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Zuko's Journey

Zuko’s first round of chemo! and how he’s been doing

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Zuko started his first chemotherapy treatment with carboplatin on May 15th – about 2.5 weeks after his amputation. There was a little delay starting his treatment since he tore one of his stitches and serum started dripping out. My vet said that was fine and just to let it heal before we start chemo since carboplatin is an immunosuppressant.

Once healed, I ok’d it with my vet and we scheduled his treatment. That monday I dropped him off in the morning and picked him up that afternoon. He was given some ace since he’s such a high energy dog so, he was a little calmer than usual when I picked him up.

The first few days were great he seemed to be handling it well but I read that some side effects don’t typically occur until 3-5 days later so I continued to stay cautious. Right now hes 10 days post-chemo treatment and no side effects at all! no nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite. I’ve noticed he’s been shedding a little more but I’m not sure if it’s just me over thinking things and being a lot more attentive since his treatment.

Whats funny is that I think his appetite has actually increased! The day of his treatment, when I brought him home, I bought some food from a chinese restaurant and was eating it on the floor as I watched TV. I could tell he was getting hungry so I went and got his food ready to only back to him munching on all my food! which was really unlike him haha but at least he was eating!

Since his amputation Zuko has definitely become quite known around my apartment complex and more people have come up to give him some love (which he is TOTALLY eating up – he just loves attention). He’s actually gotten some free treats at the pet store and “get well soon” bags too!

He also finally was able to see his sister Keiko and even got to sleep over! My ex and I thought that his surgery site healed real nice and that he has gotten the hang of walking on 3 legs that it would be great for them to see each other! (Keiko has definitely missed him that everytime someone says Zukos name she would run to the door and cry. AAWWW) The reunion went well! they were totally all lovey dovey and when Zuko stayed over he could not leave her alone! it was hilarious.

It would be another week and a half til his next chemo treatment but I am glad that he’s just handling everything so well! We’re definitely gonna continue to kick cancers butt!!

Here on Guam we don’t have any specialists that I could talk to so if anyone has some homeopathic remedies I could possibly bring up to my vet and do research on to possibly incorporate in his treatment would be so great!


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Zuko’s first week post-amputation

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So, it’s been one week since Zuko became a tripawd! and it has definitely been one hell of a week!

First night home/Day 1 was great! he was still woozy from the meds so he slept like a baby. There were great achievements the next morning from going potty to walking on his own to eating! more details are on my previous post 🙂

The 2nd day was NOT so great. He was restless all night. I was pretty much sleeping in 1-2 hour increments and I felt miserable! I was so happy he ate the day before but now he wasn’t having it which made it VERY difficult to give him his meds. He doesn’t like to be forced to take anything so he resist SO MUCH but I was determined! Aside from that, he was peeing and poopin normally (well aside from having mushy poop but that was expected). He was even hopping around already like nothing even happened!

On Day 3 things seemed to be getting better. He was sleeping a little longer but I was still not getting enough to where I felt rested. Bruising around his groin area and right rear leg had developed and by that night, it had gotten worse. Since I was still fighting for him to take his meds because he wasn’t eating, I bought him some puppy milk with probiotics to help his tummy and give him some nutrients. Boy, did he loved it!! I don’t know if it was the milk or anything but that night he was a little more interested in food but still very picky.

On the 4th day, his bruising looked better! and he was eating more and taking his meds easily. His appetite is definitely not like before but I found that he likes and would only eat boiled chicken and Nutri Source Pure Vita Grain-Free Beef Stew Dinner wet dog food. I bought him a variety but he only likes that one! haha I also noticed he started licking the incision site on occasion and there looked to be some fluid build up as well.


Day 5 I went back to work at the clinic and brought Zuko along to get checked. Everything was alright but Doc advised to put an E-Collar on to stop the licking. He freaked out after I put it on and fluid started dripping from his amputation site and I started freaking out! but doc said it was serous fluid and some blood and ensured that it was fine. I stayed with him for a bit to calm him down. By the end of my shift/day, Zuko looked better and the amount of fluid excreting decreased. However, he didn’t even want to walk or do anything with the E-collar on so I removed it. With the dripping, he’s been licking more so Ive attempted to cover it or put some shorts on him but he always manages to take them off! I’ve also been icing the area to reduce redness and inflammation.

These last two days have been good! He’s sleeping through the night longer and eating more – I’ve even managed to add some dry kibble to his food. He’s still having mushy poops but I’m not surprised with his current diet and the meds he’s on. As far as the amputation site goes, the bruising has cleared and it looks to be healing great! It’s still oozing some serous fluid but very minimal.


Comments (4)

The first 24hrs back home after Zuko’s amputation!!

So, its been about a day and a half since the surgery and a little over 24hrs since Zuko’s been home and I cant believe how great he’s been doing!! All that worrying and things seemed to be just fine.

When I picked him up they gave him a little something to calm him so he could rest easy and sleep through the night which helped not only him but me as well!  After he hopped his way to the car and I carried him in, it started to kick in and he fell asleep during the ride home. When we got home, I tried to see if he’d pee but no luck so I  carried him into my apartment and laid him on his doggy bed.  There were a few occasions where he’d open his eyes or lift his head up but he’d just go back to sleep. I tried to offer him some food but he wasn’t interested so i just let him be and we both slept great!!

This morning I woke up and could see him looking back at me so I thought it was a clue that he wanted to go outside. He was still a little out of it and wobbly but he hopped along and went potty! it was such an achievement! I’ve been trying to use a towel sling to help support him but he really wasn’t having it. I would put it under him and he wouldn’t move at all! So I ditched it and just let him hop! He would do a few hops and just stand there and look around – I could tell he still wasn’t himself just yet so after he went potty I just carried him back inside to rest.

I tried to offer him some food but he still didn’t have an appetite. He was drinking water just fine so I wasn’t too alarmed. Giving him his meds was a challenge just because he usually takes them with food but since he wasn’t eating, that wasn’t possible. He’s also such a fighter that when I would try to shove it in his mouth he’d resist but I was determined!! haha

As the day went on, he seemed to get his energy and his spunk back! He wanted to get up every now and then and hop around a little – I think laying on his remaining rear leg all day made it a little sore. At around maybe 5 or 6pm, after I brought him out he just stood and then laid down in the kitchen so I figured I’d try and see if he was hungry and he was! I mixed some chicken, ground beef, beef stew canned dog food (which he seemed to really love!), and some of his dry kibble all together (plus his meds too!) and his eyes just couldn’t believe what he was seeing and smelling! He devoured it!

I let him rest for a while and then brought him out again. He was so happy to be hopping around outside that he didn’t even want to come back in!! but I knew he shouldn’t over exert himself so carried him back inside. It’s so crazy! He just hopped along like he’d been doing this forever haha he was even able to poop! I was really worried about how he would manage that especially with only one rear leg but he figured it out but taking a few small poops here and there instead of one big one like he used to.

I cant believe it! so many achievements in just one day! I’m so proud of him 🙂



Comments (7)

It’s the big day! Zuko officially becomes a tripawd

Everything just seemed to happened so fast! When the biopsy results came in, his amputation date was scheduled for 4 days later and, man, did those 4 days fly by. The night before the big day I could hardly sleep at all – there was just a mix of nerves and knowing that once I woke up it would be time.

I had so many things running through my mind this morning. I thought I woke up late so i was rushing out the door to only be stuck in traffic! But when I arrived at the clinic I realized I was  30-45 min early! haha but anyways! Before the surgery we took another chest X-ray and it came out clear (YAY!).  After he was prepped, I left and cried in my car. It just sunk in that this is really happening and that the next time I would see him, he’d be missing a piece of himself. But what got me through it was just thinking that I’d rather have 80% of him instead of 0%. I knew that going through with this would give him more time and drastically lessen his pain which is the best thing I can do for him. What has also given me peace of mind is knowing everyone involved in his procedure and being able to be as involved as I can be especially since I work at the clinic. So, no matter how worried I was, I knew he was in great hands 🙂

It was around lunchtime when I stopped by the clinic to visit and Doc said everything went well! He had some IV fluids going and was heavily sedated just to keep him calm and rested since he’s a VERY hyperactive dog but he definitely perked up when he saw me! 🙂 I didn’t pick him up until later in the day and he walked all the way to the car like a pro! He was given Tramadol and Cephalexin to go home with in conjunction with the Rimadyl he was already on. He was also given a little something to calm him so be can rest and sleep easy tonight 🙂

We both had a loooooong and crazy day but I’m just so glad that he’s home. He’s definitely a mama’s boy and sleeps in bed with me but for a big surgery like this I thought he should get his own bed. All the recommended beds were waaaaayy out of my price range but I seriously can’t believe how lucky I was to have found a very affordable therapeutic dog bed that was nice and firm for him at Ross! He is currently sleeping on it like a baby and the amputation site is looking better than I thought it would!

I just want to thank all my family, friends, and everyone here on tripawds for all the advice and support! But most especially to my AMC family and Dr. Malakooti for being so supportive, open, honest, and being someone I could really trust with my baby. Love you all!

The photo on the left is when I visited him at the clinic and the bottom photos are of him at home resting 🙂

Comments (9)

The diagnosis and coming to terms with it all

Hi everyone! My name is Jane and just yesterday we received the biopsy results that confirmed that my handsome boy Zuko has osteosarcoma.

So, lets start from the beginning..

About a year ago he was out running around, playing with his sister Keiko and when he came back was severely limping. I brought him to the vet, an x-ray was taken, and we were told he had partially teared his CCL. We talked about my options which was either surgery or have it heal naturally. With money being tight since I was just a college student working part time, my vet at the time advised that many dogs heal just fine without surgery. So, for the next few months his activities were greatly limited which meant no more running around, jumping on/off beds, couches, or in/out of cars. He was also started on joint supplements (which really helped!). I brought him to the beach as much as I could so he could swim around. After a few months he was using the leg as if nothing every happened! he did have a weird gait after but he was using the leg just fine.

Fast forward to about 1.5-2 months ago, I noticed Zuko starting to favor his left hind leg and that he was hoping around. I thought he may have fully torn his CCL this time and since I started working at a vet clinic as a tech I just brought him into work with me! He was sedated and a few x-rays were taken. Upon looking at the rads, my vet and another tech noticed small abnormalities in the distal end of his femur but unsure of what it could be. They started to spit out terms like osteosarcoma or osteomyelitis and I start to internally freak out but still trying to keep my composure as I continue my shift at the clinic. He advised that Zuko be on Rimadyl for the pain and then take new rads 3 weeks later to see if there were any changes.

The meds definitely helped a lot! He was still limping and not putting much weight on the leg but he was walking around better than before. I tried to be as optimistic as I could, thinking that he’ll be perfectly fine but I tried to prepare for the worst. After 3 weeks I brought him back to take new rads. It was a monday and I was working a full day shift at the clinic. I brought him in with me, was sedated again, took the rads, and waited for them to come up on the computer. In between getting the clinic ready for opening and assisting in surgeries, I took a peek at his rads and saw that his femur definitely looked worse than before. When my vet looked at the rads and looked at me and said it looks like osteosarcoma I took a breath. I was in shock but I knew I had to just get through the day. We had talked about doing a biopsy before we did anything drastic so that was done right away. I’ve seen all kinds of surgeries working at the clinic and being an summer intern at Michigan State University’s Vetward Bound Program but seeing my boy on the table while my vet tried to get a bone biopsy was something I could not handle. I almost fainted in there!

For the duration of my shift I was just in shock but during my drive home I balled my eyes out. I just couldn’t believe that this could happen. I brought him back in the next day and did a chest x-ray (no sedation this time, he was a good boy!) and I actually got some great news! It hadn’t metastasized to his lungs! Since then, I’ve been staying up all night doing research and reading up on what to expect and how to prepare. I stumbled upon this amazing website filled with people who share my troubles and was also so fortunate to come into contact, through a mutual friend, with someone I can talk to about their journey and who has helped me start mine.

As I waited for the biopsy results to come in I began to accept and come to terms that Zuko has cancer. However, as much as I have tried to prepare and accepted that he had cancer, when the biopsy came back confirming his diagnosis, it was like life just hit me. It all just feels so much more real. Now, everything is in motion and his amputation will be on April 16, 2017. 3 days from now he’s going to lose a piece of himself and he’s never going to get it back and even though I know its for the best, it’s still so hard to take in.

I still cant believe that he’s only 6 and has to battle through cancer. He’s supposed to have more years ahead of him, more years for me to spend with him, and to live til he’s 15! He’s never been over weight. He’s always been healthy, active, and just so in love with life so why him? I’ll never understand that but I do know that even if this is the hardest decision I ever had to make, it is the best decision I can do for him. He is strong and he will power through this with that big smile still on his face.

As far as what I have changed since the we suspected cancer, there have been a few things. I bought him raised dog bowls so he doesn’t have to bend down to eat – I’ve actually been holding his bowls while he eats/drinks or sometimes he would eat/drink laying down. I started him on a grain-free diet, changing his dog food to taste of the wild and adding some steamed broccoli, sweet potato or pumpkin, and boiled chicken in some of his meals. No more raw hides or baked treats as I’ve read that cancer loves sugar and I’m not taking any chances. He’s also in fish oil and joint supplements as well. I have also read some things about doing holistic methods in conjunction with chemotherapy that has really helped like Artemisinin and cannabinoids but these are still some things I have to discuss with my vet.

3 days til the big day! I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, here are a few photos of my handsome boy and his beautiful sister Keiko 🙂

Zuko and Keiko after playing catch!

Zuko and Keiko at the beach!

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