Cancer in Dogs – A Retrospective of our Beloved Samoyed Ramius’s Battle with Cancer
In This Entry – Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
Thank you for reading our continuing series about cancer in dogs, and our beloved Samoyed Ramius’s long journey with the disease, which started in the summer of 2014 and lasted until he passed away in January, 2016.
Hope you’ve been enjoying our series so far, and our apologies for the long lapse between posts. We’ve been busy relocating to LA which has been taking up lots of our time as you can imagine. However, we’re settled now so we’re back on it!
One of the things that frankly we weren’t expecting during this process is the effect all of these various treatments would have on Ramius’s mobility. That’s not something that was really discussed with our veterinarians before beginning this journey, and mobility problems supposedly aren’t all that common when undergoing these treatments.
Ramius’s Mobility Needed Improvement
Nevertheless, after his 20 radiation treatments and four chemotherapy sessions, Ramius’s mobility was undoubtedly compromised. In fairness, Ramius was an older dog when we started this and he only continued to age, so perhaps that was a significant factor. All of our joints tend to stiffen as we get older right? Whatever it was, it was something that needed to be addressed for us as much as for him.
While Ramius was able to walk around a little bit, stairs were out of the question. This was a problem because in order for Ramius to go outside, he would need to climb down a half a dozen stairs or so. While we could guide him okay getting down the stairs, getting up the stairs was another story entirely. We would have to essentially support and even half lift him all the way up.
Now fortunately, we are relatively young, strong, and healthy enough to do that. But I would imagine for a lot of people, this would’ve been a significant hardship. Even for us, it was challenging. And of course it increased our own risk of injuring ourselves. You have to remember this when caring for a sick fur baby, there can be a lot of physical strain as well as emotional and financial strain. So for all us, clearly Ramius’s limited mobility was a problem that needed to be addressed.
Visiting the Physical Therapist
We took Ramius back to MedVet Chicago to meet with their physical therapist. I’ll tell you now that we actually had two different experiences with physical therapy at MedVet. This first round frankly didn’t go all that well, and we saw very little improvement in Ramius’s mobility. However, we would take Ramius back again for therapy the following year and saw better results. That will be the subject of another blog post.
The doctor examined Ramius and was able to confirm what we knew already, that Ramius was very stiff. His joints had arthritis and were really limiting his mobility. He suggested a series of appointments that would treat Ramius in the rehabilitation center using a combination of mobility exercises, stretching, massage, and laser treatments. He also recommended a series of home exercises that we could do with Ramius.
Well this is as all great and definitely necessary, but it sounded expensive. And unlike the cancer treatments, at first we were unsure if Ramius’s physical therapy treatments would be covered by our pet insurance. Good news! They were! This was again a big relief for us as we knew we could continue to give him the treatment he needed without breaking the bank. Thank you Healthy Paws!
We started taking him in on a semi-regular basis for therapy and did our best to help him with his home exercises. And though Ramius thoroughly seemed to enjoy the treatments, especially the massages, him improvement was minimal. We were really hoping he’d regain that old strength in his legs, but it just wasn’t happening.
Perhaps this was partially our fault because although we did our best with his home exercises, we probably didn’t do them frequently enough. Same with his visits to the therapist. Certainly we could have done more, but even with what we did do, I’m not sure the treatment he was getting was super effective. This would be confirmed when we did our second tour of physical therapy duty in 2015, but again, more on that later.
His Mobility Needed Improvement BUT He was Cancer Free!
For now, in late 2014 and early 2015 we were extremely happy. After all, Ramius was completely cancer free! He had follow up examinations with his cancer doctors every three months to run tests, and they continued to confirm that the cancer had not resurfaced. And though his mobility and leg strength would never completely come back, and we’d find out why later, Ramius was mobile enough. He still needed help getting up and down the stairs, but he could stand up and walk around on his own.
His walking limit was really no more than a slow walk around the block, but that was okay with us. He could do it, and he was happy. And again, he was cancer free!
But sadly, what we didn’t know, and couldn’t know, back in those blissful days was that in the summer of 2015, his cancer would come back.
Ramius’s second bout with cancer in the summer of 2015 will be the subject of Part VIII in our continuing series which is available if you click here.
If you’ve been enjoying our series, please share it with any pet owners you know. Especially any pet parents that are dealing with a fur baby battling cancer.
And if you have, or have had, a dog with cancer and you’d like to share your experiences, please leave us a comment. Remember, you’re not alone. We’ll be sure to get back to you. And we promise, the next installment will be coming shortly.
Thank you for reading!