Max had developed a slight tremor in his hind legs and then some weakness...trouble getting his feet under him on slippery floors and sitting down when it wasn't intended. He also has 2 fatty lumps on his neck. They have been static for several months...not my first rodeo with those pesky things but I wanted him to check them.
Part is what I thought it might be and the other blindsided me.
He has progressive posterior paralysis, which is common among dogs with long spines as you all know. There is nothing that can be done...because it's degeneration of the spine, acupuncture will not do anything. He has no pain and won't from this because the signals between his back end and brain aren't firing correctly.
The lumps...tho they feel like the fatty tissue kind to me they aren't. It's his lymph nodes...in his neck, which are ones I originally felt, also in his shoulders which I didn't feel and behind his knees in his back legs. The ones in his back legs are not affecting his walking problem. So, my boy has lymphoma.
He has had the ones on his neck for several months and they have not grown which is good. If they do start to enlarge we will try steroids which can help shrink them for a time. Spent almost an hour talking with Dr Tremper about what can be done, what should be done and what his recommendations are. Basically...keep doing what I'm doing and watch. Trying to do even a needle biopsy (which he does not do..I would have to go to a oncologist) is expensive. Chemo doesn't work all that well on this and would be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
I have been with Dr Tremper for over 35 years. I know I can go and have all kinds of work ups done with someone else but I also know my vet and I know he will always be straight up with me on what I should do. And when your vet cries with you, you know he truly cares.
And I don't want to put Max thru all that stuff. He is 13. I want him happy and comfortable and as long as he is we will be grateful.
I think there is a fundamental difference between trying to save the life of a young dog and lengthen the life of an old one. I would be willing to be fairly aggressive in treating cancer in a 4-year-old dog, even if the odds weren't great, knowing that if we succeeded there would be many happy years ahead. But with an elderly pet, as with an elderly person we love, there comes a time when the best course is probably to thank them for their years of love, and otherwise just keep them as comfortable and as happy as possible.
Thank you all for your words of comfort and support! It truly does mean a lot to me and I pass on your words to my husband....without his love for animals I would have had the pleasure and love of all those who have graced this house. Many years ago when my mother had to give her cat to move to an apartment and she was so upset he said to me what's 4 more feet...so Clancy came to live with us. And that seems to be his motto.
Beth....Max has always liked other dogs, he was thrilled when Katie came. She let him know right from the start that she was gonna be the boss and he has deferred to her ever since. My husband reminded me that when his father had to spend 4 months in Boston for cancer treatments that his dog stayed with us and neither Max or Katie had a problem. Max was thrilled, Katie said I'm the boss and all was fine. Mark and I agreed that we would like the 3 dogs to meet to see if there are any immediate issues between them.
Holly....in the 35 years that my husband and I have been married there has never been a time that there wasn't at least 1 dog and 1 cat in this house. We have been thru this too many times in all those years, it is the hardest decision to know what to do, what is right. We just try to do our best.
Bev...I am like you. I know that for some they need time but there is always such a huge hole and I know that there is another dog out there who needs the love we have to give. It's never about trying to replace the one that is gone...you can never replace them...it's about a whole new personality and quirks that you will love.
I will do all I can to make sure Max is happy and comfortable. A good friend who lost her GSD to DM has given me some good info. She took her dog to a university with a vet program, one of the things they suggested that has shown to help with DM...we all know there is no cure..is turmeric. A number of studies have been done with humans and animals, even within the same study. It's also showing some promise in the treatment of cancer. After doing a lot of reading and research online I am going to try the supplements with Max. It can't hurt. I looked at side effects and there pretty much aren't any unless you give mega doses and I'm not about do that. Anything can be toxic in mega doses.
Again....all your words of support and caring mean a lot. Thank you.
Gosh, I haven't tuned in for a while. I'm so sorry to hear about Max's health issues. My heart goes out to you both. :( /hugs.
I'm sorry. That's a shame.
And I'm with Anna and Jane about the extraordinary measures. What's not good for the humans is not good for the dogs. The kindest thing we can do is to show some mercy to our pets when they become terminally ill.
Linda, so sorry to hear about Max. He seems like such a sweetie. It's always so hard when our animal friends are ill. I'm thinking about you all.
A gal I follow on IG said she used cheap yoga mats (from 5 Below) as runners on her floors when her dog had DM and they worked great. They are designed not to slide plus they are easy to cut to size for a small area. I remembered I had an old one here that my daughter left ages ago. I put it under his food/water bowls so he doesn't sploot with his back end while eating. Worked great and it's thin enough that I can open the basement door over it. We have 1 of those stores here now tho I've never been there. I will be going on Monday and picking up some more. My house may not fit the ideal of House Beautiful but if they keep him from sliding all over then I don't care.
Facing both the DM and the cancer my goal is to help him be as comfortable and happy as I can. We will use the supplements and see if they help to slow the DM and we will pay close attention to the lumps, use the steroids if our vet recommends and go from there. Now he is happy, funny and his goals in life are to eat, chase the cats and try to scare that bratty chi that lives behind us who barks all the time and bit me.
Linda, Im so sorry your going through this, its never easy when our pups get sick, hang in there and give Max hugs from me. I truly believe things happen for a reason as well, we got Tucker and two months later found out Lance was sick. Tucker came to us at just the right time and so thankful we found him. Who knows if we would have found Tucker if we had found out Lance was sick just two months sooner, probably not is my guess!!! So thankful we got Tucker!!!
I don't know where you live or who your vet is, but Sophie just finished a course of chemo for lymphoma and it was no where near even a single $10K, much less multiples of that. Our vet did the doggie version of the CHOP protocol, which was developed here at the Univ. of WI-Madison (go Badgers!) for humans, then adapted for veterinary use. You know your dog, of course, and I'm not suggesting that you should do this, but just wanted to share the info. Sophie came through it like a trouper and had only a few crummy days here and there. She did have more frequent seizures, but these are fading again as her body settles down after the treatments. She is now running around like a nut, chasing squirrels, working the crowd at the farmers' market for pets, and climbing up onto the end tables to her herself to treats! Best of luck to you and Max! Kiss him and hug him and enjoy every minute.
@Chris....Thank you for that information. I am very close to NYC so I'm sure that's why the cost is much higher. I am very very happy to hear that Sophie is happy, chasing squirrels and stealing treats! Prayers that she continues those endeavors for a very long time.
Max is 13 and he also has DM. He has IVDD in his neck but that has been helped over the last 4 years with acupuncture. After a long discussion with my vet who I trust...been with him for over 35 years...our goal is to make sure he is as happy as can be. He is in no pain and has no idea there is a dang thing wrong. He chases our cats and the squirrels and lays alongside his cousin Katie in the middle of the kitchen just in case something should hit the floor. He just looks a bit surprised when he sits down unexpectedly.
Gwynnie (12.5 y.o.) showed slight hindleg tremor years ago; now she shows symptoms like Max's. DM is my guess, but other things can cause such symptoms. We think we've ruled-out back trouble.
If it's DM and not spine trouble, I wouldn't think easy hikes on level trails would exacerbate it, and I'd like to get her out while she still can, but I don't think I'm going to be able to sell this proposal to my wife or our breeder.
She climbed a mountain last March.
Remember everbody, when things seem gloomy, the darkest hour is always just before the breakfast:
John, for what it's worth, I agree with you. Extreme physical or mental stress can exacerbate any condition, BUT if it's DM, exercise is good for the rest of her, body and soul, and therefore good for the condition. I live with a degenerative condition myself, and my rheumatologist always says "The goal of treatment is for you to be able to live your life and do the things you want to do."
If she loves hiking, take her hiking. If she loves ball, throw the ball. Just watch and stop before she's exhausted.
Life is for the living.
John....I have always loved seeing the pics of her hiking and camping on the peaks. I agree with Beth and so does my vet. I specifically asked about walks and he said by all means...go for walks but stop before he gets tired. He said it helps to remind the nerve pathways to keep firing. I also have bad back problems including a fusion in my lower spine...easy exercise is good for me to keep everything moving.
A good friend who had a GSD with DM sent me info on turmeric, she had taken her dog to Gainesville University which has a vet program. Unfortunately it was too late for her dog, her vet had been treating for hip dysplasia so the DM was too far gone. The university set a program of turmeric focusing on the curcumin in it along with fish oil. I did a lot of online research regarding the use of turmeric, it was very encouraging. I started Max on it last Sunday, he already takes fish oil. The studies were done on humans and then dogs and other animals were added. Google turmeric for dogs and do some reading. I followed the quidelines and am using a organic one which has a consistent amount of curcumin in it. You can find it in stores but it is over processed so there really is no guarantee of the amount in each pill. I looked for it on Amazon and found what I felt was the best, majority of reviews...over 1700...were good and they were by humans. There is no cure but if it keeps Max moving and herding the cats for longer than it's all good. And it's not expensive at all.