Please Help Me Help My Dog.
August 20, 2010 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Family dog has cancerous lump on leg, vet says surgery might be enough to cure it (20% chance of recurrence). So what can we do to 1) help minimize the stress of surgery and 2) strengthen his immune system and general health, to increase his odds? So far I've gotten "all raw foods" and "no corn or soy it's all GMO" but neither of these folks actually have dogs. I'd like to hear from the dog-owning hivemind about this.
posted by kestralwing to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lots of love, rest, dog treats, a warm draught-free bed, plenty of access to water and you ... and no sudden changes of diet or regime.

If you're worried your dog's normal diet isn't good you can rectify it with multivitamins and mineral supplements but a) get your vet to recommend a brand for dogs not people, b) don't bother if your dog usually eats a balanced dog food from a sane and reputable supplier, they'll be all in there. If your dog lives on table scraps or dog meat, talk to your vet about whether it's sensible to supplement with a proper dog food, introduced slowly over 7-10 days. The last thing your dog wants is to deal with is an upset digestive system whilst getting over the surgery.

Find out if he'll be incapacitated (scar, cone collar, pain meds) and for how long, then make changes around the house (stairgates, that yard door that he can bust through etc etc) before the surgery.

Oh, and the GMO status of soya has no influence on the health of your dog. And a 20% recurrence is an 80% cure: enough to be worrying and it's tough when it's your dog - but those are pretty good odds.
posted by cromagnon at 1:20 AM on August 21, 2010

Don't worry too much about the stress of surgery. I've seen dogs try to run and chase the mailman two days after a leg amputation. Just give him love and attention. The vet will give you enough dope too keep him knocked out for as long as is necessary, and once he's awake, bring him on the couch with you, or sit on the floor with him while you watch TV or read a book or whatever. If you're not sitting with him, just be sure to tell him he's a good boy whenever you walk past him. Dogs are tough.
As for food, don't change his diet unless you have a week or two prior to surgery to see if it agrees with him. Most dogs love raw food, but after a whole life of eating kibble it may take them a while to be able to digest raw properly. He needs a few days with a mixture of old and new foods, a few days with only the new foods, and if its not agreeing with him at that point he needs another few days to get back on his old food and get his guts all figured out before going into surgery. Know also, though, that diarrhea after surgery (due to stress) is not uncommon.
Lastly, keep his food and water near where he sleeps, but not so close that he'll knock them over when he stumbles trying to get up from a nap.
posted by gally99 at 1:48 AM on August 21, 2010

Dogs are usually incredibly resilient in their recovery from surgery. Make sure that the vet gives you enough pain meds to keep your dog comfortable, and you'll want to make sure to keep pup quiet.

Dog Cancer: The Holistic Answer: A Step by Step Guide was published earlier this year and is getting good reviews on dog forums. (It's on my "to buy" list, but I have not read it yet.) High quailty salmon oil is one supplement I'd suggest; your vet may have other suggestions as well.

Wishing a complete recovery for your pup!
posted by vers at 3:59 AM on August 21, 2010

From the review of that book:

"When his 11-year-old Lhasa Apso, Fergie, was diagnosed with lymphoma, a deadly cancer, Dr. Steven Eisen decided not to rely on standard veterinary care but to apply his own specialist expertise."

Read the author's biography to see what that expertise is - chiropractic, such as it is. There is no evidence the content of this book will have any effect on any dog, anywhere. By advocating abandoning conventional veterinary approaches it is actively detrimental to the health of animals. A responsible pet owner, in my view, would neither apply the contents of the book, nor recommend it to others.
posted by cromagnon at 5:16 AM on August 21, 2010

cat, not dog, owner, and the fatty lump was between his kitty shoulder blades, not on his leg; removed 17 days ago.

because he's a cat, the most stressful part of the entire thing was him being stuffed into a carrier & being put into the car & popping out at ... the vet's! cats do not travel well.

dropped off the big boy around 7:30 a.m., picked him up around 4:30 p.m. he was 1) pissed and 2) groggy, so when he got home he immediately went to hide under the bed. his appetite was definitely not up to snuff that evening, as he just sniffed his spcial welcome home dinner & then went back into hiding. 2nd day: marked improvement in eating, still somewhat groggy (especially because i was giving him kitty morphine). 3rd day: he was angling to get outside as soon as he finished breakfast, became impossible to corner to give kitty morphine. after that, you'd not even know he had any surgery except for that shaved back & the gaping scar.

his stitches are more than ready to come out. i haven't called the vet because she hasn't called me yet with the biopsy results--we already knew it was cancerous when it was removed because of a cursory biopsy they did; the removal/biopsy is supposed to tell us the exact kind of cancer & give us an idea of how far, if at all, it's spread. i want to minimize the trips to the vet (because it traumatizes big boy) & if the results are not favorable, he'll have to make yet another trip so i figure we'll wait on removing the stitches.

important to keep him from gnawing at the stitches; i imagine they'll have something rigged up since a dog's leg is almost an extension of its face. aside from that, i'd be surprised if your dog is somewhat perplexed about why he's receiving all the attention. he's most likely to adapt a whole lot quicker than his humans will.

best of luck!
posted by msconduct at 5:42 AM on August 21, 2010

I highly recommend this guys book as a read. He has a lot to say on nutrition, as well as current veterinary and animal phamaceutical practices.
You don't have to buy into all of it, but there is a lot of good information.
posted by newpotato at 6:12 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

By advocating abandoning conventional veterinary approaches it is actively detrimental to the health of animals. A responsible pet owner, in my view, would neither apply the contents of the book, nor recommend it to others.

Please note, in no way was I suggesting abandoning or avoiding conventional treatment (though personally I have deep suspicions about chemotherapy having been through it with two of my cats). Personal experience has also been that even great conventional vets shortchange the benefits of diet. Part of Kestralwing's question was about immune system support, and I offered the suggestion of that book since it seems to be some of the better current writing on the subject, covering diet and supplements and avoiding systemic stressors. There is ample evidence that holistic treatments can be a beneficial complement to conventional medicine -- for both humans and animals.

posted by vers at 7:41 AM on August 21, 2010


A high protein/low carb diet is a cancer-starving diet (it is also generally more species-appropriate for dogs). This means little or no grain. This does not necessarily mean raw, many of the benefits people attribute to raw (and I am talking here about the raw evangelists) are really just related to a higher fat, higher protein, higher moisture diet, which can be achieved in many ways, some of which do not carry the attendant risks of raw. I am not anti-raw, but you need to educate yourself properly. There are commercial diets which are very suitable, Innova EVO is the highest protein/lowest carb commercial diet, but any of the grain-free diets may do, check for carbs in the ingredients list, since some replace grain with potato or other carb sources.

A fish oil-based Omega 3 supplement is essential. Eicosaderm or Catalyst Chews are excellent choices. I think all dogs benefit from this, but in cancer treatment it is vital. Make sure the fish oil is tested for heavy metals (both the mentioned brands are).

Melatonin can also help.

It might be worth setting up an appointment with a vet who has a comprehensive oncology protocol (this does not have to be a specialist, just someone who is very current and interested in cancer research). Good luck!
posted by biscotti at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

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