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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 10866
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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my dog of 12 years has just been diagnosed with a tumour pressing

Customer Question

my dog of 12 years has just been diagnosed with a tumour pressing on her spinal chord at the neck she is not ill and is still interested in life but stumbles on right front leg when walking should she be put to sleep now or wait until she is much worse , or allow an operation to remove as much as poss
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 4 years ago.

Hello David, I'm Dr. Deb and I'll do my best to help you today.

I'm so sorry that Ellie has been diagnosed with a spinal mass.

I do have a few questions to ask about her first, if you don't mind:

1. Did the neurologist indicate the prognosis for her if you pursue surgery?
Is this a mass that can be completely removed or only debulked (some but not all of it removed)?
2. Is she currently taking any medication?
3. Is only her one front leg affected or both?

There may be a slight delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you. Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

we have to go back tomorrow for chat
her right front leg and her right hind leg are affected and she can still a walk a good few steps without a stumble , not on any medication

Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 4 years ago.

Thanks so much for the answers to my questions.

If this were my dog, I would understandably be reluctant to subject her to surgery at her age. I know that guarantees can't be made but much depends on the location of the spinal mass as to whether or not I would even consider surgery.
If there's a reasonable chance of removing all of it, then I might consider it....maybe.
But if it can only be debulked, I wouldn't consider it at all.

Even if surgery is not pursued, I wouldn't consider euthanasia just yet. It sounds to me like her quality of life is still good and that's the most important thing to me.

I'd get her on medication and supplements though. I'd discuss either steroids or anti-inflammatory drugs with the neurologist.
I'd definitely start supplements (if she's not currently taking them), such as

Dasaquin or Cosequin which are veterinary products specifically formulated for dogs. Quality control is a big problem with these products since what’s on the label is not necessarily what’s in the bottle which is why I mentioned specific brands. These are available on the internet.


Also, fish oil supplements can be helpful since they have anti-inflammatory properties. Welactin and 3V Derm Caps are good veterinary products and are also available on the internet. It takes several weeks for these products to build up in the system, so you might not see immediate results. But once started, these supplements should be continued for them to be effective; you wouldn't stop and start them, in other words, like you would drugs...but you may already know this.

Another option would be Zeel which is a combination homeopathic that can be used in conjunction with other NSAID medications and has a very low incidence of adverse effects. Dose would be one tablet two to three times a day....I'd go with three times a day for the first 2 weeks, then drop back to twice a day for maintenance.

You might also consider alternative therapies and ask the neurologist about them as well: hydrotherapy, laser therapy, massage therapy and even acupuncture may be helpful.


If both front legs were affected, a wheelchair for her might be an option but probably not if both a front and back leg are involved.


I hope this helps; this is a really difficult situation and I'm sorry that you're both having to go through it. Deb




Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thank you


Expert:  Dr. Deb replied 4 years ago.

You're welcome although it does seem a little strange to say so, under the circumstances.

I hope you'll keep me posted about her. Even after you've rated (if you do, of course), we can still continue to communicate at no additional charge to you.


I do wish her the best. Regards, Deb