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Bladder cancer and can't walk.

Species: Dog
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Age: 11-15 years
I accidentally closed the window the first time I got directed here so think that I probably got charged. Do I contact PayPal or you?

Here is the question about my pet. He had no issues until Thursday. Then he started walking funny on his back legs. We got him to a vet and subsequently a neurology specialist who after an ultrasound, diagnosed him with a large, blood-filled cancerous tumor and a suspicious area of the kidney. By Friday evening his back legs didn't work and the vet said that he did not think that the prognosis for surgery would be successful. He said the other two options were to put him to sleep or take him home to keep him comfortable.

The sling worked one night but on Saturday he was not wanting to walk on it so we had to carry him around on a blanket. He finally defecated but was not urinating. On Sunday, he was breathing rapidly and licking himself continuosly. We took him to the emergency vet who extracted a liter of urine from his bladder and recommended that we take him home for the night and make him comfortable.

We took Jake home and he laid on his side in the same position until the next morniing. We propped him up so that he could eat but then he fell into the same position afterwards. He did not sleep through the night but kept pawing at me and breathing heavily.

The next morning the neurologist said that the bladder blockage could be treated with a relaxer and that they could teach us how to drain the bladder if we weren't ready to put him to sleep.

This has caused me to doubt my decision. I felt that if he couldn't sit up, couldn't urinate without assistance, couldn't walk and had no interest in playing with his toys, along with the continuous heavy breathing and lack of sleep, it was time. The only thing that was still normal was his appetite and pawing me to continue petting me.

Can you weigh in on whether you think that I did everything that I could. A big factor in this was also that he was 90 pounds and totally unable to move at the end without us putting him on a tarp. We think that the sling wasn't working because of the full bladder and maybe the tumor. Sorry this is so long.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi there...don't worry about the Paypal problem. I'll refund you for the double payment. :)

I'm so sorry to hear about Jake's medical problems. It sounds like there were a lot of things going on with his body.

I can't tell from your question whether you actually did go ahead with euthanasia. (It sounds like you did as you are speaking of Jake in the past tense). And if you did, then I really think this is the right decision.

As vets, sometimes we have a difficult job when it comes to advising people. We need to offer people all of the possible options, but this doesn't necessarily mean that those options are what is best for the dog. I have often said to people, "I think the best option here is euthanasia, but, if you're not ready for that..." then given them some other options to help get the dog through the next few days until the owners have peace about the decision to euthanize.

With what you have described, the decision to euthanize seems obvious to me. What I see is that Jake had a problem that was not able to be cured. There were some things that could perhaps buy him some time (i.e. the treatments suggested by the neurologist.) But, these solutions would not have cured Jake. He had a very serious condition and could not live life as normal. It sounds like he was uncomfortable. And, even if you could drain his bladder manually, he still would not be able to walk.

One of the difficult things with labs is that they will be eating and putting on a happy face right until the very end. It sounds to me like if we waited until he was sick enough to not eat or to act really unwell, it would not be fair to Jake.

In my opinion, from what you have written, the option that had Jake's welfare in mind the most was euthanasia.

I hope that helps, but please let me know if you have more concerns.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Dr. Marie,

Thanks---yes, we did go through with euthanizing Jake. It was heartbreaking to see him not be able to walk or sit up anymore. I felt like we were hurting him when we picked him up and carried him around. With his weight, even the vet techs almost dropped him onto the ground getting him on to the gurney when we went to have the bladder expelled.

I should mention that he was a labrador but probably mixed with Great Dane. He wasn't overweight, just a big guy.

Thanks for the comment about him eating. I think that was what was bothering me.

Thanks for replying so quickly. It helps to hear an outsider's opinion.


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Dr. MarieDr. 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.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.