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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Phantom has had this bright red bloody spot on the lower part of his right eye for a little over a week. Looks like at the border of the lower eyelid. It doesn't seem to bother him at all, but it does drain blood a little. At first, I thought maybe he just scratched himself and it formed a hematoma on his cornea or third membrane, but it hasn't resolved on its own yet, so I know I should probably have the vet look at it. On the other hand, it hasn't gotten any worse either and doesn't seem to bother him at all, so if we can hold off on the vet visit, we will. Anyone seen this kind of thing before? Is this a cherry eye possibly?

 

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I have never dealt with it personally but it sounds similar to something our neighbor went through with his lab. It was some sort of cyst and required surgery. I'd make a vet appointment. Better safe than sorry.
 

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We see an eye specialist for Meibomian cysts, but those grow on the eyelids. Boxers are good business for eye specialists. It might be a foreign body that could have gone inside the eye. I'd want to have a vet dilate to see, and they give antibiotic ointment with some anti-inflammatory agents quite often for eye injuries.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
So I just realized, I never updated what happened with Phantom. Last summer, the bloody spot on the eye continued growing- so after another month or so, we took Phantom to the vet. They said the lesion needed to come off and estimated it would cost around $1800, which we just didn't have, so were feeling pretty helpless at that time (We have to cut corners on our own medical care, so there was absolutely no way we could find $1800 for the vet.) We asked around and a friend recommended another vet, who took a look at it for free and estimated she could remove the lesion for between $500-$700. MUCH more affordable! We took her up on it- and it ended up costing closer to $500, which was much appreciated. The pathology report came back positive for hemangiosarcoma of the third eyelid. Hemangiosarcoma is usually a death sentence in dogs, but not necessarily if it's a superficial lesion....so, we hoped that took care of it and hoped for the best. I did some research and learned that cutaneous/dermal hemangiosarcoma is often associated with UV sun exposure and is especially common in white dogs. Here's a picture of the eye lesion before his surgery:
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Unfortunately, a month later, we saw another similar looking lesion, this time on Phantom's underbelly, where there is little fur. After researching the association between hemangiosarcoma and UV exposure, this location made sense, since Phantom was a white dog who spent many hours each day sunbathing. He loved to roll over on his side and expose his belly. So we went back and got this lesion removed- this time for only $300 or so, simple procedure, and while she was at it, the vet also zapped a whole bunch of other tiny little red spots that she said were likely early stages of hemangiosarcoma. She suggested referral to oncology for possible chemo, but we just couldn't swing the cost, so we hoped that by avoiding UV exposure in the future, he might be ok.
We also learned that, with or without chemo, dogs with visceral (internal) hemangiosarcoma only live 3-6 months, so it would be a lot of expense and torture for almost nothing if he DID have metastases. Here is a picture of the cutaneous hemangiosarcoma on his belly:
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
So from here on out, we had the difficult job of prohibiting Phantom from sunbathing, his all time favorite activity! Not even with sunscreen, because there is no way to protect a dog's third eyelid with sunscreen! Eventually, he understood that sunbathing on the deck was a no-no and we compensated by allowing him to get on ALL the furniture in the house, which made him very happy! He did fine for several months- felt fine, no weight loss, no other issues. Then about 6 months later, I found another spot under his neck while giving him a bath (He absolutely despises water, so this was his first bath in MONTHS)- this lesion was under his neck, in a furry area that was usually covered by his collar. This one is weird, because it's UNDER the neck, but I can see if a dog sunbathes and lies on his side- maybe the collar could slip and expose this area? At least I hope that's what happened- that all the lesions resulted from UV sun exposure. The alternative is that these hemangiosarcomas are all metastases, which would be unthinkable. The vet removed this one for around $250- it has healed well and he's doing fine 2 months post-op.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
So...at this point, we aren't sure if Phantom had several unrelated cutaneous hemangiosarcomas, all from UV exposure- or if these have spread from a visceral internal hemangiosarcoma. He doesn't show any signs of metastatic cancer- good appetite, no weight loss, no behavioral changes, no signs of pain, so doesn't act like a dog with systemic cancer, but we can't be sure. He likes to sleep a lot, but he's always been that way...and if I take him on a leashed walk, he can walk 1 or 2 miles without a problem (as long as it isn't too hot and muggy out.) I read that average survival for cutaneous hemangiosarcoma is 26 months- and since we estimate that Phantom was about 5 when we adopted him, that means he's close to 8 years old now- so that would almost be normal life expectancy if he made it another year or two. I don't know...he's happy and lazy and loved. My family and I can't bear the thought of losing him, but we've faced this cancer down three times already and shed tons of tears each time when we thought this could be the end. Anyway, just wanted to share our story so far. The good news is: one year later, Phantom is alive and well and happy. More good news: all three surgeries cost us just over $1000 combined, because we shopped around and found a more affordable yet trustworthy vet (though we did have to drive much further, it was worth it!) Lesson learned: no sunbathing for white boxers. Period. And if we ever have a dog that spends much time outdoors, we would apply sunscreen and limit sun exposure during the sunniest times of day. We don't know what the future holds, but are thankful to have Phantom still with us and just hope that he will still be with us for many years to come! My son has autism and Phantom is his best friend and constant companion, so especially for his sake!
 

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Thanks for sharing your story. I am so happy that Phantom is doing well at this point. And thanks for pointing out that there are vets out there willing to do whats right and not at a huge cost. I am pretty sure this vet is a angel and didn't make profit on this one. I hope that he continues to do well and I think the fact that you notice quickly helps with his survival.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, it seems I spoke too soon. The day after I wrote my previous post, Phantom woke up lethargic, with no appetite, not greeting people (very unusual for him). After several more days of not eating, we took him in and the vet saw free fluid in the abdomen, blood on abdominal aspiration, nodules on the spleen. Given his history of hemangiosarcoma, it's likely a bleeding splenic hemangiosarcoma with metastases. Surgery could buy him an extra 3 months at most, but given the history, they wouldn't recommend it. They recommended yunnan baiyao to buy a little time and maybe clot the splenic bleed, and just comfort care.

Now he's just sleeping, not eating at all, not even treats, and has become incontinent of feces. This has all happened so fast- we always knew it was a possibility, but were hoping for a couple more years. So...trying to keep him comfortable until it's time to let him go. This is just devastating. Especially for my 16 year old, who has autism and has been really struggling lately...the only thing keeping him going has been Phantom, his constant and loyal companion. So just horrific timing all the way around.:-(
 

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It is just heartbreaking reading this, you have done your very best for Phantom, he is well loved. I am so sorry, my thoughts are with you and your family.
 

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My heart goes out to you. Boxers and their cancers. When mine was dying of lymphoma he loved to lay in the sun more than anything. At this point maybe it wouldn't hurt your guy. I think there is a spot just for Boxers in the great beyond.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Phantom's gone. We are all devastated. After the initial vet visit where they diagnosed metastatic hemangiosarcoma, he had a couple of rough days and seemed to be declining, so we scheduled a vet to come to our house for euthanasia. However, the day the vet was scheduled to come, he perked up, suddenly started eating again, wagging his tail, greeting the family, even regained bowel control. So we postponed the appointment. He had a couple of good days, though he slept a lot more than usual andhad to hand-feed him baby food and meds with a spoon (Stage 1 pureed baby food meats- he loved these!) We tried to have someone stay home with him during the day as much as possible, because we couldn't bear to think of leaving him to die alone. On Wednesday, he even went out on a leashed walk a few feet from our house and took treats from our neighbor and sniffed the neighbor's dog. I thought he might have a few weeks left in him. But Friday morning, he was different. He got up to try to get a drink of water and just collapsed. Tried to get up again and collapsed again. I tried to give him his pain meds with peanut butter and he kept spitting it out. We knew it was time. It was all we could do to load all 77 pounds of him in our car and drive him to the vet. He lifted his head to look around, but wasn't able to stand up anymore. Once we got to the vet, it was over quickly and he just looked like he was sleeping peacefully. We are all devastated, especially my 16 year old with autism. I didn't know it was possible to cry so many tears. We had only 2 1/2 years with our sweet rescue Phantom, which is way too short. We think he was around 7-8 years old when he died. I know he's in a better place now, but just miss him so much!
 

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I am so very sorry for your loss of Phantom. I know the tears keep coming and it will be difficult but know in your heart that you gave this boy a home love and care that he would not have had. Run free Phantom
 

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So sorry for your loss. My sympathies to you and your family.
Thank you for sharing your story and photos, it is sure to help others.

I had no idea about them sunbathing- it makes sense, but is nothing I would have thought of. Our boy Jax loves to lay in the sun too. He's brindle and I wonder if they are more tolerant to the sun (similar to darker haired humans). I'll pay more attention to the bumps on him. We had a benign tumor removed from his ear last December, but it was not sun related. He has a little bump on his side that looks more like a scratch from playing with our puppy than what was on his ear. If it doesn't clear soon we'll have it checked. It feels similar to some of the photos you shared, but much smaller.

Phantom was lucky to be so loved and cared for.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you. I read that white short-haired breeds like boxers, bulldogs, pitbulls, etc. are the most prone to skin cancers, due to lack of melanin. So I would think the brindle coloring would provide significantly more protection, though if he has a lot of white spots (especially without fur)- those are less protected (e.g., on the abdomen or ears or nose, etc.) It's apparently the pink skin that is most susceptible.
It makes me feel a tiny bit better if Phantom's story helps even ONE person avoid the heartache of prematurely losing a fur baby due to skin cancer. We were told the skin cancer rarely metastasized, but since Phantom was a rescue, we had no idea where he came from or what kind of conditions he lived in before. And it's also possible that the skin cancers were a metastasis from an internal cancer. I guess we'll never know for sure. We all miss him so much!





So sorry for your loss. My sympathies to you and your family.
Thank you for sharing your story and photos, it is sure to help others.

I had no idea about them sunbathing- it makes sense, but is nothing I would have thought of. Our boy Jax loves to lay in the sun too. He's brindle and I wonder if they are more tolerant to the sun (similar to darker haired humans). I'll pay more attention to the bumps on him. We had a benign tumor removed from his ear last December, but it was not sun related. He has a little bump on his side that looks more like a scratch from playing with our puppy than what was on his ear. If it doesn't clear soon we'll have it checked. It feels similar to some of the photos you shared, but much smaller.

Phantom was lucky to be so loved and cared for.
 

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Thank you. I read that white short-haired breeds like boxers, bulldogs, pitbulls, etc. are the most prone to skin cancers, due to lack of melanin. So I would think the brindle coloring would provide significantly more protection, though if he has a lot of white spots (especially without fur)- those are less protected (e.g., on the abdomen or ears or nose, etc.) It's apparently the pink skin that is most susceptible.
It makes me feel a tiny bit better if Phantom's story helps even ONE person avoid the heartache of prematurely losing a fur baby due to skin cancer. We were told the skin cancer rarely metastasized, but since Phantom was a rescue, we had no idea where he came from or what kind of conditions he lived in before. And it's also possible that the skin cancers were a metastasis from an internal cancer. I guess we'll never know for sure. We all miss him so much!
Thanks for the additional information. It helps a lot to know what to look for, especially with the variety of cancers boxers tend to have.
Once they wiggle their way into your heart they are there forever. It's great that you were able to adopt him and give him happy years.
 
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