Euthanasia Was Best Answer for Dog With Hemangiosarcoma

Once this type of tumor spreads, no treatment can halt the cancer.


Q. I had a beloved German Shepherd Dog, Schultz, who was 8 1/2 years old. I noticed a change in his appetite the last few weeks. It became worse each week with him not eating at dinnertime. I thought it was his food, so I started feeding him chicken and rice. Then I noticed last week he was vomiting. I saw him do this about three times last week. I also noticed that when I went outside, he was not interested in coming with me. Last Thursday, I was petting his belly and noticed a swelling under his private area. I took him to the vet who found a 16-inch long malignant tumor. There wasn’t much room for his organs and the tumor was squeezing his stomach. The vet also found spots on his lungs. He had lost 8 pounds at this point.
She said that this was one of the largest and most aggressive tumors she had seen and that an operation and chemotherapy were not options. So I had two options, giving him pain killers and an anti-inflammatory with the possibility that the tumor would rupture, or to euthanize him. My husband and I decided that we did not want him to suffer so we put him to sleep. My last GSD had the same condition, but we let him suffer too long. I did not want this for Schultz. However, I still feel guilty about my decision and cannot stop crying.

A. I am sorry to hear about the loss of Schultz. You obviously cared greatly for him. You need to know that he had an untreatable condition, he was suffering, and euthanasia was the most humane decision you could make. It took a true act of love to put the alleviation of your dog’s pain ahead of your need for his companionship.
He had a malignant tumor of his spleen that had already spread to his lungs, so it was inoperable. This type of tumor, known as a hemangiosarcoma, is unique to dogs and most common in German Shepherd Dogs and Golden Retrievers. Typically you will see vague signs at first, such as loss of appetite, lethargy or periods of fatigue. Over time, you may note weight loss, vomiting and pale gums.
In about 20 percent of dogs, these tumors are benign and can be removed surgically. Unfortunately, there is no way to know in advance of surgery if they are benign or malignant. However, when chest X-rays show spread of the tumor to the lungs, the mass is malignant, and there are no viable treatment options.
Alleviating your dog’s suffering through humane euthanasia was the best choice since treatment would have been hopeless and he only would have gotten worse. Try to enjoy all of the great memories you have of him. Remember his spirit and heart.


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Athena   Liberty, Missouri

3/20/2015 2:48:08 PM


I understand the heartache you are going through on deciding what to do with your child's pain and suffering. When I learned that Copper had Hemangiosarcoma last Friday, I fell to my knees and sobbed. Both of his doctors had no hope for recovery and said that his suffering will only worsen. He had one day long episode two Sundays ago (the emergency visit led us to see the oncologist last Friday) and then a short episode three days later in the morning.

After the oncologist appointment, I struggled with the same decision. Did I want to gamble with his life? How long will it be till his next episode or worse...what if I come home from work and he died a painful death. The episodes that they experience are painful. They are caused by one of the tumors exploding and then they have internal bleeding until their body absorbs the blood. But new cancer cells are formed again. This specific cancer spreads through their body quickly. Unfortunately, in most cases it is detected too late for treatment.

We made the tough decision to say our final goodbye to him Wednesday the 18th (My Grandmother's birthday who has been gone since 2008). During his last few days, we gave him his favorite human meals, went swimming, hiked through the woods, played in parks, and his entire family gave him so much love.

I haven't stopped crying since last Friday when we learned he had cancer. I miss him so much the pain in my heart is unbearable. I still talk to him as if he is still here. Copper's collar is on my nightstand, his toys are in the same place and so are his beds...till I'm ready to move them or donate them. The urn and keepsakes are ordered and I will receive his ashes next Tuesday.

This decision was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life including mourning my best friend of twelve years. Ultimately, I didn't want to watch him go through the painful episodes or come home finding out that he died alone. I decided to say goodbye to Copper as he fell asleep on my lap. I sobbed, I prayed, and I sang to him as he drifted away. His doctor cried with us.

I love Copper so much. He was the greatest soul that has ever come into my life. We went on many great adventures together and he loved me unconditionally. I am thankful that he chose me to be his best friend 12 years ago this

I hope my experience has helped you to make your decision. My heart is with you. I wish I could tell you it gets easier, but it doesn't. You can find grief counseling in your area if the pain is too much to bear. I am actually leaning that



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Cj   Venice, Florida

3/20/2015 10:33:18 AM

Our 10 airedale was diagnosed 3 weeks ago. He has had several " episodes" that last anywhere from 5 hrs to 10hrs-then snaps out of it ready to play,eat, take walk, and his all-time fav-car rides. Last thurs we thought was the end, but he came out of it and chased and played like a puppy. As I write, he has been in an episode since 4am this morning. My husband and I are really torn as to when is the right time to put our Boomer to sleep. Any in-sight would be greatly appreciated.

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Athena   Liberty, Missouri

3/14/2015 6:26:42 AM

Yesterday, we learned that Copper has Hemangiosarcoma. Last Sunday, he was very ill. He was shaking, would not lie down, would not eat, and he was vomiting. We rushed him to the hospital where we learned from an X-Ray that his liver was enlarged and had pushed his stomach aside.

During his appointment with his general doctor, she recommended taking him to an oncologist for an ultrasound. That afternoon, we learned from the oncologist that my best friend of 12 years has Hemangiosarcoma of the liver, kidney, and possible spleen. The tumor is so aggressive that surgery will not remove it all.

The oncologist predicted that Copper will only have one to two months of life without treatment. With treatment, he would have 6 to 8 months of life. My wife and I made the most difficult and heartbreaking decision to say our final goodbye to him this coming Wednesday. We are making the most out of these last few days with my best friend. He has been my living guardian angel for the last 12 years of my life. I am not looking forward to Wednesday morning, but I'm trying to stay strong. I don't want him to suffer in pain. I love him so much.

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Angela   Elgin, Oklahoma

1/25/2015 5:56:03 PM

My 8 year old chow chow/husky mix was diagnosed with this in October 2014. It was a complete shock to my partner and I. In September, he became finicky with his food which he had done in the past so I did not think anything of it. However, I noticed for several weeks he would barely eat any of his food. Then one night I rolled him over on his back and noticed a swollen belly. The next day we went to our vet where they confirmed a mass was over his spleen and liver. We were sent to a specialist who later confirmed our dog had hemangiosarcoma. We decided to take him home that day so we could love on him and get the closure we needed. We tried to keep him comfortable and gave him the dr prescribed

prednisone. He had good days and bad days. The final evening was very hard we had scheduled earlier in the week to put him down on Friday. Ironically, Thursday evening was very tough for him as he threw up several times and did not want to come in from outside. I prayed to God after I heard him wimper to please not let him suffer through the night. After that prayer Diego slept soundly all evening??????. The next morning we took him to the vet and my partner and I stayed with him through the euthanasia. The euthanasia process was so peaceful and comforting and somewhat of a relief. Our boy was no longer in pain and although we did not immediately decide to put him down we were able to cherish our last days with him. It might sound selfish but I do not regret keeping him a few days after receiving the diagnosis. This was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my adult life but as a dog owner you will know when it is time to send your beloved pal to rainbow bridge and I truly believe I will see him again one day.

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