Species: Dog Breed: golden/yellow lab mi Age: 11-15 years
Our 12 year old Golden/Lab mix has been diagnosed with liver cancer. What can we do to help maintain quality? We do not want surgery/chemo/harsh options for her but we do want to make sure we are doing what we can to make her comfortable until she is ready to go. I am most concerned about pain levels because she is such a good girl and she just doesn't complain. We know she will die but aren't acting sad/crying around her - we are keeping our spirits up in hopes that she will do the same.
Ultrasound report "Several masses seen in the liver. Largest is 10cm on the mid L liver-solid & cystic & displaces the gallbladder caudally. Additional masses in mid at R liver are hyperechoic & nodular. Probably neoplasia in several lobes. Possible portal node enlargement r/o metastasis. Renal cortices are hyperechoic suggesting glomerular disease. Renal size/shape & other abdominal organs image normally.
She is on Denamarin & acting ok/slowed down a bit. She plays/naps several x/day. She is eating w/enticements 2x/day with snacks in between. She has lost weight so our vet says to feed her whatever she wants - chicken, rice, bread, dog treats, pototoes, even some hot dogs.
Dr. Marie replied:
Oh, I am sorry to hear that Sarah is dealing with liver cancer. Goldens are such wonderful dogs but they really are prone to cancer.
If it will help, I can explain the ultrasound report to you. A 10 cm mass in the liver is very large. What bothers me the most is that the mass has solid portions and also cystic (fluid) portions. And then there are masses that are really dense (hyperechoic). What this means is that there are a variety of tumors in the liver. And this is not good news. The "portal node" is a lymph node. So, it sounds like there is spread of the cancer from the liver to the lymph nodes.
What this means is that the chances of us treating this successfully with chemo are extremely low.
So, I agree with you that keeping Sarah as comfortable as possible is the best idea.
One of the best indications of how a dog is doing is how well they are eating. If she gets to the point where she is not eating much at all, then this means that she is really not feeling well.
You may want to ask your vet about a food called Hill's n/d. It is meant for dogs with cancer and is extremely tasty and high calorie.
I find that most of my clients who have pets with cancer just "know" when it is time to talk about euthanasia. It is never an easy decision, but Sarah will let you know when she is no longer enjoying life.
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Dr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.
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