German Shepherd Dog > The Sorrow of DM and other inheritable diseases (108 replies)
by ggturner on 17 January 2012 - 00:48
|Very sad what Lily went through and how it lead her to switch breeds. Blitzen, I hope you don't give up on our noble breed.|
by starrchar on 17 January 2012 - 03:15
|Lily, I'm sorry you've been through so much. I do understand, after dealing with so many health problems in your GSDs, why you'd want to give up on the breed. I've thought about going in that direction too, even though I've always said that a GSD was the only dog for me. My last GSD, a German SL dog, lived to be 14 years. His main health issue was allergies and I got that under control early on. He also had breast cancer when he was 7 years old. He had a problem with his adrenals for a while too. In the end he had Mitral Valve prolapse and some arthritis of the spine. Overall I think he did quite well. My dog before him was a WL GSD and he had HD and ED. We had surgery done on him and although he was never completely sound, he enjoyed a good quality of life. Still it was heartbreaking when we were going through it. Both dogs had excellent pedigrees and the parents had health screenings and were titled. My present girl, a rescue, has DM. THis is really hard... I am seriously looking at other breeds and it's mainly due to the health issues in the GSDs. That said, I love the loyalty and intelligence of the breed so much. I keep hoping that things will change and the breeders will really start getting incredibly serious about the health of the breed. I know some are, but I'm still gun shy.|
by Blitzen on 17 January 2012 - 04:13
|One of the vets I use told me that when he was in vet school and question asked was - in which breed do you find X disease more frequently than any other, the entire class always answered - German Shepherd - as they knew most of the time that would be the right response.|
by Renofan2 on 20 January 2012 - 21:41
Libby noted earlier in the thread was rushed to the er vet this morning. Xray and ultrasound show extremely large mass on spleen. She is responding well to the pain killers and fluids and blood test show organs are functioning. Lungs look clear. They did a biopsy to determine which type of cancer. Vet told me if it is lymphosycarma (??) it responds well to chemo. Has anyone else had experience with this? I am bringing her home tonight and will decide what to do once the biopsy results come in on Tuesday. My fear is that she could begin to bleed internally and will discuss with the vet before picking her up. I don't want her to suffer but the vet told me she was doing well and was "happy as a lark". Hard to believe based on what she looked like this morning. So please send good thoughts Libby's way. She is a sweet girl and was the first dog I every did any competition and obedience work with.
by starrchar on 20 January 2012 - 22:01
|Renofan, My heart goes out to you. Libby is a beautiful girl and is lucky to have you as her mom. I will certainly send good thoughts your way...and prayers too, for both you and Libby.|
by Renofan2 on 20 January 2012 - 22:18
|Thank you Starrchar. Libby has been thru alot in her life. I picked her up the day after 9/11 and named her Liberty. I ended up with Libby becuase my then 8 year old gsd was diagnosed with a sinus tumor and giving 6 months to live. I believe Libby helped give Reno the will to live as Reno was with me for 6 more years. Libby suffered thru a serious lung infiltration when she was 2, had a cyst removed from her hip at 7, at 8 she bit a cysts off her tail and we went months trying to save it. Unfortunately 1/2 of it had to be amputated. At 9 she bloated and stomach flipped. Now this. Libby is so special. She gave comfort to my Dad when he was dying from cancer and then three years later did the same for my mom. She would jump up on the couch and lay her head on their laps. I remember my Dad talking to her about his illness and what was happening. You could just see how much at ease she made him during a terrible time. I just hope I can give her the comfort that she was able to give them until it is time for me to let her go. At least I know my beautiful Reno and my Mom and Dad will be waiting for her at Rainbow Bridge. I was just coming to terms with her DM diagnosis and preparing myself for losing her in the near future. Just did not realize it would be so soon.|
by Blitzen on 20 January 2012 - 23:47
|Cheryl, I had my first GSD treated for lymphosarcoma, he was only 7 at the time, never again. Vets tend to overstate the prognosis and fail to inform owners that, yes, most dogs do go into remission, but most don't hold it for longer than a few months and then it's back to square one. My dog held his remission for only 6 weeks. A friend had her Sheltie treated at the same time by the same vet, same protocol, his held one week. She opted to treat him again, this time it held 10 days. He was put down a few days later. My dog survived 3 months longer than he did with one treatment. My daughter's Cocker was also diagnosed a few weeks after my dog and the sheltie. She could not afford the chemical chemo so opted for steroids (also considered chemotherapy). The Cocker survived 8 months without being sick from the chemicals.|
The oncologist who treated my dog painted me an optmistic picture. She had Goldens, one of the breeds with the highest incidence of genetic leukemia. She told me her female survived over 6 years with chemo. Later she told me she treated her 3 to 4 times ever year to accomplish that survival rate. Had she told me that initially I would have not had it done. Having said that, to be fair, a very tiny majority of dogs with lymphosarc do maintain a remission for years. Your dog could be one of them.
Depending on the protocol and the dog's response, some do get sick, very sick. Vets don't always disclose that. Some dogs are refractory and do not respond to the first or second treatment, so then the vet has to get out the big guns and go with a rescue protocol. Dogs get sick, they get diarrhea, they vomit, they get very weak. Also a dog undergoing chemo must be very docile and allow strangers to handle him/her.
The owner cannot not be present for some of the drug therapy; some of the drugs are so lethal that they need to be mixed under a ventilation hood by techs who are suited up to prevent absorbing the drug. The dog must also accept the presence of an indwelling catheter and not remove it. From start to finish, depending on the protocol, it takes at least 7, 8 weeks to complete a course of treatment assuming the dog goes into remission. If the white count drops too low, that delays the treatment until the white cells recover. Dogs cannot take the high doses of chemo most humans can tolerate; when they get deathly sick, they just lie down and die. The most you can expect from chemo for any of the leukemias is to put the dog into long remissions, it does not cure the disease.
Another thing vets might not disclose is that during chemo the dog become an immune cripple with absolutely no defense against disease. He is prone to opportunistic infections like fungi, viruses, and bacteria. Exposure to other dogs or to an foreign environment is not advised.
I'm really sorry to hear about your dog. I truly wish I could offer you some encouragement if she does get a diagnosis of lymspharcoma/leukemia. I am the very last person in the world to ever say don't do all you can to save your dog, but in the case of this horrible disease I myself would just go with the steroids and no chemical chemo.
by Abby Normal on 20 January 2012 - 23:57
So sorry to hear your news about Libby. What a beautiful girl, she has such a kind face. A double blow for you, and my heart goes out to you. Here's hoping that you get to spend some good quality time with your lovely girl. Plenty of good thoughts and prayers for you both coming from us here too.
by Renofan2 on 21 January 2012 - 02:01
|Blitzen. That is what I am afraid of. I don't want to put her thru all that but the vet made it sound like she could live another year if she had lymphosarcoma and received chemo. She is also 10.5 years old and has dm. No one mentioned steroids to me. I will ask the vet about them once we get the biopsy results. I picked her up this evening and she is a little better than this morning. She hasn't eaten all day so I tried to get her to eat. I was able to get her to eat 1/4 of a can and got a pain killer in her. They were sending her home without any meds, but I insisted on a pain killer at least. I am a bit confused as she was so sick this morning, fever, etc and now I have her home with no instructions until the results come back and no idea on what I can do to keep her comfortable. They told me tonight the results won't be back now until Thursday. She seems to be sleeping comfortably, but I will keep a close eye on her for signs of pain and discomfort. This morning I was prepared to put her to sleep but then the vet painted a better picture so I changed my mind. Now I am not sure I made the right decision.|
If she declines again like she was this morning, I will do what needs to be done.
Thank you for sharing your story. I needed someone to be straight with me.
Abby normal: Thank you. I appreciate your kind words.
by Crawfish on 21 January 2012 - 02:39
|We had to put Sasha down on 16 December, 2010 because of DM, she was 13. While I was petting her, she turned around and both back legs just gave out. It wasn't the first time, but it was the worst. She could stand on her own. Jeanne and I both knew it was time. In spite of the Tramadol she was in a lot of pain. I tried to stay in the living room with her but that made her too restless, she kept trying to stand up and that hurt her. We both finally went to sleep, and and when I woke up I saw her at the foot of the bed. In spite of the pain, she managed to make it in the bedroom to be next to us. It was the last time she walked on her own. She had a rare nobility.|
by Blitzen on 21 January 2012 - 03:15
I really wish I could be more optimistic, Cheryl. She's 10 1/2 and to extend her life another year would probably take more than one round of chemical chemo, but no one can say that for sure. It's a disgusting disease that takes way too many dogs every year. I put off the inevitable too, cancelled one appt only to reschedule it a few days later.
by hexe on 21 January 2012 - 06:53
|Renofan, I'm so sorry to hear this about Libby...I won't lie to you, I'd just about be willing to bet my paycheck that this is going to come back as hemangiosarcoma, and at the moment, there's really not a heck of a lot that is of any real use in treating that particular type of cancer. The lymphoma treatment is a mixed bag, as it depends on the type of lymphoma involved---if you are going to consider going the chemo route, I suggest you insist on getting the cancer typed before deciding, because unless it's the type that fits the profile the chances are you'll spend a lot of money but not see much benefit to Libby. I know I said I hoped you'd be lucky as I was with Jess, but I certainly never dreamed it could happen so soon after I'd said something like that....|
The other concern I'd have about chemo for Libby would be the effect it could have on the DM--there is reason to view DM as part of the complex of autoimmune disorders, and consequently I'd have to wonder if the chemo for lymphoma would accelerate the DM as it suppresses the normal immune responses, or would it have the opposite effect and slow the progression? That's a question for the oncologists, and even then I'm not so sure they'll be able to answer it with any certainty, either.
(I am wondering if Libby actually does have DM, which I say only because Libby's mother and Hexe's mother were full sisters, and there was definitely no sign of any DM with Hexe throughout her 14 1/2 years...but she DID develop some disc herniation in the lumbar section of the spine at about 10 years of age, and that caused her to have a very, very slight toe drag on her left hind. When I noticed the toe scuffing, I had her looked at down @ Michigan State, and when the ortho specialist showed me the x-rays, it was clear why I was seeing what I was seeing. Things never progressed beyond that slight toe drag until she had a fibrocartilagenous embolism at 13 years old, and even then she managed to regain most of her movement back as she recovered from that. So if you haven't had any *good* x-rays done of Libby's spine, I wouldn't be so quick to rule out some disc degeneration if Libby's gait is off...)
by shepherdhope on 21 January 2012 - 11:14
So sorry to read about Libby. What a girl. Me and my poochies are sending you all the best.
by Quest55 on 23 January 2012 - 23:18
|this post is incredibly sad. I have never had a dog with this horrible disease but I know a friend who just had his dog put down at the age of 12 because of DM. It not a way you want to see your dog leave this world, I just received two of my dogs OFA results (Quest, the dog in my Avatar, and my new female puppy Ara) today and they are N/N (Normal) and I am very happy! I will test all my dogs for this and I hope other breeders use this as a tool to breed healthier dogs. I am very sorry to anyone who has lost a dog to this.|
by NIKKI04 on 26 January 2012 - 03:00
|I lost my beloved Missy to DM on August 26th, 2004 ... I was right there with her.. holding her tight ... I did everything we could for her, prior to that day I remember crying to my vet and asking him when will I know its "time" .. he told me she will tell you.. she had no more fight in her... I used to walk her and hold her up with a towel and carry her up the stairs into the house ...DM is a hideous disease ... my heart goes out to all who posted their stories .. they brought back so many memories ... My current shepherd (Nikki in my avatar) just turned 7 years old and I watch her like a hawk for any signs .. so far so good ... but I do drive myself crazy thinking the worst all the time .. she is just so special to me. I will post some pictures of Missy shortly .. have to transfer them first. A facebook friend of mine just had to put his dog down a few weeks ago from this hideous disease , it's just awful ... Thank you to all for sharing your stories .. for some reason it helps to know we are not alone :)|
by halekahakai on 30 January 2012 - 17:46
by XenaGSDCKC on 09 February 2012 - 04:41
Hello everyone, reading all of your posts has made me smile and cry, not at the same time though.
Thank you for posting your feelings and stories here, it helps to know a person is not alone when dealing with the horrible effects DM has on a loved one. Hugs tight to everyone of you who has watched your loved 4 legged furbaby struggle to get up, be embarrassed after messing on the carpet without knowing it, and still be beside you and try to comfort YOU. My girl here, Xena (named Xena Princess Warrior by my then 7 year old daughter who picked her out at a small kennel in a nowhere little town in my home province of Manitoba) 14 years ago, has been by my side constantly when I allowed her to be (she stayed behind with my husband when I travelled back to Canada when my Dad was ill and passed, then a year later again for just over a month when my Mom passed). She knows ALL my secrets and won't tell a soul, she promised! Together we survived moving together, travelling together, her separation anxiety, her pannus, and now her DM which she was diagnosed with this past May, we tried K laser treatments which I think did help, vitamin supplements, exercise, but the past 2 months have been tough watching my very proud dignified girl go through this. I say this as I pant myself after coaxing her to go potty for the night, she got her back end up with my help as i have been doing this past month but didnt want to make the effort to go down the hallway to the backdoor to go outside,,so I've been helping by supporting her back end and coaxing her forwards. I've read that letting her go is the last kindest gift I could give her, well this friday afternoon she will go to the Rainbow Bridge to be with my loved family who has gone there before her: Coco (terrier x), Magnum (GSD), Cowboy (AQHA), Dixie (terrier x). She will wait for me until she hears me whistle, then along with my other furbabies she will find me, this is my hope anyway. I know I will never have another like her, but her loyalty has been cherished, as she has been my very own personal therapy dog all these years. The feline crew here will miss her, 4 to be exact, my oldest male Kaze had adopted Xena when he was 6 weeks old as his 'Mamma', he would paw at her hip to fluff her up then try to nurse on her hind elbow, silly kitten, all Xena would do would be to moan and pick her head up and look at me "really Mom? your gonna let a cat try n nurse me?" He still fluffed her up, up until a few weeks ago. They always made us laugh. She sure is a treasure to put up with 4 cats! I had better go help her back in the house now, I just want to have my words here to comfort anyone who needs it and for my own memorial to my Sweetheart, I won't tell her good-bye friday afternoon, because I dont believe in good-byes. I will see my Princess later, I promise!
Hugss everyone <3
by Blitzen on 09 February 2012 - 04:57
by hexe on 09 February 2012 - 05:00
|XenaGSDCKC, I'm sorry you made the acquaintence of this disorder, though I am cheered to read that your girl has been with you for 14 years, as that is uncommonly long for this wonderful breed...|
And I agree with you as far as what you'll say to her Friday afternoon...I, too, never say 'Goodbye'; I tell them that I will see them later, when my time comes to join them, and tell them it's OK for them to keep themselves busy while they're waiting for me because I know we'll find each other easily.
I'm glad you found this thread, and you posted your tribute to your Xena Princess Warrior here and shared her with us all. Come Friday afternoon, she'll be rejuvenated in the next realm, with all of her old strength back in her body again, and she'll find joy in that as she waits for your arrival. May the comfort that comes from having loved a good dog provides one's soul help you through the coming sadness.
by shepherdhope on 09 February 2012 - 16:57
|What a girl with a great name. She really is a Warrior Princess. If you look up in the night sky on Friday look for the brightest star playing in the night sky that will be your Xena. She'll be up there with her buddies.|