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Pain management for dog with osteosarcoma

Katie 77
June 5th, 2006, 11:40 AM
Hi everybody. This is my first time posting in this forum--so I hope I convey all the necessary information. Our beloved 12-year old yellow Lab, Elvis, was diagnosed with advanced osteosarcoma in his left front leg last week. He'd been limping badly, but the vet had chalked it up to arthritis, and given him a steroid shot plus medication for pain. She was in the process of trying to talk us into putting him on Rimadyl when she decided to do an x-ray of his leg. The bone in his shoulder is pretty much disintegrated, as is much of the long bone between his shoulder and knee. She said she doesn't know how he's even walking. But he's a Lab--a very sweet, loving, social animal who loves to follow us from room to room, even if he has a terrible limp.
Anyway, she said that amputation isn't a good choice for Elvis because of the arthritis in his other legs, and said that in her experience, radiation doesn't add enough time to be worth the stress/sickness for the dog. So we have Elvis on Rimadyl, but it's not doing enough for him. He gets a pill at 7am, and it lasts until about 3pm, when he becomes clearly uncomfortable again. She'd said we could try adding in some opiods (morphine, etc), but she seems to be clearly leading us down the path of euthanasia.
My husband and I are heartbroken over this. We both grew up with dogs, and they're a part of the family for us. And this is the sweetest, most gentle dog we've ever known. And he's wonderful with our 2 year old, who wakes up asking for him, and gives him pets all day long. We don't want to say goodbye sooner than we need to, but we don't want him to suffer, either.
Have any of you been in this situation, and if so, did the morphine help?
I've done as much internet research as I can, and the information is so conflicting. If he were younger and not so arthritic, we'd be rushing to have the amputation surgery, but it doesn't sound like a good bet.
She gives him 1-2 months to live, by the way.
Any help would be appreciated!!!

June 5th, 2006, 01:00 PM
I'd try another vet. A lot of vets out there understand when people are willing to put in the extra time/effort/money needed to buy more time and they offer whatever help they can. Your vet seems a little resigned, IMO... Granted osteosarcoma has a pretty bad prognosis, but the vet should be doing everything to at least make this doggy comfortable.

Sorry, I don't have any advice on pain meds though.

Good luck.:grouphug:

June 5th, 2006, 04:12 PM
I just wanted to add that I, too, am sorry, for the diagnosis and sad situation you're in. I also suggest another vet. I heard a sad, sad story the other day from my daughter. A friend she works with had a 8 year old black lab that all of a sudden couldn't walk, his head tilted funny, and his eyes were going all over the place. Her vet said it was a stroke and recommended putting the dog to sleep which she did. Now, I am no vet, but when I was researching about my guy having trouble walking, one of the illnesses mentioned was canine vestibular syndrome, and this black lab had every one of its symptoms. The awful part is that most dogs make a full recovery with no treatment. I would never second guess anything in this situation, but it would be incredibly sad if her vet just didn't know as much as he should and this poor dog was pts for no reason. My vet told me it was rare for dogs to have strokes because I thought that was what mine had. I also had a bad experience a number of years ago with a vet and I took their advice only to find out years later that it wasn't good advice.

You'll know in your heart when its time to say goodbye to your beloved guy. And, believe me, too when I say he'll let you know. They just look you right into your heart and say "I need to go now, so please help me." It's heartbreaking, but sometimes it's the kindest thing to do for them. Good luck and know that we're all pulling for you and your family. Please keep us posted. If you have any questions, I'm sure someone will be able to help. Also, I found a website that has beautiful poems dealing with the loss of a pet. They may help. :grouphug:

June 5th, 2006, 09:38 PM
Katie 77:

Our Fred was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in June 2005 and he lived until April 2006 when we finally had to put him to sleep. The vet estimated that Fred would live 8 - 10 weeks but he lived 10+ months. He was treated with various pain medications and combinations of drugs but the most effective pain killer was morphine. He was alert right to the end, the morphine did not seem to diminish his intelligence.

I hope that you can find the right treatment for your pet. We miss Fred terribly.