Are We Doing Something Wrong?

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  1. Hi All,
    My family has had a shocker of a year with our pets, some of you might remember my thread regarding my 6.5yr old Bullmastiff and her cancer. She passed away in mid August. This tuesday, our 14yr old Labrador was diagnosed with lung cancer which has spread to his lymph nodes. And yesterday, our 12yr old Turkish Van cat (adopted her when she was 10yrs old) was diagnosed with a bile duct tumor with possible spread to her liver. Our previous cat passed away in 2009 from a brain tumor.

    Our vet is at a loss as to explain why our pets have all suddenly got cancer. We have always vaccinated our pets, treated them as best we could when they were sick, and have had them sterilised. They get good food (Hills Science diet and Canine i/d- cats get Supercoat dry biscuits and premium wet cat food), and no one in our family smokes, we live in a good neighbourhood nowhere near any industrial sites etc.

    We're very nervous to bring any new animals into our home (our only healthy animal is my 2yr old moggy cat). Has anyone else experienced this? We just cannot understand what we've done to have this happen :sad:
  2. I'm so sorry about your pets' serious health problems--it must feel overwhelming.

    Honestly, I don't think you are doing anythng wrong. Sometimes cancer strikes them too young. One of our boxers died at age 5 from lymphoma. Your lab is elderly--if you hadn't taken such good care of him, he wouldn't have lived this long, and something else would have sickened him at a younger age! Your cat isn't elderly, but isn't terribly young either. A bad set of coincidences, but if you weren't such a devoted and careful owner, these things woul never have been diagnosed or they would've all died younger from something else (disease due to lack of prevention/vaccinations, etc).

    What I say doesn't make their pain (or your distress) go away but please don't blame yourself when you are a better owner than most and take their health so seriously.

  3. So sorry for your losses. It is so hard to lose the furry family members. I am a SERIOUS animal person. I breed show dogs and have shown dogs for 23 years. I have 5 dogs right now after losing my last two older girls (a mother and her daughter) 7 months apart from each other. The mother was 14 yrs and her daughter was 12 1/2 years old. I also have 3 cats, and three horses. I worked in a veterinary clinic for close to 5 years and I have studied animal health and nutrition on my own for years.
    All of your animals were, for their breed quite old, which says something about the care you gave them. Do NOT feel guilty. You did your best. At those ages cancer is a common problem, and both of those dog breeds are VERY prone to cancer anyway. In fact, you usually see it in the giant breeds and the retreivers (both Golden Retreivers and Labs) at a younger age than when it came on in yours.
    I will tell you that from being involved in dog showing for 23 years, and working in a vet clinic, I have had a LOT of experinece with many of the breeds and retreivers, both Golden and Labs are two of the breeds that are the most unhealthy. Labs have a predisposition to around 100 different health conditions and diseases. All the vets I know say that Labs and Goldens are two of the top breeds that keep veterinarians in business. The main cause of this is overpopularity of a breed. When a breed gets too popular, the backyard and puppy mill "breeders" go nuts cranking out poorly bred puppies that will be prone to a number of problems. This is why anyone who wants a purebred dog (or cat) needs to research the breed they want, and make sure they do everything in their power to search for a reputable breeder who also breeds for show animals. Not every puppy in a show bred litter is going to be a show prospect. The non show prospect puppies are the ones who go to pet/companion homes. This is what you want because these are the puppies that have been carefully bred by responsible breeders (at least MOST of the time). And may I also say that while I do not have anything against mixed breed animals and people who want mixed breeds, PLEASE avoid the "breeders" of the "hybrid" animals ie- Labradoodles, Puggles etc. These are nothing more than mixed breeds being touted as some new "breed", and the people breeding them are charging enormous amounts for nothing more than a mix. There are enough mixed breed animals in shelters that need homes without intentionally breeding more mixes. If people want a mixed breed, IMO they need to go to a shelter and adopt one. But, that said, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with wanting, owning or purchasing a purebred dog from a responsible breeder.
    My only suggestion to you would be if you get another animal, and from what you have said in your post, you are a WONDERFUL pet owner, stay away from the Science Diet foods. Not saying this caused any of your pets problems, but these are not premium quality foods. A premium quality food is one that contains no chemical preservatives (Ethoxyquin, BHA & BHT- these are cancer causing chemicals) and no by-products. I have fed a premium food to all my animals for as long as I've owned animals, and knock on wood have never had an animal with cancer. Again, that may also be a combination of the food, care and LUCK, but I do not discount the value to our animals of staying away from as many chemicals, both internally and externally, as possible.
    I'm sorry to have rambled on and on here. As you might be able to tell, animals and their health issues are a subject of passion for me. Again, I'm so sorry for your losses and your sweet kitty's problem. Please do not blame yourself. It sounds like you cared for and did everything you could for your fur kids. Hugs to you...
  4. You are not doing anything wrong just having a run of bad luck. I'm so sorry. If they are eating a healthy diet and seeing the vet as needed there is really nothing more you can do. I just lost a cat to nasal and bone cancer and it sucks. I lost another one last year to kidney failure and one 6 months before that to liver cancer. I also lost a Greyhound 2 years ago to bone cancer in his shoulder. My cats get the best care possible. These things just happen. It's no one's fault. I have notice that the purebred cats/dogs seem to have more medical problems than the mixed breed one. Hang in there. You are doing your best just as I am. I know how much it hurts. ((((HUGS))))
  5. There's an easy explanation: probability.

    The older the animal - and that includes humans - the more likely they will develop cancer. Your 12 year old cat was about 65 and had a life expectancy of 12 to 15 (average). Your dog was approx. 72 and had a life expectancy of 10 to 13 years (average).

    When you think about it in human terms, you would be sad, but hardly shocked, to hear that a 65 year old or a 72 year old developed cancer. And if a 65 year old and a 72 year old in the same family developed cancer, even within a short time of each other, no one would be looking at another family member to blame, right?

    Your bullmastiff was approximately 42 years old in human years when she got sick. At a time when humans are living longer, 42 seems pretty young, human or dog. However while it is the case that people in their 40s are less likely to develop serious cancers, a glance through the weekend obits will quickly put to rest the idea that it doesn't happen.

    There is nothing wrong with you except a case of survivor's guilt, which is part of the normal grief process. It is also something I can completely understand: we had to put our beloved Felix to sleep in July at age 5 and were devastated by guilt and grief. At the end of the day, we had to recognize and accept that life is inherently unfair - to us and to our furry companions - and sometimes there is simply not much that we or anyone else can do about it.
  6. The one downside to having pets is that we usually outlive them. Please don't close yourself off to the joys of loving animal companionship because you will one day have to say food-bye. They are worth the heartache.
  7. I have to respectfully disagree on one thing. I have had animals all my life and my purebreds have ALWAYS been WAY more healthy than the mixed breeds. I think the key is to make sure the purebreds are purchased from responsible breeders who take care to make sure they breed only the best and healthiest. I know as a breeder myself, I agonized and study pedigrees and make myself very informed on as many animals in the parent's pedigrees as possible. I am looking for any known genetic problems in all those animals. I do health testing on my breeding animals and offer health guarantees. Knock on wood, no problems as of yet. People need to stay away from puppy mills, backyard breeders, and do not purchase animals from ads in the paper or from pet stores.
  8. I'm so sorry to hear about your pets. Please don't blame yourself for all this. It's not your fault. You have given them a wonderful life. I think it just so happened that they were diagnosed at about the same time. As earlier mentioned, your pets are what we may consider in the older generation. Sending love and hugs your way!
  9. Thank you everyone for your kind words. It's just hit us hard, my lab and cat are still with us (though our lab will probably not see the end of the year), I wasn't expecting to lose 3/4 pets in a year... I know Toby (lab) is very old for his breed so we weren't too surprised, but our cat caught us completely off guard, I didn't think 12 was that old for a cat? We only adopted her two years ago so it feels unfair, we adore her very much.

    Both our dogs came from very good breeders (we would NEVER buy from a pet store/puppy mill). We will probably get another Bullmastiff from the same breeder, though I've emailed them to ask if any of Tigerlily's siblings/parents had the same cancer (the type of cancer she had is rare in Bullmastiffs), as her personality and health before the cancer was second to none.

    Collie5, would you be able to PM me more about the diet you feed your dogs? I didn't realise that Hills diets had such issues (it's the food recommended by our vet)... I'm always interested in learning more about animal health :smile:

  10. I would be happy to. :smile: