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Post Mandibular Surgery Recap

Beamer jaw
October 24, 2013

We are posting this information to share with others who may be experiencing the same type of cancer and surgery options for their dogs as well as to share Beamer’s status with his many friends.

It was a little over a week ago (October 15th) when Beamer had part of his lower jaw surgically removed to excise a Hemangiopericytoma (Soft Tissue Sarcoma) located on his lower gum.  The surgery was done at the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  We took Beamer home the very next day with instructions to give him 75mg of Tramadol every eight hours for pain.

We have to admit that seeing Beamer after surgery with part of his jaw removed was startling.  We only had two choices in this situation: leave the cancer to grow and spread until such time as it was too painful and then put Beamer down; or surgically remove the section of the jaw and take as much of the jaw as necessary to assure “clean margins,” meaning that they believe they cut out all remnants of the cancer.  Now, after seeing the affects of the surgery, it caused us to question, did we do the right thing?

We did our homework prior to making this decision.  Around the world various dog owners online spoke of the fact that their dog did well after the surgery.  The vets and surgeon assured us of the same thing.  They adjust.  The question was more about us adjusting than Beamer, or so it seemed.

At home, Beamer was obviously in pain.  He was withdrawn and you felt as though he was asking, “What happened and why did this happen?”  He looked depressed, and he wouldn’t raise his head or look at us.

The first day we hand fed Beamer.  Small bites.  He was hungry.  We felt that his appetite was a good sign.  He struggled with drinking water from his bowl, but we held his bowl up to his mouth to make it easier.

The second day home the effects of the anesthesia from surgery, shock of the situation, and pain meds really kicked in.  He was very lethargic and withdrawn. His eyes were sunken and hollow.  It was if the life had been taken out of him.  His face was obviously very tender.  We accidentally brushed it as we dried his face to keep his sutures dry and he yelped in pain.  What was even more concerning is that he refused food and water.  Despite trying many times, and cutting his food in to very small bites, he refused everything we gave him.  We thought baby food might be the answer, given his sore jaw, but he would have no part of that either.

The third day was more of the same.  No food, no water. We were becoming very concerned.  It looked as if he was saying, “I’ve had enough.”  We began to think that he was telling us that he wanted to go.  Dogs have a way of telling you their ultimate decision.  The trouble was, we weren’t ready.  So, with consultation from our vets we continued to try to feed him and give him water off our fingers to keep him going.  We did manage to feed him small pieces of dehydrated chicken breast that was purchased at the local pet store.  We rehydrated the pieces to make them moist and shredded them so he could manipulate them with his tongue to swallow.  He refused everything else.  Most of all, we showered him with love and affection.

On day four there was only a modest improvement.  He began to drink a little water out of a bowl and we were able to get him to eat a few bites of cut-up meat (bison is his favorite).  We supplemented with fresh cooked salmon.  At this point, it was five days since he last had a bowel movement.  His urine was very concentrated and had a strong odor.  He was obviously not getting enough water or food.  The anesthesia and meds had constipated him as well.  We had thought of returning to the veterinary hospital but decided to wait another day.  We knew the trauma of traveling an hour and a half away and seeing the hospital could be even more distressing to him.

Day 5.  Beamer woke up after a very long night’s sleep.  Sleep heals, so we let him sleep as long as possible.  To be honest, it was hard to watch him while awake.  For four days he hung his head, wanted to be left alone and hid in very unusual spots in the house (corners, behind doors, etc.).  But today, when he woke up, he was different.  He began to follow more of his old routine.  He asked for a treat, went outdoors, went to the bathroom, and came back inside asking for more treats.  He even ran and jumped while outside.  It seemed as if he had turned the corner.

It was nice to see a full belly and the TT pose

It was nice to see a full belly and the TT pose

With encouragement and persistence, he began drinking water out of his bowl and is now actively looking for food (and treats).  It’s almost fair to say, Beamer lives for his treats.  Unfortunately, his normal treats are very hard and he cannot possibly chew them with his jaw.  That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want them.  We have substituted very soft treats (Buddy Biscuits and some homemade pumpkin cookies).  We have also been soaking the harder biscuits in water and broth and breaking them into tiny pieces so he can basically swallow them once they’re softened.

So, at just a little over one week after surgery, Beamer is beginning to return to normal.  He enjoys lying out on the deck or sitting in the grass at night and smelling the fall air.  He is alert and is somewhat back on his schedule.

His hair was shaved from his neck and chin for the surgery.  It will take some time for his long locks to return, but we have a feeling that with a little more time we will hardly notice the reconstructed jaw and he will learn to eat without his lower front teeth and canines.

We want to thank Dr. Amy Mathews at Village Vets in Buckhead for her constant support and concern throughout this ordeal.  She has been extraordinary.  Her care and guidance was as much for us at it was for Beamer.  Also, thanks goes out to the doctors and interns at the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital.  Lastly, to Dr. Susan Wynn for her assistance on a second opinion for the surgery and help with Beamer’s diet once he’s able to eat more normally.

We will keep you posted as we now expect a full recovery and many more years with our sweet and truly remarkable boy, Beamer.

Lots of sleep and time heal almost anything

Lots of sleep and time heal almost anything

88 responses »

  1. Pauline Bissett

    Our Smudge had the same surgery. We found it more distressing than he did and it was a very short time after that he was able to pick his treats up from the floor.(I cried the first time!) His coat hid the deformity of his shortened jaw and few people realised that the bundle of life had had cancer at all. We had him for many happy years after it.
    I hope Beamer has the same rapid recovery.

  2. Does Beamer need chemo also? My husband asked. My two nieces live in Buckhead. My son just flew there for a wedding. He is at Microsoft Research in Seattle and did a tri flight. One niece is OB GYN and husband head of ER at Grady. WE live in the Palm Beach area. Give him time. If he goes down hill some do accept fate. Pauline’s dog did well. It’s a stressful operation. Again good luck.

    • Hi Dianne,

      No, Beamer does not need chemo after this surgery. That was actually one of the determining factors in deciding whether to have surgery or not. We do not want to put the dog and ourselves through that. It’s also not proven to really prolong most dog’s lives.

      Thank you for your well wishes and we do believe that Beamer will be with us for quite some time. 🙂


      • Camille Harris

        Thank you for posting this. Our little girl, Sissy, goes in for this same surgery this week and it really helps to know that Beamer is back to his old self. Have you heard of any reconstructive surgery for the jaw in dogs? Thanks again, Camille

      • Hi Camille,

        I hope that Sissy is doing well after her surgery.

        Beamer made it three more years before having another type of cancer show up on jis paw. We had a toe removed and he did well after that as well.

        Unfortunately, we lost him in December shortly after that, due to bladder stones, so it was totally unrelated. He was a tough boy and almost made it to 15 years of age.

        Please let me know how Sissy is doing post op.



  3. All the best to you and brave Beamer. I cannot imagine how hard this must be for all of you.

  4. Eggs are also a good option for treats. An well-cooked omelet with some chicken bits and cheese in it would be a good protein option. Just cut it into bite-size pieces and it will be gentle on his front teeth when he takes it. Hoping for a speedy recovery.

    We just had a massive tumor removed from my son’s dog last week. It was on her belly, she is also 12 and is recovering nicely.

    • Hi Susan,

      I’m sorry to hear about your son’s dog, but glad she’s doing well. There are too many incidents of cancer in our pets these days.:-( Beamer does enjoy eggs and I will often scramble him one with a bit of cheese. Whatever he will eat is what he gets these days.


  5. Hi– How big was the tumor? I have a dog with a tumor coming out of his upper gum that is about 1 inch across. Will be seeing surgeon soon. Don’t know if it’s malignant or what will be recommended, but regular vet thinks it may be.
    So they think your dog may be able to live out a regular life span?

    • Hi Sara,

      Beamer’s tumor was probably close to that size. They first did a biopsy at UGA and then based on the type of tumor it was, recommended the aggressive jaw surgery.

      Of course, nobody knows what will happen, but if Beamer doesn’t have another tumor, then his life expectancy is about what it was before the tumor. He has a number of other medical issues, so all things considered, he is doing well.

      Best of luck to you!


  6. Dear Gwen, thank you so much for sharing this story about Beamer! I’m from the Netherlands and am looking for similar stories and tips for our Jack Russell dog, but could not find any in Dutch.

    A week ago our dog Riffy was diagnosed with the same tumor in his left lower jaw as Beamer and as it was so aggressive he has been operated last Monday. It’s very hard to see how much pain he is experiencing and is missing half a jaw which makes it almost impossible for him to eat. Yesterday he ate like he hadn’t eaten in days or weeks, but today he stopped eating, which makes it also impossible to give him his pain medication. When we try to help him, he starts to panic and runs off.

    Your story gave us some hope and learned us that Riffy just needs his rest and sleep to get better! And will have to get confident with his new mouth.

    Thank you again and should you have any other tips regarding feeding him, please let me know.

    Best regards,

    • Hi Danielle,

      I’m glad that you found my post and I hope the advice I can offer helps with your dog’s recovery.

      The process of recovery with this surgery was slow. It was as if Beamer had given up and didn’t want to live for a number of weeks following his surgery. I literally had to hand feed him soft foods and his water, oftentimes from the tip of my finger.

      Beamer still needs encouragement to eat much of the time. It is a challenge for him to eat from a bowl and he scoops his food, but many of the pieces are pushed out of the bowl, so I feed him from a large vegetable bowl with high sides. Since he has become even fussier with what he will eat now, I’ve found that meatloaf made with either ground bison, chicken, or turkey is a good choice. I can sneak in other things that are good for him since he won’t eat most of the homecooked food I have always made him. I add organic whole oats, eggs, cottage cheese, and grated carrots or broccoli, bake it and then slice and freeze the individual pieces so they can be thawed for meals one at a time.

      I’ve also found a good freeze-dried food that comes in a round biscuit-like shape that I use as a supplement and a snack. that way, when it’s hard to get him to eat, I at least know he’s getting additional nourishment.

      Hang in there and I promise, it will get better. It takes time and I know it’s a big adjustment for everyone.

      Please leave me a comment sometime soon with an update. Good luck and hugs from Beamer.


      I am still feeding him sometimes by hand as I do think he gets frustrated with trying to eat, although at about 8 week,s he was able to enjoy hard treats again and that makes him happy. I do have a recipe for pumpkin treats that are soft that I fed him in tiny pieces after the surgery. they were a big hit. Here’s the recipe

      • Karin Rittenberg

        Our 7 yr old Aussie, Neyo had this surgery today.

        He was supposed to have a less invasive procedure to remove teeth and scrape the bone and the tumor was much worse.

        He ( and we) are pretty shocked and scared. He’s home. On drugs but in pain.

        I’m happy to hear of your dogs recovery and will happily hand feed him.

        I’m nervous about the next week.

      • Hi Karin,

        I wish you the best of luck with Neyo’s recovery. It’s a long process, but it does get better every day. I promise.


    • Our Dog Toby has a tumor on his lower jaw. We have been advised that he neefs his left side lower jaw removed. He is a irish kerry blue , my husband thinks its unfair to toby to have this operation .we just dont know what to do?

      • Hi, I’m so sorry to read this about Toby. I would say that is he’s in good health and at a reasonable age you go ahead with the surgery. There is another dog that recently had a huge mass removed and part of the jaw and she was 12 and is doing very well. It sounds like a terrible surgery and it’s hard to make the decision, but the dogs do really well post-op once they’re through the worst of the pain and adjustment period. We’d be happy to chat with you if you want to talk. Good luck! Gwen

      • Dear Nora, sorry to hear about Toby. For our dog it was hard the first couple of weeks after removing his left lower jaw, but once he was healed and adjusted to only eating soft and mashed foods we got back our happy and naughty doggie. Since we’ve experienced this I think it’s our human perception of finding things like this very sad and hard to cope with, but the dog doesn’t experience it this way, dog’s live in the moment and do not worry about their looks or if something is unfair. It is a very hard decision to make, but remember they will be the happiest with your unconditional love and attention. All the best and follow your heart, Daniëlle – The Netherlands

  7. Karin,
    We did this surgery three and a half weeks ago for my lover dog and are starting radiation tomorrow. I wish I would have offered this consolation before, but here it ts late.

    We live in Columbus, Ohio. We are blessed with one of this country’s premier veterinary hospitals at Ohio State and by MedVet. Experts at both said we could do nothing else than do this surgery. You have done the right thing.

    Sloppy eating and wild drinking you are used to by now. But today, on a lovely, rainy afternoon, I got to doze quietly with my best friend. Actually thanked my surgeon for the gift today.

    Best of luck,


  8. Gwen, Hello. Our 11 year old sheltie, Misty, had her lower jaw removed a few days ago due to a malignant tumor. We think they got it all so should be fine now. Fortunately, she seems to have recovered amazingly well. She is active and alert and does not seem to be in pain (she is on pain meds). She can only eat canned very soft dog food – slurping with her tongue. Drinking water fine but is having trouble learning to eat on her own again. Probably more me having trouble watching. I hand feed her when she starts to struggle. I want to be able to help her along in the learning how to eat on her own process. She clearly wants to do on her own. Any advice on types of food that are easiest for your dog to pick up? Treats? We have always given hard treats and I’m not sure she will ever be able to eat those or learn how to grab onto them. Our other dog isn’t getting treats either unless we sneak to him. He’s a bit upset over that! I’m going to try your pumpkin cookies (although I’m not much of a cook). Thanks for posting – searched the web to try and find someone who has been through and can talk about more than just the immediate impact of the surgery. Our best wishes to Beamer. Thank You, lisa

    • Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for leaving a message and I hope Misty continues to improve. It’s amazing how resilient these dogs are!

      Beamer is able to eat his hard chew treats and biscuits. We waited about 10 or 12 weeks before trying them, but he manages to chew them in the back of his mouth. He loves them and it’s good for his teeth. There are some soft chew treats from Buddy Biscuits and a few other brands that are natural, so look for those, in. You may have to order them online. In the meantime, the pumpkin ones will be perfect. I even broke those up into tiny pieces at first since he couldn’t chew at all.

      It is hard for Beamer to grab things when they fall on the floor, especially on the hardwood floor. Carpet is easier. Since I cook his food, he gets a soft diet anyway, so it wasn’t a big transition. There are things he will no longer eat, but I think that’s by choice and unfortunately, rice is too small to scoop up, so I can’t give him that for an upset tummy. One thing I still do is make bison, chicken, or turkey meatloaf and load it up with eggs, organic oatmeal, grated carrots and broccoli, and cottage cheese, so I can sneak good stuff in.

      Let me know how Misty does down the road and good luck!


  9. I hope Beamer is still doing well. My wife and I were recently thrust into a similar situation with our almost 9 year old German Shepherd Max. She felt a lump on his jaw on February 1st and was at the vet’s office with him the next day. As with Beamer, we got a referral to UGAs Veterinary Teaching Hospital. After 2 days of testing we’re both numb with the feeling of impending loss. Max is back home with us now. My wife has always cooked for him so he’s eating a little and drinking some water so we’re hopeful that we’ll have more time with him. I can’t see him going through the surgery though. We will keep him comfortable and enjoy every minute we have with him until such a time come when we can’t stand it any longer.

    • Hi,

      Yes, Beamer is still doing well and hanging in there. He’s slowed down, but he’s also past 13 years (December was his birthday). He has actually been quite perky with the cold weather and eating nonstop!

      I would highly recommend the surgery if cost is not an option and the surgery is. Beamer recovered well from it and apparently, most dogs do. It’s better than watching them suffer while the tumor grows and we were told, it also is very painful when it grows into the bone. Dogs are resilient and Beamer has proven that again and again.

      Good luck with your decision and I wish the best for Max.


      • Thanks for your reply Gwen! In Max’s case his jaw bone is very much affected all ready and one or two lymph nodes as well, although we won’t know the specific form of cancer until next week. Until then we’re weighing Max’s options. We love him so much but we can already see how the illness has changed him. We’ve got our fingers crossed. As my mother said shortly before she died from cancer years ago “cookie crumbles”. Neil

  10. Hi, Please let Beamer know that his experience has been inspriational to others. My little girl Savanah, 10 year old Boxer, was diagnosed as having a jaw eating tumor. When I noticed the red bump under her lower canine the first vet said she needs to have a teeth cleaning. I knew something else was wrong since she was a pawing at it and trying to rub her face all the time plus I get Savanah’s teeth cleaned every 3 years. After consulting with a different vet a biopsy was done and the conclusion was either she would need to have 1/3 of her lower jaw removed to stop the bone from being destroyed or to do nothing that would eventual cause her more pain and eventually she would stop eating. I wanted to make sure I did the right thing that would cease any pain and still allow her to be functional. I had never heard about jaw removals on dogs so that went google was my best friend. I read stories and thought about the options day and night. Having an older dog comes with a lot more complications under surgery so I decided I would go to one of the best places in Florida. I drove 5 hours to Unviersity of Florida small animal hospital. I wanted to go to the place that trained the surgeons and that had the most advanced equipment. When we got there I knew I made the right choice, the place was great and Dr. Vincent, oncology surgeon, could not be any more patient and informative and yes I am a control freak when it comes to my little girl and well almost anything in life.
    Savanh had the surgery 5 days ago. They treated her and me with some kindness, even sending me pictures of her the night she had to stay over. They said she ate within hours after surgery and the next moring the same thing. I picked her up on Wed and we made the 5 hour drive home.
    When I got home I think I had more of an issue with her inability to eat and how helpless she looked. My heart broke every time I looked at her and still does. I thought ….how cruel of me and what did I do to her…second guessing my decision. The first time I had to feed her was so hard, I tried to have her eat her soft food by herself but she couldn’t since she used to scoop her food now she would have to learn how to eat all over again. I fed her by hand for the first 3 days but yesterday I made sweet potato mashed with water’d rice and canned dog food. I made a nice little pile on a plate and she ate it, yes it was very messey but she tried. Savanah did look at me like what did you do and why did you do this to me. I even told my friends that she is mad at me and I know she could pick up on my difficulty in dealing with her post surgical look and helplessness. She is coping at the same time I am coping. She did stop drinking water and I was concerned so I put a little cashew milk in water and she drank it. I like your meatloaf idea and I think I will do the same plus pumpkin cookies will be a good snack.
    I think it is important for others to read the stories to know what to expect. Even though it WILL STILL be a shock when they see the baby for the first time but they will know they are not alone.

    Thank you Beamer…..Hopefully savanah will do as good as you 🙂

    • Hi Michelle and Savanah,

      Beamer says hello and sends his wishes for a full and speedy recovery! 🙂 I can promise you that with time you all will almost forget this happened. Beamer has adjusted really well to the way he now has to eat and is a proud member of the clean bowl club for almost every meal.

      He still loves his meatloaf, chicken and rice or veggie pasta, and scrambled eggs. He’s not a lover of veggies when I cook them, but will eat them when they’re in his chicken, turkey, or bison meatloaf. He also really loves his snacks and the hard ones are great to hep clean his teeth since he can’t chew quite like he did before.

      While it’s a tough decision and really rough for awhile, it is the right decision if your dog is otherwise healthy. We’re so happy we did it, although it was very hard to see him like that right after the surgery. Hus surgery was in the fall of 2013 and he’s still here with us. I know that would not have been the case had we not done it.

      I’m glad that you were pleased with the University of Florida vet school. We were happy with UGA, although during the surgery, the head surgeon called to tell us they would have to take his lower canines since their jaw blade was not small enough. That was a little upsetting since the surgery was booked for a week before, but there wasn’t much we could do about it as he was already under anesthesia. 😦

      Each day gets better, so I know things will improve. Good luck to you both!

      Beamer & Gwen

      • Hi Gwen and Beamer,
        I just wanted to say thank you for posting your story. Our dog just had this surgery yesterday and we still haven’t gotten him home or gotten to see him.
        Reading your story really helped my husband and I feel some sort of comfort in this crazy situation. I just wanted you to know that you’ve helped a lot of people cope with a very difficult decision.

        Thank you,

      • Hi Sara,

        Thank you for your kind words. I hope all goes well with your pup. It’s hard, but it does get easier. We’re thankful every day for the additional time we’ve had with Beamer. It would not have been possible without the surgery, even though it wasn’t easy.

        Please send me a message and let me know how things go once your dog is home and settled.

        Best of luck to you all!

        Gwen & Beamer

  11. HI,
    A follow up to Savanah …4 months post surgery.
    She is doing so good it is amazing. She is still a messy eater…but nothing stops her from eating. Her bottom jaw droops a little but she is still as cute as ever.
    Beamer’s storry helped me and I would be happy to help others.

    • Hi Michelle,

      I’m so happy to hear that Savannah is doing well. We’re also glad to know how much Beamer’s blog has helped others going through the same surgery. We wish you the best going forward!


  12. Hi Beamer, Gwen and everyone. An update on Misty the Sheltie, 10 months after her surgery. Doing well, eats great. She takes more time to drink her water and can not pick up food off the bare floor (or other dog is happy about that). I have to aim her cookie treats to the back of her mouth where she can grab on to it. She still seems to think she should take at the front of her mouth. Her little tongue hangs out which is really adorable. Misty has aged since the surgery, although considering she is over 12 years old that is probably to be expected. I worry about her arthritis but no longer about cancer. Starting Light Therapy next week – has anyone had a dog that has received that? Wish I could post a picture, would love to see the photos of the trooper dogs who have recovered from surgery. I am amazed by how well Misty adjusted. Best Wishes to all. Misty & Lisa

  13. Hi Lisa,

    It’s so nice to hear that Mystie the Sheltie is doing so well at almost a year after the surgery. Beamer has some challenges with eating, too. I feed him in a large deep bowl so that he has plenty of room to scoop up his food. He has no trouble eating hard chew treats, but does struggle with regular meals a bit.

    Beamer is 13 1/2 years old so we also have some typical old-age issues combined with the compromised immune situation from the surgery and his earlier paralysis, but he is an amazing boy. We enjoy every day we have with him.

    If you’d like to see recent photos of Beamer, you can see some on my Instragram account or on Facebook

    I hope all continues to go well for you and Mystie!


    • Hi Gwen, With Misty I found that a flatter bowl with slightly curved edges works best for her to eat her meals. I use the cover to a Japanese soup bowl. That way she can put the top of her nose across the plate and has an easier time getting the food into the back bottom part of her mouth. A couple bites fall on to the bathmat towel we use to easily clean up after her messy eating but she seems to have an easier time this way than with a bowl. Beamer looks great, the food looks awesome as well. Best, lisa

  14. So it’s 3 years later– will you email me and tell me your opinion of the surgery (and the cost) now? Would you do it again? My 6.5 year old boxer/American bulldog/hound has Acanthomatous ameliblastoma
    And if they can even do a jaw removal (it’s at the very back of his lower jaw) that would be our only choice. We are leaning toward palliative care/euthanizing… Thanks

    • Hi Jennifer,

      We would definitely do it again. Beamer recovered well and it still with us three years later and he’ll be 15 years old next month. The cost at UGA was about $1200. Dogs adjust better than we do in most cases, so if you can do the surgery, your pup probably has a lot of life left, as long as it’s nowhere else.

      If you’re near a veterinary teaching hospital (like UGA), the cost will probably be less than a specialty vet clinic.

      Good luck with everything.


      • Yes, LSU vet school would do it. I forgot to mention that most of the type of tumor he has are benign, but his is malignant.

        My vet is working on getting me a consult there. I was thinking the surgery would cost much more. 1200 isn’t bad (assuming under 1800). I would consider it for that price.

        But like I said, it was far back in his mouth and while the vet thought she got wide enough margins to be on the safe side, the margins weren’t clear. His path report says his prognosis is “guarded”.

        Because of the location, I’m not sure they can remove it all, but that would be what the consult is for. Thanks so much for responding.

  15. Our dog is going through this surgery on Tuesday. It will be pretty extensive from what we’re told, so of course I’m going online (always a bad idea) for any details and photos. I appreciate your day-by-day account, because I genuinely want to know what to expect (vs. the dr’s he’ll be good after 1-2 weeks, etc). And we too are struggling with whether or not it is the right decision. We just want him to be happy. Waaaaaaaah! Thanks again for your post!

    • I’m glad this was of help to you. It is a hard decision, but Beamer did well after he adjusted to his new normal. I would say it was more like 8 or 10 weeks before he was able to chew hard treats again. One to two weeks is pretty early in the process as it is a major surgery. Beamer did not have anything else show up for three years and then he had a different type of cancer on one of his toes, which we had to remove. We haven’t had the heart to update this blog, but, we sadly lost him December 5 to something totally unrelated – he had bladder stones and blockages in his urinary tract. We lost him very quickly and unexpectedly from something bizarre. He almost made it to his 15th birthday.

      I’m sure your pup will do fine with this surgery. Just be patient, love him, and help him with staying hydrated and eating soft foods. They do seem to adjust really well over time following this surgery and can live very normal and healthy lives post op.

      Good luck.


      • Wow, 15! That is great. So sorry to hear, though. Our English lab just turned 11, so although we know he is up there in years, we still feel like, if he did have a voice, that he would want to live at this point (that’s how my husband gauges our decision – what would Sam want?) Good to know about the 8-10 weeks. We are going out of town at the 3rd week and will have a gal here watching him, who is well aware of what is going on, but it will be good to give her an extra heads up. We haven’t told our 5 and 8-year-old yet that he will look differently (the surgeon also mention atrophy in his skull as a result!?!!) , as they are already so sad about the surgery, but we will prep them before he comes home. Thank you again for the details, they are very helpful!

      • I appreciate all your words of encouragement. My dog Katie, (black border collie mix) is now facing this surgery. We are waiting on the biopsy and have some consults next week. We are very upset but don’t want to stand by and do nothing. So your story about Beamer helps many with this hard situation. We are so worried.Any more advice would be great. (her tumor is on lower jaw line and ner teeth about in the middle)
        Thank you! Cyndy Fowler

      • Hi Cyndy,

        I’m glad that you found Beamer’s Corner and are able to talk through and ask others about this surgery. That was our hope when we decided to start the site.

        If Katie is in good health and at a reasonable age, I think you should go with what you think is best. If the vets say they can have a successful outcome removing what they have to of the jaw, as I have mentioned earlier, the worst of this surgery is the first part of the recovery process. It is difficult for a while, but we never regretted our decision and had Beamer for three more years before he had another type of cancer and had a digit removed. We lost him to bladder stones at age 15, so that type of cancer was never an issue again.

        I hope that helps and good luck with your decision and the surgery, if you opt to do it. Please let me know how it goes and we’ll be thinking of you.


  16. As an update to my November 4 post, we chose not to do this surgery for our dog and while we were told he has 6 months to live, he is so far happy and healthy. Totally normal. I believe he has malignant cancer and his end will come at some point. But for now, everything is good…

    • Update: we lost our boy in mid April 😦 we are sorry to hear you lost your Beamer too.

      • Jennifer, I am reading through all these posts about cancer myself. I am trying to make the best decision for my Boxer that has a large mass on his bottom front canine. The surgery here is 2k and I have already spent $1,000. Money aside I am just concerned that he is already almost 10 and I don’t want to just extend his life, it almost seems selfish and I am afraid the quality of his life will be different. He is a major PUPPY right now running up 3 flights of stairs and silly! A complete Boxer! Can you tell me more about your story please? Jennie

      • Hi Jennifer,

        I would be more than happy to tell you about my Savanah’s story. She was a boxer and also 10 years old when diagnosed with a jaw tumor on her lower jaw. I drove about 5 hours and had the surgery at University of Florida Animal hospital. This is the best place I found for excellence in handling this type of cancer.
        The decision was tough but I didn’t want to give up on her since she was still very active. After the surgery I was sad for her however after a short time she was back to her normal self. She didn’t look the same but she was still as cute as ever. I had to feed her differently but since she loved to eat it wasn’t an issue. Every case is different but I would do it again if my newly adopted boxer had the same issue.
        Savanah lived a good life for 2.5 more years. She died at 12.5 yrs old on Oct 27 2016 and I adopted my new girl one year the date.

        If you need more information or need to talk, please feel to reach out to me and I will give you more details.

        Beamer’s corner helped me get thru the after surgery process. His story was an inspiration to me and helped me get thru the early post surgery days.


      • Hi Michelle,

        I’m so glad we were able to help others with this blog and as you, we are happy we made the decision to have this surgery and keep Beamer in our lives for several more years. We need to update the site and finish his story, but I haven’t had the heart to do it.

        We hope to get another Tibetan Terrier later this year. The new dog will not be able to replace our sweet boy (and we don’t expect them to), but we look forward to loving another TT and having that special companionship.


      • Jennifer,

        We didn’t do the consult at LSU where they had offered radiation as an option (through correspondence with my vet). I wouldn’t have been able to handle the back and forth plus the extra care needed.

        My boy pulled a muscle in his leg bad in early April and it wasn’t healing. He declined pretty quickly from the start of April. The vet was very comfortable with our decision to put hom down when we did. I do not and have not regretted our decision.

        We lost our rescue 15 year old hound boy that December, my boxer/bully boy to cancer that April and our old man rescue bulldog in June. It was a rough 6 months.

        We now have two English Bulldogs who are two years old, the boy adopted in July as a re home.

        I miss our motley crew, but as I said, I feel one hundred percent content with our decision and I do not regret it.

        Good luck and hugs.

  17. I know this is an old post and see that you have now sadly lost Beamer but wanted to let you know that his story is still helping people and doggies. My dog, Tilly, is 13 and because of an aggressive squamous cell carcinoma she underwent the surgery on Wednesday. We get to bring her home today and she is not eating at the vet but because of your post I am ready and prepared for the next few days/weeks/months and have a plan. I know it is going to be rough but we are hopeful she will have a few more years and cannot thank you enough. I had actually found this post a couple of weeks ago when we were first confronted with this and couldn’t find it again at first last night when I was getting everything ready for her to come home but I am so glad I finally did!

  18. I don’t know if this page is still open but if it is I can use help. I could not read all of these posts to see if my questions would have been answered because of crying. My daughter’s service dog is four years old and he has been diagnosed with Squama Cell Carcinoma. We are taking him to a hospital in Gainsville, Florida for a second opinion. They are talking about his jaw being removed but we are not sure of how much yet. Can the dogs pick up things at all? This is one of the things he does for her. Will the quality of life be good? He loves a favorite toy a ball will he be able to hold this? Do you have to be careful of infections? I know the doctor will answer these but would like to hear from people who have been through it.

    • Hi Beth,

      Yes, Beamer did really well and resumed a mostly normal life after about 8-10 weeks. I had to help him eat soft foods initially and you may need to change your dog’s diet a bit, but they do really well after recovering from this surgery. It allowed Beamer to live over 3 more years and he had a wonderful ife. As for infections, we did not have a problem. They will, of course, give antibiotics post op.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes!


      • I did not see this until our Maui had his surgery. He had his surgery on December 14th. We had to leave him there because he had a very swollen tongue. He also had to have a feeding tube and is throwing up. We are just beside ourselves that we had to leave him because we live five hours away. We are going back tomorrow in hopes of bringing him home. Good to know about his recovery.

      • Hi Gwen, my diva is 12 yrs and had her lower jaw removed. She is doing well very picky eater so they put a feeding tube in she had surgery 2 weeks ago she can’t feed herself yet . She seems very depressed. She wants to feed her self gets frustrated . Didn’t like begs. Can you give the recipe for meatloaf and pumpkin cookies thank you, sandy

      • Hi Sandy,

        You left a comment on another post, so I hope you see this. I’m sorry to hear about your sweet girl. It will take some time for her to recover, so be patient. The time when they feed themselves is quite a bit out and by 8 or 10 weeks Beamer could chew a hard snack.

        I fed him by hand quite often, even after the recovery period. I think they always have a weird feeling scooping food and you need to get a large and deep bowl (like a vegetable serving bowl) that allows them the room to scoop their food. They don’t have the same motion allowing them to eat after this surgery.

        You asked about the pumpkin cookies. The recipe is on this site. Here’s the link

        For the meatloaf, I mixed either ground turkey or bison (2 pounds or either) with several beaten eggs, about 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1/2 – 1 cups organic rolled oats and mixed that with 1 or more cups of grated veggies (broccoli and carrots). It was never the same recipe twice. I baked it at 350 or 375 until it was 160 degrees for turkey or bison and then let it rest. I sliced it and put it in the freezer in individual bags.

        I suggest using the ground bison right now. We are convinced bison aided in Beamer’s recovery since the meat is so much better than beef and aids in recovery with all the protein, nutrients, etc.

        Good luck and I hope everything improve soon.



        I am having problems with my dog Maui that is very frustrating. He has thick mucus and it is hindering his eating. The doctors have really not been helpful. We have tried the meatballs, chicken and bread and it just comes back out. He loves licking food off my finger and within minutes it’s back out because of the mucus. I am hoping someone has dealt with this to give us pointers. He is on a feeding tube because he can not get the nutrition he needs.Thanks Beth

        Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  19. I hope Maui is doing well. Keep me posted on his recovery.

    • Maui came home yesterday. He had to stay 3 extra days due to an issue with his tongue. He came home with a feeding tube for now. He seems to be very happy being back home. The other dogs we have are leaving him alone. He keeps going to the water bowl don’t think he can figure out what is going on.

      • Hi Beth,

        I personally have not had to deal with this situation. I think it’s best to check with your vet or surgeon about this. There has to be a reason for the mucus and maybe they can get it until control. Good luck with everything and let us know what they find. Best, Gwen

  20. Thank you for your post, so happy Beamer adjusted well after surgery. I am going through this with my 14 yr old lab Sadie. But I chose not to do surgery. Her tumor is growing and is uncomfortable for her. Not sure if I made right decision though in not doing surgery.

    • Hi Janis,

      How is Sadie doing? I am thinking about declining surgery as well for my Boxer boy. I am trying to do as much research and get feedback on what I should/shouldn’t do but it is hard. I feel like by boy is almost 10 and has had a really great life and is still full of energy, he is pretty goofy. Thinks he can run a marathon but then 10 minutes into his run he is like ok lets go to bed Momma! He has a huge mass on his lower jaw, on the canine tooth actually. it was removed by his vet in November 2017 but it came right back (we kind of knew it would) The surgeon looked at the cancer last week and basically spoke of removing the jaw to prolong his life and I just don’t know if I can go through with it. It feels selfish to buy time and not allow him the quality of life he has now but I am sure he will start to have pain. I know the other day he hit his jaw on my knee and he yelped like I never heard before. I am very confused on making the right decision for him and not me and my Son.

  21. Hi Janis, I’m so sorry to hear about Sadie. With her age, you probably made the right decision not to put her through the surgery. I hope you are able to keep her comfortable and we wish you all the best of luck with this. It’s never easy. Gwen

    • Gwen, Thank you for sharing and starting this thread about your boy. May he rest in peace. they are truly angels aren’t they 🙂

  22. Hello. Can I ask how old your dog is? My dog has resently had a growth taken out of her mouth and we are waiting for results of it. Doesn’t look the best as the vet said it had eaten away at some of her lip and may of decayed one of her teeth. She has already mentioned about maybe taking part of her jaw out in the future. I find this very distressing and I don’t know if I could put my Tia through it. She is a 9 year old Stafford bull terrier. There’s a huge chance of this growth growing back as they wasn’t able to take all of he growth out as it was fused onto her gum. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to have to put her through lots of operations and I don’t want her to be in pain. I know we have to put the option of putting her down on the table to which is the hardest. And we will always put her first before our feeling. Would really appreciate it if someone could get back to me on this. Thanks Georgia

    • Hi Georgia, Beamer was almost 12 when he had this surgery. We had several opinions before going through this and were advised that we should do it as he was otherwise happy and healthy. The tumors are incredibly painful, so you need to decide whether to do the surgery or not let the dog suffer in pain. Here is a link to another dog that just had the surgery. Gracie is doing well after several tough days, but more of her jaw was taken and she had a feeding tube, so it was an even harder situation. These dogs are resilient and do recover with love and time. Good luck and let us know what happens. Best, Gwen

  23. Hi there. I recently noticed a growth on our pup’s lower gum. In about a month, it grew pretty quickly, so I took her to the vet on Friday. They did bloodwork that came back pretty good (just a slightly elevated kidney number) so they don’t think it’s cancer, thankfully. But, I do think we need to have the mass removed because it will continue to grow and affect her ability to eat. So, we’re scheduling her for the procedure this week, which will include the removal of a few teeth too. After that they can test to confirm for sure that it’s (hopefully) benign. The vet asked about removal of part of the jaw, and right now I’m totally against it, considering we haven’t gotten a diagnosis of cancer. If we did, I’m still not sure I’d do it since she’s a senior dog (12 years, 3 mos.) and is also a large breed (very large female Golden). Guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but in the meantime it’s nice to find some info on other owners and pets who have gone through it and come out successfully. I didn’t read every comment, but all that I read seem to be positive. BTW, our big girl’s name is Saoirse (seer – SHA), like the Irish actress. 🙂

  24. This blog was very helpful – our dog had the surgery about 2.5 weeks ago and we are still doing hand feeding – though showing some signs of being able to get small bits of food up from plate – will try the large bowl. He does seem happy and active. We are wondering about what type of toy to give him since he so loved to chew on his hard rubber toy. He had half of his bottom jaw removed due to a malignant tumor. He is our 93 year old father’s companion.

    • Hi Iris,

      I’m glad you found this information helpful and that your pup is doing well. Our breeder (we now have another Tibetan Terrier as of July this year) says she believes there is a relationship between plastic and rubber toys and mouth cancer in dogs. She’s seen it many times and has advised us not to give our new boy any of those to play with. He does enjoy rope tug toys and I would try basic soft squeaky toys for your dog. I hope those work.

  25. Tried the large bowl and it worked!

  26. so grateful for this post and information. i dropped off my almost 7 year old bernese mountain dog Breeze this morning for a lower jaw tumor removal. they will be taking the left canine tooth and probably 3 more of the front lower teeth, i am a nervous wreck and overloaded with thoughts and emotions. anxious to hear from the dr and so worried how it will be when we see her. we know it was a non- invasive papillary cancer so this was really the best… but most difficult decisoin to help her. your honest explanation and all of the previous comments have helped me feel a bit better. thanks for taking the time to do this :o) chrissie

  27. I am new to the comments. Thank you for sharing your experiences, both positive and frightening. Today we had our first consult with a dental surgeon for our 11 1/2 year old female Rottweiler mix Lacy. We had found a small lump under her chin and had it quickly checked out. Our vet did xrays and a needle biopsy. She quickly set us up for the consult because she found tumor cells and she recognized the urgency from experience. Today the results were not what we had hoped for. The dental vet said she was not sure what cancer it was (but it looked very aggressive and had spread to the very back of her jaw) and the only way to find out was to have her surgically biopsy and remove some bone, send it off and wait. Once the tumor was identified we could have the entire lower left jaw removed at another appointment. The second choice was to remove the entire jaw TODAY and hope for a good recovery and an undetermineable quality and length of life. It was emotionally impossible for us to decide today so we are on the schedule for Tuesday, March, 19, 2019. I have read all the above posts, consulted with other dog world people and googled until I’m exhausted. Our Lacy is in otherwise excellent health and since we adopted her exactly 10 years ago has had a queen’s life so it weighs heavy on us to risk surgery and her mental/physical quality for what could result in precious little extra time. While I have had extensive dog experience I’m not sure how I could handle the recovery period. We had lost two male Rotts to osteosarcoma 11 years ago but neither had any surgery as they showed no signs until it was too late. I have nursed knee replacements but not something as critical as this.

    At this moment, and my mind changes frequently, I think we will continue to baby her and manage the pain when it comes. I would greatly appreciate some feedback from anyone that chose not to pursue surgery but basically, hospice care. I want to know what indications, if any, their loved friend showed and how they were cared for and sadly any kind of timeline. Please, if you feel this isn’t a thread for this conversation, please let me know if there is another that may help me. I am so happy that Beamer and others had success and I am truly sad for those that didn’t or have left for other reasons.

    Again, thank you for sharing and caring.


    • Hi April,

      I’m very sorry to hear your situation and I hope someone can respond to your questions.

      We felt it necessary to go ahead with the surgery since Beamer was in such good health. We had over three very happy and loving years with him post-op, so it was worth it to all of us.

      This type of cancer is aggressive and painful growing into the bone so we could not do that to him and watch him suffer. Most dogs don’t even express pain (Beamer didn’t), so I think it would be hard to know how much is too much for them.

      This is our opinion and while it was tough for weeks after the surgery, I know we made the right decision for our family and for Beamer.

      If you do decide to have the surgery, we had a general surgeon at the veterinary hospital do it. I’m not familiar with a dental surgeon performing the operation so I would look at your options to be sure.

      Good luck with everything.


  28. Had same surgery done for cancer on13 year old Sheltie mix. Had a great dental doctor surgeon ( a real doctor, not a teaching hospital)
    no pain, if you hadn’t known her lower jaw up to.the third molar with clear margins you would not have known there was anything done.
    2019 amazing results from an amazing doctor in Florida. Cancer free!

  29. I have a 4 year old hound mix named Guillermo. He was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma this week, which was absolutely devastating to learn. At 4 years old you just don’t expect something like that to be happening.

    The lump is in the front of his mouth behind his canine tooth, but does spread over past the mid-line of the mouth.

    So far it doesn’t appear to be on his bone according to an x-ray last Friday, but one vet has told us Bilateral Rostral Mandibulectomy is the best for his survival.

    However, because of Coronavirus, we’ll be seeing a different vet who was able to take us next Wednesday. I assume they’re going to suggest the same thing.

    I was really freaking out about it earlier today,just a mess, and was afraid it would destroy his quality of life. I was contemplating whether or not I should move forward with it or just try to rely on something like radiation alone, which doesn’t have as long term results as the mandibulectomy.

    But Beamer’s story has really given me hope that Guillermo could live another few years (hopefully) and be relatively happy and normal with part of his jaw removed.

    I am so glad I saw this, and I am hoping Guillermo is able to recover like Beamer.

    I am also sorry for your loss, but I am glad you were able to get a few good years with him following the surgery.

    • Hi,

      Thank you for leaving a message and I’m so glad that you found our site, too.

      I’m very sorry to hear about your Guillermo. This is a really terrible thing to have happen and I understand how you are feeling. It’s a difficult decision to make about the surgery, but if your boy is young (which he is) and otherwise healthy, I think he should do fine.

      As you know from reading about Beamer, it is not an easy recovery, but dogs seem to rebound and adjust over time, as Beamer did. We were so thankful to have him with us for several more years and were glad we went through with the surgery.

      If your new vet thinks he can have a good recovery, then I would find a good surgeon that you can trust with the operation.

      Good luck and let us know how things go.


  30. Our little boy does not like baby food either your story gives me hope I have shed tears it is only been 2 days his lower jaw is gone and he having very difficult time trying to eat just because his lower jaw is gone. Today was the first day he actually tried to eat and his frustration you can see it in his eyes and his attitude it’s so hard to put anything in his mouth He’s such a little dog but you have given us hope thank you

    • Hi Andrea, As you have read here, it does take time, but your boy will come around. Are you making him homemade food or buying soft food? Maybe try something different that will get him interested in eating again. Stella & Chewy makes a bone broth that dogs really like. You might try putting some of that in his food. Please keep me posted on his progress and good luck. Gwen

  31. We have an 11 year old Blue pit, Ozzy. He has a heart murmur and is on daily medication. We found a tumor on the lower part of his jaw about a year ago. They did not want to do surgery because of his heart condition. The tumor got bigger and we took him in for a biopsy last month. We had to have an anesthesiologist come from out of town to help. The diagnosis was acanthomatous ameloblastoma, which fortunately is only locally aggressive. We have struggled with the decision to have the tumor removed because it will require the removal of a portion of his lower jaw. Ozzy has been through his fair share of surgeries, having had both knees operated on for torn ligaments. He is otherwise very healthy and happy. However, this surgery on his jaw has me and my wife really, really nervous. Ozzy has been such a big part of our lives, we dont have kids, and we would do anything to ensure he is happy. We are scheduled for tomorrow and I am an emotional wreck at the moment.

    • Hi James, I understand your concerns and I’m sorry you all are having to go through this. 😦 It sounds like Ozzy has been through quite a bit already. The recovery is tough from the surgery, but it certainly is doable with lots of love and time. I would say that if you

    • Hi James, I’m so sorry to hear about Ozzy and I certainly understand your concerns. It sounds like he has already been through quite a lot of surgeries. 😦 This one, as I’m sure you know, is not easy and requires a lot of love, time, and care to get through it, but it sounds like you are both very dedicated to Ozzy, so I’m sure you can do it. I would say that if your vets think he’s in good enough condition to go through the surgery and he’s otherwise healthy, then go into it with positive thoughts tomorrow. I know this is a hard decision and we wish you the best. Please let us know how the surgery goes. Best, Gwen

      • Thanks, Gwen. I did not sleep much last night. Looking at the poor guy knowing he is going to be mad at me for putting him through this has been tough. I am sure that it will be a difficult recovery, which we are used to at this point given his knee surgeries. We take him in in a couple of hours.

  32. Hi James, I’m sure you didn’t sleep well. It’s a tough decision to go through this surgery. We’ll be thinking of you all today. Good luck and keep us posted. Best, Gwen

  33. Ozzy is home. Surgery went well and the surgeon was happy. Ozzy has some on and off bleeding, which the surgeon says is expected. His appetite is still strong and he ate a couple of small meals since he has been home. He is also drinking. He seems really tired but only manages to sleep for 5 minutes at a time before waking up. The anesthesiologist said this sometimes happens but he will eventually fall sound asleep.

    As far as how he looks, when his mouth is closed you can’t even tell anything is different. When he opens his mouth it looks kind of like a person who doesn’t have their dentures in.

    • Thank you for the update. I’m so happy that the surgery went well. It all sounds very promising that he is eating and drinking right away. Good luck with the healing process and please keep us posted on how Ozzy is doing in the coming weeks.

      • Pitties are so forgiving. It is also really hard to judge whether they are in pain. I think Ozzy is having some pain but still seems to be comfortable with the pain meds. He finally went to sleep last night but it took a while. He is having much less blood in his drool and much less drooling. He also doesn’t want to leave mine or my wife’s side, despite what we did to him. This is just such an incredible dog. Despite all he has been through, he just love his mom and dad.

        I also wanted to thank you for creating this blog. I read all of the comments and it really helped us make this tough decision.

        Thank you so much.

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