Cancer in Our Furry Family Member

Updated on April 07, 2009
H.H. asks from Winter Park, FL
29 answers

I just got the call from the vet today. It was a bit of a shock. Cancer. 2 weeks ago, she was just anemic, but after seeing the doctor for the follow up, we were told her blood test indicates cancer. We are making an appointment to find out what type or cancer and how bad it is.
My husband and I love her. We are animal people, and caring for any creature is not something we take lightly. We believe God gave us stewardship over these dear ones, and have flinched at friends and family suggesting to put her down. We also do not want to keep her alive selfishly.
My mind is going in so many different directions. What about the medicals bills?- We barley get by. What if we can't beat this?- What do I tell my 4 year old daughter? Will the treatment be torture?
I guess I'm just looking for others who have been through this. Any advice, experience, knowledge would be a comfort to me.
Thank You,
H.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

It was a long road. I'm want to apologize to those messages that I didn't respond to. I just couldn't... I can finally write about what happened. Our dog, Honey was diagnosed with Accute Leukimia. The vet said that there was really no treatment for her, and gave her 3 weeks to live. So, we decided to spoil our sweet pup (about 10 years old) for the remainder of her life. She ate chicken, cheese, rice, yogurt, and expensive treats. Well three weeks turned into 12. Our 70 pound rottie-lab mix dropped to 50 pounds all skin and bones, but she still would go out for walks, eat, and pep up. We took her to the dog park. She didn't romp like she normally would, but she was happy to be out and meet little doggies. I watched her intently for signs of pain. I called my vet all all the time with questions. We were all surprised with how long she was lasting. I was getting worried because we had a trip planned for the end of June, and I couldn't take her with us, but I did not want to board her... What if she passed while we were gone? A few days before we were supposed to leave, she started hesitating when I put chicken breast in front of her. I knew it was going to be soon. Finally, we decided we had to help her along. The day before we had to leave for our trip, we took her in to be put to sleep.
The vet took us in right away. We wept as my husband held our once big happy licking machine. She was so frail. WE laid her on the table and caressed her, kissing her face. She didn't seem nervous, really. She just seemed weary. we decided to sedate her anyway because she always hated her legs being touched. She didn't fuss about it. The tongue that covered us in wet happy kisses peeked out of her mouth, but she was still aware of us. The vet injected the medicine, and that quick... she was gone. Her tongue turned grey. Her head felt lighter in my arms. We wept. The vet gave us some time alone. My husband sobbed. She was his little girl. Finally we left her.
We didn't know how to tell our 4 year daughter. So we avoided it all day and just got ready for our trip. Near the end of the day, I was in her room cleaning. She came in and I decided it was time.
"Sweetie, did you notice that Mommy and Daddy were kinda sad today?"
"Yes" I looked to my husband, and he came in.
"Well... You know how Honey has been really sick and we took her to the vet today. Well when we were there, Angels came and took Honey to heaven."
"She's not here?" she asked
My husband said "She died, Sweetie."
She didn't understand. We reminded her of the recent death of my grandmother and said it was like that. I reminded her of the dead bird we saw on the ground. (an object lesson I had used to talk about the spirit leaving the body to go to heaven)
"Is she coming back?" she asked
"No." I said "She's going to be in heaven forever now, but she's with her mommy and daddy now."
She started to cry. "I'm sad for Honey" My husband said we could pray to God to watch over her. My daughter said " I want to pray to God that He would give Honey back to us and she would never ever leave." My heart broke at that. She then went to every room in the house looking for Honey. Then she believed she was really gone. I reminded her that we still had our cat, but she wanted us to be a whole family again. Then she asked if we could get another pet. We said yes, but not right away. She was cheered by that.
God certainly timed it well. We hurt, and healed a bit over our relaxing vacation. We all still have our moments of grief, but we are moving on. I know we will get another dog, and it will be another shelter dog.
We all take in pets and know that they will break our hearts one day. God made us stewards of these dear ones, and those of us who have the heart to love them, must.
Thank you all for your caring. Just reading all of your advice, responses and stories made me better prepared for the inevitable. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you.

Featured Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.R.

answers from Miami on

My mother went thru this. I was 12 and she had the dog 14 years. He had cancer and she would not put him down. My uncle finally had to take him and put him down. She said if she could have done it over she would have put him down as soon as they found the cancer. He went down hill fast after they found it and she feels he suffered because she could not let go.

This is a hard thing to do. This animal is a part of the family. If you do put the animal down it is a valid reason you do not want her to suffer.

I wish you well in this tough time.

More Answers

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.C.

answers from Tallahassee on

Hi H.,

I commend you for thinking about these issues so carefully. It is important to consider your dog's well-being and quality of life. Up until Wednesday, March 25th, I had two 15 year-old cocker spaniels that were family members. The beautiful, buff colored little lady that we lost on Wednesday had a brain tumor that was causing seizures. We kept her on seizure preventing medication for over 6 months, but when it stopped controlling the episodes, my husband and I had to make the most difficult decisions of our lives. Our decision to let her go was based on her comfort and not ours. We just couldn't let her suffer. The vet was such a gentle and compassionate man. I was actually surprised at how peaceful the event was. Our little dog left us in peace and that was very important.

My other cocker spaniel is a male and he also has cancer. We had one tumor removed, but opted not to do chemo because of his age. He has survived on medication since the tumor removal for over two years. He is an old fellow, but doing well.

I think you have to look at your dog's situation individually and talk to your vet about quality of life issues. You will know when it is time to let go if it comes to that. Although I have cried a river of tears in the past 48 hours, I am at peace with our decision.

I have a two-year old daughter so I don't need to go into much detail about our loss with her. I just tell her that our dog lives in heaven now. I beleive God made these animals for us take care of on earth and he will take care of them after. Depending on your religious views, you will be able to talk to your daughter about the situation at some level. My daughter misses our female dog and she asked to give her a treat this morning, but I just reminded her about heaven and she was okay. We will all be okay soon. Writing this response was even healing for me.

2 moms found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.C.

answers from Boca Raton on

Hi H.! Okay, before I can even begin, I have to tell you that your bio about your MIL is the single funniest thing I have ever read on mamasource..especially the Winger hair! We are big animal lovers too. I agree with you one billion percent that our animal friends are to be cared for as any family member would be. A few years back, my sister lost her dog to cancer. It was extremely sad. She had gone through a terrible, terrible marriage. Her only saving grace was her wonderful Jasmine that comforted her through those times. A few years after the divorce, my sister (H., coincidentally) found out Jasmine had cancer. It was also a complete surprise. My sister took the road of doing whatever it took to keep her running..as long as Jasmine was still smiling. This included leg amputation, chemo, etc. It ran her over $9000.00. She will tell you every penny was worth it to her. I know times are SO rough right now...for many people financially..so you have to do what is best for your whole family. After all was said and done, Jasmine lived one extra year. If you would like to correspond with my sister, you can send me your e-mail, and I will give it to her. She is very nice, and would be happy to offer any advice. After Jasmine passed (she was a golden retreiver), H. adopted a senior golden, as a way to pay tribute. Sadly, she only lived about another year, but it was a great thing to do. Okay..so that is my knowledge of my sister's story. Now here is what I have to say. You have not yet received any results about specifics...so until then, keep your spirits high, and really hope for the best case scenario. I would like to recommend a book called Four Paws Five Directions, by Cheryl Schwartz. http://www.amazon.com/Four-Paws-Five-Directions-Medicine/... . Appx 6 years ago, we found a kitten in a parking lot. (we are a lot like your family!). She was badly injured, but so adorable. All of the fur and skin had been ripped off her tail, and it was just oozing flesh. Of course, we found her on a friday!! She was purring like a maniac..and I could tell she had the injury for a while..so I took care of her over the weekend, cleaning and bandaging her. Over that weekend, I fell in love. Monday morning we brought her to the vet. The tail needed amputation. $600 for that. This was an expensive stray! Then, the bloodwork came back. She was positive for feline leukemia. I don't know if you know much about kitty disease..but that is a terrible one. I grew up in a rural area..and befriended a cat that then had kittens in our barn. We adopted them all..and then found out they all had the same disease..and they all passed in terrible ways, within the first year. Given that history, I ran out the door of the vets office, bawling. I couldn't deal with facing the same slow horrible death. They held her, and I went home to think..and make calls. I called everyone I knew..but no one wanted a sick kitten. I already had 2 cats, and knew that they could become ill from her. In the end, I said..if I had given birth to an ill baby, I wouldn't turn my back on them...so I marched back in to the vet, said her name is Grace, and she is coming home. The prognosis was about a year for her..maybe 2 or 3. Well, 6 years later, she is the grand dame of our very healthy kitty home of 4. (plus our dog and fish). She has zero signs of illness. Vets are like all drs..they can only make a good guess. They don't have crystal balls to tell you the day your dog may pass. I really credit the book I mentioned to Grace's health. It is a very easy to read book on accupressure for animals. There are maps to show you where to massage your pet, to keep healthy energy flowing through their bodies. I did the massage work for 6 months, along with supplements of vitamin C, and herbal cat blends. What does your dog eat? 30-60% of human cancers are caused by diet...and dog diets can be the same. If you do not already, switch your dog to a clean food with no animal by-products. There are many healthy options available in high end animal supply stores. If you need more info, just let me know. Cheap dog food, legally, can consist of meat deemed inappropriate for human consumption..including meat with tumors, etc. I skimmed the book in the cancer section, and they do mention that cancers come from blocked qi, or energy. This can be seen in blood that is not circulating smoothly. They associate anemia with cancer. They also say the answer is to promote the health of the organs that relate to making and storing blood, so you could learn massage for a healthy spleen, kidney, liver, etc. There is a lot more to read..but at the very least, go to a book store and skim it. As far as your daughter is concerned, I would suggest to not make a decision based on breaking her heart. Eventually your dog will die, as we all will..so one day, you are going to have to deal with telling her. My wish is that it is in many, many years from now..but don't let the emotion you feel concerning your daughter influence your decision. Keep your energy positive. Your heart will make the best decision. I say as long as your doggy is happy, then no worries. People beat cancer all the time..even w/o treatment. Also know that if the costs would mean not feeding the family, that your doggy would never want you to do that. From your profile, it appears you go to church..so you may see things differently. I believe in reincarnation...I believe that the body dies, but the soul remains, and that those souls we come so close to will circle back to be with us again..in a different form. Last year I lost my VERY old cat. It was horrible..but our spirits were so close, that he really is still here with me. I feel him in my heart and soul. He is so present, I don't even feel the need to cry! It is all in how you look at it!!! I will leave you with this gem of advice from my mom, when I was deciding on what to do about Grace. She told me...make the best decision you can make today. If something goes wrong and it turns out it wasn't the best, you can never feel mad at yourself, because at the time you did the very best you could, with a pure clean heart. I hope ANY of this ramble helped. Peace to you and your family!
A. :)

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

T.P.

answers from Orlando on

Hi H.,
Sorry to hear what you are going through with your pet. I dont have any advice here, but want to offer your family a pet paw ornament at no cost. It's something that will comfort you down the road. Email me at [email protected]____.com i can send you a picture of what it looks like. Good luck with everything.
T.

1 mom found this helpful

S.T.

answers from Orlando on

Hi H.,

I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. I am married to a vet (who is also rather silly and a geek himself - he may not think himself a geek, but, hey, any 31-yo who plays World of Warcraft on line with his brother and sometimes with kids half his age is a geek to me, if a lovable one :)), so I can definitely relate - we had to put our 14-yo dog to sleep this past June (complication of foreign body surgery after he ate some plastic and then we found out he had a lung tumor as well - I lost my mom to lung cancer a month later so it's really been an extraordinarily difficult year). If you are in the Orlando area, I would suggest you take your dog to AVS, Affiliated Veterinary Specialists, in Maitland, for a consultation. That's where my husband (he works at Waterford Lakes Animal Hospital) recommends people take their pets if the want to pursue chemotherapy. But, I will tell you this - my husband says that for animals, there really is no curative treatment for cancer - the treatment is simply palliative - trying to make the animal more comfortable while perhaps trying to shrink the tumor a bit. Vets won't give animals the heavy duty doses of chemo that we give humans because of the lack of ability to get informed consent - in other words, people can make decisions for themselves regarding how much they want to endure in their treatment in the hopes of getting well or at least a little bit better, and animals can't. And since chemotherapy is often such a painful, difficult and expensive road, with often little hope of a real cure or significant extension of life with good quality (which I think is the key), they won't do as aggressive treatment with animals. So, of course, I'm not vet, but it's often the case that treatment costs thousands of dollars, may prolong life by 6 months or a year, and the quality of life of that time is rarely good. But.........is your vet certain that it's cancer? And has is spread (metastasized), or is there a discrete tumor that could possibly be removed? These are some tings to consider.........

I hope I haven't rambled too much, but I can certainly relate, and hope this has been helpful to you. Please let me know if there's anything else I can do. On a side note, don't let anybody make you feel like it's "just a dog". Pets are members of our families, too, and we need to be allowed to grieve the loss of them just like you would grieve any loved one. Helping people cope with pet loss is one of my specialties in my counselor practice, because I believe it's so important, and so many people just make light of it.

Best of luck to you and your doggie and family,
S.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.W.

answers from Miami on

the only advice i can say is to leave all the options on the table, no one wants to put their dog down, and i would be angry at anyone who suggested that, but in being a good steward sometimes we have to do the unpleasant. you will probably have the answer after you find about more about the cancer.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.F.

answers from Jacksonville on

First of all, you need to find out what type of cancer it is and what the options are. Many animals can live awhile happily even with cancer so the diagnosis alone does not mean your pet is going to be gone tomorrow. Secondly, you should not judge those that have made the tough decision to let their animals be put to sleep. We had a beloved dog that was about 13 years old that got mesothelioma cancer. This hit fast & hard and she could not breathe. She could not rest and it was awful. She would come to us and look at us for help & there was nothing we could do. I stayed up with her all night and neither of us got sleep as I was so afraid she was going to die because she was wheezing and straining so hard to try to get a breath. We took her the next day to the vet. This was incurable & there was no treatment options. We made the decision to let her go peacefully rather than have her struggle for a breath for the remaining time she had which may have only been a day or a week - who knows. You need to get all your facts and then make a fmaily decision. You do not have to decide as soon as you get this horrible news. Your 4 year old is old eough to understand and if discussed and explained should not traumatize her. Death is part of life even if we hate it. She will miss her pet of course but this is all part of lessons in life and as her parent you will know the right way to handle it with her.

1 mom found this helpful
Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.C.

answers from Daytona Beach on

I am sorry about your pet. It isn't an easy road, my mother had 2 cats with cancer. I would talk with the vet. I dunno if the pet is old or if the cancer is a beatable thing. Good luck!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

K.G.

answers from Miami on

H., our dog died of cancer last June. My kids are teenagers and so they understood all too well....it was heartbreaking for all of us. I can't answer your questions abt the treatment, etc, because you didn't say what type of animal or what type of cancer....all of them are a bit different. If you provide more info, I might be able to offer some advice.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.F.

answers from Jacksonville on

H., hello! We too are of like minds in that we love our pets as one of our family members and will stop traffic, myself at least, to put a crossing turtle in a safe spot. A few years back my husband and I (pre-baby at that time) had a ferret whom we loved as a child. well, he came down with pancreatitus or something like that which ferrets in captivity are very prone to, and started having seizures and each one got longer and longer and broke my heart a bit more each time he'd suffer one. they got so bad that they would start lasting for days and he'd become catatonic. i was a complete wreck as you can imagine as this little guy had been with me for 6 years and suddenly he was falling ill (and fast!) to this thing that was overtaking his poor little body. well, we had to make a decision and the best thing to do for him as I could not stand to see him suffer like this anymore, was to let God have him so we arranged to have him put to sleep that day only to find out he passed away in his sleep before we could take him in. So I was devestated, to say the least, but my husband (the sweet guy he is) said to me, and maybe this would help with your daughter should you decide to take this route, "God saw how cute he was and wanted to play with him Himself, so that's where he is now, sitting next to God". It's a tough decision, I surely know, but hopefully the answer will come to you. I hope this helps in some way, H.. Animals are truly a blessing and whatever you decide, I am sure your heart will be right where it should be. God bless you and your family and your furry family member.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.M.

answers from Orlando on

Dear H.,
I am so sorry for the pain you and your family are going through right now. I had a dog for 17 years and while I was pregnant she became very ill. Her kidneys were failing and because she was unable to eat in addition to a multitude of other medical problems we had to put her down. While only you and your family will know what the best decision to do is I just wanted to tell you to allow yourself to "feel". We made our decision to send our little dog up with the angels to wait for us because we knew that she was suffering and, like you, didn't want to keep her going on machines and such for our own selfish reasons. If there is treatment available and it's just a matter of the money don't be shy to speak up and tell the vet that. If he/she won't budge on pricing ask them for any recommendations of those that will. Certain vets seem to be more willing to adjust prices in this type of need. You might even call the SPCA and ask for their recommendations.
A lot of people who haven't had a strong connection with a pet or had one for a long time can't understand that they are more than a pet, they are a member of your family. Allow yourself to feel what you must and grieve as you may and don't let anyone try to discount your feelings.
May the Lord be with you in this difficult time. I still feel a great loss even though it's been about 2 years. We made a little shadow box with our favorite pictures and her collar and snippets of her favorite blankie so maybe if things do take a turn for the worse you could do that with your little one to show her that you're still keeping the memory alive.

V.W.

answers from Jacksonville on

Hello H..
I'm so sorry to hear your furry one is so ill. It is difficult for any of us to make any suggestions about what you "should" do, since you don't yet have all the information. I would treat your vet appt just like a regular doctor visit if you found out YOU had cancer. Sit down with a tablet and write out a list of questions and concerns:

How bad is the cancer? What kind of cancer? Has it (will it?) spread? What is the prognosis with/without treatment?
How long before symptoms are troublesome for you/painful for her without any treatment? What treatment options are there? What will the side effects of the treatment be? How long? How much will it cost? What is the cure/success rate for the type of cancer she has, at her age/stage of life? If treatment cures her, what are the odds of recurrence?
Any questions at all that you think of, write them down... leave space after each question, so you can write in the vet's responses. After you meet with him/her, take a little time to decide what you want to do, weighing all the information you have then.

A very good friend of mine has had 2 pets have cancer. The first was a young (4 yrs old) dog, whom they treated with chemo, and she recovered. (I can't recall what type of cancer it was). The other, in an older dog (over 11 or 12 yrs old), who has cancer in her jaw bones. They are not treating her, pain management only, basically. She had to have her teeth extracted, (but eats softer foods okay without them believe it or not), and is otherwise seemingly happy, for now. But she is older and time will do what it will do.

Get all the information first, then spend some time looking at the options you have.
Best wishes to you all. Pets are wonderful members of the family.

(Pack leader of 2 kids and a GSD)

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.C.

answers from Miami on

Is it a dog or a cat? And how old?? There are many things to consider, and I know how much we love our animals and I would do anything I could to extend my doggies life. Listen to what your vet thinks, possibly seek out a cancer vet specialist. See what the chances of recovery are. I have heard of dogs getting intense radiation and people second guessing themself (am I torturing my pet?) and then they improve, and it extends their life. Depending on where the cancer is and how treatable I would go for it and worry about the bills later. My dog is my child too. Good luck to you & bless your loving heart.
I LOL at the Marie Barone/Fran Drescher mother in law comment!

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

V.G.

answers from Orlando on

Hi H.! I liked reading all the responses you got, lots of animal lovers out there! Our kitty of 16 years was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his stomach. I was afraid that our vet would suggest putting him down right there! He said "no, he is not in pain. He's got maybe 2 weeks left." And here's my message to you, what the vet said: "Just let him die with dignity" Those were the wisest words, I will carry them with me through the rest of my life. The vet was right; about 10 days later, I found Kitty not having bothered or cared to get to the litter box. That was NOT dignity. I know you'll find the correct way to help your daughter through it; all kids take it differently. Good luck and God bless.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.H.

answers from Phoenix on

Being a dog loveand having to had put down my best friend, my lab Bailey, a little over a year ago, I feel your pain. I would listen to what the vet says as far as how bad it is and if your furry friend will be in a lot of pain and having a lot of struggles. Nobody wants to be in this situation. I struggled for months on should I put him to sleep or not. I looked at it as well, we don't put humans to sleep with this problem, however, there are a lot of humans that wish they could be taken out of their pain and misery. You don't want to watch your dog suffer, it is so heart-wrenching. Whichever decision you make, do it for your dog. One thing that you might do in the meantime is giving your dog some yogurt. It doesn't matter if it's flavored or not. For some reason it did wonders for my dog for awhile and I have passed along that finding to others and it says it helps their pets, too. I guess it's the probiotics in there, but some days, he acted like a puppy even though he was miserable the day before. Good luck. I wish dogs could live happily and heathy lives to surpass us.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

A.G.

answers from Mayaguez on

You sound like a loving family. Your best answers will come from the vet. They too are caring of their patients. If the best thing for your dog is to put him to sleep, do it. It hurts but you must realize the pain your pet will have to endure.Good luck with your dear dog...and the m-i-l.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.M.

answers from Miami on

Hi, H.. I know this is a hard decision for you, but you seem to have a handle on what things to consider in the question of whether to treat or put down your pet. You did not specify what kind of animal this is. That can be a factor, too, because dogs may tend to be more patient and cooperative when they're suffering, but cats may have a harder time coping with this kind of circumstance. I appreciate that you are a spiritual woman; pray for God to guide you in knowing how and when to make the decisions about this pet that is in your care.

As far as telling your 4-year-old, here is where your spirituality has a rubber-meets-the-road experience. God made all creatures, and all creatures have life because of Him. However, no creature can live forever on this earth, and when their time is up, especially when the creature is sick and suffering, God takes that creature home to be with Him. Some folks tell their kids that the pet becomes a furry little angel; a lot of us believe that our beloved pets will join us in Heaven. At any rate, all kids have to learn about death in one way or another, and this sounds like it's going to be your daughter's first learning experience.

All humans handle death better if they can have some kind of farewell ceremony for the loved one, human or otherwise. If you can bury your pet in the back yard, that would be great. You can have a funeral, put flowers on the grave, and even visit the grave once in a while. You can tell your daughter how God, in His wisdom, turns all our bodies into the nourishing dust of the earth, and our bodies become beautiful flowers. It's a good learning experience about the beauty of nature's cycle of life and death, too.

If you are calm and peaceful about the process, loving toward the pet, considerate toward your daughter's level of understanding, then she will have her grieving process, and the whole family can become a little stronger for it.

It's one of those bumps in the road that God uses for our good and His glory. If you do everything you can toward those ends, then I'm sure the situation will work out OK.

I wish for you and your family all of God's strength and comfort during these difficult times.

Peace,
Syl

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

V.G.

answers from Miami on

When our dog had a cancerous liver tumor we opted to have it removed. The surgery was not cheap, but we felt, even at 12 he had life left in him. It cost us around 2500, but he recovered very nicely. We opted to not give him chemo because of his age and the fact that there was no proven chemo treatment for the kind of cancer he had, just theories. He lived close to another 2 years when the cancer came back and at close to 14 we didn't want to put him through another surgery. His doc had been his doc his whole life and promised us when it was time he would let us know. Gretzky finally stopped being able to eat and we took him to our vet who let us know it was time. He passed away peacefully surrounded by love. It was months ago and I still cry as I type this because I miss him, but I know in my heart we did the best thing we could do for him.

A lot of people think we were insane to spend that money on an older dog, but I would pay a thousand times more than that to have him with me now if I could.

Talk to your vet, do research, and then follow your instincts. It's the best advice I can give you.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.V.

answers from Miami on

I'm so sorry you have to go through this. My cat Smokey passed away from cancer 8 years ago and I still miss her. She just missed her 10th birthday. Unfortunately her form of cancer was not treatable. I too was torn as to whether to put her down or keep her around selfishly. I opted to keep her with me and take care of her until she could no longer eat and drink. To me that would be her sign to let me know it was time. When that time came it was the hardest thing I've had to do but I knew it was the right decision because I didn't want her to suffer. If you furry family member has cancer that IS treatable and affordable to you then take a shot at it. He/she will definitely give you signs if it's painful or not going well. Good luck and God bless.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.W.

answers from Miami on

It is heartbreaking when our pets succomb to disease and we face the dilema: to just make it comfortable so it can die a "natural" death, or have "compassion" and euthanize. Dr. Kevorkian aside, we humans have "Hospice" where patients are given morphine to ease the pain. Morphine will also stop the heart eventually. But I have seen it take months while the patient is suffering. It seems to work very quickly, as your vet will explain, on animals. Instantly. No more pain or suffering. And the family should be visited by the vet in your home so your pet is safely transitioned in a loving atmosphere. I believe this is the humane action. But the choice is yours to make. Get as much information from your vet. Are there natural remedies to make the pet more comfortable, what is the life expenctancy, cost of surgery, if recommended (and yes, the expense of surgery can be so stressful on you and your husband that the animal picks up on this and gets even sicker...I have seen that, too) and let your pastor and congregation know what you are going through. These are the people close to you who will support you spiritually and morally, whatever you are going through. I wish you and your family Many Blessings, S.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

N.K.

answers from Miami on

Hi H., I went through this myself, although I was a bit older when it happened. I was about 12 or 13 when my parents found out our 13-year-old cat had breast cancer. I had grown up with this pet ever since I was born, and she was my companion. I was very upset and even most upset when my parents told me that putting her down was the only option, as according to their vet, it was not worth spending thousands on a cat that was close to the average dying age for a cat. I didn't want to speak to them for a week, especially after my mom said no more cats were to enter the house as she had cleaned up after this cat for 13 years and wanted to be left in peace. When my dad convinced my mother that we should get another pet though, I became excited. I felt I'd have another friend to keep me company. I became excited with the searching process, reading about new breeds at the library, and looking at pictures of them on the internet. All in all, it was a learning experience as I learned about pretty much every cat breed that ever existed when I visited the library seeking the best new pet for us. I'm not saying to tell your daughter to forget her furry friend if you decide to replace it, but keep a spot in her heart for the animal who went to kitty/doggy heaven and open her heart to a new furry friend if you decide to get her one. Involve her in making the selection of breed, gender, and actual pet so she feels she has a say in something. So basically, what I am trying to say is she shouldn't try to replace and forget the one who passed, but welcome it in her heart, just like you remember a good friend when you move and don't forget her even when you meet new friends in your new town, but she just has a different spot in your heart as you can no longer hang out and be as close as your new friends who you see daily and go out with, but you still send each other emails and you don't forget her (hope this helps explain what I meant). Anyway, I think getting her another pet will make the transition easier than if she was to think she'll never have a new furry friend in her life, so I urge you to consider this. It's not worth seeing your pet suffer as it fights adisease, my last cat died recently of FIP and I was selfish to want to continue prolonging his life. It actually made my suffering worse seeing him lose 5 lbs. in a week, turn yellow, seeing him no longer being able to walk, or eat. Sometimes it's best to just let your friend go painlessly than administering medicine that may prolong his life a bit more but in the end make it suffer. I was stubborn and didn't want to listen to the vet, but had I listened to him, I may not have had such a terrible time coping with it and having nightmares for months after he passed and feeling guilty that I made his suffering last longer than it should have. Good luck in whichever course you choose to take.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.G.

answers from Gainesville on

Hello H., I totally understand how you feel as all my animals are like my children and yes I also beleive that God has given us our children (4-legged) for our joy and theirs. I have had several of my babies get cancer. I think the enviroment has alot to do with this problem. But as far as your baby, Cancer can be very nasty and the treatments are even worst. Been there done it with one of my dogs and the treatment used made him worst in a few days rather than better. Now the next dog that got cancer, I let her do whatever she wanted, fed her everything she loved and gave her pain meds for as long as they would help her. But sadly the day did come that we had to be kind and let her go to sleep. I paid extra for the Vet to come to my home and she never left here. My Vet gave her Ace to start with to calm her and make her sleepy then he put her to sleep, but like I said she never left the home so she had good memories to take with her. It is very sad to have our loved ones get cancer, but it is up to us to not have them suffer. God Bless you and your family and your 4-legged. You will know what to do in your heart as we think of our animals as part of our family and want nothing but the best for them.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.K.

answers from Gainesville on

My dog, my best friend for six years before I even met my husband, died in November of cancer. By the time he showed any symptoms, it had metastasized to his liver, spleen, and taken over his bone marrow, so we had no option but to put him down.
It will depend on the kind of cancer your dog has, your dog's age, and the prognosis. I think your vet can tell you best what the treatment, if any is possible, will entail. You have to decide if you would put your dog through that or not, based on her age and personality.
If it comes down to cost, you might be able to work out a payment plan with your vet if the terms work for you. If there is an adoption agency in your area that takes dogs with medical concerns, you may be able to release your dog into their custody permanently. You could also set up a web page asking for donations for your dog's treatments; I think that worked for some college guy.
We took our 2-year-old with us when Apo died so we could all say goodbbye. We told her we were saying goodbye and we would never see him again. We told her he was going to chase rabbits in the sky with our other old dog (they were both 9 when they died) who died earlier last year. No question that it will be hard on her, but I would argue for telling her what you have decided and why, and for letting her be there. It's heartbreaking, but euthanasia is peaceful if that's what is best for your dog, and it may well be. Good luck.
If you are in Gainesville, and you want to turn your dog over to a rescue agency because you can't afford her care, email me and I'll give you the contact information. I can't guarantee they'll take your dog if the expense is simply outrageous, but I can give you their contact info.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

H.P.

answers from Orlando on

H.,
My husband & I sound a lot like you & your hubby when it comes to animals. We stop all the time for strays. I tried one time to get a turtle to cross the road when a construction worker got out & told me to get back in my car b/c it was a snapping turtle & would take off my finger if I werent careful....enough about that.
As far as your pet goes, I dont think you mentioned whether it was a dog or a cat. But before you make any decisions, wait to hear from the specialist & then go with your heart & gut. As far as money goes, if you are supposed to keep him/her alive, you will figure out the money issue. It will come to you, I promise! I, like you, dont think it's fair to keep the animal alive if there isnt anything that can be done or it will be torturesome to him/her.
Try to be patient & wait for the specialist.
Tell all of those people telling you to put it down, to be quiet.
H.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

M.H.

answers from Jacksonville on

H.,

I'm so sorry to hear about your furry friend. Is it a dog or cat?

Unfortunately, I know all too well what you are going through right now. A week ago today, I recieved the devastating news that my beloved 7 year old dog has cancer. We took him to the veterinary oncologist on Tuesday. He has lymphoma which can be treated but not cured. Treatment is very expensive. It starts at about $2500 and goes up from there. Just last night I was in convulsive sobs because I knew we were going to have to choose the "cheaper" option b/c we simply cannot spend $5000. We just don't have it. It's devastating to me that finances have to play a role in the decision making process, but that is the reality. I know you are having the same struggle.

Both our vet and oncologist told us that chemo does not make dogs sick the way it makes humans sick. Our dog has had one dose and we have noticed nothing but improvement.

We have had both supportive friends and family and nonsupportive friends and family. There are animal people and there are nonanimal people. Nonanimal people will never understand the bond that can develop between a human and an animal. Don't waste time or energy trying to explain to them or justify to them what decisions you make regarding your pet.

I know that even with treatment, I have a limited amount of time with my dog. Lymphoma can be treated, but not cured. But I'm going to make the next 6 months meaningful and make sure that I can prepare my children for what's to come.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

S.T.

answers from Gainesville on

I can not just tell you that you need to one thing or another. There are too many variables. From the sound of things, I wouldn't think that she needs to be euthanized at this time. You said that you thought she was just anemic, so I'm guessing she seemed more lethargic recently? Still eating and drinking okay and interacting with the family?

Most of it will depend on "Quality of Life or QOL" which is a phrase you will probably start hearing a lot. It depends on the type of cancer, on the location of the cancer, how your pet is doing and how you are doing. Chemotherapy or radiation treatments can get expensive but not always. Plus let the docs tell you how long they think they can give you with the treatment options available. Each cancer is different.

If you can't afford the treatments and you only have a short time, just think about the quality of that time. You can still treat her with love and caring. If your pet is sickly, vomiting and miserable for her last days, what kind of quality does that give her or to you and your daughter's memories of her? You do not want her to suffer undue pain. (Although it sounds like she is very symptomatic now, so it does not seem that her QOL is suffering.)

If it does come to it: euthanasia is a gift that we have so that we do not have to prolong suffering in animals. It is hard though not to second guess yourself on the issue. But you have to believe that you are providing the best care that you can for your pet and family.

I've lost many pets over the years and worked at an emergency veterinary clinic as a technician. I remember being little and my mom's cat having to be put down. She had a tumor in her chest cavity and her lungs had been slowly filling with fluid. It was inoperable and treatments available were nil. It was hard on my mom and she put off a decision for several days, but the cat was drowning. She spent her last night sitting hunched trying to get air and never moved from her pillow that we had put her on. I remember my mom crying most, and I remember the cat hunched and miserable looking. I remember being sad for a bit, but there is so much to learn and find and grow when you are that young that you don't dwell.

I think that how your family treats and views death will shape how your daughter will see and deal with the transition. It is a hard decision, but either way, you need to do what is right by you. I hope this helped.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

J.S.

answers from Miami on

Hi,
It's certainly difficult to see any loved one suffer... and difficult to have an animal put to permanent rest. Yet, those are inevitable parts of life.
If it comes to that then it's a learning opportunity with your child to discuss life, death, and our love for one another, pets included.
As to the actual treatment, I'm a holistic aficionado and don't believe personally in chemo or radiation and I don't see surgery as the best thing either when a tumor is small and isn't causing any complication. Those treatments cause as much harm as potential benefit in many cases - for most types of cancers in humans the research doesn't show a benefit of giving chemotherapy vs. no-treatment or natural treatment. I would consider using natural diet/food and supplements to help a sick pet and also would use energy healing (acupressure, reiki, etc.) and other holistic therapies. In that I see dealing with it somewhat similar to how I view cancer best addressed in humans. I have a shamanic sort of perspective, as I see consciousness and energy patterns as the deepest source of what's manifesting in the physical realm of energy/vibration. I encourage you to meditate and connect psychically/spiritually with your pet to see if you receive any message or guidance in that manner about what choices to make.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

L.W.

answers from Miami on

This is a tough issue. Anyone who has a pet can tell you about their pet's personality and how much they love them. My cats are like part of the family. The female always comes running to comfort one of my kids when they cry. It is hard to watch them suffer. If treatment is something you cannot afford, then you have to take that into consideration (and no it isn't selfish) it's just a fact of life. I love my cats, but I cannot go into debt to take care of them when I also have 4 children who are more important. Also, it is my personal belief (since God gave us animals for food as well) that animals don't have souls. So their body is all they have. I told my son though, that he can believe they are in heaven if he wants to because we don't know for sure who is right. If your pet is likely to die from this and be in misery until then, then they would be suffering needlessly. We had a dog for 13 years when I was in highschool. We found out he had cancer, and treatment simply wasn't an option. The vet gave my dad pain meds and he brought him home to spend time with us. We loved on him, gave him yummy people food, and kept him as comfy as possible. We also spent time preparing ourselves and saying goodbye. My dad even built a coffin for him. Then after a couple days he took the dog to the vet to be put to sleep. He stayed with him and petted him the whole time. He said it was very peaceful, that Ritz just closed his eyes and went to sleep. Of course, knowing that it might be better doesn't make it easier, we still cried for weeks. My oldest son was 6 when his first hamster died. I explained to him how it was part of a life cycle. That everything is going to die at some point. He loved and played with the hamster while it was alive and it no doubt had a happy little life, and that's what I wanted him to focus on.

Smallavatar-fefd015f3e6a23a79637b7ec8e9ddaa6

C.P.

answers from Pensacola on

H.,
It's apparent that you have a great place in your heart for your furry friend. So does your Vet. They can answer all these questions, so you can make the best decision. If you want a second opinion, that is okay too. Once you know what avenue you are going to take, shop around. Some places offer treatments at far lesser prices than others. Follow your heart, and you'll be able to live with whatever outcomes happens. My best to you all.
C.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches