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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Rachel   rockford, Illinois

7/21/2014 1:12:32 PM

I am so sorry for your loss. In 2011 after having just turned 8 years my Pembroke Welsh Corgi passed away in his sleep three days after being diagnosed with a baseball sized hemangiosarcoma on his spleen. Only a month prior we had neutered him (he was a retired show dog at that point) to help relieve him of anal fistulas. During the neuter the vet did not notice anything we needed to be concerned about. Three days before Thanksgiving we took him to the vet as he had been very lethargic and even had two seizures. The doctor gave us the bleak prognosis, said he had around 3 months left at best, and sent some mophine home with us to help if he was in pain. Three days later my poor baby boy went to bed and never woke up. His father also passed away around 10 years of age of this same horrible cancer. His father was a heavily health tested top winning show dog. Hemangiosarcoma is a silent killer and I only wish we had known his fathers fate sooner so that perhaps we could have avoided the heartbreak of losing out handsome sweetheart far too soon.

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Liz   Milford, Connecticut

7/14/2014 10:31:45 AM

My dog is going through this right now. Same exact thing as the poster. We are debating putting him down today. He is lethargic, not breathing well, eating on occasion, not showing interest in most things. I am so heartbroken. This is the first time I have had to do this and it came as such a shock (the diagnosis). Since it had already spread we knew the verdict was terminal but we got an extra month with him than what the vet said originally. The worst part is that sometimes he has bouts where he acts like himself so it makes the decision even harder. I'm so torn. Help.

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Hope Chalmers   Gulf Shores, Alabama

6/30/2014 4:29:01 AM

Our 7 year old basset hound Cooper is recovering from a splenectomy this morning. After losing his appetite and appearing very lethargic I called the on call vet. I explained to her his breathing was fast (44 per min) and the other signs named above. I took him in and lab work was done and an ultrasound. Cooper was diagnosed with cancer. He had a nodule the size of an adult's fist on his spleen and his abdomen was full of blood. By the grace of God he was stable enough to remove the spleen but required a blood transfusion as 3 liters of blood was taken from his abdomen. The moral to this story is...if you think your dog is sick, do not hesitate one second to take them in, even on a Sunday night at 9pm. This Monday morning would have been too late for Cooper. We have a poor prognosis but we will keep him comfortable and he will let us know when it's time for him to go. Yes, I know him that well. Just like he was telling me it was time to go to the vet and that something was seriously wrong. Those who read this post, please pray for Cooper and our family. God bless from Gulf Shores, Alabama.

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Hope   Gulf Shores, Alabama

6/30/2014 4:11:58 AM


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