Screening for Cancer After Health Scare in Older Dog

My wonderful old girl Flicker gave me a scare on Friday. All well now, but sheesh. When a 12.5 year old GSD develops an acute problem, it’s always scary. As of 11 am, suddenly ataxic, struggling to keep her balance. First thought – as always, forever, with an older GSD – hemangio!? Stabilized her and checked gums, dreading that I would see the concrete grey gums that point to serious internal bleeding. I was immensely relieved to see pink gums and just slightly slow cap refill.
Next thought: vestibular episode. Falling to the right but no nystagmus (involuntary, rapid and repetitive movement of the eyes; common with vestibular). But she was able to stabilize with a bit of support from me and a wide rear leg stance. Vomited just once, and possibly linked to pure dizziness. As someone who has had god awful vertigo, I could sympathize.
Off to the vet (an hour plus drive), where careful exam ruled out vestibular, x-rays showed clear lungs and abdomen. AND where the darned dog just continued to improve almost in front of our eyes. Went from needing help to get out of the car when we arrived to almost able to jump back in on her own when we left several hours later. By that night, only the sharpest eyes would have detected anything amiss. Flicker cantered up the stairs at bedtime.
Conclusion: small vascular event, meaning a stroke, due to some blood clot. Why? What’s throwing clots? Well aware that a tumor can do that, we’ll be sending off the blood sample for the NuQ test at Texas A&M to see if we can detect a lurking hemangio.…/nu-q-vet-cancer-screening-test/
I am heartened that we have new options for helping our dogs, and being able to get some advance warning to maybe buy us some time. Or, if we’re lucky, to gain the relief of knowing “not now, not yet” in the unhappy game of wondering what’s lurking. While not 100%, the NuQ is welcome.
I’ll report back on Flicker’s results, whatever they may be.
Till then, remember that life is fragile, and in a heartbeat, it can all change. I’m grateful for Flicker still here at my side (shown with her great-grandpups this summer), and her mother Spider (now 14.5) also clicking along in good shape. Old dogs are a very special blessing.