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Sampson the Rottweiler

Sampson had surgery on Cinco de Mayo

Sampson the Rottweiler

reaction to chemotherapy

August 13th, 2010 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

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Well-we haven’t written in a while because we are having a ruff time.   As a reminder Sampson had his surgery on 5/5/2010, he started chemo on June 11th.    After his 3rd treatment of carboplatnin, he lost his appetite.  He never full regained it. He became really finicky.  Two weeks ago he had a treatment of adriamycin and he had a terrible reaction. He did not eat or drink for 3 days. We spent days at the vet on IV fluids and he seemed to be feeling a little better. The good news is his liver and kidney enzymes are normal.  They thought he might have mets in his stomach and fortunately the sonogram was negative.  Multiple views of his chest were negative.   So upon examination, it seems the cancer has not spread.   We put him on carafate and pepcid and discontinued his Rimadyl since it may be contributing to his gastric upset.   He became so arthritic and weak he could not walk. We have reintroduced the rimadyl over the last 4 days and he is now at a max dose.  He is having a terrible time getting around.  If we put him in the pool he swims and seems fine.  The problem is we pick him up to stand and it seems he can’t hold his weight. Then if he gets going he can walk though it looks painful.  We plan to take him to the vet early next week.  Is this a reaction to chemo, can it make a dog so weak so quickly. It has been 2 weeks since his last treatment, so I thought it would be unlikely that he would still have residual effects of the chemo. He did fine with the first few treatments, but I guess it is cumulative.   Ironically he seems happy when he is not moving.  The lack of appetite is confusing, he will eat, but only certain foods. Yesterday it was chicken, today it is sliced turkey, who knows what he will eat tomorrow.  So maybe he is manipulating us for food, I am a sucker I can live with that. It is this weakness in his legs that concerns me, is it general atrophy from not moving for 2 weeks, arthritis or something else.  Has anyone had similar experiences?   Thanks in advance for your help

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • admin

    Thanks for the update, it’s good to hear from you. Sorry to hear Sampson is having trouble, but there is no law ststing you must complete his chemo treatments if that is what is causing these issues. It’s all about quality of life, remember.

    Swimming is great therapy. But your story reminds us of Jake’s. If you don’t hear from jakesmom, consider sending her a PM in the forums to see if she has any advice.

  • maggie

    Ugh….I feel badly for both you and Sampson. I have no advice for you regarding the chemo reactions as I haven’t taken that route. I hope others will chime in.

    Hugs to you and Sampson,

    Tracy, Maggie’s Mom

  • jakesmom

    Hi Sampson’s Mom,

    I’m so sorry to hear about everything that’s been going on with Sampson… 🙁 He sounds like such a sweetheart!

    Things sound kind of similar to Jake’s story… but Jake never had chemo, and also never lost his appetite until the last few hours of his life.

    Jake started having some issues with his back legs after a while… stiffening and stuff. But swimming always seemed to help, though he’d tire out more quicly than before his diagnosis. But the last few days, he needed more help getting around because it seemed like his back legs (one more than the other) were not doing what his body wanted him to. Jake was on meloxicam instead of Rimadyl (gentler on his tummy) and was also taking pepcid AC.

    But the last few hours of his life, he totally could not get up and was in alot of pain when we tried to get him up. Even high doses of pain meds did not help. He also refused all food, and started to poop and pee while he was lying down. We knew it was over then. Our vet (and other vet friends) all told us that his cancer must have spread to his spine and that it was incredibly painful and nothing more could be done.

    I’m not sure if Sampson is also heading that way or not. It’s very hard to tell… It might just be arthritic changes that have accelerated, it could be due to the cancer spreading to his hips or spine, or somewhere in that location. I guess that an x-ray in that area might help to see. Does Sampson seem to be in alot of pain, or does he just seem sore and achy? Is he on any pain medications like Tramadol, in addition to an NSAID? How is he when he goes swimming? Does he seem more sore when he gets out? If so, I would just shorted his swim time. In Jake’s case, that’s what we did… We just wanted him to enjoy his life as much as he could…

    All I know is that once the cancer reaches the spine, you will definitely know. I hope that’s not the case with Sampson. Let me know how it goes at his vet visit next week.

    Sending you and Sampson a big fat hug!!!

    Angel Jake and Wolfie’s Mom

  • Renee

    Thank you for the quick response. He does well in the pool, but does seem as if he gets more quickly fatigued. His alkaline phosphatase went down from 700 to 200, so I would be surprised if the cancer spread. We did check the chest and stomach for mets and nothing was found. I will ask for a spine and back leg x-ray. That is a great recommendation.
    Sampson definitely seems stiff. What troubles me is when we pick him up to stand, he doesn’t seem to be able to get his footing. He doesn’t seem to be in pain when he is not walking. He seems happy and is sleeping well. It is perplexing.
    Sampson has been taking pepcid and carafate for his tummy.
    He ate one pound of turkey last night. Yesterday it was chicken. So he eats, but he is very particular.
    I will keep you posted.
    Your videos are fantastic. Wolfie is a real sweetheart. I am so glad he found a new and unlikely friend and sibling. Wolfie should be a spokesdog for Sheppard’s. I think it must be great to be a dog or cat in your house.

  • hstanek

    Denali is a rear-amp and has not walked like a proper tripod since she came home from her surgery. They took x-rays of her spine and remaining back leg and found MILD hip dysplasia (we knew that) and MILD arthritis (again, we knew this) – from with the doctors said ‘nothing that should be causing her a significant amount of pain’. Her holistic vet basically said ‘it might be mild, but with the shift of her weight and everything else, it probably is causing her a great deal of discomfort’.

    For her arthritis/hips I now have her on 1500mg glucosamine, Tramadol and she also gets a yucca/alfalfa mix (which in time is supposed to replace the Tramadol from my understanding). I’m HIGHLY considering trying acupuncture for her as well.

    Hopefully in Sampson’s case, it’s just a bad reaction to the chemo, because as others have said, there’s no law stating you need to complete your current chemo treatments and you could switch over to either holistic care, metronomic protocol, or a combination.

    Good luck – hope things improve soon!

  • tazziedog

    It is not unusual for dogs to get sick on the combo protocol (carboplatin and doxorubricin/Adriamycin) and yes the drugs are cumulative. Maybe you could ask your vet if you could drop out the Adriamycin and only do the carboplatin? You could also try giving Cerenia if he seems nauseous.


  • Renee

    Thank you for your comment. This makes me so angry. One of the concerns I had with Sampson is that he is a large, 12 year old dog with arthritis. The veterinary hospital said he would do well. Now they seemed surprised he is not walking well. Don’t they take all of these parameters into consideration for quality of life?

  • Fortis'dad

    I’m so sorry to hear Sampson is having such a rough time. I wish I had something more to add but Fortis’s mobility issues were in large part caused by an injury. I do believe the chiropractic/acupuncture treatments that Rene had recommended to me are making a difference. Fortis has also loss a few pounds which sure can’t hurt. That said, swimming is his only real unassisted freedom. I do try and make Fortis exercise on a daily basis using simple basic reward type methods. Rather than just give him one of the thousands of treats he gets a day I will give a stand command or just about any command that might help him to gain some strength in his rear leg without much risk of re-injuring it. Fortis doesn’t listen as well as he once did but he is a food hound so a little bribery goes a long way. I hope Sampson is just having some arthritic issues that can be worked out and that there is noting more serious going on. Sending lots of positive thoughts your was.

  • Ginger

    Sorry to hear Sampson is feeling “ookie.” Ginger always lost her appetite after chemo, usually for several days. The vet prescribed an appetite stimulant (people med that we got filled at WalMart) that seemed to help. She would only eat hamburger and rice.

    A few weeks ago – she got pretty bad and had to have IV fluids too. Between those, meds for vomiting and diarehea she bounced back in a couple days. Her last 2 rounds of chemo (carbo) have been reduced since her reaction.

    Ginger is on Deramax, as she has arthritis in her back leg. Our vet said that dogs can sometimes become “immune” to those meds so he suggested we switch to Rimidyl if it seems the Deramax is no longer working.

    Hugs to you and Sampson and paws crossed he is feeling better soon.

    Ginger’s Mom – Annie

  • Ron hiit

    I like your fantastic web site, I was searching for this all over.
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  • Renee

    Hi Ron,
    Welcome. What is your story?

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