Get a second opinion! Bone Cancer or Arthritis?
I recently posted on my private Facebook page somewhat of a panicked post requesting that dog “friends” share thoughts on how to relieve inflammation and assist Blaze with Arthritis. I promised where the post was short and direct, that I would supply the full story after. Buckle up folks! I’m taking you on a three week long emotional roller coaster ride that hopefully will shed some light and again teach.
Background story: Approximately four years ago, Blaze, our now 12 year old, female Doberman woke up to a very swollen toe on her front left paw. She was limping something terrible and in obvious pain. The timing of it was remarkable because I actually had both dogs yearly checkup that day!
We went to the vet appointment and the Vet “A” checked her paw in depth but did not take x-rays. It was his opinion that she quite possibly either got something (sliver) in her toe or even stubbed it but in his opinion, it was obviously sore and swollen but not broken and didn’t cause incredible concern. Vet “A” felt it was best to wait a few days with her on light exercise to see if the swelling went down or for it to possibly fester up if it was a sliver.
Days went by and yes the swelling reduced incredibly and actually, it did fester up and a small piece of something did come out. Either way, she seemed fine with the exception that she started to lick the area a lot. I continued to soak her paw in Epson salts and the wound/sore area healed. But the licking didn’t stop.
As can be typical with some dogs and in particular Dobermans, they can become quite obsessive on certain things and this paw became exactly that. Over the course of the last three years, we have battled constantly with Blaze licking, chewing or even tearing open that paw. She’s been back and forth to the vets, we’ve tried medications, having her wear socks but nothing made her stop except COVID.
Due to COVID, both Tim and I lost employment and one of us was now always around the house to insure Blaze left her paw alone. Finally it healed and she left it alone!!!
Sadly though, from three years of aggravation, her paw actually became somewhat deformed, thickened with scar tissue and caused her to walk “pigeon toed” with that foot. This was of course checked every vet visit and shoulders were shrugged as to what to do and the common “she’s getting old so…” became the "go to" comment.
Last month, I started to notice Blaze having issues with her other front leg. She was slowly displaying a thickening of her joint, swelling on one toe and she seemed to be walking pigeon toed with this foot as well. Having said that, I didn’t see any limping or signs of pain – it just visually looked “off”.
I had both Liar and Blazes thyroid panel due so opted to wait for the appointment which occurred the beginning of September. Since the original appointment where we saw Vet “A”, from that time on, we always saw Vet “B” (same clinic) whom I now considered to be our dogs dedicated vet.
Vet “B” is a very nice lady, seemed very knowledgeable in regards to Hypothyroidism which of course both Blaze and Liar have and I felt comfortable as Vet “B” seemed to work well with us.
The appointment for Thyroid panels came and even though it was just a blood draw with the lab tech, I scheduled that Blaze could be seen by Vet “B” in regards to a Sebaceous Cyst she had as well as this new foot thing going on.
The blood draws went well! Both Blaze and Liar worked the lab tech over for treats and everyone was happy!
Vet “B” comes in, we talk, I share my concerns about the cyst and now the right front leg which I might add now had a REALLY swollen toe. Vet “B” does an exam, checks her heart, eyes, ears, lymph nodes, lungs and determines that Blaze is in amazing shape for 12 years old but sadly, Vet “B” thinks she has BONE CANCER.
All I heard after that and through my tears was:
· It’s incredibly painful.
· She’ll die within 6 months.
· You can amputate the leg to buy time but she’s old.
I left in a daze and crying uncontrollably! I know she's 12 and we won’t have her forever but she was chasing a squirrel the day before! Yes, she gets stiff and sore every so often, she has her lumps and bumps, but she’s eating fantastically, pooping, peeing – she seems awesome! BONE CANCER AND DYING IN 6 MONTHS MAXIMUM?!? What the.... (insert panicked profanities here)
How do I tell Tim?!? What do I say?!?
I cried all the way home...
Then I got mad and did what I do when I panic about our dogs health issues – I research!
After everything I read, this didn’t make sense to me! This came on so sudden and even with visual changes – she didn’t seem to be showing ANY pain at all! I went on Facebook to my local dog group and asked for the name of the best Canine Oncologist in Manitoba and quickly received the name of Vet “C”.
That night, I lied to Tim by NOT fully disclosing. I told him they did well at the vets and got lots of treats but I said nothing of Blaze dying a quick but VERY painful death from BONE CANCER… How do you tell him that? They’re so close!
The next day when I had gathered facts and information I had the discussion with Tim. I told him exactly what Vet “B” had said about Blaze. While tears flowed down his cheeks, I told him that it didn’t make sense to me! Granted I’m NOT a vet but I had done some research, some reading, and had gotten the name of a Canine Oncologist and still - it didn't make sense. He immediately wanted an appointment booked for his girl, Old Timer Baba Blaze.
Monday, September 14th, the results were in and Blazes thyroid was low and needed her meds upped.
Friday, September 18th, we had our appointment in Winnipeg with Vet “C”.
Vet “C” came into the room and we talked. Through tears, I explained the last four years of Blazes’ foot issues as well as her hypothyroidism - now being “low” again and the most recent verbal diagnosis of Bone Cancer.
In short, Vet “C” did a complete exam of Blaze and confirmed that Blaze was in amazing condition for 12 years old BUT she didn’t feel this leg issue was Bone Cancer at all! She did however feel that because of her left leg issue, it has caused her to alter her way of walking, putting strain on her right leg and that has quite possibly caused arthritis as well as inflammation. Further to that, we talked about the new information that Blaze came back low for her thyroid and her meds have now been increased slightly. Vet “C” felt it was quite possible that this new leg issue could also be related to the low thyroid. Vet “C” recommended x-rays for two reasons:
1) Take Cancer OFF the table
2) See the level of Arthritis which she felt could be around a 4 out of 10.
X-rays were taken and the sweetest words were said! NO BONE CANCER – it’s Arthritis and actually more like a level 2 out of 10. Blaze does have a lot of inflammation but Vet “C” didn’t want to prescribe anything until she had been on her new thyroid pills for a few weeks!
So that’s the story folks….
I go to a vet appointment for a blood draw and I get told our beloved senior dog is dying a painful but quick death and there’s not a damn thing we can do except amputate a leg which she might not recover from.
Are you as mad as I am?!?
o What if I didn’t research?
o What if I didn’t book an appointment with Vet “C”?
o What if I believed Vet “B”?
o What if we "wrote Blaze off"… Just did nothing (not treating inflammation and Arthritis) but kept her happy until her time was up?
o God forbid Blaze woke up limping (from Arthritis) and we opted to relieve her from her pain with euthanasia because we THOUGHT this was the Bone Cancer? I’d like to think that Vet “B” would x-ray first but?!?
Where are we now?!? We’ve been smacked in the face that we won’t have Blaze forever, where we always knew that, this really hit home! We are blessed for EVERY day with her and love her dearly! I am now researching homeopathic remedies for arthritis and inflammation and we’ll go that route. We WILL do everything we can possible to give her the happiness and love she (and all dogs) deserve for the time we have left. When the time comes, as much as our hearts will break, we WILL make that decision to end suffering as her quality of life means more to us than our quantity...
Please learn from this story. Whether they’re doctors for human medicine or vets – they’re human and they CAN make mistakes. This was a serious one that could have resulted in a very bad outcome.
I haven’t contacted Vet “B” yet as I’m not quite sure how to handle it without going a side of crazy where they’re forced to call local law enforcement for the emotional rollercoaster we’ve been on. But she will be told because in order for her to be a BETTER vet – she needs to understand that this should have been handled differently. VERY differently.
Please take care, love your dogs, and DO NOT be afraid to seek another opinion! EVER!!!
Lastly, please share this story so others may learn from this!
Karen Grzenda, Author
Heart Dog - Gunner's Story : The novel and true story
The Side Eye Series!!! Comedy dog fun picture books for adults!
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