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Rio's Battle with Osteosarcoma

Our day to day life with OSA

Rio’s 3 month post-op ups and DOWNS!

Filed under: Uncategorized — nikkiweber at 5:15 am on Monday, July 14, 2014

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It has been very hard for me to write this blog as it has been quite awhile and Rio and I have shared some very tough times. I am very proud to say that it has been almost 3 months since his surgery. So here goes our last month or so in a nut shell. Bare with us πŸ˜‰

End of May (1 month post op) Rio’s appetite decreased and the swelling over his shoulder where his right front was amputated became larger and firmer. He seemed great in spirits until he almost stopped eating and his gait changed dramatically from before. I wasn’t sure what a normal “healing” process entails after an amputation and feel horrible for not catching the signs sooner. I figured his seroma would take a while to go away because it was such an empty space left and him being a great dane even adds to that… Since his spirits seemed okay we decided to head up north for Memorial Day. Well shortly after the 3 hour drive I knew Rio wasn’t okay. He laid lateral not interested in anything. I was scared out of my mind. I felt his paws, they were cold, his eyes were sunken and he began this heart-wrenching whine. I took his shirt off to look at the site and it had gotten very large and firm. The picture below is SO hard for me to share because I have blamed myself for letting it get to this point and again it has taken me almost 2 months to write this update. I’ve shed so many tears and have gone through an insane dollar coaster of emotions. I want to post this picture for those who are unsure of the healing process and what to know is ABNORMAL. Rio had an abcess where the surgery was 1 month later that nearly claimed his life.

The swelling at its breaking point, the night at the on-call vet and the journey to a heartbreaking decision

The swelling at its breaking point, the night at the on-call vet and the journey to a heartbreaking decision

This was the day I almost lost him. I found an on-call vet up north at 10:30pm and discovered Rio had a temp of 104.3…very high… We were worried a vessel my have detached and was bleeding into the cavity which could be causing him to become anemic. We obtained samples from the painful swelling and it was mostly blood. The Vet recommended returning to the U the next morning so we did. He was almost lifeless. I thought to myself, “This is my fault, how could I not have known, how could it have gotten this bad, its been 1 month! things are supposed to get better! I’ve let him suffer, I will never forgive myself for being negligent and not doing something sooner…”

Lesson learned if you don’t know…. ASK! ASK everything! Vets deal with emergencies every day, we don’t, especially when its our family.

Fortunately Rio survived the 3 hours journey back to the cities, and when he was admitted to the Emergency Room his temp had elevated to 104.6, he was becoming septic. I had to make a decision to euthanize or put him through surgery again… I had no idea what was the right thing to do and have never fought more internally within myself ever. Am I being selfish? He is just going to die if they do not go back in and drain the infection- he may not make it a day- he may not make it through the procedure the Vet told me… I took a few minutes and asked to see my boy. I wanted him to tell me what to do.

They brought him into a quiet room with the lights off and my boy would not look at me for a second, he could see how much distress I was in and held his head high with ears flat back, avoiding eye contact. So I decided…. I was going to do/try everything I can possible to make him comfortable even if it was in efforts that it didn’t succeed. I couldn’t live with the fact of just letting him go in the condition I let happen…


They called later and everything went well and his temp was normal. They placed a vacuum suction drain that needed to be drained every 4-6 hours. When I picked him up, his side was completely deflated and he RAN to me! I couldn’t believe it, and even though it cost nearly as much as the surgery I don’t regret my gut instinct and that look in his eyes telling me it wasn’t his time.

The day after his procedure

The day after his procedure

I had my boy back. I am so thankful for the oddest reasons… I was ready to let him go that day, I almost lost him, but I got more in touch that my boy isn’t going to live forever and that every damn day with him is truly a blessing and to take that time to stare an extra second in his eyes, watch his eyebrows twitch, cherish every tail wag and smile from ear to ear watching him RUN again! I realized that when it is time I can be more at peace for what he has taught and given me over our 7 years together. Β We have not done any further treatment at this time and I found out that his heart murmur has gotten worse so that is going to be my priority right now, ultrasound and routine care, X-rays, bloodwork, etc… I do not think I will do Chemo with Rio because he does have a weakened immune system and I can’t ever hear that heart-wrenching whine from him ever again. And most importantly we are OK, we are happy. I know I can’t keep him in my life forever, and I know even if I did everything possible I could old age is something we all mammals face and can’t deny…

SO those were are downs…. I brought Rio back up north just last week and here are some photos of my proud tripawd πŸ™‚

If there is anyone out there that has been through difficult post procedure decisions or even lost your beloved one I would love to chat with you and help in any way possible. Thanks for reading!

Kisses on the dock! We barely made it to the dock just a month ago.

Kisses on the dock! We barely made it to the dock just a month ago.

My porch lounger

My porch lounger

Happy adventures, keeping up with mama! Hopping on 3 :)

Happy adventures, keeping up with mama! Hopping on 3 πŸ™‚

Always loved his sticks!

Always loved his sticks!



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July 14, 2014 @ 3:12 pm   Reply

Oh my goodness , I felt like I was reading Ty’s story. Rio looks amazing. Ty had the same exact thing happen to him. He had 2 additional surgeries and was on a vacuum machine for 3 days. I had been begging them to culture this awful mass that had appeared on his amp side and eventually crept around his neck. The same thing cold paws and his muzzle was cold. My poor boy, unfortunately did not have the strength left to fight this. We did 2 weeks of an injectable antibiotic and he had the drain also. Within a week of having the drain removed, his fever was 104 again. He couldn’t lift his head or walk alone. I knew he was so tired. I asked the vet to remove the few staples that were still there. He had one spot that had not healed so they packed to with the antibiotic and stapled it again. When he took out the staples, the wound had healed completely. I am is glad your boy has rebounded from this. I keep preaching the culture any swelling. Ty’s culture came back positive for MRSA. Don’t blame yourself, these things can happen so suddenly and Ty even left the vets office with them not being too worried about this lump that I pointed out on his neck. Then they decided to culture it for cancer but not infection. Btw: I asked them to. Came back neg. for cancer cells. I kept calling and telling them he had a fever and the lump was seeping from every place they had stuck a needle in for the biopsy.I finally sent them a picture, by this time, it had turned black and cracked open. I still have nightmares about that wound. The most important thing is that he is ok. He is here with you. Enjoy him to the fullest. He is happy and wants you to be also. I have found out that this is a learn as you go journey. Heck,I had not heard of canine Osteosarcoma last year at this time. Give that big , beautiful boy a kiss for me. Lori and Ty



July 14, 2014 @ 6:57 pm   Reply

I have a question does Rio’s incision feel cold? I have a dane named Bailey and she had a rough go with the surgery and chemo. I would have been scared to death of Rio’s condition just like you were, I would have reacted just like you did. We never look back only forward. Baily keeps licking her incision and in one spot there’s a scab at the crease. Now she is 5 months post opt. Her incision swells now and then and is cold to the touch but it’s floaty not hard. I think it’s when she plays with my other dane Bella. Bailey is 7 years old and has had 5 rounds of carbo but the number 5 took her down and she had to be hospitalized so no. Do you do any supplements? I just need help and direction from a dane person on what they do and maybe it will help. Bailey has her good and bad days… lately all she does is lays around but last week would have been week three and that is when her blood count drops low and they pushed her off to a 4 week chemo. She doesn’t want to eat the last few days and feeding has been a game ever since her surgery not chemo… we have tried just about every grain free out there. Your Rio is beautiful and I’m so glad he healed so perfectly and is pain free!
Bailey is on the Forum I need to set up her own page. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
HUGS, Tracy and Bailey



July 14, 2014 @ 8:11 pm   Reply

OMD!!!!!!!! I don’t even know word again! At first I was shaking with fear and now I’m shivering with the delight absolute delight!

Okay, I have to start with those beautiful pictures!!!! Surely you are a professional photographer, right? Of course, I realize you have an exquisite subject who can make any picture look good! Make that two subjects….. YOU and Rio!
These pictures just take my breath away, literally!

Rio looks like the epitome of health, he really does! He looks so darn happy! Talk about a dog living in the moment WOW!!

Now don’t waste 1 more second of useless energy second guessing yourself, okay? First of all, it’s wasted energy it takes time away from your treasure to moments with rio. Secondly, there isn’t anyone on this site who would have done anything differently! Just recently, and I forgot who, someone’s dog developed a seroma 3 to 4 weeks out also. There is no reason to think that this just wasn’t some little bump in the recovery process, especially for such a huge dog with a huge heart!

You were incredibly diligent acted quickly what’s things started presenting themselves differently then just a normal pop in the recovery process! Applaud yourself for that! We are getting you a standing ovation over here! Rio is alive and healthy and happy today because you are such a great advocate! You are so tuned into Rio!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Thank goodness you gave him a chance to chime in on the decision!

When we can get into a calm, centered and grounded space where we can really open up and listen with the ears of our soul, we will always be able to “hear” what our dogs are trying to tell us. RIO spoke and you listened! He has so much more living to do… much more lov i ng and spoiling to absorb and so many more treasured and sacred moments to share with y o u!

THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE! I guarantee you that, because of your experience and courage, you and Rio have just saved lives! Now that’s a dog life meaning! That’s a dog who knows his purpose, which is in part, to make a difference in the lots of others!


Continue to stay in the moment with Rio. Check out the blogs on holostic and natural routes so.many have taken and gotten extraordinary results!

Part of my beloved Happy Hannah’s legacy that I have vowed to her to continue offering to others on this journey…….until the last breath a dog takes as he proceeds to the next open door…… are together in the here and Now….LET NOTHING ROB YOU OF YOUR TIME TOGETHER….stayin the moment….let nothing interfere…your dog sure is notworrying about a thing andh has no fears or worries…just loving being with you!!!!!

OKAY, gotta` go get some earplugs…this applause is getting waaaay tooloud!

Love and hugs…..and give Rio a scoop of ice cream and you a glass of wine! Happy Hannah’s buying!

Sally and Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle too!



July 14, 2014 @ 8:18 pm   Reply

OMD, Just what I wanted to hear.Jake is 30 days Post Op right hind leg amputation due to re-occurance of Mast cell tumor on his right hock. He had one great week and then within two days last week he developed a tennis ball size discollored lump below his incision line. We brought him back Thursday to see the surgeon and she admits that she is perplexed. His temp was 103, and the mass was warm and red. She aspirated the mass and found blood. She sent the aspirate out for cytology and culture. She called friday night and said that the cytology came back as mast cells. Ughh! She does not want to make me crazy but…it doesn’t look good. She wanted to speak to the pathologist to explain the whole scenario, rather than him merely reporting what he see’s. The culture was not ready yet. He has been on benadryl and clavamox. His energy is fair(not back to the prior week), appetite good. I just don’t know. She tells me that a hematoma one month post surgery is highly unusual, but in Jake’s case nothing is usual. Any light you can shed would be appreciated. So sorry for what you and Rio have been through but you are the only one that has had similar findings. Thank You for your willingness to share.
Laurie aka Jake’s Mom



July 14, 2014 @ 11:32 pm   Reply

wow…what a roller coaster ride!

I’m so glad to hear (and see) how well Rio is doing! He is a beautiful boy and clearly has incredible strength – both physical and emotional.

Hurrah for telling your Mom was she needed to do on that ominous night!

Enjoy your wonderful boy!


Linda and Tucker



July 15, 2014 @ 12:15 am   Reply

What beautiful pictures! So happy that your story had a happy ending for Rio. He looks so good and so happy.




July 15, 2014 @ 2:07 am   Reply

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am dealing with this also and going back and forth on what to do. The vet seems unconcerned because there is not fever. It has been a month and it is now very swollen. So happy for Rio and you! Rio is gorgeous and LOVE the pictures.



July 15, 2014 @ 3:14 am   Reply

Oh. My. GOSH! What a totally scary, frightening time you both went through, I am sorry, so very sorry. I know he survived and that is PAWESOME, but wow, nobody should ever have to go through such hard times after surgery, my heart just aches for you…what a relief to everyone here that he MADE IT!

You are both true survivors of the Tripawds Nation. I am hoppy beyond words that everything worked out, thank you for taking time to share the downs and the ups, it’s invaluable.

{{{{{hugs}}}} & smooches to Rio too, you rock.

P.S. never forget, we are here for you, anytime. The forums are a great place to turn to in ruff times, which I hope you will never, ever experience again. Keep us posted though OK? xoxo



July 16, 2014 @ 6:56 am   Reply

As I read all these comments my eyes are swelled with tears! I can’t thank all of you enough for taking the time out of your day for reading this and making me feel so much better!
Lori and Ty I am so sorry you lost your boy! It sounds like we had very similar situations, it is so heartbreaking! I am so thankful Rio spoke to me and it is clear not only from my perspective of course but others we share a very special bond (like most owners) and are very in tuned with each other. I learned we can’t fight the inevitable we just have to be able to mentally and physically deal with the truth…

Tracy and Bailey- Rio’s incision doesn’t feel cold for the most part I don’t think, there are not as many vessels keeping bloodflow going so I get that, but he does seems to lick or itch the bottom “crease” part but it seems more like a normal “I have an itch” type of behavior. I don’t have him on any medications or supplements, that is next on my list… He is on no pain meds or anything, right now I am feeding Blue Wilderness chicken- grain free with salmon oil added and he seems to be eating it pretty well, since we got back from the lake he seems quite a bit slower but maybe he is sore (he tore it up, up north!) I want to check his bloodwork and lungs soon. The one thing I have noticed is his neck seems larger, I massage him damn near every night and he loves it and I am thinking it is just his muscle but am watching it closely… I haven’t noticed any abnormal lumps or areas around where the incision line was…I think the biggest thing with our big Danes is arthritis… its gotta be hard on their spine and other legs…

Oh Benny55- you have always been there for me and your post especially made the tears roll! Thank you so much! I love capturing our moments together and thankfully for Rio he loves the camera attention! Thank you so much for making it seem easier for me to post this traumatic experience! It is never easy when you do go down the opposite road you think you should be but I wanted to make it important that just because we go through this HUGE surgery the journey doesn’t end there and not to pass up any tiny little differences that happen from then on.

“THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS INVALUABLE EXPERIENCE! I guarantee you that, because of your experience and courage, you and Rio have just saved lives! Now that’s a dog life meaning! That’s a dog who knows his purpose, which is in part, to make a difference in the lots of others!”
—Thank you so much for saying this! you have no idea how much this means to Rio and I! Hugs Hugs Hugs!!!

Laurie- The fact that they found mast cells may have already been there and can or may be contributing to the lump, but I would defiantly be worried about some sort of infection on top of that… Dogs with mast cells tumors though cancerous generally don’t spike a temp… At least he is on the right medications in my opinion at this point at least until the culture comes back. I had Rio on Baytril (which is the god of antibiotics) for 2 weeks… Just be careful and watch closely, if in doubt trust your gut! And feel free to post pictures!! Keep a thermometer at home and monitor his incision closely, if there is any swelling heat packs work well to distribute any floating liquid to redisperse into other tissues.. Keep us posted!

Linda and Tucker- Thanks so much for your post! It is amazing that split second when you are truly bonded with your pet to trust them to know what they have left to give!

Arlene- Thanks so much for the post!

Candie- If there is a large swollen area even without a fever, it doesn’t mean that fever can’t sneak up in a day or two.. Rio was almost septic by the time he got help, something isn’t right, I would look into doing some antibiotics just in case or at least another culture of the area, you can never be too certain. We know our pets the best! And we all want the best! Do whatever you can until you get answers and are at least content with knowing rather than not knowing why there area is swollen.. again feel free to post pictures! Rio’s swelling got large, firm and warm, check for those signs… Wiggly loose liquid is usually a seroma, which from dog to dog depending on activity and what not can be “normal” but be on close watch! And carry a thermometer! πŸ™‚

Jerry- Thanks so much for always being here for Rio and I. It truly means a ton to us that we are part of this great Tripawd Nation! Whether the ups and downs and for everyone on here a place to discuss, console and at that point we are never really ready for grieve… Thanks so much!

XOXO to all of you!
Nikki and Rio



July 23, 2014 @ 3:24 pm   Reply

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