Does the "cancer smell" in my dogs tumor indicate probable outcomes?

  • TL;DR

    I have a 10.5 year old dog, with a tumor that has been removed before, that just grew back. The tumor ruptured, and it smells absolutely terrible. Does the smell of the tumor imply anything in relation to euthanizing the animal?


    I have a pit bull / black lab mix who is 10.5 years old. About 3 years ago, she started growing a tumor on the under side of her tail. We have the tumor removed, but we didn't have it tested or anything, since it wouldn't have changed how we treated her (I don't believe in giving chemo to a dog that old, and I also can't really afford it).

    After we had the tumor removed, and she had healed from the surgery, she seemed fine. Flash forward about six months, and the tumor started to grow back, in the same place. We knew this would probably happen, because the vet told us he couldn't get all of the tumor without possibly damaging her anus (it was on the underside base of her tail). Well, I couldn't afford to have the tumor removed every six months, so I decided to leave it alone for a bit, and have it removed every year to a year and a half. Once she had had the new tumor for a year and a half, she was healthy (besides starting to limp slightly, which I imagine isn't rare for a 9 year old dog), and I decided to leave the tumor alone. I didn't know if it was cancerous, and she had been fine for well over a year since she originally grew the tumor. This may or may not have been a mistake, but that's what happened.

    Well, yesterday her tumor ruptured. She seemed to immediately be in a lot of pain, and was bleeding a lot. I started to freak out, because (stop here if you are squeamish) the inside of the tumor looked like hamburger meat, and the smell was unbearable. I contacted my vet immediately, and I have her scheduled for a surgery to remove the tumor again. After closely monitoring her over the past day, she seems to be acting completely different (which makes sense because of the pain). She is limping much more, she's panting constantly, she won't eat, when I pet her she doesn't react. It's really difficult seeing her like that. She's on pain medicine, but even with that, she just seems like she's in terrible shape.


    Here's my real question:

    Does the smell that is coming from her tumor, imply anything in relation to having her euthanized. I'm horrified of the idea of removing the tumor, putting her through so much stress, and pain with that, just to euthanize her a month later. I'm also horrified of the idea of euthanizing her, when removing the tumor could have solved several issues, and kept her alive another year or two.

    I know that no one can answer whether or not I should euthanize right now. That's why I'm specifically asking about the smell. I've only ever smelled a dog like that one other time, and it was from a dog that was in so much pain from cancer, that it made me sick seeing it. Any knowledge is appreciated.

    I modified the title of your question, feel free to modify again if I have not clarified you question. I believe you are asking more about the risk of continued suffering, based on the smell of the tumor. Essentially; if a tumor smells really bad, does that mean the outcome is going be extremely unpleasant for your dog?"

    That is exactly what I meant to ask, thank you.

    The tumor being by the anus, the smell may very well be caused by the dog's natural scent glands. Dogs have scent glands by the anus in order to add extra smell to their droppings as a chemical signal to other dogs. The smell from the scent glands is not pleasant when it is concentrated. However, I would probably euthanize, seeing how badly the dog is obviously suffering, and there is no treatment to cure the dog.

  • mhwombat

    mhwombat Correct answer

    5 years ago

    I don't know if the smell you describe is an indication for or against euthanasia. I assume that it is a very serious symptom and indicates tissue death, but I suspect that no one could say much beyond that without knowing the specific medical details of your dog's case.

    It seems that her condition has deteriorated quickly since you contacted the vet to arrange surgery. Also, it is clear from your question that your dog is in pain, even with the pain medication. That's upsetting, but perhaps the more important question is what will the quality of her life be after the surgery?

    I suggest you call the vet and describe the changes in your dog's current condition. My questions for the vet would be:

    1. Is the change in her condition an emergency? I.e., do we need to do the surgery sooner?
    2. Does the change in her condition alter your recommendation for surgery?
    3. What do you expect her quality of life to be after surgery?
    4. Is there anything further we can do (e.g. a change in medication) to make her more comfortable while we wait for surgery?

    I know that euthanasia is a very difficult decision. My heart goes out to you and your dog during this difficult time.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM

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