Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wishing you all the Best for 2010

My Christmas present this year is a happy healthy dog : ) I am thrilled she was given a clean bill of health last May, 2009 and has continued to do well. We look forward to many more years with our goofy girl.

It is a pleasure to have Cider as part of our family.

Wishing your family, friends and beloved pets all the best for 2010!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cider's Story

Our dog Cider successfully recovered from her Cancer Surgery in March 2009. Her post surgery healing took about 2 months.

I have opened this blog to the public now, so I can share Cider's story with other pet owners that may be experiencing the same thing. Cider had an egg sized Soft Tissue Sarcoma removed from her front left leg. It was a rather aggressive "de-bulking" surgery that stretched her remaining skin to the max. We chose this option over amputation or chemotherapy. We knew it would be a difficult road, as the first two Vets we talked to recommended amputation.

Cider's story and her 2 months of post surgery challenges are summarized in the blog posts below. I would like to thank Dr. Julius Liptak and Dr. Charles Bruce of the Alta Vista Animal Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario for saving Cider's leg. To "shake a paw" is a wonderful thing : )

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Healing Properties of Manuka Honey

During our dog's post surgery recovery it came to our attention that granular honey is very beneficial when applied to wounds that are slow to heal. We were told that any local unpasturized honey would do . . . but after doing some reading online it seemed worth the extra $20.00 to buy Manuka Honey. What's twenty dollars? . . . after oncology vet bills! The Honey Research Unit, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Waikato, New Zealand has been researching the healing properties of Manuka Honey for over twenty years.

After reading online I learned that unpasturized granular honey rapidly clears infection by destroying bacteria and repairs damaged skin. It has been used on humans with burns, ulcers and bedsores. It hastens the healing process and helps to regenerate new skin growth. After several weeks of little change (only negative) we were certainly willing to give granular honey a try.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Post Surgery Photos - Canine - Complications


This post has detailed photos of our dog's leg - after her cancer surgery. Large surgical "margins" mean there is not much skin left to close up the site. . . especially on tiny Collie legs. Cider's skin was OK for the first few days after surgery but then began to split. Just couldn't stretch any more. The torn skin would have to heal as an "open wound" - no more stitches.
If post surgery pictures will upset you, please look no further.
The photographs are posted in reverse order . . . . from recovery back to the beginning. I have posted these photos for the benefit of other dog owners that are going throught the same stressful process of looking after a dog that is slow to heal. We were literally watching new skin grow at the pace of 1mm a day. Slow and steady.

Using Granular Honey to help heal a wound that can not be stitched worked for our dog. We used Manuka Honey from New Zealand from April 3rd to May 5th. What a difference a month makes : )

May 5th ~ Delicate but finally closed.
No more open wounds and the black (dead) tissue has fallen off with pretty pink tissue underneath. We were very happy with her progress.

FYI ~ Cider had four layers of bandage to protect her leg (not shown).

1. Several layers of four inch square Gauze, with new honey on the top layer;
2. Soft padding or Cotton Wrap for a buffer;
3. Gauze Wrap to hold the padding secure; and
4. then the stretchy "Vet Wrap" to hold everything in place.

Every time we changed Cider's bandage we showed her each layer we took off . . .followed by a display of each layer we put on. We kept the routine exactly the same, at the same place in the kitchen every time - on a non skid mat. She sat quietly and held up her paw so we could work on her leg. I was the removal crew and my husband was the new bandage crew. He was better at getting the correct tightness. Cider let me do the rinsing/cleaning. Cider was always rewarded with a piece of hot dog at the end. It seemed to work. Thank God she willingly let us change her bandage daily.

April 15th ~ New Tissue Growth. You can see the thin flim of white that is the first stage of new tissue growth. We were very easy on the cleaning at this pioint. We did not want to wash away the progress. The gold area is just dried honey.

April 9th ~ From the Bottom up. The larger hole on the left needs to fill in with new tissue growth. The Vet explained this will happen from the bottom up and quite slowly. Perhaps only a millimetre a day. We were warned that the thin area of skin between the two holes could easily die, turn black and fall off. Pink is good. Black is dead (eg. small scab top left of photo).

April 6th - First sign of improvement "Pretty in Pink" is the theme of the month. That is what we were told to look for. Note the light pink new skin in the small hole on the right. That would be healing : ) The gold tones are just residual honey. We focused on gently cleaning the wound - just a quick rinse with a saline solution. We warmed it to body temperature (7 seconds in the microwave) and used an eye dropper. I tested it on my own skin first. We were very careful to avoid disturbing any new tissue growth. The "cold" saline solution always made Cider jump. Once it was body temperature she was fine. Thanks to a nurse/friend for giving me that tip!

We didn't worry about the honey that was stuck to Cider's fur. We did not want to bother our dog any more than we had to. A daily bandage change with her co-operation was very much appreciated. We were thrilled to confirm that saline and honey do not sting.

April 3rd ~ Cleaned by Vet and Ready for Honey Treatments. Quite intimidating to look at I thought. Actually I didn't look any more ~ Just got that dreaded bandage change overwith . . . took the pictures on "auto" with a flash and viewed them after the fact on the computer.

~ The "Before" Photo ~

Friday, April 10, 2009

Houdini is in the House ~ A little humour

Look Mom ! No Bandage . . . . I am so proud of myself.
You need to do better than an e-collar for this ol' pup !

Sorry about the blanket . . . it just got in the way of my mission . . . . honest.

I won't do it again . . . . Promise. You just run off and do what you need to do. Really . . . I'm fine.

Well . . . maybe just one more time !

Ha Ha Ha ! Just kidding : )

I'll be good . . . while I sleep (note those patched chew holes)


Keep your dog near your bed or sleep on the couch beside her. Basically our dog could not be left alone at all. No matter how big the collar, or tight the bandage, she could figure out an escape. We bought a new e-collar every 7 days. She chewed through the clips, bent the sides over and folded it in half repeatedly. She never gave up !!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mommy Almost Faints

Cider and I went to the Alta Vista Animal Hospital today to have Cider's leg professionally cleaned. Before the honey treatment can begin the wound needs to be absolutely clean. I thought I was fine with yucky stuff . . . but apparently not. Cider was none too pleased with the scrubbing (can't blame her!). I was near her head while the four (yes 4 !!!) vet techs made sure she didn't make a run for it. They managed to hold her on the table, on her side. The vet got out the saline solution and cleaned her wound. I think I actually forgot to breath after a while. Looking at that "mess" and watching the saline syringe shoot liquid in through one hole and out the other. Yuck.

Then the vet lifted up the center portion of loose skin and said . . . "We'll have to watch this area . . . all this skin and surrounding area could die." I walked away at that point but really wasn't able to get myself together. I had to leave the room and sit for awhile. Quite embarrassing and certainly no moral support for my dog what so ever!

We both made it home eventually and Cider seemed to be as emotionally drained as I was. Lots of sleeping today. And so begins the first day of Cider's Manuka Honey treatment ~ and the hope that new skin will grow to fill in those awful holes. Hopefully Cider will let my husband and I treat her wound . . . as it will just be Steve and I with the dog.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Scary Days - Skin Splitting - Post Surgery

Things certainly get worse before they get better. We were bandaging her wounds at this point but every time we took the bandage off it looked worse. Feeling very worried.

The doggy meds were working re: pain management . . . so at least that wasn't an issue.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

That doesn't look right . . .

A few days after the surgery things started to go down hill . . . and fast. Seepage from a wound is not a good thing. Skin splitting beside the stitches is really not good. You can't add more stitches now. The skin is simply stretched to the limit and then some.

We were warned that this could happen. The goal is to remove as much tumor and cancer as possible . . . which doesn't leave much healthy skin for sewing things up. We chose this option, with its challenges, over amputation.

No climbing, jumping or even much walking at this point. Only out for a bathroom break (on the leash) and right back inside. The less she moves the better at this point. Feeling guilty now about letting her lie on the couch. That up and down motion should have been avoided : (

Friday, March 20, 2009

First Day Home

Friday March 20th was Cider's first day home. We were told to let the air at her wound and not to bandage it up. We purchased an e-collar (elizabethan collar) to stop her from licking her leg. This was not needed on the first evening home as she was too exhausted to move. We thought the worst was over at this point . . . . little did we know!

Note to others: Listen carefully to the Vet's instructions about what to do and what NOT to do. We had just put our 20 year old cat down at our local vet . . . . before picking up Cider to bring her home from Alta Vista. I don't think I listened carefully enough to the post-op instructions. I should have kept Cider off the couch and totally minimized the amount of motion and movement in her leg. Her skin was far more fragile that I was aware.

Our Sweet Casey 1989 ~ 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Biopsy Results - Soft Tissue Sarcoma

March 2009 - March 6th surgery at our local Vet was cancelled and we were formally referred to the Alta Vista Animal Hospital. Our Vet explained that this was Cider's best chance for success and she should be seen by a Surgical Oncologist. Dr. Liptak's site can be viewed here:

Here are some earlier photos . . . after Cider's Biopsy.

Our journey begins . . . .