Kiersten Rowland

Adventures, Travel & Photography

Bruno the Leonberger has bone cancer

13 August 2011

Reading time: 10 mins

Bruno started out showing signs of lameness, over a week or so the lameness got worse. He went to the vet who took a few x-rays and diagnosed osteoarthritis. He was put on the anti-inflammatory tablets Norocarp. But Brunos lameness got worse, he cried in pain and wouldnt use his front right leg.

We called the vet out for a home visit. After sorting Khumbus ear out, yes he got an infection, he looked at Brunos leg again. The leg moved fine until manipulation of the shoulder when Bruno would cry. He told the us we had to go to the Veterinary hospital in Granada because they had specialised equipment and would be able to see what was going on.

Bruno on the table
Bruno on the table

The appointment was made for the next day. Bruno was put onto the examining table, thats a first for Bruno, all work is normally carried out on the floor because of Brunos size. He went off for an x-ray. An hour or so later we were back in the vets office and were told the devastating news. Bone cancer, very aggressive. Choices were amputation of the leg if not spread to the heart and lungs, followed by chemotherapy, if it had spread then just chemotherapy or euthanize. The oncologist was scheduled to phone on Monday to talk through the options. We were sent away with a concoction of pain killers for Bruno.

On Sunday we met up with a couple who live in the village with their Labradoodle Benji. He had been diagnosed with a different type of cancer last year and only given months to live. They started chemo straight away and although Benji is not cured he looks fantastic and is living his normal life again. They explained to us what we could expect once the chemo was started. We left feeling much more positive.

The oncologist eventually phoned on Tuesday and Bruno was booked in for Thursday. We took Bruno in expecting him to be having amputation. The vet said he was 95% sure it was cancer but could not remove a limb without being 100% sure, so a biopsy was needed. Also an x-ray was to be done of his chest to see if it had spread and his bloods were checked. He stayed in for the day. When we went to fetch him we were told that the cancer had not spread, chest x-ray and bloods were clear. This is great news, although the x-ray appeared clear there could still be traces of cancer there, but he stands a better chance of survival as there are no more large tumours to hit. So we now wait for the biopsy results to tell us what type of cancer he has and how to proceed, but amputation is definite.

A floppy Bruno after his biopsy
A floppy Bruno after his biopsy

There is no cure for this cancer but with Bruno being strong and wanting to live we have decided to go with chemotherapy to prolong his life. The chemo will allow him a quality of life, without it he will be dead in less than 3 months. We are under no illusions that we are all in for a tough ride ahead and im sure there will be times when we question our decision, but if we can get through the tough times we know we will have made the right decision. What time he has left with us is anybodys guess, maybe 9 months, maybe a year maybe longer but so long as our boy is enjoying life we will do everything we can for him.

We have had incredible support from all over the world via facebook and twitter with thoughts, prayers and pawcircles and you know what its worked. It is gut wrenching to hear Bruno cry and frustrating when you feel the medical side of things are not moving fast enough. Everyone has helped us stay focused and positive and we would like to thank everyone of you for your support.

A couple of people (you know who you are) have mentioned the herb wormwood (Artemisinin) in helping fight the cancer cells and have proof that it helps. Dogs who were given just 6 months to live have managed to live a fully normal healthy life for another 3 years or more. Thank you for pointing us in this direction we are in contact with a company and waiting to hear back from them to see if they can help us. This herb can be used in conjunction with the chemotherapy. I found this website called Bone Cancer Dogs which has been a great source of information but we found this page of most interest, how can you not try wormwood after reading it.

Bruno
Bruno

A word of advice, should you have a large dog who is lame, be on the safe side and ask for an x-ray straight away. Its often far to late to save the dogs life by the time its been diagnosed, usually the dog gets treated for arthritis etc for months before cancer is finally picked up. We found some shocking statistics whilst searching the internet, 50% of Leonbergers deaths are due to bone cancer! If anyone out there has any more help and advice they want to share with us, please do contact us. Also mentioned to us is the Telomerase cancer vaccine if anyone has any experience of this vaccine please let us know.

So that is where we are at the moment awaiting the biopsy results, awaiting amputation, awaiting chemotherapy and awaiting the big fight and by god its going to get one hell of a fight from us.

Comments

Khyra’s Mom: The ugly C word has to be eliminated from our vocabulary - We know Bruno will give it all he has AND then some - PLUS, he’s got lots and lots of support - from all over the world! Khyra and The Golden Khousins send H&K - Phyll

Mireille: Hi, We just found out that Montana our leo has bone cancer in her front paw just like Bruno. She is 7 years old. How is Bruno ? Did you go ahead with the amputation? Our vet did an x-ray and confirm the cancer since the tumor was is already 1cm. They didn’t recommend the ampution because of her size. We feel that she is too young and she still is so happy and playful. Let me know if your Bruno is still fithing?

Kiersten: Hi Im sorry to hear about Montana, yet another poor baby suffering bone cancer. Bruno is still going strong. Im sorry I did not see your post until now. You can follow his progress on our dogs blog site which is Tails from the Pack Seriously think about amputation Leo’s get around just fine on 3 legs. Check out the links that are on the blogs, you will find other Leos and many many other dogs and the bonecancerdogs forum is a fantastic place, lots of help and info. Im going to try and send you an email. If you dont receive one from me get back to me on here and I will share all the info I have with you. Good luck to you and Montana x

Stephanie: Hi Mireille, I had a Leonberger with bone cancer, too. Chico had his rear leg amputated when it broke from the cancer. He really got along well, he was up walking right after the surgery and healed up really quick. personally, I don’t think size has a lot to do with whether the dog can handle it or not, if the leg hurts from the cancer they are not using that leg fully anyway. here’s my video of Chico progression from the day of his amp, he was 125 pounds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcUuu0waHi4 and here’s one I found of another boy with a front amp, his name is Dugan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LzAeWdvXGA I wish you and Montana the very best , Stephanie and my angel Chico

zena: I’m so sorry about Bruno how is he doing ? My Rottweiler Fizz had Bone Cancer in her hind leg she was 6 at the time, When Fizz was diagnosed I completely broke down, she was my baby and I adored her, but she showed me over the time from the date she was diagnosed to the date she went to heaven. How truly amazing an animal can be and over time I have realised that she has taught me more in her short 6 years than I had learned in my 40 ………….. and we say that we are the most intelligent thing’s on our planet ? Fizz had her leg amputated and was walking the next day ! She in fact walked the entire outside of the vet’s surgery, while being cheered on by firemen who were outside doing a training exercise ! She then had 3 Bouts of chemotherapy and was amazing through it not only did she never once look ill ?? She would lie on the table for 2 hours without sedation while they put 2 lines in her front legs and she did not move once !!! She finally past a lil bit over a year from her diagnosis and she past all my vet’s prediction’s ! She past when she was ready too and not before and I think that is something we all would prefer. I know that the last year of her short life may have been her defining part. The stage where everyone who knew her really began to acknowledged how remarkable she was. Because she was much more than an illness, she will always be and will always remain my Best Friend and I don’t think I will ever get over losing her, but I think that it may be helped by the telling of her Story and by the helping of others, So I started a Blog so people will have somewhere to come and chat or just vent …… I hope that Bruno is doing well and just enjoy your time with him and make some amazing memories as it’s these lil stories that help us cope in our darkest times Love to you, Bruno and family xxx

Mary C. Hilseberg: My 5 yr and 4 mo old dog has just been diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the right front leg. First biopsy came back, no trace of cancer. However, she continued to limp so I took her to an Orthopedic Surgeon. He feels from looking at the Xrays it is cancer, but did another biopsy. I don’t have the results yet but I feel certain he is correct. This is my second Leo, that got cancer at 5 years old. My first one, the cancer had spread to the lungs so he was euthanized. Lola’s cancer had not gotten to her lungs yet. I hate to see her suffer. It breaks my heart. The surgeon wants to amputate and put a prosthetic leg. I don’t know what to do. Any help is appreciated.

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