and between that, the CRF and his getting older, his many symptoms were too easily blamed on one or the other. He went to the vet more than any other dog I've ever known of and it's surprising to me that he was so sick and it wasn't picked up by any of us.
Last week, he pooped on the floor and he hadn't done that since his very young puppy days. Then, two days before he died, he threw up two times, but then seemed fine until the night he died. The last moments of his life were a nightmare. That poor dog.
Sunday night, he vomited 21 times...some big spots, some tiny. I knew then, something was very wrong. He also had a tiny bit of diarrhea. We took him to the vet first thing Monday morning. She kept him for four hours, gave him IV fluids, did some lab tests and an abdominal x-ray.
He was dehydrated, his liver enzymes were elevated, he was slightly anemic, had a mild infection and the x-ray showed a huge liver mass. We were told it was either a tumor, or a tumor with a blood clot attached to it.
Brody was sent home that evening and was to have surgery Thursday, or earlier if needed as an emergency. We were told to be very careful with him and were warned if the mass had a clot, it could rupture and then nothing could be done.
As soon as we got home, I wanted to take him back. He couldn't even climb into the car when leaving the vet's office and couldn't climb the three steps to get into our house. He also started vomiting as soon as he got out of the car.
I called the vet's office immediately after getting home, but the office had already closed. I had planned to take Brody back early Tues. morning, but had a frightening feeling he wasn't going to make it till morning. He vomited 10 times that night, got increasingly weak and for the last hour of his life, had difficulty breathing, apparently due to shock.
It was awful and so very sad. He got restless, changing positions, stretching out his neck, trying to get more air. Then, he started gasping and puffing out his cheeks. When he started taking slower breaths, opening his mouth wide, I knew the end was near. He struggled, trying to get more air for a whole hour.
He just wouldn't give up. At least, he died on his favorite blanket, with my husband and I with him, hugging him, kissing him and talking to him. We told him we loved him and that it was okay for him to go. We told him to go be with his brother Orion and then he died.
With the economy and having three pets with health problems, we couldn't afford to take him to an emergency animal hospital. We also still owe our vet a bit for surgery on one of our cats recently. We doubt Brody could've made it to a hospital anyway. The nearest one to us is at least 20 mins. away and he always got very nervous in the car, panting excessively.
We were also afraid to pick him up, or move him, with the possibility of his having a clot. Being a graduate nurse, I thought his troubled breathing was due to a clot rupturing causing internal bleeding and shock.
I don't know if I'll ever get over the tremendous guilt I feel for not knowing my precious angel was so very ill. I pray he's happy and healthy in a far better place and that he'll be there to greet me when my time comes. I feel for anyone having to go through their dog having liver cancer, or anyone having to go through the loss of a dear and beloved best companion and buddy.