My doberman Dolce is not doing good....:( - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-17-2013, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Ontario, Canada
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My doberman Dolce is not doing good....:(

Hello everyone. I am not sure why I am posting something on here, maybe I just need to get it out of my system. I will try my best to keep it short...

Meet Dolce, my 7 ½ year old doberman. Dolce has been in my life since she was 13 weeks old. We've lived a great 7 ½ years together so far and I would not trade my little Dolce for a million dollars. The reason why I am writing today is because I found a huge lump(probably the size of a large grape) on Sunday in my dog’s mouth. The lump/tumor is located on her bottom left jaw between her canine and pre-molars. I took her to the vet this morning who advised it is most likely epulis and from what she can feel, seems like it could already be attached to her jaw bone as well. I’d like to add I took Dolce to my vet on June 7th, she inspected her mouth sitting on the floor with my dog and did not see anything. I went to a new vet this morning since my regular vet left me under the impression that all she cared about was her fees and not my dog’s well-being(that’s another story). My new vet was very nice, spent at least 45 minutes with us and advised she could refer Dolce to an orthopedic surgeon if we wanted, but advised me the cost of surgery would be a minimum of $2000.00 and did not seem to push into that direction at all…

Another option she offered was the clinic owner(which is also a vet) could attempt to de-bulk the tumor in Dolce’s mouth(instead of sending her to a specialist to have the whole thing removed, jaw bone scraped and possibly removed or reconstructed…), which means she would not be cured but would only remove the bulk of the tumor, they would not scrape on the bone, so therefore would possibly only extend her life a little…. She advised that the clinic owner would have to look at her in the first place and agree to do it (if he feels it could help) or that he may just say no(if he feels it will not do any good).

For now, she said we can go home as Dolce is not in pain, she eats, she drinks, she plays as usual but to go and see her if anything changes.

My head feels like it’s spinning right now... I feel the tumor will be bigger before I know it and I will have to make one of the hardest decisions in my life at that point. Here I am crying as I am typing just thinking about it…The clock is ticking. I just feel I am not anywhere near ready to say good bye to my best friend. Just looking at her, thinking she may not be here in a month or two makes me cry…. I know I have to do what’s best for her. I don’t want to put her through surgery if it will not help or if it’s truly not fixing the problem, then I'd feel somewhat selfish… Any thoughts, did anyone ever deal with this?

Here is a few pix of Dolce. I thought I'd share, after talking about her. The photo of her opening the door was when we lived in Florida, she did open the door herself to go in and out. The last pic is the suspected epulis. I have discovered in her mouth Sunday. Sorry the photo may be a little graphic for some people…
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Dolce puppy- pointy (44.9 KB, 49 views)
File Type: jpg Dolce and I in the pool.jpg (46.1 KB, 46 views)
File Type: jpg Dolce in florida.jpg (67.6 KB, 45 views)
File Type: jpg DOlce opening the door florida.jpg (40.9 KB, 48 views)
File Type: jpg Dolce in leafs.jpg (71.5 KB, 45 views)
File Type: jpg Dolce at the parc.jpg (80.0 KB, 47 views)
File Type: jpg Dolce1.jpg (60.3 KB, 50 views)
sxybeemr is offline  
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-17-2013, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Minnesota
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Oh my goodness, I've never seen anything like that! I think, was I in your position (We almost had to make that very difficult decision recently too) this is what I'd do.

A doberman's life span is 10-11 years. He's 7 you said, so was he all good and healthy, he'd have 3-4 years left with you. How healthy is he otherwise? Would the surgery be worth those years?

When we brought our dog in for a leg injury, we weren't sure what was going to come if it. He's a 200 pound mastiff with arthritis in his back hips. He's 9 years old - and mastiffs only live 8-10 years at best. I thought he had just pulled a muscle slipping when he got out of the bathtub, but after a day he collapsed and couldn't walk on it. So, to the vet we go.

This was what we had planned. He is 9 years old. If he had broken something, and needed surgery on a back leg, we wouldn't do it. It would be incredibly painful recovery with him already having arthritis in his hips, and he's only got about another year with us. We did not want his last year to be spent in pain from a surgery. Was he younger, we'd have done it in a heartbeat (I won't tell you how much we spent trying to save our last dog, a 4 year old mastiff. We probably could have bought a nice used car...)

If it was something else, great! And it turned out to be. He ripped a muscle, and was put on some painkillers and anti-inflammatory. THAT he can handle, and today he's doing awesome.

The question is, is 4 more years worth a surgery? Is the surgery guaranteed (if they do the jaw scrape?) Or would it be unfair to him? My mother used to be a vet tech, and jaw scrapes (they did more than one) are quite non-traumatic, since the skin and gums are very close to the bone as it is. It wouldn't be a difficult recovery. Is it cancerous? Or just a random lump?

She is a GORGEOUS dog. If I knew 2000 bucks could give me 3/4 more years with my old boy, I'd to it in a heartbeat. But if there is a chance of it not working, or just growing back... You'll have to weigh out the pros and the cons. I'm so sorry you're going through this, and I wish you the best.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-17-2013, 07:46 PM
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She is a lovely dog. I hope you get the answers you need to make a good decision.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-17-2013, 08:23 PM
Green Broke
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You have indeed been put in a hard place. I would be prone to allow the older vet (clinic owner) to have a look at her and see what he or she says. Before any surgeries I would have her radiographed to make sure there aren't tumors elsewhere.
Lots of love, I have a Dobie as well and they are indeed special animals.
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-17-2013, 11:46 PM
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I would have the vet speak honestly with you about what this is, and if you have the full procedure done what are the chances that this could come back, what sort of quality of life would this give her after it was over.

If doing this means she can live out the rest of her life healthy and happy, I would do it. It's a buttload of money, but if it means another 4 or 5, maybe more, years with your girl...
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-18-2013, 01:50 AM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: North Carolina
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Is there a vet school near you? If there is one within 100 miles or so maybe you could get a referral and go have a consult. They may be able to do a scan or biopsy and give you a definite diagnosis and prognosis for her. I'm lucky enough to live near one now and I'll never use any other emergency clinic again. They're definitely up to date on the latest treatments and they're honest with you, if your animal doesn't have a chance for a good recovery they'll explain that to you too.
I have a red Dobie now and they are so sweet I can't bear to think of going through what you are now.
My boy is 6 yrs old now and it's already crossed my mind that large dogs don't live as long as the little ones do. If I had to deal with that now I'd probably get a second opinion with a vet school or a specialist and go from there. I've left the vet school crying because we made the decision not to proceed with surgery following a cat scan, although they couldn't have been kinder with the euthanasia, and we've left happy and relieved because an emergency clinic in another city was talking cancer but gave us the referral we needed to go to the vet school that night and we drove 2hrs and they diagnosed swelling in the spine that was pressing on a nerve and gave the steroids and anti-immlamatories and our guy was walking again the same night.
Good luck, I'll keep you and Dolce in my prayers that you have several more years together.
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-18-2013, 09:26 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Thank you so much for all your responses and support.

To answer your questions Shoebox, surgery would NOT be guaranteed to work. If the clinic owner was to give it a try, there would definitely be no guarantees. Like the vet said, the clinic owner did every surgery under the sun in his life, and if he was to say yes and agree to de-bulk Dolce’s tumor, there would still be some epuli left on the gums. If any is left, it will grow back if it is in fact epuli… Like the vet said, we could also send whatever was removed for a biopsy at that point as well to confirm. We can’t really do a biopsy now, unless we remove the complete tumor as the dog will have to be under general anesthesia if we decide to biopsy, so might as well remove all of it if the dog is under anesthesia at that point….. There is 3 types of epuli, 2 that are not too bad(fibromatous epuli and ossifying epuli), can be removed by taking small margins of healthy tissue and the third one is called acanthomatous epuli. The vet thinks it is the third one due to the location and feel of the tumor. They say for acanthomatous, it is usually on the lower jaw towards the front(rostral region), which is exactly where Dolce’s lump is. The feel of it as well and the fact it is attached to the jaw bone…The good thing is that acanthomatous epuli is usually benign and will not metastasize. The bad thing is that it will locally invade the bone. By feeling it yesterday (and she also went to the back and got a second opinion from another dr), she advised it feels it’s already solidly attached to her jaw bone the other Dr also thought the same thing.... Because it is attached to the jaw bone, she said her clinic did not have the qualifications to do the surgery required(which is why she wanted to refer to specialist).

From what I could read on the internet (I have been doing tons of reading since Sunday), surgery for acanthomatous epuli requires at least 1 cm of normal bone and tissue margins and often necessitate the removal of a portion of the jaw bone to prevent the epuli spread…Some dogs also require some radiation treatments after surgery….. So again, $2000.00 at the specialist is probably a bare minimum I would pay.. Plus x-rays, blood work, dog stay overnight after surgery, possible radiation treatments, possible partial bone jaw removal....

Cakemom, very good idea about the radiograph if I decide to have surgery on her. The only thing is radiographs are $400 + here….. But at least, I’d make sure there is nothing else elsewhere to worry about before proceeding with the surgery.….

One very interesting thing I have discovered on the internet is that some people have had luck by injecting Bleomycin into the epuli itself. This option was never presented to me as I do not think it is a common way of treating it…. I found one website that talks about it….

I do have a well known vet school(university) 1 hour away from home which is nothing. I am lucky to be so close as they have a fabulous reputation in Canada. I have looked at their website on Monday and I believe my vet have to refer Dolce to them. I know someone who took his racehorse there after having issues and had fabulous reviews to say about the students and staff…. Maybe I could e-mail them a little note along with the photo of the epuli? Maybe they could help or offer surgery at a “reduced” cost? Is there such a thing as a vet helping? Reducing cost? I think she could be a good candidate for the students. I’m sure they do not see that on a daily basis…

Dolce has had her share of problems before... She has had pet incontinence since she was 2 years old and takes 3 PPA pills per day. Her meds(PPA pills) for her incontinence alone cost me over $1200/yearly. She also have some soft tissue lumps over her body. I have had two different vets looking at them and was advised not to worry about it, it's fat deposits only. I have talked to my old vet about Dolce being really stiff when she gets up from sleeping r napping. She has a hard time getting up, she is clearly stiff in the joints and hips. She also injured herself in April where I had to take her to the vet and the vet thought she had a thorn ACL. Put her on anti-inflammatory for 1 month and rest for 8 weeks (no going up and down the running..), she still has the occasional so very slight limp.

I have spend $230.00 on Dolce on June 7th vet visit because she kept on sneezing and having a runny nose. I spent $120.00 for yesterday’s visit at my new vet…. I have quit my job as of August 1st to start a new business venture. It is the first time in my life I have “quit” my job and the first time in my life I am starting a business on my own… I have always worked full time. ALWAYS. So in 2 weeks, no more pay cheques for me… Starting up my business is also making me split my pennies in half… I also had to spend over $700.00 for a last minute plane ticket to fly home for a family member’s funeral June 18th…. When it rains, it pours….. and now Dolce…….

Last edited by sxybeemr; 07-18-2013 at 09:36 AM.
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post #8 of 9 Old 07-18-2013, 10:36 AM
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I guess you just have to weigh the options and decide what's best for your pup in the long run. From reading your posts it sounds like you are fully capable of thinking with your head and not your heart.

We just put my dog to sleep in February just short of his 10th birthday. He had osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and the vet suggested removing his leg. Really? Removing the front leg of a 10 year old dog who already has arthritic changes... Yeah right. I would have never put him through that! We made sure his pain was well controlled and he got lots of extra spoiling! Went he was unable to walk on we decided it wasn't fair for him any more.

If it were up to me I'd try to debulk the tumor to give her as many possible good days left. Then maybe you can also get a clearer picture of what your working with reguarding it being benign or malignant.

Good luck to you!
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-18-2013, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Slidestop, I am so sorry to hear about your dog . I would of been shocked as well if the vet would suggest the leg removal of my pet! I would of done the exact same thing in your case. You have to be able to say when enough is enough.

I have sent an e-mail this morning to Guelph University/vet program. I understand they can not treat or diagnose a dog via e-mail but I asked to see if they would be willing to try the Bleomycin injections(if in fact it is acanthomateous epulis) as from my research, the Bleomycin injections seems more like a clinical trial thing at this stage rather than a common method to treat the epulis... I will see what they respond...

I am leaning towards de-bulking as well at my vet clinic(if they agree to do it) once it gets a little bigger, then sending it out for biopsy to confirm). Then I'll have piece of mind that I have done what I could, extended her life a little by de-bulking it....

Maybe I should also in the meantime send an email to my new vet, I'll include the photo of dolce's tumor(so she can show it to the owner) and ask her to talk to the clinic owner now (rather than later) to see if he is willing to de-bulk it or not.... And if so, at what cost? Then I know my options with my vet as well. Like she said, she has no say in this, but the clinic owner will make the decision if he feels it could help. I am happy she was being honest with me and advised me the clinic owner may just say no and refuse to do anything if it will not help, which is a fair answer.

I am looking at all the options.... It's not easy...
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