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Thread: what's reasonable level of intervetion for pet with cancer?

  1. #1
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    what's reasonable level of intervetion for pet with cancer?

    In April we adopted our friend's service dog. Gilly had been trained by Paws-with-A-Cause and had assisted our wheelchair bound friend for 10 years. He's an 85 pound black lab. He's gentle and friendly and very well behaved. He's a great friend to our daughters (age 5 and 7).

    Sadly we've discovered that has has a mast cell tumor. It's large and in a location where complete removal is pretty much impossible. Treatment will probably involve chemotherapy and radiation.

    I'm torn about how agressively to pursue treatment. I'm not sure how I feel about this level of care for a dog when it is not always available for people. I'm also concerned about the stress and detriment to his quality of life. He's already got a big weepy wound from the biopsy and he's had to spend two full days at the animal hospital and endure four car rides. I'm heard from other people at the clinical that their pets begin to hate coming in. There's also the issue of cost. We don't have pet health insurance and it's already cost $2000 just for all the work-up.

    I guess I'm looking for other people's insights and experiences. I feel so sad that this lovely dog is coming to the end of his days. His former owner btw has since passed away. A sad story in itself.

  2. #2
    Senior Member reader99's Avatar
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    My husband had aggressive cancer treatment which amounted to months of torture. It bought him another year. I never asked him if he thought it was worth it. I wouldn't take such treatment myself, and I wouldn't put a dog through it.

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    Part of me feels like I've already done too much. I don't know that I'd say the oncology vet is money driven but they are certian focued on the utmost treatment and
    we have to actively "opt out" of the things we aren't ready for. Just yesterday she
    ordered an add-on test to the biopsy. I said yes without asking the cost (my mistake!). Fortunately the office person called back and asked if I knew I'd concented to an additional $700. Eeep. And at that it was only of value if we go on with aggressive treatment.

    I just called Paws and confirmed his age. He'll be 11 next March.

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    Senior Member pcooley's Avatar
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    I'm afraid that I'm in the pets are pets column. I love my dogs, and if they were, say, hit by a car, I would rush them to the vet and not worry about the cost. However, I hear about ridiculous amounts of money being spent on pets' medical care. It seems heartless to put a dollar amount on what the life of a companion animal was worth, but I think if I was at the vet, contemplating treatment or euthanasia, my personal cutoff point would be somewhere between $500 and $800. (And I think my wife's limit would be lower). We might spend slightly more on the cat than the dogs. We do have young children, so our pets are not our kids. We usually budget about $60 a month for pet care -- that's food and vet for two dogs, a cat, a parrot, two cockatiels, and two chickens. We usually have to steal from some other part of the budget when the cat needs its yearly rabies shot. (Luckily for the dogs it's every three years).

    I really don't know what various vet procedures cost, but $2000 for a workup seems more like human medical care.
    Last edited by pcooley; 11-1-13 at 3:51pm.

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    Moderator Float On's Avatar
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    I personally would say (if in the same situation) that I've given my pet a very good life. They can't understand or say if they would want treatment and the pain and sickness from such treatment is not really that great quality of life. I would say goodbye in a kind and gentle manner.


    It's the same choice I would make for myself as well.
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

  6. #6
    Senior Member pcooley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Float On View Post
    It's the same choice I would make for myself as well.
    I'd have to say that I've seen enough close friends die from cancer after going through expensive and debilitating treatment that my current intention is not to seek treatment personally if I ever get cancer myself. I don't know if that is the choice I would actually make if I was in that situation. I imagine it's easy to get swept along in the flood of doctors' recommendations and difficult to say goodbye to people you love.

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    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    What a difficult situation to be in! I would do alot for my dog and probably spend too much money on her. But at a point, taking into account what the total cost would be, and how much the dog would have to go through, and what her chances are of recovering.........we might decide that its just time to let nature take its course.
    Sometimes I think this culture tries to avoid death at any cost......which isn't always good.
    I'm not a big euthanasia person (for pets), so I would probably make him as comfortable as possible, and be with him until the end.

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    I gotta ask - do you have the money to treat the dog? (Don't feel obligated to answer here, just ask yourself). Would it change your budget significantly? I would not easily go into debt for this type of situation, but some would.

    Chemo is a difficult treatment. I'm not sure it would be something I would want for any animal, but especially since the larger dogs tend to have shorter lifespans - how much of a difference in lifespan would be gained? Quality of life - both during and after treatment?

    If you said $X and they cut the tumor out, no side effects, etc - I would consider it differently, kwim?

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    I'd weigh the quality of life, the expected lifespan of the animal, the likelihood of success, and the cost.

    I've done some rather heroic things for animals in the past, but they were younger and otherwise healthy. At a certain point with an aging animal you have to ask yourself are you doing this for the animal, or yourself.

    The lifespan of a lab is 10-12 years. In your case, absent other knowledge, I'd lean strongly towards making your dog's last time as pleasant, comfortable, and happy as possible.

  10. #10
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    I would pay a substantial amount for pain medication or other medications to relieve suffering, but I likely would not do chemo/radiation, as there is no way I could explain it to a pet and it just seems cruel to me. My cats are now 14 and 15, and should they get a debilitating illness, I would let them go as gently and painlessly as possible. I would not actively treat at this age.

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