Getting a second opinion was the right call. I went over Josie’s history, starting with the nose bleeds. The vet did not pull any punches. “Given your dog’s age, cancer is the biggest concern.” I nodded at the news, having been prepared for that being a possibility. She did go over the other, less life threatening possibilities as well: fungal infection, bacterial infection, a nasal polyp, or maybe a foreign object. But she knew without a doubt something was up there, and she kept circling back to the possibility that it is a tumor. Dogs, especially old dogs, just don’t bleed for no reason.
The vet spent over an hour with us, taking her time to discuss Josie’s health and observe her. She gave Josie a more thorough exam than any vet had ever before. She pointed out Josie had arthritis. I had no idea – I just thought she was getting lazy in her old age. She recommended short, slow walks to help her maintain her muscle tone. She also recommended Josie lose a pound or two – not a lot, but just a little would help the arthritis. Overall, she said Josie looked great for a dog her age. That was encouraging. We also talked about the current medications she was on. The good news was the prednisone is good for the arthritis and could help slow, or possibly shrink a tumor.
The discussion on treatment options was long, most of it seemed like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The only way to know for sure what was wrong would be to go to a specialist and get a rhinoscopy. Essentially, that would consist of putting a scope up Josie’s nose to see what was there and take biopsies. Or, if
it turned out to just be an object, they could remove it. She did some due diligence and called around for some estimates for me. Even she had a little sticker shock. It would cost between $2k-$4k. And that would just be for a diagnosis. The other option was to stick with meds and see what worked. As long as Josie was improving, or not getting worse, and the side effects were bearable, we could treat that way. The downside to this option is it would be a complete guessing game.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to do. I didn’t care about the cost of the rhinoscopy. I was weighing if it was worth putting Josie through such a procedure or not. Since it was a big decision, I decided we would try with medicine first, not ruling out a rhinoscopy. The vet upped Josie’s prednisone dose drastically and switched her to a different antibiotic. She told me things to watch for: drastic weight lose, facial deformity, more bleeding.
Although the news was horrible, I left encouraged. I had just spent over an hour talking about the health and well being of my dog with a vet. I wasn’t rushed out of there after a quick look. Nothing was sugar coated. She made sure I knew everything going on with Josie.
But I will always remember the last thing she told me before I left. “You really need to prepare yourself that there is a very good chance your dog has a nasal tumor.”