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Tessie - Mediastinal Lymphoma


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Our 9.5 year old greyhound, Tessie, has mediastinal lymphoma. We are opting not to go the chemotherapy route and are instead focusing on making her comfortable and happy.

 

She has bouts of labored breathing and coughing and generally sleeps a lot. Before she was sick, she loved being outside and regularly stayed out there (when we were home) when the other three greys wanted in right away. She was also very active and ran laps around the yard at top speed all by herself, much to the neighbor's amusement, only two weeks ago. Now she likes to go out on the leash but not into the back yard so I have been walking her to the end of the street and back a couple of times a day, as that seems to be all that she can do. It's like she wants to go but her body is just too tire.

 

I do have a question for anybody who might have gone through something similar. Every time Tessie drinks water, she spits it back up within 30 seconds. She's not gulping a bunch of water all at once--I'm talking maybe 3-5 laps of water, take a few steps away from the dish, it comes back up. When I mix water in with her food (she is only eating canned) she has no problem and this morning I gave her a couple of beaten raw eggs and she kept that down okay. Is there enough water in canned food to keep her sufficiently hydrated? She has been urinating when I walk her. Is there a thickener I could put in her water to help her keep it down?

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I'm sorry for Tessie's diagnosis of lymphoma.

 

There are thickeners available on the market and those are intended for people who have difficulty swallowing - not sure what they have for ingredients. For those unfamiliar with this condition, the swallow reflex does not work well with straight liquid, works best with food the consistency of let's say a pudding.

 

If Tessie is trying to drink water, then she probably needs more fluid. You might try making yogurt drinks or give ice cream. You can also try adding more water to the canned food and making sure it is well-mixed.

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No advice, just wanted to say I am sorry to read of Tessie's diagnosis. Our thoughts are with you while you battle this.

Kyle with Stewie ('Super C Ledoux, Super C Sampson x Sing It Blondie) and forever missing my three angels, Jack ('Roy Jack', Greys Flambeau x Miss Cobblepot) and Charlie ('CTR Midas Touch', Leo's Midas x Hallo Argentina) and Shelby ('Shari's Hooty', Flying Viper x Shari Carusi) running free across the bridge.

Gus an coinnich sinn a'rithist my boys and little girl.

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No experience to offer, but just so sorry to hear this. :grouphug

Cynthia, & Cristiano, galgo
Always in my heart: Frostman
Newdawn Frost, Keno Jet Action & Chloe (NGA racing name unknown), Irys (galgo), Hannah (weim), Cruz (galgo), & Carly CW Your Charming

Princess http://www.greyhound-data.com/d?i=1018857

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are." -- Unknown

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Thank you, all.

 

I gave her some yogurt last night and that went well. Is ice cream likely to cause gastrointestinal issues? I was concerned about offering it for that reason.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a quick update.Tessie is doing relatively well. She is not coughing and is not panting as much. She has lost weight. She no longer eats breakfast but has been eating mid-afternoon, at supper, and then again around 8 pm. She is refusing the canned food now. She will eat lunchmeat (turkey or ham), Arby's roast beef, rotisserie chicken, or raw eggs, depending on the day. Not what I would normally feed her but we've always given our terminally ill pets whatever they would eat to keep them comfy.

 

She still cannot drink straight water. I have noticed that she can drink it immediately after eating food. She generally eats and then drinks a bunch. I tried the yogurt, ice cream, etc. but she was not interested. Same for homemade chicken broth.

 

She still has one or two active times a day, when she trots around the yard or barks at a passing dog. Based on that, we think it is not yet her time.

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I'm so sorry about Tessie's diagnosis. :grouphug This must be such a bittersweet time for you.

 

I am a speech therapist, and we work with (human) swallowing as well as speech. What you are describing, with the time lapse between water intake and vomiting it back up, sounds more like a stomach issue than a swallowing issue. Even healthy dogs will sometimes "blap" water back up on an empty stomach. But whatever the reason, it seems like heavier, thicker consistencies stay down better than thin, and your efforts look like they're working for her. If you do want to thicken things up, commercial thickeners are made with things like cornstarch, agar-agar, and careenagen (sp?). Nothing bad about that, but instant mashed potatoes or oatmeal will thicken things up and are cheaper than commercial products.

 

I don't have any extra knowledge about nutrition. What has sometimes worked for my pups or others for hydration is adding some Ensure-type supplement to food, or the liquid from water-packed tuna. These are both kind of smelly, and that seems to be enticing to some dogs. Anything that's a pudding or cottage cheese consistency will help add some liquid, too.

 

May Tessie have many more good yard patrols ahead.

siggy_z1ybzn.jpg

Ellen, with brindle Milo and the blonde ballerina, Gelsey

remembering Eve, Baz, Scout, Romie, Nutmeg, and Jeter

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I'm sorry to hear about her diagnosis :( I hope you can enjoy your time together and keep her in your arms for me. She's a very lucky creature to spend her last moments with someone who clearly loves her so much.

 

As for the liquid issues, I believe it is a physical problem with swallowing and not a stomach problem. The mediastinum is essentially an enclosed space that contains the heart, trachea, and lungs. This mediastinal space is enclosed by membranes that aren't supposed to move much. So, if something is growing inside the space (like enlarged lymph nodes), it will put pressure on all the other organs, like the esophagus. My best guess is that the lymphoma has created enlarged lymph nodes, which are putting pressure on her esophagus and making it difficult to drink water. She's still likely able to eat food because it initiates enough of the swallowing reflex, whereas liquid water won't. That's my guess.. I'd try feeding wetter food to ensure that she gets liquid, but I would be on the lookout for signs of dehydration. I wish you the best of luck, and love her for me!

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When she had the xrays 2 weeks ago, they showed a narrowing of her esophagus. I imagine it has worsened since then. I definitely think that is the issue and that the water is not coming up from her stomach. It happens too quickly for that to be the case.

 

I am concerned about dehydration. We have bought 5 or 6 varying types of canned foods, everything from basic Pedigree to Thanksgiving Merrick to Wellness turkey and chicken liver grain free. But she is refusing it all now. I think the lunchmeat probably can slip right down while the canned food gums up, for lack of a better term, and is hard to get down. I am going to pick the chunks out of the Thanksgiving Merrick, add water, and then try thickening it slightly with oatmeal.

 

I have to say that I had an appoint

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Sorry, I am having technical difficulties.

 

I am concerned that the oatmeal concoction above will be equally difficult for her to swallow. I actually had an appointment to have her put down today but canceled because she had a good few days. I made it earlier in the week because, in the past, our dogs took turns for the worse on Friday nights. So I canceled and now I am worried that I will soon have no choice but to reschedule due to dehydration. I cannot force her to drink or eat.

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I'm sorry :( I don't think this is an easy decision at all, and it is truly unfortunate because, no matter what we try to feed her, we can't change her anatomy or disease. I just wish you peace in your decision making process. You know what's right for you and your dog. I hope the decision will provide both of you peace. I really can't suggest anything more than that. :heart

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I do very much thank you for your suggestions and explanation about her mediastinum. It has been helpful. Most of the info I've found online about this cancer is a basic description with little to no anecdotal information as far as caring for a dog with it. So the suggestions have been welcome!

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Might be worth a try to thicken some water just slightly with cornstarch or gelatin (have to heat both of these w/the water) and see if that makes it easier for her. I'm so sorry you're going through this with your beloved girl.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Sending you wishes for a peaceful rest of Tessie's days.

 

(Just wanted to say that I am exhausted and just noticed a huge error in my first post! The mediastinum contains the heart, trachea, and esophagus - not the lungs! The lungs technically sit outside the mediastinum. I'm sorry; my eyes are criss-crossing, my thoughts are melding into one another. It's been an exhausting past few months.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just wanted to update here.

 

On Monday, October 7, we made the decision to send Tessie to the bridge. Her breathing had become much more difficult overnight and she hadn't eaten three meals in a row and we just felt it was time.

 

Thank you for all of the helpful ideas here, especially when it came to food. After my last couple of posts, she had actually started eating dry kibble--her preference, not what I would have expected!--for several days. I had dropped a few pieces of the Iams large breed, which is a larger bite-size, and she crunched it up and ate it so I figured if that's what she wanted, she could have it, especially since it seemed to help her drink a bit more. Then she cycled through a few other things (eggs, steak, chicken, etc.) before going back to canned food and then stopping eating. So I guess my suggestion to anybody else going through this or something similar is to be flexible in what you offer your dog because it's hard to tell what she might like from one meal to the next.

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I'm so sorry for your loss.

 

Godspeed, sweetheart.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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I'm so sorry you lost your girl to lymphoma, but you did the kindest thing for her by letting her go. At the end Beanie was the same way with food, refusing homecooked and only eating dry kibble. I too have learned it's not about what we want them to eat, but what they want to eat.

:grouphug

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I am so very sorry for your loss of Tessie.

Kyle with Stewie ('Super C Ledoux, Super C Sampson x Sing It Blondie) and forever missing my three angels, Jack ('Roy Jack', Greys Flambeau x Miss Cobblepot) and Charlie ('CTR Midas Touch', Leo's Midas x Hallo Argentina) and Shelby ('Shari's Hooty', Flying Viper x Shari Carusi) running free across the bridge.

Gus an coinnich sinn a'rithist my boys and little girl.

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