Colt has been wheezing mid-eating; like an asthma attack, but not exactly choking for a few months in the beginning of 2023. If I’d give him a cookie at night he’d choke, cough/hack it up.
He lost his voice after we got home from our Europe trip in February. Every time we’d check the cameras at the kennel he was just standing there barking. We just thought that 10 days of barking while being boarded would cause that. But he still hadn’t got his voice back by the end of March.
He’s also been sleeping later in the morning and not eating breakfast. I was frustrated because he wouldn’t eat any of his food.
March 31, 2023 – How We Found Out Colt Was Sick
Colt didn’t get off the bed until 11 a.m. – that is two missed walks, and one missed meal for him. He didn’t even get up for his morning poop. I had Zack call to see if we could get him into the vet that day because something wasn’t right.
I took him to the vet that afternoon and they felt two lumps on each side of his throat and one on his back leg. The vet did a biopsy of one neck lymph node and confirmed it was lymphoma. He sent the blood to a specialist to confirm.
April 3, 2023
The bloodwork came back and verified the lymphoma prognosis. Our vet recommended us to a vet oncology specialist to see how far it’s progressed and treatment options.
April 6, 2023 – Diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma
Colt had his appointment at Veterinary Specialists of North Texas to see how far it’s progressed. Colt has stage 3 lymphoma.
We were given five treatment options:
- CHOP Chemotherapy
- MOPP Chemotherapy
- Single-agent doxorubicin
- Prednisone only
We decided to do the single-agent doxorubicin, which consisted of 5 treatments over 15 weeks. The median survival time is anywhere from three to eight months. Colt had his first treatment that day – we left him there for the afternoon.
He was doing okay – the size of his lymph nodes are smaller on his throat already by the time we got home. But he developed a case of Horner’s syndrome in his left eye.
We took him back to the vet the next day and they said that it caused from his nervous system, but it should go away on it’s own. It probably got inflamed from the chemo.
He is on steroids twice a day. He’s eating normal sized meals. He doesn’t want to walk, but likes to sit outside if we can.
April 9, 2023 – Colt got worse
On Easter, he really went downhill. We made him eggs for breakfast. He took his steroid pill and we gave him the anti-nausea pill. He was laying on the cushion in the living room, then threw up all of breakfast plus food from Saturday.
He then had explosive diarrhea. It was on/off for the rest of the day. I sat outside with him as often as he wanted. He wasn’t eating, so we couldn’t give him any medication.
He stopped eating and barely drank water for most of the day.
April 10 – Colt Went into the ICU
Zack stayed home from work to try to get him to eat. He tried boiling chicken, ice cream, yogurt, wet food, but he turned his nose away. He drinks water, but then throws the water up.
Monday, he continued throwing up water and kept turning his head away from any food. We called our vet, but he is off on Mondays. We finally got him into the specialist around 3 p.m. and they kept him overnight. They hooked him up to IV for fluids and medicines.
April 11 – Colt has MDR1
The vet called me this morning to tell me he hasn’t improved much. She suggested that he might have MDR1, then asked if I had a Wisdom Panel. I was able to find the document from 2016…
Colt has a mutant/normal MDR1 gene.
Compared with normal/normal dogs, dogs with MDR1 mutation are at increased risk for neutropenia (low white blood cells), thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets), and GI adverse effects (vomiting and diarrhea).
Wisdom Panel Details: MDR1, or Multi-Drug Resistance-1 is a genetic mutation that makes them defective in their ability to limit drug absorption and distribution – it is found in many of the herding breeds. These dogs are also slower to eliminate drugs from the body that are normally transported by P-glycoprotein. Dogs with only one copy of the mutation are more sensitive to drugs than dogs with two normal MDR1 genes.
The dose of doxorubicin was too much for Colt and, while working great at killing the cancer cells, was also wreaking havoc on him. 😭
We went at 5 p.m. to visit him. He looks really sad, but he was very excited to see us. He drank almost an entire bottle of water. I brought with four tiny treats in my pocket and he ate them all (but he still isn’t eating otherwise). He will be staying at the vet tonight.
Throughout the day he’s progressed to taking oral medications (instead of through the IV). His diarrhea needs to clear up and he needs to start eating solid food before he can come home.
I brought all these treats to feed him at lunch but he only wanted the tiny treats. The Vet said he can come home later today, but he still has butt issues.
We picked him at 5 p.m. and have setup his kennel in our bedroom so we can hear if he wakes up. If he has any issues overnight we put training pads under a fleece blanket.
Caring for a Sick Dog
Colt loves to jump up on the couch, but we didn’t want him to have any leakage. We’re trying to keep him on the floor, so we moved another dog bed into the living room. We also rolled up all the rugs just in case he would try to scoot. We went to Lowe’s and bought some cheap rugs to put by the backdoor to help with tacking in dirt.
I dropped off Colt for some blood work to see if he’ll be able to have his next chemo treatment. The Vet has recommended that Colt tries the Lomustine as the chemo drug for the next time. At the appointment, the vet mentioned that his lymph nodes are overall
smaller than they were prior to treatment, although not normal in size, which is expected after one treatment.
His CBC shows that his white blood cell and platelet counts have rebounded. He is anemic but not overly concerning, this will come back, this is a little slower to rebound than the white blood cell counts and platelet counts. This is likely why he is sluggish. They put him another week of antibiotics and recheck next week. If he’s good, then they will consider trying CCNU and alternate this with doxorubicin.
Blood work today showed that Colt’s white blood cell and platelet counts are normal, however his liver enzymes are quite elevated. This is a concern for CCNU and puts him at risk for liver failure.
They are treating him with another round of antibiotics (different antibiotic), a liver support supplement plus vitamin E, and reduced his prednisone as well. Colt received Elspar today as treatment for his lymphoma. They do not expect any side effects from this treatment, but one rare side effect that can be seen is pancreatitis.
The vet determined his lymph nodes are all progressive since the Elspar last week. This is a very poor sign.
The vast majority of dogs will respond to Elspar and the fact that Colt’s lymphoma has worsened since this treatment is a sign that he is unlikely to respond well to any ongoing treatment.
I elected to discontinue chemotherapy. The vet tried changing from prednisone to dexamethasone, a different steroid to see if this will slow down his lymphoma and keep him feeling well a little longer.
May 5, 6, and 7
Colt was having a hard time over the weekend. He began to have the choking, wheezing attacks when eating his food. We brought home some chicken on Friday night for a treat. I knew in my heart that it was time, but I wanted Zack to make that call. He said it would probably have to happen by the following week.
Saturday we took him to DQ to pick up an ice cream cone. He enjoyed it! It was followed up by puking up the ice cream and previous meal… Zack slept on the couch with him on the floor so he could hear if Colt wanted to go out during the night. I tried to spend time with him, but I was so sad for him.
Sunday was the same. He kept choking, wheezing while eating. As the day progressed he was lying on the floor and have wheezing fits. He was struggling to breathe. I felt like a zombie all day because I would just look at him and cry. I couldn’t face that he was struggling to breathe.
Around 5 p.m. Colt was having another wheezing fit – as much as 20-30 minutes. Zack took him in the front yard while I walked Hank around the block. He was done wheezing by the time we got back, but started again when I got close. We made the call to the emergency vet. We didn’t have the heart to let him suffer through another night.
My poor boy. He went quick without any struggle.
Zack picked up this nose impression keychain kit when he went into the ICU. We had just gotten it delivered the week prior.
My heart breaks,