First round of chemo (Day 7 post op)

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As we progress through recovery our “old man” (said with all the affection and love) continues to amaze everyone. Several individuals at the vet clinic have come over to say they didn’t think he would do so well after surgery and that they are so glad we forged ahead. I will forever be in awe of the resiliency of dogs. If only us humans could be more like them.

Chemotherapy is such a hard decision. There are so many factors that go into it — of course there is the money part (a sad but true reality for veterinary medicine) and also the (even harder) “what is fair for my pet” part. I learned some interesting things about veterinary chemotherapy from our oncologist that I wanted to share.

When most of us (myself included) think of chemotherapy we think of very sick people — loosing their hair, getting mouth sores, unable to get out of bed, extreme nausea and other gastrointestinal upset among other terrible side effects. I was surprised to learn that this is rarely the case for dogs and definitely not the goal. The main reason is because veterinarians don’t use the same high doses and frequencies  for the chemotherapy drugs for dogs that are used for humans. There are two reasons for this – (1) those side effects just wouldn’t be fair for dogs. (2) with point (1) in mind, the goal is usually not to fully cure dogs of their cancer, but rather to prolong the time until the cancer recurs or spreads. Sometimes we get lucky … but because the goal is to prolong the “disease free time” we can use lower doses and thus hopefully avoid so many side effects. Our oncologist told us that she doesn’t even usually need anti-nausea medications for her patients, but of course we have them if needed!

Day 1 of chemotherapy (carboplatin) is behind us and we will be carefully watching him and getting recheck blood counts performed every week to make sure his immune system doesn’t take too much of a hit and to see when his personal “right” time is for round 2.

Resting in his “kennel”. His crate was always his safe place, but we had to modify it post amputation as we were afraid that he would get stuck in it … luckily in his old age his bed and moveable ex-pens give him the same “safe zone” feeling

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Post-Op Day 5 and 6

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The resiliency of dogs continues to amaze me. As you can see below, G is not only getting into a good “hopping groove” but he’s getting to enjoy the “little things” in life. We may not be hiking any mountains anytime soon … but that doesn’t mean we can’t lay in the sun, hang out in the grass and appreciate simply being together. These may be our “new normals” but that doesn’t make them bad.

We are finally starting to breath a sigh of relief. His appetite has been great, he’s getting around well and has almost broken into a run a few times. Grover is known for being absolutely maniacal about incisions in the past. He will even use the EDGE of an E-collar to scrape them open! What skill.  This incision is an important one though and we are watching him like a hawk to try and prevent him from doing damage.

We are watching his diet closely.  Our veterinarians said the fact that he was already so lean likely played a roll in how well he recovered and that veterinarians are now realizing that obesity has a more negative impact on recovery from amputation than actual size of the breed. Our activity level has dropped dramatically so it’s up to us humans to make sure G’s calorie intake drops too … it’s so hard when we want to smother him with treats! Unfortunately, obesity in pets is a real problem. Over half of the dogs in the US are obese and this can have serious effects on their health, mobility and ability to recover from major surgery. Did you know that if you are working to get weight off your pets, many vet clinics will let you stop in to jump on the scale for free? It’s can be a great tool to help us keep our dogs on track. Dog food is a hot topic these days and one we don’t really want to dive into … but we will advocate for keeping your pet lean regardless of what you feed them! Here is a website that offers information about pet obesity, tips and hints if you are like us and need to watch the pounds: 

Grover getting his groove on:

Getting some sun time in the grass