When our beloved Golden Retriever was diagnosed with cancer, we assumed it was a death sentence. Turns out we were wrong.
It started as a limp…
It was October of 2005, Thanksgiving Day in Canada. My husband and I were walking our two dogs in one of our favorite parks when our six year old Golden Retriever, Kinsey, jumped over a large tree root and started limping.
At first we weren’t overly concerned – we assumed that she probably had a mild muscle strain since she didn’t appear to be in much pain. However, when the limp did not get better over the next few days, we took her into the vet to have her checked out. Our initial concern was that it might be hip dysplasia, a common ailment in retrievers. Our vet thought differently – he could feel a lump in her leg, and thought it might be swelling from a sore knee. He told us to ice it for a week to see if that helped.
It didn’t. Her limp got worse until she stopped using the leg altogether. Our once healthy, energetic retriever could no longer walk more than a block at a time, and had to be carried up the stairs. We took her back for an x-ray, leaving her at the clinic for the day because she had to be sedated.
It looks like cancer…
When we went to pick her up, our vet gave us the news. There was a growth on the bone that looked like cancer.
We were devastated. Our 15 year old cat had passed away earlier that year, and we were not ready to face the loss of another pet. The facts were grim: it was most likely osteosarcoma, which accounts for about 85% of bone cancers in dogs. Amputation is the only real treatment option available, and even then the cancer is usually fatal in 6 months to a year.
A lot of literature suggests that a bone biopsy should not be done if x-rays show an obvious tumor because it just means putting your pet through additional pain. However, another vet who happened to be visiting our clinic at the time thought that the tumor on the x-ray looked somewhat atypical of osteosarcoma. Based on that, we decided to go ahead with a biopsy just in case it wasn’t cancer. When the results came back, it was not osteosarcoma. What Kinsey had was a malignant plasmacytoma.
Published in: Pets