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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Our 11 1/2 year old girl has been diagnosed with a sarcoma on her right hind hip. It's about the size of a softball. The vet said it's very aggressive, and the only options are complete amputation of the leg or palliative surgery to try and get as much of it as he can, but it won't save her or be curative. The biopsy report mentions the word necrotic/necrosis more than once, which doesn't sound good. Last week when the biopsy results first came back, I was more inclined to do the surgery possibly because I had not had enough time to process what's really going on here. But ever since he did the biopsy, the tumor has grown and become very ugly and unsightly and, perhaps most importantly, uncomfortable for Zoe.

My wife took her to get the biopsy sutures removed last Friday. The vet told her that one other option that we have is to put her on strong pain medicines to let her live her remaining days out and do nothing else. She asked him if she was his dog, what would he do? He wouldn't answer directly and just said that that's a family decision. She said that it seemed like he was almost leaning against the idea of surgery, but it may have just been her imagination.

What would you all do? Would you try surgery to see if it buys us any time, or just let her go? She's 11 1/2. And a boxer. I think I know the answer, but i'm just trying to wrap my head around it. At this time, she's still eating her kibble and drinking water. She's sleeping decent but I know she's uncomfortable. I feel like the time is near. The surgery concerns me because I am afraid of her pain level and healing. Plus her other rear leg has a lot of lameness already.

I must add, she's the best dog that we've ever had. She has been a true gem of a dog, and there will never be another like her. I knew this day would come, and I always dreaded it, but I don't want her to suffer.
 

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So sorry to hear that. After my last two big dogs passed it took me 5 years before I was ready for a new best friend. Now that my girl is 1. I cant imagine going through what your going through. How much longer would you have your pup w/surgery? Would the cost of the surgery justify the extra time? How better would her quality of life be? How about the recovery? What happens if Zoe doesn't make it through the surgery and you end up losing that time. I would need a pretty good % of success before I could commit to surgery. I personally would try to make her as comfortable as possible and allow her to live out the rest of her life as well as I could knowing our time left together is short. I'm shedding tears for you right now thinking of what your going through. Take solace in the fact you had Zoe as long as you have as well as you have the chance to prepare (what lil good that might do). Losing a pet is hard. Even harder when it happens in the blink of an eye though. Best wishes and prayers for your family.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you. All of your questions are the same ones that I had or have. The vet said surgery could buy me 3 weeks or 3 months, but that he wasn't sure. That was 7 days ago, and the tumor has progressed quite a bit since then. As far as cost goes, he hasn't said yet how much it would be. I've asked, but haven't gotten an answer. As far as surgery goes, the recovery is what i'd be most concerned about. Her age, her pain level post op, and quality of life post surgery. She sometimes pants incessantly, even while in the air conditioning and at rest, but other times she rests/sleeps rather peacefully. She's still eating and drinking water, and is super happy, so it's hard to pull the plug just yet. I am supposed to let the vet know about the surgery by thursday, but he isn't pressuring me one way or the other. I just have to make a decision. I appreciate you sharing with me what you would do.
 

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Humans frequently get second opinions when it comes to our own health. No reason why our furry friends shouldn't either. Another Vets perspective might help. Especially if it is one that specializes in various Cancers and their treatments. Get copies of everything from your Vet and seek a specialist. Just a thought.
 

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Oh gosh, I'm sorry, this must be so hard, I'm over here getting weepy. Hits close to home for all of us Boxer lovers I'm sure. I just wanted to send out love and hugs to you and your family and hope you can find peace in whatever you decide to do. I know that after 2 late in life surgeries for my boy who died at 14.5 I did reflect back and know I would not have done the second one if I had it to do over again. I just couldn't let go. They are such beautiful souls. UGH! I'm sorry!
 

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I think it has to be your families decision. I will just tell you what I have done, and recently had to do this past Friday with my gf's rottie. I ask myself, is this for the dog or is it for me? If its for me, I know my decision is to let the dog go. I don't want to put any of my dogs through unnecessary pain for myself it feels kind of selfish to do that. It sucks but thats how I deal with it and make the decision.

Sorry you are going through this.
 

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I also think you have to do what you feel. I will say that a good friend of mine who I pet sit for is going thru something similar. She has older lab also about 11 1/2. His back left is paralyzed, his has large fatty tumor that b urges off his side (has had it for many years and its harmless). A few month back he chewed his paw open, like wide open to where the vet said the only solution was to just amputate his entire leg. Since he has no feeling in it anyway. At the same time he had additional tests and he is full of cancer. Well they opted for palliative care while making a decision. He is happy, he eats, pees n poos outside still and hops around wagging his tail. If you didn't know all the details you would just see a happy old dog. They keep the wound open most times but cover it when he goes out or is alone so help prevent additional chewing. Not sure why he chews other than he just gets bored and its right there. He is wagging his tail and is very happy to be around you. I watched him for a day last week. So their final decision is to keep him on meds, they are mostly pain meds as he is very arthritic. My initial thought when I saw him early on was I would have him pts, as surgery plus all the cancer he has and age really would just put him in additional discomfort or downright pain and perhaps he would survive the surgery. Seeing him now, I'm understanding the palliative care. He is happy, they are getting to spend some additional time with him and doing whatever keeps him comfortable . We know his time is coming to an end but he will be with his family. I also know my sitting for him will be coming to an end but they are strict with his care and if they are gone for more than 4 hours they have me check on him and also have a strict routine to his meds.
Sorry I rambling now and while I can't say what works for your family this is what works for theirs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I also think you have to do what you feel. I will say that a good friend of mine who I pet sit for is going thru something similar. She has older lab also about 11 1/2. His back left is paralyzed, his has large fatty tumor that b urges off his side (has had it for many years and its harmless). A few month back he chewed his paw open, like wide open to where the vet said the only solution was to just amputate his entire leg. Since he has no feeling in it anyway. At the same time he had additional tests and he is full of cancer. Well they opted for palliative care while making a decision. He is happy, he eats, pees n poos outside still and hops around wagging his tail. If you didn't know all the details you would just see a happy old dog. They keep the wound open most times but cover it when he goes out or is alone so help prevent additional chewing. Not sure why he chews other than he just gets bored and its right there. He is wagging his tail and is very happy to be around you. I watched him for a day last week. So their final decision is to keep him on meds, they are mostly pain meds as he is very arthritic. My initial thought when I saw him early on was I would have him pts, as surgery plus all the cancer he has and age really would just put him in additional discomfort or downright pain and perhaps he would survive the surgery. Seeing him now, I'm understanding the palliative care. He is happy, they are getting to spend some additional time with him and doing whatever keeps him comfortable . We know his time is coming to an end but he will be with his family. I also know my sitting for him will be coming to an end but they are strict with his care and if they are gone for more than 4 hours they have me check on him and also have a strict routine to his meds.
Sorry I rambling now and while I can't say what works for your family this is what works for theirs.
Thank you for the info. Just so i'm clear, they did not amputate and are sticking with meds only for the rest of his days?
 

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A good friend of mine went thru this same kind of sarcoma with her Boxer it was very invasive and it was located between her vulva and leg. She was given the same options after the biopsy about removing the leg or not she chose not to which I think was the right thing for her dog. Her dog was 9 when this happened. She was able to keep her comfortable with pain meds until she finally needed to end it for her but she lived 6 months past diagnosis. I think the dogs quality of life matters more than anything when stuff like this happens it would be very hard on a dog of your dogs age to recover from this surgery and even if the leg were removed the cancer could have spread already so this is hard decision for any dog owner and her dog was also one of those wonderful good dogs.
 

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Thank you for the info. Just so i'm clear, they did not amputate and are sticking with meds only for the rest of his days?
That is correct they did not amputate and have a regimen of medicines for his remaining days. So far they have gotten another 4 weeks with him and he is still wagging his tail though he is slowing down more and more. Still has an appetite and manages his business outside. They say when he can no longer do this they will likely let him go, or if the meds stop controlling pain. So far so good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you everybody for all of the responses. I have decided to not do the surgery (it was scheduled for tomorrow), as Zoe is still eating and drinking and is happy for the most part. Her tumor area on her hip has stopped oozing for now and is pretty much closed up. A lot of the area is black, which I now know means necrosis. Over the next few days, i'll be working with my vet to find a pain medicine regimen that we can keep her on until I feel she is no longer comfortable. It's killing me to not know how long she'll be with us, but I know that isn't for me to decide.

I've attached a few pictures of Zoe from her younger years to this post.
 

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Best of luck Brian. Hopefully you have a lot more good days with her. She looks like such a sweet girl. And not that it means too much, but from everything you said, I would have done the same.
 

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Our 11 1/2 year old girl has been diagnosed with a sarcoma on her right hind hip. It's about the size of a softball. The vet said it's very aggressive, and the only options are complete amputation of the leg or palliative surgery to try and get as much of it as he can, but it won't save her or be curative. The biopsy report mentions the word necrotic/necrosis more than once, which doesn't sound good. Last week when the biopsy results first came back, I was more inclined to do the surgery possibly because I had not had enough time to process what's really going on here. But ever since he did the biopsy, the tumor has grown and become very ugly and unsightly and, perhaps most importantly, uncomfortable for Zoe.

My wife took her to get the biopsy sutures removed last Friday. The vet told her that one other option that we have is to put her on strong pain medicines to let her live her remaining days out and do nothing else. She asked him if she was his dog, what would he do? He wouldn't answer directly and just said that that's a family decision. She said that it seemed like he was almost leaning against the idea of surgery, but it may have just been her imagination.

What would you all do? Would you try surgery to see if it buys us any time, or just let her go? She's 11 1/2. And a boxer. I think I know the answer, but i'm just trying to wrap my head around it. At this time, she's still eating her kibble and drinking water. She's sleeping decent but I know she's uncomfortable. I feel like the time is near. The surgery concerns me because I am afraid of her pain level and healing. Plus her other rear leg has a lot of lameness already.

I must add, she's the best dog that we've ever had. She has been a true gem of a dog, and there will never be another like her. I knew this day would come, and I always dreaded it, but I don't want her to suffer.
It's always hard to let them go, but you have to weigh probability of success against cost and her age.
 

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Our thoughts are with you, I have had to make that decision more than I had wanted to with my fight with DCM so I know exactly how you feel knowing your dog has a time limit. Just love her and shower her with affection now she has been a precious gift for you in your life and know you are doing the right thing for her. She would not have understood an amputation or the pain that would come with it. I know of a man that lived up the street from me whose Rottweiler was his best friend she got bone cancer in one of her legs and it was recommended amputation well he did it and it cost him 7K all together and his dog suffered a lot of pain too with the amputation she died 3 months afterwards he told me he regrets so much putting her thru that. I too think you are doing the right thing she has lived to be a good age so feel blessed about that,
 

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Good luck Brian, she is a beautiful girl, considering her age I would do the same. I just heard from my friend last night that her boy has lost his fight, he just laid down in the afternoon and didn't rewake at home, so he was at peace.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I appreciate all of the comments and advice from everybody, but this thing is far from over. I had put a call into Zoe's old vet who treated her up until last year (we moved one county over last year) a few days ago and he called me yesterday afternoon and we talked for a good 30 minutes. He asked me to email him the biopsy while I was on the phone with him so he could see it. Honestly, I got more out of him than I'm getting out of my current vet so I'm actually thinking about making an appt with him to handle Zoe's care for the remainder of her days. He said he knows my current vet, and he didn't say anything bad about him. But I get the impression that he's very busy because his communication has been very poor during this situation with Zoe, and I haven't been bugging him at all. After he gave me the news last Tuesday, I called his practice the next day and left a message for him to call me because I had questions regarding what we were going to do. He never called me back, and instead answered a few questions for my wife when she took her last Friday to have the sutures from the biopsy removed.

When Zoe's old vet called me yesterday, he said that there is no fix for Zoe's situation, which I understand, but he did offer some clarity on where we go from here. He said surgeries of any sort, with this type of cancer, age of the dog, and location of the tumor can turn south real quick. He said healing is the biggest battle. He said the first thing he would do is a chest xray. He said if it has spread to her chest, there is no reason to spend another dime on anything. By the time he called me back yesterday, I had already canceled Zoe's surgery that was supposed to be today. He said that was ok for now, that he would not do any surgery yet. But he said the issue that has to be addressed is the dead necrotic tissue, that it can't be left there, and that we would have to do something about it.

What have you guys done regarding dead/necrotic flesh? Is surgery the only option? I've attached some pics of what it currently looks like. She's still her happy old self, tail wags, eats 2 meals day, poops good. But I need to handle this tissue issue next.

I hope this post makes sense as i'm typing it on my phone. I am exhausted. All of this seems like a bad dream. It seems like I've known of her cancer for a month now, and I just found out last Tuesday.
 

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So basically the tissue issue I'm guessing will be up to the vet as they would know best. I think a lot depends on how bad and location. My gf's Rottie had the same thing just last week. The vet told us he can shave the the area (on her neck) but that it will never heal, will have to be re-dressed a couple times a day, and that at the most would giver her another 2 weeks which she would be in severe discomfort. So we made the decision to let her go peacefully. So I would take your vets advice and ask a lot of questions. Im thinking each case is different. Best of luck to you Brian.
 

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Glad to hear you took my suggestion for a second opinion. The opinions your old Vet brought up are on Par with the replies from people here. When you first mentioned the dead necrotic tissue; I had just "assumed" that the Vet you've been going to addressed it. Necrotic tissue needs to be treated immediately if the dead tissue is not falling off on its own. I've had two pets suffer from this. One on the tail. The other on his leg. Your Vet will try I.V anti-biotics first. Usually clindamycin or amoxicillin-clavulanate. If severe the treatment is a surgical debridement (different methods) and then open wound care using debridement dressings, with manuka honey or sugar. Don't wait! Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious and potentially fatal infectious condition that requires a high index of suspicion to be applied, along with early, aggressive intervention in order to achieve optimal outcome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
How much time do you think I have based on the above pictures? Those pictures were taken two days ago. He did put her on an atibiotic on Aug 7th, and she ran out the day before yesterday. They are aware that she is out because I called and told them yesterday. I also sent the attached email. I am leaning towards going back to my old vet, but I think he said he would be gone after tomorrow until the middle of next week. There are other vets at that practice though who she could see until he gets back. This current vet who has treated her since this thing started is not responsive at all. He did the biopsy on Aug 10th, results came back last Tuesday Aug 17th, and then they scheduled the surgery today for the 26th. I've attached the email I sent to him yesterday, and still haven't heard anything. I am about to call up there, and then i will make a decision on what to do. I feel like I am living in the twilight zone.
 

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Don't wait NF is fast moving.
I would always try to use antibiotics based on the results of a culture and sensitivity – try to take a tissue sample for culture, as this is more likely to be representative of the infection that is causing the problem rather than a surface contaminant. If the infection is causing inflammation and swelling of the tissue surrounding the wound, pyrexia and signs of systemic infection, or the animal is immunosuppressed in some way, then it is likely to need systemic antibiotics. Topical antibiotics are unlikely to remain at appropriate concentrations on the wound surface for long
Not only do you have to worry about all the "bad" NF causes. But you also have an open wound you now need to be concerned about. Your vet would choose antibiotics based on cytological appearance and gram stain. Once the veterinarian has sensitivity testing results, the antibiotic may be changed. Certain bacteria only respond to certain anti-biotics which are mostly administered intravenously. I don't think/assume the anti-biotics given on the 7th were for NF. Until the results come in he might choose a broad anti-biotic specific to NF. Then a more specific anti-biotic based on the results. There is no way anyone can give you any time frame based on pictures.
In the meantime. Simple steps can help reduce the impact of the infection or even treat the infection. The use of Manuka honey as a wound dressing has become very popular. There are some data supporting its use in wounds and it is available as a veterinary licensed product. The honey contains bactericidal agents that are not affected by resistance patterns; it also provides osmotic debridement of the wound surface, maintains hydration of the healthy parts of the wound and to top it all, has some analgesic effects.
 
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