Euthanasia Was Best Answer for Dog With Hemangiosarcoma

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


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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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Leslie   Woodbridge, Virginia

1/14/2014 4:37:54 PM

I lost my 12 year old (13 in April) Jack Russell to the anemia that is caused by this bleeding. He was diagnosed the day after Christmas when he had passed out on the kitchen floor and wet himself. I took him in to the vet immediately and it was discovered that he was anemic. We were going to ultrasound him on the upcoming Monday, but decided to do some preliminary x-rays first on the day after he passed out. The vet was surprised to see his cloudy lungs. She said his cancer was secondary so the spleen is the likely culprit and would explain the anemia. He had two small cutaneous mast cell tumors 5 years previous. The removal was successful, but I personally think that his issue with mast cells manifested itself once again in this illness...possibly causing a tumor on his spleen. That's my theory. The vet gave us prednisone and a bronchial dilator and told me to feed him anything I could get into him. He did well for about 6 days and started to decline each day after that, eating less and less each day. I tried EVERYTHING. His final morning...4 days later, I called the vet. He refused to get out of bed and wouldn't eat and I had to assist him to drink. Through that final day, he had a few bursts of energy that resulted in him becoming temporarily incapacitated. He would recover for a bit...The vet arrived at my house that evening and we said
I know now by the bond he and I had that I wasn't really a dog owner. I'm was an Oliver owner. He is forever
I love you Oliver.

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Charlie   Bergen County, New Jersey

10/14/2013 1:04:35 PM

My Portuguese Water Dog was found in our backyard on May 17th, 2013 at about 6pm. We tried to get him inside, we even bribed him with bacon (what dog turns down bacon!) but we were unsuccessful. There is an emergency pet vet two towns over and our immediate reaction was "let's get this dog to the hospital!" He was wheezing and obviously distraught, so we picked up our 110lb 9 year old baby, got him over to the hospital and watched our pup be rolled away. This was hard for us because we have never seen our doggie like this. About an hour later the vet came in to tell us the bad news, our dog had a tumor rupture on his heart. Fluid build up in his heart sac made it more difficult for him to breathe. The amount of fluid around his heart was the equivalent to TWO 2 liter bottles of soda. Tear rushing down our face, the doctors told us they didn't know if he was going to make it, but they were going to keep him over night. If fluid built up again, they would have a surgeon come in and cut a hole in his heart sac so fluid could dissipate on its own. Even then it was unknown how long he might have to live. Euthanasia wasn't even an option in my head. I got to see him once more, he looked a lot happier and it was good to see him breathing. Then I went home without my baby... the next day they called and said very LITTLE fluid built up overnight and we would be able to take him home to see what happens. He was very loopy on meds when I went to pick him up, he was very tired. We were told to bring him in again in one week. We babied him and stayed by his side, yes crying, but remembering all the good times we had with him. The next week, we brought him in again and they said he was looking better than ever. The doc said if we had brought him in any later he wouldn't have made it. Now, almost five months later, we celebrate his 10th birthday. He is virtually back to normal. He was never an extremely athletic dog. He was overweight, yes but that did not stop him from taking a nice dip in the ocean every summer! He plays fetch and loves to watch TV. He still loves to go for walks and enjoys spending time with his people. We are thankful everyday for him. He has taught us to love unconditionally. Moral to the story, even though we didn't notice any signs of Hemangiosarcoma, if you notice symptoms with your pup I urge you to seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY! It could be something minor, but you never know. Remember, this disease is COMMON in large dogs. Do not think you're alone. Cancer is an evil disease and hopefully sometime in the future we can find a cure. Now, go hug your babies. They love and need you more than you know!

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Marty   Jupiter, Florida

9/12/2013 11:04:09 AM

We just had to put our 11 year old Pug down last night, less than 24 hours before he showed us any symptoms of being sick. He was playful at 9PM and then put himself to bed. A half hour later we went in and he didn't look good. We took him to the VET at 4PM the next day who did an x-ray. He told us there was a tumor that looked to be on his spleen. He sent us to the ER who did an ultrasound and found that it was also attached to his liver. He was also bleeding internally which made him look uncomfortable. There was really no choice but to put him down. That was the hardest thing I have ever done. My wife holding him with my 17 year old daughter and me watching him go to sleep forever. He was my best buddy. RIP are still the Master P.

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Paula   Briarcliff Manor, New York

9/6/2013 4:22:44 AM

My 13 year old Westie was diagnosed with this horrible disease in March, it's coming up on 6 months. I am enjoying everyday I have, but I am beginning to see her drifting away from us. Yesterday she was running, playing, today, she is under the bed, not wanting breakfast, but hand fed her some chicken and she took it, along with one of her Yunnan Baiyo, thinking about giving her one of the red pills, will be checking her gums to see if they are pale, she might be having a bleed. This is such a horrible disease, pray for all the pups with it.

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