Monday, July 10, 2017

Diagnosis for Lydia

Our Great Pyrenees, Lydia, had a mass on her belly which concerned us, so a couple weeks ago I brought her in to the vet. It turned out to be breast cancer.

The vet told me that female dogs who get spayed before their first heat cycle (9 to 12 months of age) reduce their chances of breast cancer by 95 percent. If spayed after the first heat cycle but before the second, chances are reduced by 80 percent. But if left unspayed, it's almost guaranteed they'll get breast cancer in their older years. Lydia just turned eight years old.

Her inflamed teats were weeping a watery bloody fluid, so the vet wrapped her in bandages to catch the drips. It didn't work because the bandages bunched up and hitched downward, but it was only for a day or two.

She went into surgery right away. The vet both spayed her and removed the mass, which was sent in for a biopsy. The results came back indicating the cancer may have metastasized.

She came home with an incision from north to south, tipped with drain tubes at either end. Major ouch.

Needless to say, she was stuck with the "cone of shame" (as they call it) until the stitches came out. It took her a couple of days to sleep off the effects of the anesthesia.

But after that, she felt fine and frisky, but couldn't figure out what this strange plastic thing was around her neck. She simply cannot grasp its diameter, and has spent the last two weeks blundering into things and getting stuck in corners.

The last couple of days have been hard on her. I think she's bewildered by the "punishment" she's receiving -- wearing a cone -- and is acting depressed.

Yesterday it seems she might have blundered into a hole or something and lightly sprained her left front paw. At this point the cone is doing her more harm than good, so I called and moved up her vet appointment a day early to have the stitches and cone removed (her appointment is tomorrow).

The vet showed me how to check her lymph nodes, which I should not be able to feel. We'll bring her in for a six-month checkup to see if the cancer has spread.

Sigh. Lesson learned, folks. Please spay your female dogs before their first heat cycle.


  1. Best wishes for Lydia's recovery. I still miss Major.


  2. Thank you for this information. Praying for Lydia.... such a sweet face! Hope she feels better soon. Amy

  3. So sorry you are going through this. It's difficult for our pets and for us when they get sick. Here's hoping for the best.

  4. Prayers for Lydia .Dee from the South West

  5. I hope Lydia recovers 100% and enjoys many more years with you! Love my Great Pyr, Eli. He's my THIRD Great Pyrenees. Great guardians, smart dogs.....

  6. I hope that she turns out alright. Our big dog had a cancer on her back ankle joint and the Vet was not encouraging when we got her back. The vet was saying 1 year was possible. That was 8 years ago. I do hope that your family has a similar outcome. I still remember the photos of Older daughters first visit home and how happy Lydia was. Best wishes for her and you.

  7. It's not as clear cut as "spay before first heat". By spaying early you significantly increase the odds of certain joint disorders. You also increase the odds of certain cancers that are MUCH harder to treat than mammary cancer.

  8. So sorry to hear that news. We'll keep Lydia in our prayers. ~ Jenny

  9. will pray for lydia.
    God can heal anything , and frequently does.
    Jesus bless lydia with healing!
    Holy Spirit please fall upon lydia and burn away all disease.thank You.
    25 years ago i had 4th stage. i'm still here.
    all things are possible.

  10. So sorry to hear about your fur baby, all of you will be in my prayers.

  11. OH I just know how much your family loves Lydia and we have grown so fond of her toooooo. And I'm among those of your followers that still misses Major. Dear Jesus, bless Lydia with healing, and bless Patrice and Don for taking good care of her, as your word tells us "a wise man regardeth his animals". Looking forward to Lydia's recovery! HUGS

  12. For the record, there has been some newer data indicating that the study showing that early spaying significantly reduces breast cancer risk may not be correct. However no one has re-done it to actually check the data either. So we're stuck with what we have.

    But as the commenter above noted there are other reasons to delay spay/neuter as well. Several breed studies (at least a couple by UC Davis) show that delaying neuter (or not spay/neutering at all) may significantly reduce the risk for several highly fatal cancers. Its all correlation not causation, but then so is the study that shows that spaying reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Mammary cancer overall risks are actually fairly low, and the fatal ones are even lower.

    Course that doesn't help when your dog ends up being one of those 1%'ers does it?

    Here's hoping for a quick recovery and a happy healthy remaining life!

  13. Hope and prayers for full recovery. Although I strongly disagree with spaying, raised high end spaniels, beagles and coon dogs for years. never heard or had such a problem.. Just sold one of my last litter, all six champions, went for 1600.00 plus shipping. So what I'm trying to say is the vets that I use are at the top of their game, not saying yours isn't, just never have heard of spaying your pup to lower chances. I mean if that's the case, what about our daughters? Just saying.. Hope and prayers for Lydia as well as the family. In love as always..

  14. So so sorry... Hoping for good news...

  15. Your vet is just simply wrong. Don't feel guilty about not spaying your dog. It did not cause her cancer.

  16. Loving dogs as we do, we want to say that we understand the roller coaster of feelings that come with your best friend being in stress. We hope for a fast recovery for Lydia. Your neighbors, K & B

  17. Just my two cents here. I have a black Lab female that was a rescue. She is probably ten years old now or more. When I got her she had a teat that had a growth on it. It was removed when I had her spayed shortly after acquiring her after attempting to find her owner. Never had the tumor checked as the vet didn't seem to think it was cancerous. Three more surgeries after that to find out that it was a cancer that spread and indeed it did. Went to her lungs as well. They had only given her six months, but said I could do chemo which I wouldn't because it can make them quite sick and it doesn't give them a good quality of life at that point and doesn't extend it much. That was over almost three years ago. One thing that I did was change her diet after that confirmation. I went to a better dry dog food that was grain free and also added a good amount of semi-cooked chicken to her food daily along with cooked broccoli. I also give her a good quality canine daily vitamin and something called modified fractionated pectin in her food. I truly believe it's helped. She's done very well, though there is times I keep her activity lower now as it wears on her. I'm sure this doesn't work for every dog, but I did a lot of research on it and honestly, I think the biggest thing is diet, and building immunity up in the system and making sure not to feed food that are high in carbs and sugar. Cancer loves those two things and thrives on it. Same for people. Seems like doctors and vets never discuss diet and building up the immune system to help with this. Prayers are with your Lydia and you.

    1. Amen and Amen!!!! Right on Spot! Coming from long time high end competition K-9 breeder. Most pet foods are recycled bakery goods which contain high fructose corn syrup, refine white flour/sugars, and animal fats that have steroids in them. All bad news! These things cause Blood PH=high acid environment which cancer thrives in. Alpaca Lady, You Rock! One Smart Lady!

  18. I will agree with thinking "Always spay before first heat, end of line" might be overly simplistic (though I absolutely do support spay and neuter if you don't actively want pups, and do so with all my pets). Don't beat yourself up.

    Other than that, you (and Lydia) have my sympathies in dealing with it all. Prayers do change things, and you have mine. God is great.

  19. Our dog growing up had the same problem. She was never spayed and never had puppies either. Horrible cancer. She lived to 16 despite that. I'm sorry to hear about Lydia. There are many problems with altering a pet too early also. Specifically dysplasia and other bone/joint problems. As a competition agility trainer and competitor it's a real problem. Do you have her on a grain free food?

  20. I hope Lydia will be ok, family is family, 2 legs or 4.
    God Bless!