Coco was our first dog and my best buddy. She has always had small health problems including missing an enzyme when she was a pup which gave her constant diarrhea after taking an enzyme supplement powder she returned to normal. She also became incontinent after she was spayed and was on PPA for awhile and then estrogen. She was at the vet more than any of our other dogs for ear infections and minor things, but she was a very active happy lab.
About 4 months ago she started limping after a trip to the lake to swim. We took her to our vet and after an x-ray and poking around he decided it was just a pulled muscle and gave her some meds. We gave her a break and she seemed to be doing much better. After a couple months we started taking her for walks again, but she would always come up limp. We figured she just kept aggravating it and tried to keep her from too much activity. We went on a small vacation in July and she wouldn't eat while we were gone. She started becoming very picky about her food after that. We took her back to the vet and he checked her over again and couldn't find anything, he had us try switching food. She did a little better on rice and soft food, but not quite our little piggy lab. About 1 week later she started throwing up all of her morning breakfast. I called the vet and he was out of town so I went to Alameda East (an animal hospital).
Right away they noticed that she had a lump in her armpit and that her lymph nodes were swollen (we were always petting her and snuggling her and had never noticed them). They took blood and found that she wasn't producing enough platelets to clot. They decided that they needed to take some cells and do an x-ray and ultrasound. The next day (Thursday) we got the horrible news that she had a cancer called malignant histiocytosis. On Friday we took her to a specialist to confirm the diagnosis. After reviewing the x-rays and feeling Coco's lump she looked up with tears in her eyes and we knew this was a terrible sign. She explained that this cancer is very rare but 100% fatal and a very painful way to die. A dog's prognosis is usually 2 weeks to 4 months and from the symptoms she was probably on her 4th month. The vet knew we needed some time to say goodbye, so she gave us meds to help Coco for the weekend. She had a wonderful weekend, all of us did, the dogs all ate like Kings and went to all their favorite places. Then on Monday we had a vet come to the house and put her to sleep.
It has taken us some time to write Coco's story but we hope that we can help others get through what is a difficult time. There seem to be no common threads between the numerous stories we've read, but we are writing this in hope that every little bit of information will someday help find a cause and/or a cure. We only came to peace with this as a result of having her put down at our house, in her favorite place, with her brother and sister present. We would strongly recommend having it done this way if at all possible.
Dave and Julie Cox