Dr. Phil Zeltzman’s Blog
You’ve been told your pet has cancer… the last thing any pet owner wants to hear.
You may feel lost as to what comes next. Try to find out as much as you can from your vet.
Be sure to ask what your pet’s exact diagnosis is. This is an emotional time, so make sure you write down the exact name.
Discuss all of your treatment options. Find out if your pet needs to be seen by a specialist. Ask your vet the best type (Surgeon? Chemo pro? Radiation pro? Nutritionist?) and where to find one.
Don’t be afraid to ask your family vet, your surgeon or your oncologist (cancer specialist) how many other patients they have treated with a similar diagnosis. Arm yourself with all the facts and it will help you decide what you want to do next.
Here is a short list of questions you should ask and have clear answers to. Save it as a handy checklist if you ever need it…
1. What is my pet’s exact diagnosis?
2. How do we know for sure it is cancer?
3. Can we confirm it with specific testing such as a biopsy?
4. What is my pet’s prognosis (aka outcome)?
5. What is the ideal treatment?
6. What are possible complications of the treatment?
7. Who is the best specialist to treat this type of cancer?
8. How many patients like my pet have you seen in your career?
9. How many similar patients have you treated successfully?
10. What’s the goal of treatment? Curative or palliative?
Remember Mochi, the 1 year old, 3 pound dwarf bunny who had a shattered femur (thigh bone)?
It was a big challenge because the bone was smaller than a pencil…
But 2 months later, follow up X-rays made me happy. Look at the beauty of Mother Nature in action.
I recently experienced two tragic examples of how pet owners get in trouble.
I am not sharing these stories to make you depressed, but to inform you so this never ever happens to you.
A pug, let’s call him Pugsley, had a broken shin bone (tibia). The bone was repaired with a plate and multiple screws. As always, I insisted that the owner follow the recovery instructions to a T to ensure a successful outcome.
This included strict confinement in order to protect the repair. This means strict rest to a large crate, on ground zero, with no furniture, no jumping, no running etc.
But those instructions weren’t exactly followed by owners… Pugsley fell and re-broke the bone. The bottom end of the bone was so badly shattered, that it was not fixable. The only option was amputation. The owner, mortified, agreed to sacrifice the leg.
And then, literally minutes before surgery was going to start, they changed their minds and decided to euthanize their dog on the surgery table.
This dog died, for no fault of his own…
It was a very sad day, both for the client and the veterinary team. And for Pugsley…
More broken bones
An un-neutered (aka intact) male, Labrador, was hit by a car.
It is very likely that he decided to follow his instinct – or his nose – after sniffing a female in heat in the distance. He was not on a leash and ran away.
The poor dog was hit by a car and ended up with multiple fractures and dislocations. On one side, the thigh bone was shattered, the pelvis was fractured and there was a dislocation between the spine and the pelvis (sacro-iliac luxation). The opposite side had a hip dislocation.
This meant the dog had no good leg to stand on. Surgery could fix all of these injuries, but at a high price tag…
The owner agonized over the decision, and ended up choosing euthanasia.
It is a well-known fact that non-castrated dogs are more likely to run away because they are attracted to a female in heat. That’s one of the many reasons vets recommend neutering, in addition to multiple other health benefits.
Toga, a 1 year old standard poodle, was playing outside. He slipped on ice and ran into a tree. This apparently benign incident led to severe limping on a back leg.
X-rays confirmed a shattered femur (thigh bone).
I was called in to repair the fracture at Blairstown Animal Hospital in NJ.
We ended up using a big plate, a wire, a pin and 15 screws.
In order to heal, Toga will need to be strictly confined to a small room, with no jumping, no running and no stairs for 2 months. He also needs to be walked on a leash to eliminate only.
So far, 1 month after surgery, he is recovering nicely at home.
Mochi is a 1 year old, dwarf bunny who weighs a whole 3 pound.
She is “free rooming”, which means that she doesn’t live in a cage. She has access to the whole house.
Sadly, something happened, unbeknownst to her owner.
She started to hold her back leg awkwardly, acted painful and was reluctant to move.
Her owner took her to the vet:
X-rays revealed the diagnosis: her femur (thigh bone) was shattered.
I was called to the Animal Clinic of Morris Plains to fix the fracture. The repair involved using a tiny plate, 7 screws and 2 pins.
The bone was smaller than a pencil…
It’s been one of the most challenging fractures I’ve had to repair in a while!
So far, Mochi is recovering smoothly.