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A Beamer Update and Fall Pumpkin Bites for the Holidays

Beamer eating

With Christmas just around the corner and the end of the year fast approaching, we are looking forward to celebrating Beamer’s 14th birthday.  Just a few years ago we never would have believed that he would have made it to this age.  Beamer is a dog of many lives and much love!

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Homemade Soft Pumpkin Treats for Dogs

Beamer, pumpkin dog treats, homemade dog treats

I posted this photo of homemade pumpkin doggie treats that I made for Beamer on Facebook yesterday and then had a number of requests for the recipe.  Rather than send them all by email or private messages on Facebook, I have posted the recipe here.

I adapted the recipe for these treats from this site.  I did not think pumpkin seeds would be a good thing for Beamer right now, so I left them out.  I mixed this dough by hand, so I used less flour than the original recipe called for. If you use a stand or hand mixer and add more flour, you will have a stiffer dough. I think the way I made them keeps them a bit softer, which is best for Beamer’s situation.

I’ve made them twice since finding the recipe, one time making smaller sized treats and then yesterday, I made them much larger.  Beamer was eating two at a time, so why not give the boy what he wants…a bigger treat?! 🙂

Make these the preferred size for your pup.  The first time I made them, they were smaller (slightly larger than a quarter), but Beamer wanted them a bit bigger, so this time I made them more like the size of a cookie.  You will just need to adapt the baking times depending on the size of the treat.  BTW, you might find yourself craving them since they smell so good when baking.

Soft Pumpkin Dog Treats

1 1/4 cup organic canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 cups rolled oats (I used organic) *Note – see below
2 1/2 cups (or more) organic whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (you may need 2 sheet pans depending on the size of your treats). Place the pumpkin in a medium sized bowl. Beat the eggs slightly and add them to the pumpkin. Combine well. Add the dry ingredients. Shape into desired size treats. You may need to flour your hands to shape the treats if the batter is sticky.  I rolled them into a ball and then flattened them slightly.

Place the shaped treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through. Time will depend on the size of your treats. 15 minutes worked well for quarter size treats and it took about 25-30 minutes for the larger ones (about twice the size).

Once the treats are done, remove them from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator for about a week. You can freeze them for longer storage (no more than a few months).

* Note – The first time I made these, I added twice as many rolled oats in place of the sunflower seeds that were called for in the original recipe.  That would mean you would add 1 cup (instead of 1/2 cup as stated above) to the recipe.  The dough took slightly less flour and I do think I liked the final outcome a bit better.  I don’t think Beamer knows the difference, but the cookies were a bit softer with more rolled oats.

I hope your pup enjoys them!

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

A Beamer Update and Diagnosis of a Cancerous Tumor

Beamer at home

October 18, 2013

It has been almost two years since our Tibetan Terrier, Beamer, went through the trials and challenges of recovery from paralysis brought on by a rabies vaccine, Vaccinosis.  Beamer recovered well but was left with permanent nerve damage that shows up as a tremor in his muscles when he stands.  Beyond that, he is strong and happy.  He runs, leaps, and plays.  He is now almost twelve years old.

Two months ago (August, 2013) we noticed a sore in Beamer’s mouth on the lower gum line.    We had the sore aspirated by the veterinarian, but it was non-conclusive.  We went home with instructions to keep an eye on it to see if it changed.  A few weeks later, after returning from a two-week trip, we noticed that the sore was much larger.  We decided to take him to University of Georgia Veterinary Hospital for evaluation.  A biopsy confirmed that it was a Soft Tissue Sarcoma (Hemangiopericytoma), a cancer that is slow-growing and it did not appear to have metastasized to other organs or body parts based on further scans and tests.

We went back to the UGA Vet Hospital to discuss our options with the head of the soft tissue surgical department.  We were left with only two choices.  Leave it alone and let it grow, which would eventually lead to death in what would probably be a six to twelve month period (and very painful for Beamer as the tumor grew into the jaw bone) or we could remove it.  The decision to remove it meant that Beamer should live out his life without worrying about this tumor and cancer from the Sarcoma.  However, removing it meant taking a major part of the lower jaw bone, not just tissue.  It meant that Beamer would lose his lower front teeth to the canines.  This was not an easy decision.

The tumor was to the right side of his gum line

The tumor was to the right side of his gum line

We worked with several other vets to gain their perspective and advice.  It became clear that this surgery was the best decision, but we knew it was going to be very hard, on us as much as Beamer.

Prior to surgery, Beamer received a CT scan to verify how deep the tumor had grown.  They also x-rayed his organs.  He already had an ultrasound of his abdomen to ensure there were no other growths or problems that might compromise his recovery or future health.  He passed all tests and we were told that he is in really good shape for a twelve-year-old dog.

It was also confirmed that the tumor was in the soft tissue and not in the bone.  This was good news, but it didn’t change the need to remove the lower jaw to the canines in order to properly close the wound and assure that it wouldn’t return (clean margins).

The operation and tests prior to the surgery had him sedated for about 3 hours.  We didn’t get to see Beamer until the next day as they kept him quiet and medicated to keep him as comfortable as possible.  We hated to leave him overnight but we knew this was best.

The next day we went to visit Beamer and learned that he could go home with us that day, to our surprise and delight.  But, going home doesn’t mean that he is well as we have learned.

We will follow-up with another post after Beamer has been home with us for several days.

Welcome to Beamer’s Corner!

This is Beamer’s blog where we are going to share our experience in dealing with his Coonhound Paralysis from it’s onset through the recovery process. We hope that it will be a way to keep you up to date with his progress as well as be a resource for other families and their pets that are having to deal with a similar situation.

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