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My dog Lydia has cancer

by Therese on July 11, 2008

in Dogs, Lydia's cancer, My pets, Pet Health


My dog has cancer.

Damn! Those are certainly words no pet owner wants to have to ever say, but as of yesterday it’s true for my dog Lydia.

Lydia had surgery last week for a to remove an anal gland and two small tumors. Last night we went in for a recheck and to get the results of the biopsy, which I was certain would turn out to be benign. Not so. The vet walks in asked how I’m doing. In a chipper voice, I said “I’m doing great, how’s Lydia?” And even before he got the words out of his mouth I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then hearing him say “not good” was surreal…it was like I was in the wrong room with the wrong veterinarian talking about the wrong dog.

Lydia has anal gland adenocarcinoma. Anal gland cancer.

Let me say it again…Damn!!

Lydia is only 7 years old. This shouldn’t be happening…not yet!

The vet said the cancer had started in a tumor on her anal gland and then metastasized to her lymph nodes…not good. On the other hand he said that he’s never seen one so small, caught so early. He usually sees them when they’re baseball sized or bigger. The one on Lydia’s anal gland was about the size of a lima bean, and the other one was smaller. I found the bigger one myself when I tried expressing her anal glands. We’re not sure if catching it early will make a bit of difference yet, but I’m hopeful.

After we got home from the vet’s office Lydia, Archie, and I curled up on the bed and I cried…and cried. When I did, Lydia was the one who most wanted to comfort me! She is such a sweet, wonderful friend and I hate that this is happening to her…to us. I hate cancer! Hate it! Hate it! Hate it! I’ll do what I can to help her fight it though…I’ve gotta get over the tears so we can move on to the fight.

I’m taking Lydia to see an oncologist on Monday. In the meantime, I’ll be reading up more on anal gland cancers.

The only bright side of all this, if you want to call it that, is that I started the dogs and cat on insurance earlier this year. At least I won’t have the financial issue to worry about. I can just work on doing what we can to give her the best life possible.

What a sucky day yesterday turned out to be!

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura July 11, 2008 at 10:53 am

Therese, my heart and strength go out to you both. We’re all behind you during these tough days.



Jane - Mom Generations July 11, 2008 at 11:20 am

Oh, my heart is just so heavy for you and Lydia right now. My beloved Bismarck was diagnosed with cancer at age 5 last June. I hope that since you caught it so early and that it’s small, you can fight this and beat it. I know exactly what you’re going through. Please let me know if you need anything. You are both in my thoughts.



Peggie Arvidson July 11, 2008 at 11:21 am

Therese – I’m sending you every ounce of healing energy for a positive outcome for you and Lydia. It’s so wonderful the way she is comforting you at this time. Animals don’t have any agenda, do they?

Hugs for you through the heartbreak.



Kat French July 11, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Oh Therese,
I’m so sorry to hear this. I don’t know what to say except that I’m thinking about you and sending you all the good thoughts and comfort that I can.



Riley & Tiki July 11, 2008 at 12:27 pm

We are very sorry that Lydia has to go through this. We will purr for her.


MaKo July 11, 2008 at 12:33 pm

That sucks!

Ok, Lydia has been diagnosed with cancer.

First of all – even the best veterinarians can mis-diagnose; and secondly – there are enough surprises in life to never give up hope.

Even if Lydia has cancer, she right now is living a wonderful life: surrounded by love and care, and not a worry in the world.

Animals don’t dread the future, they live right here, and right now, and enjoy what they have.

As strange as this might sound: try to do the same. Lydia is connected to you and feels your emotions. She will feel your sorrow and pain, and that will upset her. If you feel the tightening of the throat and the tears welling up, go outside, kick a car or a mailbox and yell at a tree or whatever.

Let Lydia know that you will help her as much as possible, and if everything else fails, you will make the pain go away.

Now please excuse me, I have to go outside and kick a car or a mailbox and yell at a street sign….

My thoughts and hopes are with you and Lydia



amy324 July 11, 2008 at 1:09 pm

Oh, what heartbreaking news. I’m so sorry. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and Lydia. She is such a beautiful girl. Best wishes for a good outcome with the oncologist.


Johann July 11, 2008 at 1:16 pm

I am so sorry!!! You must be a wreck…if you want to talk, call me, k? We luvs ya!!!! Dogs beat cancer a lot now-a-days, keeping really good thoughts.

Woofs, Johann and Mum, Leslie


jan July 11, 2008 at 1:32 pm

What a heartbreaking thing to hear and in one so young. There are so many advances in veterinary medicine today though that she has a real chance of beating it. Prayers for you and Lydia, I feel like we know her well.


Ruth July 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm

I just went through losing my 7 year old black lab, Benny.

I am so very sorry for you!! I too cried and cried. And, I still do. Your precious Lydia is blessed to have you to take care of her, and you are blessed to have such a wonderful friend in your dog. And, she knows your love to her.
It’s a tough journey, but love will help you through it.

I wish you much strength through this journey,

Nikki and Shorty,


Fuzzy Logic July 11, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Well that just sucks.. I”m so sorry to hear this!

But I do have one piece of good news for you. A friend of mine has a dog with the same issue.. but they found it much later… and it’s been two years and her dog is doing just fine!

I have hope and faith that Lydia will be with you for a long time yet.


Rebecca January 27, 2011 at 5:15 pm

What type of cancer did your friends dog have and what treatment did the dog receive? Just wondering my dog has anal gland adenocarcinoma and received chemo with no side effects and she still acts as if nothing is wrong with her but this week we noticed a bump growing on her rectal area, she goes to the vet next Friday, I don’t know what else we can do for her?


Therese January 27, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Rebecca, getting your dog to the vet right away is the best thing you can do right now. If it’s cancer hopefully it can be removed before it spreads. It’s been 2 1/2 years since Lydia was diagnosed and, although we had to remove another tumor a couple months ago, she’s still doing great.


Therese July 11, 2008 at 2:01 pm

I hope none of you mind a group thank you…the kind words and healing thoughts from each of you means the world to me right now. It’s so comforting to know you guys care – even though most of you have never met me, and none of you have met Lydia. I am truly blessed to have her in my life and no matter what happens, I’ll always feel that way. I’m also blessed to have people who care about both of us. Thank you!!!

And Fuzzy…that’s great news! Thank you so much for sharing that bit of encouragement. We need it right now!


YesBiscuit! July 11, 2008 at 2:20 pm



Gina July 11, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Oh, T! I am so sorry …


Princsstrish July 11, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I am so sorry to hear of this! It’s never an easy thing to tell an owner. I will pray for strength to get through this. They have amazing chemo protocols now though so don’t give up hope just yet. Good luck at the oncologists and give Lydia a big hug from me! Give yourself one too while you’re at it 🙂


Jeni July 11, 2008 at 10:14 pm

I will keep you and Lydia in my thoughts. I know the advances in pet medicine will surprise you , and you will find a way through this!

love her up, I’m sure she’s feeling your pain and not sure why you are so sad.



JanC July 12, 2008 at 8:43 am

Hugs & kisses to you & Lydia during this very trying time. I hugged my baby girl & cried for you…….my heart goes out to you.

Keep positive thoughts & we’ll all keep our fingers (& paws) crossed.


Sabra July 12, 2008 at 9:05 am

Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that! :’ – ( I know how much your babies mean to you. I wish I could drive right out there and give all of you a {{{HUGE HUG}}}. You know Flecks and I will be sending good and healing thoughts your way.

Sabra & Flecks


Josie and Sam July 12, 2008 at 3:09 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about Lydia, I know that just hearing that word is enought to strike fear in your heart. When I battled cancer with my Joshie dog early this I learened some important things. The most important of which is many, many dogs beat this and go on the lead long health lives. Lydia is a young girl, in good health other wise and that gives her a great deal of hope for a complete recovery. Know that you and Lydia are in my prayers and thoughts. keep the faith and fight the good fight to win.

Josie and Sam


Therese July 12, 2008 at 11:18 pm

Again, thank you so much to everyone for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers, and for all the words of encouragement. I’ve been touched by how many people have stopped by or emailed me privately to say they’re thinking of Lydia. It really does help!

Thank you!


matt July 13, 2008 at 9:19 am

All the best to your family. This type of stuff is never easy. Stay strong.


Debbie July 13, 2008 at 11:07 am

I am also sending healing thoughts to you. I hope things go well with the oncologist.


Dawn August 6, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Even though you posted almost a month ago, I’m hoping Lydia and yourself are doing well. I just spotted this blog today as I am unfortunately having to weigh the decision of when I must put my dear sweet girl, Quigley, down. She like Lydia has anal sac cancer. Unfortunately for all of us, the diagnosis came too late. Her tumor was found to be much too large for the vet to take it all out. I’ve been fortunate enough to have her so far for 1year 8 months since the diagnosis. Sadly, I’m afraid her time is short now as the tumor is starting to bother her because she is biting at it. Her doc won’t be back in until Monday to find out if we have anymore options. I’m with you on “hating cancer.” I’ve lost several animals to cancer and just 7 weeks ago said “see you again someday” (never goodbye as to me that is forever) to my other dog of 15 years. My dear Bubba didn’t pass on of cancer although he did have a cancer tumor on his hind leg. His death was sudden as I had to rush him to the emergency and put him down within that hour. So needless to say I’m pretty angry with this horrible disease! Quigley is 10 and she’s had a wonderful life. I know if this terrible, terrible disease hadn’t shown up, she’d live just as long as Bubba. Her mind is still young. Anyway, sorry to talk so much about my dog and I. It’s nice to know that Lydia has you for a companion. I can tell that she is loved very much. You and Lydia are in my prayers. Please give her a hug from me if you wouldn’t mind and let her know Quiigely and I wishe her and you all the best!


Paula April 7, 2009 at 11:35 pm


Of course my heart goes out to you and,I am wishing you wellness in my prayers.

I found this site by web-searching for information on ‘anal gland cancer’. I am facing the same thing,I am afraid. I have a German Shepherd who is like a soul mate,sound weird but,this dog has saved my life and I his. He teaches classes with me and is fully protection trained,by me. I cannot imagine my life without him. I will fall apart. His only 8 years old. I just did a full geriatric panal (blood work) and he had a full physical. He came out in top shape.

Well,I will continue to think of you-please let us know how you are doing? And I would like some insite from you,as you have gone through some of this.
Thanks to all,



Dawn April 9, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Therese, I just found out on Monday that my parent’s 8 year old sheltie Heidi has anal gland cancer and the ultrasound showed it has spread to her adrenal glands and lymph nodes. We are so devastated. They are in their 80’s and we have been in tears since. The vet told them she has 1-2 months to live. I just screamed when I heard the word cancer. My mom has ovarian cancer and has 1-2 years, and her and my dad are inconsolable right now. Heidi is acting fine, they were told this is a very agessive cancer and sugery not an option since it has spread. Heidi is the most loving, affectionate dog I have ever met and she means the world to them. I lost my 14 year old sheltie Jesse to liver cancer in December. You are in my thoughts, know what you are going through.


Therese April 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about your dog. I wrote to you privately a few days ago but since I haven’t heard back I’m wondering if you got it. If not, let me know and I’ll email again.

This has got to be very difficult on you and your parents. I’m so sorry to hear about Jessie, Heidi…and of course your mom!! You’ve got some heavy duty stuff going on and my heart truly goes out to you.

I wonder what it is with 8 year old dogs…if it’s more common for it to hit dogs at that age or if it’s just a coincidence. Lydia was 7 1/2 when diagnosed and both yours and Paula’s are 8.


LuAnn July 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm

The doctor found a lump on my 12 year old dog’s anal gland today. It was small but he seemed pretty sure it was cancer due to the location and because of her age it would be aggressive and “not good”. It also could be a fatty tumor and nothing. They need to biopsy to find out which. Do I want to know if due to her age and health I would not treat the cancer? Are there things I can do to make her more comfortable?


Therese July 10, 2009 at 11:12 am


How’s your dog doing? I’m so sorry to hear you’re having to deal with this. I’m wondering if you did the biopsy and if you found out whether or not it’s cancer? If if is, I highly recommend the book Help Your Dog Fight Cancer. It’s been a big help to me. You can order it from Amazon or directly from the author’s website: http://www.helpyourdogfightcancer.com.


Peggy October 23, 2009 at 6:13 pm

I hve a 13 yr. old female springer spaniel mix who has been dign. with anal gland canser in July. Surgury is also not an option for my Lucy-girl. The vet said it is Very aggressive and probably spread very early. Lucys tumor is very big and as of today, its 7:00pm and she still has not had a bowel movement. The vet gave her 6 to 8 months from July, which gives her 3 to 5 months to go. We are so broken hearted and she is such a sweetie-pie. We also have her brother Lucky-boy, (we’ve had them both since birth). don’t know what will be worse…losing her or watching Lucky grieve for his sister.


Ronnie December 16, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Our beloved 10 year old female German Shepherd Binky passed away four weeks ago on 11/16/2009. She was doing just fine and happy not one week earlier. Then she threw up a couple times, looked more tired. She kept sniffing her rear so I thought she needed an anal gland expression even though she had one not 12 weeks earlier.

She had anal gland issues prior and after an abscess and surgery for one side and resulting open fistulas for 2008 along with painful treatment we were determined to always take care of her there. So we took her to the vets office who took her in the back for an expression. Time passed and I finally said “gee it has been a long time…”.

Finally the vet came out and told us that our beautiful baby had at least a golf ball sized tumor where her gland had once been. We were referred to the surgical center. The next morning her entire underside of her tail had swollen and defecating was painful and finally when she could it was diarrhea.

We got her to the surgical center for examination. The news was not good. They said the mass inside was large and extended in farther than the ultrasound could even show and that it extended from 8pm to 2pm around her colon. The surgeon said it was one of the worst he had seen. They said that it was anal sac adenocarcinoma and that due to the size it was impossible to remove the tumor. The only thing they could offer was surgery to do a bigger biopsy to try and figure out what chemo could be done but that the chemo would only be palliative. They told us that it really could not be anything else but ASA.

And since surgery was out and we did not want to inflict chemo on her with no hope for remission, they could offer palliative treatments of pain killers and anti-inflamattories. We took her home crying. She had battled so much in the past including a years recovery from a normal anal saculectomy. We knew that because of the thinness of her rectal skin that we could not even risk any more surgery. By that night, she ran in fear from medication. She bucked in our arms when we tried to put cream on her rear because it hurt to touch it and the skin under the tail inflammation started to tear open and began bleeding. At that point she was in pain. It hurt to bark and she spent the night trying to lick the blood from the tear. we continued to change the towels as the blood got on them.

With torn out hearts we decided to stop. Stop trying to force medicine down her. Stop trying to get inflammatory cream on her. Stop trying to use the liquid drugs also.

She was grateful for this and it was easy to see. We knew though also that if we tried to keep her, the pain would just keep increasing, the wound that was now 1 inch long under the tail swelling would not heal and the dog we so loved like a child would be in constant pain as we dealt with the cancer and non healing wounds again.

So on Monday morning, we gave her a treat, took her to the park for a slow walk, gave her a ride in the car and then went to the surgical center. She wagged and kissed my face, which killed me to my very core. She probably thought it was another surgical visit and we would go home and she would get better.

She passed away held deeply in my arms as I sobbed uncontrollably onto her head and held for after for a very long time.

The weeks that followed I questioned everything. Did the first vet inflame the condition causing the swelling and tearing? Should we have kept her home until the pain became too bad? Should I have continued to try to force medications into her? Should we have waited until she was truly suffering? Were the surgeons right?

Over 10 years she was our baby and we gave her the best of everything and when she could not kennel at the age of 6 or stay elsewhere, we stopped going on any vacation unless we could take her. We dealt with her irritable bowel disease, her pannus, her hip displaysia, her anal sac abcsess followed by a years recovery from that and then she was gone in 7 days and al lI did was take in her for an expression. I almost wished I had never gone in the first place.

Everyone tells me we did the right thing.

God I miss her. I wish I had her back.


Therese December 16, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Ronnie, I’m so sorry that you lost your dear Binky to this awful cancer. It sounds like you did all you could for her and that’s all any of us can do. I wish I knew words to help you feel better, but unfortunately they really don’t exist. I’ve been through the pain myself though and know the only thing that could make you feel better is to have your girl with you again. In time though, the pain will ease, and you’ll find that a part of Binky is still with you.


Ronnie December 16, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Therese – Thank you for your notes. My main hope is that we did right by her and if we were a day too early or could have done something more that would have changed this that she will forgive me for my failing and after this life meet me at the Rainbow Bridge.


Angie May 2, 2010 at 2:28 pm

That’s sooooo sad!!! I can’t believe that! My dog is going through the same thing. I just hope it won’t lead to cancer!! I give you good luck and my heart. I know what it feels like.


Therese May 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Leslie, I’m so sorry to hear about your dog. I hope she does ok and is able to beat it.


Jill June 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm

my vet is pretty sure my 8 year westie has anal cancer..still waiting for the test results which I won’t have until Wednesday…the waiting is horrible. My understanding is once they have surgery and radiation there is really only 9 months for them…I don’t want to have to put my baby thru that if that is the quality of life she has left….is there any feed back from anyone that has gone thru this and has had positive results? thanks


Therese June 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Hi Jill,

I’m so sorry to hear about your dog, but please don’t give up on her! Depending on how severe the cancer is, she may be with you longer than 9 months. Get her to an oncologist for a second opinion.

Lydia’s surgery was July 1, 2008 and she’s doing great! She had the tumors removed, went through 9 months of chemo and has been in remission ever since. So, in just a few weeks she’ll celebrate 2 years of life after cancer! I consider that a huge success.

Get the book Help Your Dog Fight Cancer. It’s an excellent book and will help you as you go through this with your dog.


Kate January 20, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Hi Therese,
It has been awhile since you posted but I am hopeful this still reaches you. Your posts have given me a lot of hope given my dog’s situation. Similar to Lydia, Jackson’s tumor was extremely small and they were able to remove it by surgery two weeks ago. I have an appointment in about two hours with the oncologist and I continue to waiver back and forth on whether to do radiation or chemo. The research on this type of tumor is so limited and I don’t want to make the wrong decision. Given that you went the chemo route (which is what I am leaning toward now), I would love to hear from you and your experience if you are willing to share. I feel at such a loss for my dog and so hopeful to have stumbled onto your blog post and hear all the stories of those that are going through the same thing as I am right now. It is nice to see all this support and understanding.


Therese January 20, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Kate, I’m so sorry to hear your dog (and you) are having to go through this. I’m glad though, that it was caught early. Hopefully that will mean a good outcome for your dog, like it has for Lydia. I know how hard it is to try to figure out what is best.

(I’ll email you privately as well.)


Rita Blue May 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

My 8 1/2 year old female shepherd was Dx’d with anal gland cancer in 1/2011, we just lost her brother 12/20/2010 to liver cancer and didn’t even know he was sick. I understand I cried and cried after getting that horrible news also, then I started doing research online and found this wonderful website Robert McDowell’s Herbal Treatments and emailed to order the anal gland cancer support med’s right away. Roxanne has been taking this medication for just 5 weeks and we went to the vet 5/20/2011 and got great news tumor has gotten smaller and the blood that was in the glands is all cleared up something the antibiotics couldn’t do. Visit the website it could give you more time with your furry friend………….


Amy M January 3, 2013 at 10:18 pm


I have been doing a lot of research since my 9 year old lab Brady was diagnosed with anal gland cancer and hypercalcemia last week. I found out today after an ultrasound that it has also spread into his abdominal lymph nodes along with some other masses they found. The prognosis is not good. Brady is a happy energetic boy, and I was just looking for answers and others who are going through the same thing. I just got off the phone with a consultant after ordering the herbal treatments from Robert McDowells website and they will be here next week. Thank you for sharing…I hope your Roxanne is doing well:)


Candace Daugherty September 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Just this morning, my lovely rescue mixed male pup, Ollie was diagnosed with a tumor in his rear end that appears to be cancer. He is 13 years old and was in a “kill” shelter when I got him so he has had 11 years of glorious life…At his age I will not be putting him through any type of treatment program as I feel I will know when the time is right to do what is necessary. He still is laughing, eating, running, barking etc but is having bowel movement issues. I will love on him until his smile disappears and then and only then will a proper farewell be given… love to all the wonderful pet owners and I look at Ollie’s passing with much sadness but also know that another little rescue will get their turn!!! give all of your babies hugs and kisses from me and ollie!!!


Therese September 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Hi Candace, I’m so sorry to hear about Ollie. I can tell by your message though, that he has had a wonderful life! Enjoy every minute you have together, give him a hug from us, and I’ll give my guys a hug from you and Ollie.


Dorothy June 13, 2013 at 11:48 pm

Lydia looks my dog Lady. A few weeks a go we gave her a bath and gave her a haircut when we found the tumor on the left side under her tail. At the time I wasn’t too worried because a few months back she had 3 fatty tumors removed. I took her to the vet to have it checked out and he told me it was not a fatty tumor. He took xrays and a biopsy that day. No tumors showed up in her lungs. The vet called two days later and told us she had adenocarcinoma. Our options was to take her to surgery and there may be chance that she would have issues after surgery. Also the vet advised that the cancer could have spread to other parts. Lady is 13 years old. After reading so much about type of aggressive I am so sad to say we have decided to do whatever we can do to make her comfortable in the last stage of her life. I ordered some nutritional vitamins that hopefully strengthten her immune system and maybe extend her life. It was such a shock that this could happen to our girl lady. I can see old age is catching up with her by her thin face. She is loosing her hearing. Luckily she still has her appetite. My daughter was in first grade when we got her and now in 11 grade. She struggles with us not taking to the vet for surgery. All she can think is to save her life. If I knew that this cancer was not so aggressive type I would be willing to try but she is already older. The tumor is large size of tennis ball. I have to hope that we are doing right thing for her. I just don’t want her to be in pain. We take one day at a time with her. We are trying to make what time she has left memorable as her life can be shorten any time now.


Christine July 15, 2013 at 8:04 pm

My shar-pei, is 9 years old, he also had some of a tumor removed in March 2013, they were unable to remove it all, she told me to see an oncologist . The cancer treatment were too much. So I decided to make the rest of his days health and comfortable. Feeding him a lot of fruits and vegetables. And vits. Well just today I notice the tumor coming back. I am so upset up I am not ready to make this decision. You see Ty doesn’t like the vet, and its hard for anyone to exam him. I just don’t really know what to do. I started crying my eyes out reading other stories. You all are in my prayers.


Dorothy July 18, 2013 at 11:52 am

Christine, you are in prayer. Our dog is still hanging on. Lastmonth we found out. Shehates vets I hope she dies in her sleep peacefully. This what i pray for. We have had her for 10 yrs


Christine July 29, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Thank you for your prayers, Ty’s tumor is getting bigger and bleeding now, he is eating and wants to play, wags his tail, crazy dog, he is licking the area a lot, so I think I was get him some pain meds. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I hope Lady is doing ok, and your family too.


elly November 14, 2013 at 7:38 pm

My sweet Lucy has anal cancer. I am so sick over this, I found out two months ago , she is 11 1/2 so no treatment I watch my beloved friend die from this, some days are good and today is awful. I feel for you it is so hard my tears are gone. I just try to enjoy her everyday this little girl is my life what will I do without my Lucy girl.


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