12-Year-Old Goldendoodle Given Weeks To Live From Aggressive Tumor Finds Hope

Dog mom Joan Garbutt was giving her Goldendoodle, Cello, a bath and happened to notice her rear leg knee was swollen. She took a photo and sent it to Cello’s veterinarian, who advised Garbutt to bring Cello in for a checkup. She was prescribed antibiotics to reduce the swelling, but the problem remained.

An ultrasound confirmed Garbutt’s worst fears: Cello had a blood clot.

Cello was seen by veterinarians at the University of Florida, who performed a CT scan of the leg. Unfortunately, the dog had a tumor called a pheochromocytoma, which UF Health described as “a tumor of the adrenal gland that often causes episodes of cardiac arrhythmias, high blood pressure, fainting episodes, weakness, blindness, and sudden death.”

Source: UF Health

Elizabeth Maxwell, D.V.M., a clinical assistant professor in surgical oncology at UF Health, noted the tumor to be one of the largest the team ever saw. Cello had a chance of dying during surgery, but Dr. Maxwell recommended surgically removing the tumor after consulting with her team. It would be risky and there were several complications with a 50 percent mortality rate.

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Dr. Maxwell said that Cello could live another two to four years if surgery was successful,” Garbutt said. “So, I agreed.”

Cello had to be dropped off at the hospital and due to pandemic restrictions, Garbutt was not allowed to go inside. Although surgery and recovery were stressful for Cello, after a few days her kidney functions improved. It would be weeks that turned into months before Cello showed major progress in her recovery. Garbutt feels UF Health performed a miracle on her dog.

“Without surgery, she would have certainly died in a couple of weeks,” Dr. Maxwell said. With the combined efforts of all the specialists — critical care, internal medicine, radiology, anesthesia, and surgical oncology — we were able to successfully remove the tumor and hopefully give Cello a long and happy life.”