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15 year old Pomeranian with enlarged heart and grade 4-5 heart murmur.
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7 June 2016 - 4:56 pm
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I have a 15 year old Pomeranian mix Sarah. She has an enlarged heart and grade 4-5 heart murmur. Our story began in the middle of Feb. Sarah started to become very restless at night. She wasn’t sleeping very much and neither were we. There were no other symptoms, so I just assumed it was arthritis since she is 15 years old.

I decided to upgrade her bed to a memory foam hoping that would help, but it didn’t. I do want to state here, that over the last 2 years since I started grooming her, I noticed that whenever I would stretch her left leg out to groom her leg, she would pull back really hard as if I was hurting her. As time went on, every time I would groom her, that leg seemed to be getting more and more sensitive. Other than that, she was fine. There wasn’t any limping or anything out of the ordinary. She ran up and down the stairs. If she didn’t get a running start, then she would struggle a little bit to get up the stairs. I really thought it was just her age, but two of the vets we saw, said it could have been coming for a while but just became aggressive as of recent days.

Then sometime early March, Sarah woke up one day and could not jump onto the couch or run up and down the stairs. Two weeks later she begin to limp and also begin to show signs of urinary problems with blood in her urine. I immediately thought it was bladder stones again. She had surgery to remove bladder stones when she was 9, and the symptom were exactly the same. Limping and not being able to clime up stairs or jump onto the couch. Well, there weren’t any bladder stones, only a really bad UTI. They started her on antibiotics and during the 4 weeks she was on the Clavamox, her limping got worse. Bladder infection cleared up, but her limping progressively worsened.

During the night on April 10, Sarah got up to get water which was really unusual for her. She fell going down the stairs. We woke up and went downstairs to get her. When we got downstairs, she was drinking water but we noticed she was holding her leg out to her side. She didn’t seem to be in anymore pain than she had prior to falling down the stairs. Her leg wasn’t swollen and the bone appeared straight so I didn’t think it was broken.

Two days later on Tuesday 4/12, I noticed a small bump on the inner part of her left leg, between the knee and ankle.  It was the size of a dime around. Because money is really tight right now, I decided to take her to a non-profit organization called Planned Pethood in Zephyrhills, FL. The vet said he didn’t think it was broken. He put her on Vetprofin and wanted me to crate her for 7 days.  During the 7 days, the bump began to grow, so I didn’t wait the full 7 days.  

On Friday 4/15 I took her into the vets office to have them x-ray her leg. The vet said there was something there, and recommend I take her to a specialist. We left that office and drove straight to an emergency vet. The vet there said there was something eating away at her bone and that it could be a number of things, but she was leaning toward it being Osteosarcoma. The thing that confused everyone was one, she is a small dog, two, it was in her lower leg, and three, it was in the back leg. She told me that this types of cancer are usually found in large breed dogs and are usually on the upper part of the front limb. She recommended I take her to a specialist.

That night we decided to go onto the web to search for natural supplements that would target the cancer. We found a supplement called Life Gold from a website called petwellbeing.com. When Sarah was diagnosed with the heart murmur last year and the vet wanted to start her on two different heart meds, we decided to try the natural supplements first, and this is when we found that website.  

Sarah has been taking the Young At Heart since her heart murmur diagnosis and she seems to be doing fine. When we read the reviews for the Life Gold, we were very impressed and decided to order the cancer support formula. We opted for the 2 day delivery so we could start her on it right away.

Two days later, on Sunday night, Sarah began to cough really bad.  I thought it might be either her heart since she has a heart murmur, or lung mets.  She seemed to have decline quickly in two days, and we really thought we were going to have to put her down on Monday.  We prayed and told her to hold on.

On Monday morning, her cough seemed better, and by Tuesday morning it was significantly better than it had been on Sunday. The supplements came in at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, and we gave her a dose before taking her to the vet.  Money is tight for us right now and we did’t have the funds to take her to a specialty clinic, so we took her back to the vet that treated her for the UTI.  

The vet looked at the x-ray and immediately said she was 95% sure it was osteosarcoma. She heard Sarah’s cough and urged us to put her on heart meds, but our gut feeling was to keep her on the supplements and not to put her on the heart meds. This vet told us that she didn’t feel like Sarah was a candidate for amputation because of her age and her heart. She also said Sarah had a hairline fracture. She didn’t feel like any vet would risk putting her under anesthesia, and if we were not going to do chemo, then it would be a waste of time. She told us to take her home and say our goodbyes over the next week or two, and then bring her back to have her put down.  

Sometimes you just have to follow your heart and do what your gut feeling is telling you to do. We left there and decided to plug away with the supplements. By the end of the week Sarah’s cough was gone and her energy she had was incredible. We continued to watch her leg. Even though the bump continued to grow, and she was not able to bare weight on her leg, she was still eating well and following me around the house. We decided to take her back to Planned Pethood to see if they would amputate her leg because the bump was growing fast and she was in pain.  

The vet we saw that day said according to her x-ray, it didn’t look like the typical bone cancer with the the starburst pattern. He wanted to rule out fungal and bacterial infection, so he started her on Clavamox and Ketoconazole. He gave her a 3 weeks supply. She was on the medications for a week and became very lethargic. I called Planned Pethood and the technician said the doctor wanted me to stop all the medication because it was not agreeing with her. At that time we decided to take her in to see another vet there, Dr. Ertel.  Dr. Ertel reviewed the x-ray and said that he felt it was cancer and that it had already eaten through that bone. He felt confident that she would do well having the surgery for amputation. Of course with her age and her heart condition, he said she was more at risk than a younger dog with no heart condition. He did say he felt she would do fine. He told me that they usually start the iv anesthesia to get them to sleep right away in order to place the trachea tube down the throat, then they switch them to gas. Because of Sarah’s age,  he said he would use gas the whole time. He said it will take her about 5 – 10 minutes longer to fall asleep, but that was safer for her. He also said he would let me be part of her recovery. He said as soon as she starts to wake up, they would get me and let me hold her while she is waking up.

They scheduled her surgery for Monday 5/23.  Now I have to say, because this is a non-profit organization, the facility isn’t fancy or upscale, but the hearts of the vets, the technicians and all of the people that work there are very good. They were very compassionate and patient with me. Before I get to the surgery day, I do want to say that the week before surgery, Sarah seemed to be in a lot of pain. She wasn’t eating as well as she had been, and she was sleeping most of the day and the nights were getting harder. The only place she felt most comfortable, was on the couch, so my husband and I alternated nights. It was unbelievable how fast this thing was growing.

From 4/12 to 5/23, the bump had grown from the size of a dime around, to the size of a half of golf ball, and it appeared to be wrapping around the top of her leg. She seemed to have lost all movement in her lower leg. Now surgery day. We were nervous, but ready to have this behind us. The technician who’s name is Tonia, was absolutely amazing! She had assured me that she would take very good care of Sarah. She also assured me that Dr. Ertel was the best. She takes her own pets to him. She had just adopted a new Pomeranian and brought that beautiful little beauty to work with her that day so that my husband and I could hold her and watch her while Sarah was in surgery. What a help that was for us.

Before we knew it, Sarah was out of surgery and in recovery. The whole procedure from the time they took her back to the time they called us back, was only about 1 hour. Tonia said that she did amazing. Sarah’s vitals stayed exactly where they were supposed to throughout the surgery, and her color looked really good. Dr. Ertel said she did surprisingly well. We were brought back to a room where Tonia placed Sarah in my arms. Before she let me hold her, she asked me if I was prepared to see her incision. Since I had seen so many videos and pictures on the internet, I was prepared to see the incision. I recommend anyone going through this to really take the time to view videos and picture of post op amputations. It really does help you to prepare.  It’s not easy looking at it for the first time, but I assure you it gets easier. As I am writing this, we are a two weeks post op, and are really it’s getting easier to look at. You will be okay once you see your fur baby feeling so much better.

Tonia placed Sarah in my arms and within 15 minutes, Sarah was wanting to get down. She was whimpering and shaking from the anesthesia, but they said that was normal.  he doctor said it was okay to let her walk if she wanted to walk. Between being under the anesthesia and the morphine type drug they gave her, she was staggering, but she headed straight for the door to get the heck out of there. Within 1 hour were on our way home with her. The whimpering continue until late that night.

During the night when the anesthesia wore off, Sarah started to cough, and it was HORRIBLE. I cannot express just how HORRIBLE it was. Sarah coughed all day and all night for 5-6 days straight, pretty much without a break.  Then after that, she would have short periods…very short periods of no coughing. Shortly after that she would only cough if she got excited or ate.  The cough was due to the irritation in her throat from the trachea tube. Oh my God was it HORRIBLE!!!  No one had prepared us for this, the reason being, is that most dogs only cough a little for a few days.

Well, a few days into it, we took her back to the vet’s office and he gave her a steroid injection that was supposed to last for a few days. It was slightly better, but it didn’t take it away and the nights were brutal.  One girl there at the office said there are times where it will last 10 days or more. Sarah’s cough lasted 10 days. Every now and then she’ll make a weird sound when she barks, but it is still improving. I searched the internet to try to figure out what the cough sounded like. I watched many videos of heart coughs, reverse sneeze, kennel cough, tracheal calapse… you name it, I searched it. Her cough sounded like all of them. There were times it sounded more like a honk, and then there were times it sounded like a pig snorting. It was awful.  

As far as the amputation goes, she was doing well within 2 days.  A few days after the surgery, while her staples were still in, the chihuahua that lives across the street was in our yard.  When Sarah saw him, she darted after him, forgetting she only has three legs.  She ran after him snorting just like a pig and the chihuahua didn’t know what was after him lol.  Other than not wanting to go up the stairs or down the stairs, she’s doing really well.  Her staples were removed 11 days after surgery, but she still has resolvable stitches that will dissolve within 6-8 weeks.  She really seemed happier the day the staples were removed. This is when she really started to act like her old self again.

I really wanted to post our story so that anyone who has a senior dog with a significant heart murmur, and enlarged heart could feel some level of peace about allowing your senior baby to have the surgery. I searched the web looking for something to hold on to, but I never found a story that resembled ours. We strictly went on our gut feeling and made the decision to have the amputation done.  I cannot express, how happy we are that we decided to have the amputation done.

We have our little girl back and it is WONDERFUL!!!  Because Planned Pethood is a non-profit organization, the total cost of blood work, surgery, pain meds and antibiotic was only $272.00  This website is so awesome, and Benny55 was amazing to talk to when we were contemplating having the surgery done. There are some great people on this site.  Thank you Benny55 for taking the time to ease my fears and thank you for checking in on Sarah. 

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 June 2016 - 7:41 pm
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Wow! We can’t thank you enough for sharing Sarah’s story, what a long road you all traveled. That’s a lot of health situations to deal with and you all handled it like a champ. I’m sure your pack is stronger than ever because of it.

We’re thrilled that you made it through the long and challenging journey and are happy for you all. Thank you for sharing, Sara’s story will definitely bring comfort to those in similar situations.

We’d love to see photos, here’s a post about adding images to the Forums!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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7 June 2016 - 8:41 pm
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Sooooo glad you posted today! Sarah…and you…are truly an inspirational team! You have proven yet again that age is just a number! You also have proven the power of knowing your dog best and following your gut.

Considering all of Sarah’s…er…”challenges”, you made an extremely difficult and outrageous decision, a decision made out of love. It is obviously is a decision Sarah agrees with.heart

Thank you for taking the time to chronicle Sarah’s journey. It is such an important story thst will have a beneficial impact for anyo e facing this journey………………….especially seniors with heart murmurs and an enlarged heart! Such a story of hope!

Thank you for the privilege of getting to know Sarah and the deep love you share with her. You’re doing an excellent job of savoring the bliss of living in the moment with Sarah!

Sending you lots of love and hugs!

Benny 55! (Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!)
.

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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8 June 2016 - 4:24 am
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What a wonderful story!  So glad Sarah is doing well!

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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8 June 2016 - 7:40 am
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jerry said
Wow! We can’t thank you enough for sharing Sarah’s story, what a long road you all traveled. That’s a lot of health situations to deal with and you all handled it like a champ. I’m sure your pack is stronger than ever because of it.

We’re thrilled that you made it through the long and challenging journey and are happy for you all. Thank you for sharing, Sara’s story will definitely bring comfort to those in similar situations.

We’d love to see photos, here’s a post about adding images to the Forums!  

Thank you Jerry said!  I would love to post pictures of Sarah, but I’m having a hard time figuring it out.  Other than fb, I don’t have any pictures online.  I hope to figure it out soon.  In the meantime, my avatar picture is Sarah about 2 weeks before her surgery.  

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8 June 2016 - 7:43 am
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Thank you Benny55!  I finally figured out how to post our story.  Thanks for your help!  I am now trying to figure out a way to post  pictures of her.  I hope to be able to figure it out soon.  

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8 June 2016 - 7:46 am
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otisandtess said
What a wonderful story!  So glad Sarah is doing well!  

Thank you otisandtess!  

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8 June 2016 - 7:49 am
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benny55 said
Sooooo glad you posted today! Sarah…and you…are truly an inspirational team! You have proven yet again that age is just a number! You also have proven the power of knowing your dog best and following your gut.

Considering all of Sarah’s…er…”challenges”, you made an extremely difficult and outrageous decision, a decision made out of love. It is obviously is a decision Sarah agrees with.heart

Thank you for taking the time to chronicle Sarah’s journey. It is such an important story thst will have a beneficial impact for anyo e facing this journey………………….especially seniors with heart murmurs and an enlarged heart! Such a story of hope!

Thank you for the privilege of getting to know Sarah and the deep love you share with her. You’re doing an excellent job of savoring the bliss of living in the moment with Sarah!

Sending you lots of love and hugs!

Benny 55! (Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!)
.  

Thank you Benny55, and thank you for helping me figure out how to post Sarah’s story.  I’m still trying to figure out how to use this forum.  I want to post pictures of Sarah, but it may take me a little bit of time to figure it out.  

Livermore, CA




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8 June 2016 - 9:10 am
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Here are the directions for adding photos to your forum posts.  They do have to be hosted on line- an easy way is to start a blog and upload the pictures there.

Until you figure it out I would be happy to post some pictures for you.  I’ll send you a PM with my email address.

Oh, and welcome and thanks for sharing Sarah’s story.  I’ve only made it to 15 once with one of my pugs- how amazing that your girl is doing so well at her age with all her challenges. My first tripawd was a rear amp pug named Maggie who lost her leg to mast cell cancer.  I now have a pug mix named Elly who also is missing a back leg but in her case it was due to an accident.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Minneapolis, MN
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12 June 2016 - 11:06 am
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Wow – what a story!  Amazing – Planned Pethood sounds amazing, too!  So glad your little Sarah is doing so well!!

Lisa, Minneapolis

On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly.  His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.

Blog: Pofi, Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor Amputation

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13 June 2016 - 5:06 am
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Thank you!

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13 June 2016 - 5:47 am
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Lovely Story, Sarah is absolutely gorgeous! I am interested in your experience with supplements, are you still using the Life Gold and Young at heart? I’ll take a look at the website you mention but always good to get experience first hand 🙂

Zuki Wuggafer 30/09/06 - 11/11/16. Right hind tripawd due to Osteosarcoma. He had a strong 5 and half months as a tripawd but unfortunately a secondary issue with his spine ended our battle. He loved life, loved our family and was the best dog I could ever ask for. Truly my first love, forever in my thoughts and heart.

Read our story: http://zuki.tripawds.com/

Livermore, CA




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13 June 2016 - 9:25 am
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Get ready for CUTE!

Sarah’s mom sent me these pictures to post:

Sarah and kitty

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Norene, TN
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13 June 2016 - 9:28 am
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Awwww . . .heart

Harmony became a Tripawd on 10/21/14 (MCT). She left us way too soon on 11/1/14.

"We miss you so much; our love, our heart, our Harmony."

- Pam, Ron and Melody, Meesha, Doublestuff and Mariah Carey

Los Angeles, CA
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13 June 2016 - 9:36 am
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CUTE!!! 

Shelby Lynne; Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. Proud member of the April Angels of 2014.

October 15, 2000 to April 8, 2014

Our story: Broke rear leg in June 2013 - non-conclusive results for cancer so leg was plated and pinned. Enlarged spleen in September 2013 and had it removed and was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma and started chemotherapy. Became a Tripawd January 8th, 2014 and definitive Hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. Three major surgeries in 7 months and Shelby took them all like a champ only to lose her battle to cancer in her brain. We had 8 amazing extra months together and no regrets. #shelbystrong #loveofmylife

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