This Thursday it will be 3 weeks since we had to say goodbye to our sweet Luca due to bone cancer. After he died, Romeo, our 7 yo boxer barely ate, didn’t want to go for walks and was just kind of listless. I assumed he was grieving his best friend that he spent every day of his life with.
Fast forward to this past Sunday. Romeo has always been a little chunky weighing in at 85 lbs. I was thinking to myself that he should be slimming down since he’s been eating less than half of his food most days. I just happened to really look at him and noticed that his abdomen was bloated like a balloon. It must have happened gradually and I was now just seeing it.
I took him to the emergency vet. They don’t allow anyone in the building so they came out to the parking lot and took him in. I was told to wait in my car and they would call me after they examined him. After about a half-hour someone called me and asked if they could do X-rays and told me what the cost would be. I said ok and was told I might as well go home because it would be at least an hour. (I live about 15 minutes away).
The vet called me a while later and told me that his blood work came back good and his physical exam looked good. They decided to do a FAST (Focused Assessment w/ Sonography for Trauma) ultrasound instead of an X-ray. Romeo’s abdomen was full of fluid. The vet took a sample to see what it was. It wasn’t blood but a clear amber liquid. He asked me how much Romeo usually weighs and I told him 85 lbs, but that he hadn’t been eating much lately (I told him the whole sad story of Luca). The vet then tells me that Romeo now weighs 92lbs!!! That’s about 7 lbs of fluid (approx 1 gallon) IF he weighed what he normally weighs. He then asked me if they could drain it. Which I, of course, approved. He told me he can’t tell what’s causing it - it could be anything from congestive heart disease to liver cancer.
My sweet Romeo was at the vet’s office for 6 hours. When I picked him up the vet tech brought him out. Romeo came prancing out like a different dog. I asked how much fluid they drained. He said 8-1/2 quarts. Over 2 gallons!!! That poor dog. I felt so bad that I didn’t notice it sooner. But in my defense, I think it didn’t become noticeable until last weekend. When we got home he ate a bowl of food without coaxing. In the last few days, he’s been eating better and wanting to walk a little more.
So my options are; take him to Minneapolis (150 miles away) to have a regular ultrasound (no vet in my area does ultrasounds) to see if they can find what’s causing it and/or have the fluid sent away to be tested. I spoke to my regular vet yesterday. He told me a vet comes up every other week to just do ultrasounds if I wanted to go that route. He also told me that whatever is causing it (ascites) isn’t good. I asked him if there is any chance that an ultrasound or testing of the fluid would show something that can be cured or even slowed down. He said - No and that after the fluid is drained it will most likely come back. When is anybody’s guess. I told him that we’re just going to watch him and if the fluid comes back we’ll drain it again unless the underlying disease is already causing other issues then it will be time to say goodbye.
I can’t believe this is happening to you … again … right in the middle of your grief over Luca.
I’m just so sorry.
I’m glad that Romeo got a welcome bit of relief from the ascites. I’m hopeful that you find the wisdom to make the right choices, and that there are better days for you and your sweet boy (I remember the picture you posted) to come.
When the old Dachshund had IVDD and was temporary paralyzed, he blew up with piss, cause he couldn’t go. Vet says we gotta squeeze it out of him.
So, I’m out in the yard, holding his hind end up by the base of his tail, and trying to express out a stream of piss out of the poor guy. It occurred to me I must have looked like some kind of crazy bag-piper!
He did recover, and is still with us. But he looks at me funny sometimes.
Our dachshund was just diagnosed with cancer. He’s doing well on the medications they’re treating the symptoms with, but he’s almost 12, so we’re only going to do palliative care. We only rescued him a year ago. It’s breaking my heart, too. He’s such a sweetie…only a smidge of the doxitude.
I’m so sorry. I sometimes wonder why we put ourselves through the heartbreak, but I know why we do it - love. Romeo and Luca were also my therapy when my son died. They had to be fed and walked. They gave me a reason to keep going, a reason to get out of bed every day.
I watch Dr. Jeff (Rocky Mountain Vet). In the last episode, he diagnosed one of his dog patients with cancer. He said something to the effect that it’s hard and it’s sad but they usually don’t outlive us. You love them while you have them. It’s just life.
It’s very often important to ask about tests, ‘what would we do differently based on the result of this test?’ If the answer is either ‘nothing’ or ‘something invasive we don’t want to subject the patient to and it probably won’t work anyway’, then it nearly always makes more sense not to do the test.
ETA: and may he have a happy remission, possibly a number of them if repeated drainings are necessary but each buys a significant amount of good time.
Romeo is not only regal but clearly has the confidence from being well-loved and cared for. I think your decision to drain it again unless the underlying disease is causing other issues is very wise. Every day with him is a gift, but don’t forget that you’ve been a gift to him, too. Hugs to you and Romeo.
Damn. I’m getting real sick of 2020. I’m so sorry to hear about both dogs. Romeo is still with you, and you’re able to see the end coming, so you can really take advantage of your time together - but damn that’s hard. Will continually draining the fluids become cost-prohibitive at some point?
Eventually it would be cost prohibitive to keep draining his fluid, but I don’t think there will be many. I think I see pockets of it coming back already. There are some jiggly areas low on his chest. He’s drinking lots of water and eating snow like crazy when he’s let outside. Yesterday I came home to about a gallon of pee on the floor. He has NEVER had an accident, even when he was a puppy. He was the best, easiest puppy we’ve ever had. He was so smart and learned things so quickly. He never even chewed anything up. We never had to worry about him being home alone, although he was always with Luca so it may have made a difference having a pal.
I want to be optimistic, but I’m not. My husband keeps saying that it could stop. But I know it won’t.
Yea, this year can’t end soon enough. Lord help me if 2021 isn’t better!