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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Louise   Sarasota, Florida

4/12/2015 9:07:21 PM

My rescue Rottie, Buddy, aged 8, was diagnosed with hemangiosarcome shortly after I became his Mommy. The oncology vet said that she would not operate on him - that this type of cancer is not painful - to take him home and make him comfortable until he passes. She said he had days to live. 18 months later, I took Buddy back to the vet. She was amazed that he was still alive and told me the same thing - take him home and make him comfortable...2 and a half years later I finally decided to euthanize Buddy after he could no longer walk and I realized that he was becoming uncomfortable. My precious Buddy lived over 4 years with hemangiosarcoma. He loved his life and really wanted to live. I've never seen anything like it. He still had a heart appetite on his final day, It was one of the hardest things I have ever done and my heart feels like a rocket blew threw it. I'm so devastated at the loss of my sweet Buddy.

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Kristine   San Diego, California

4/12/2015 8:45:07 AM

My daughter and I made the decision two days ago to let out beloved 13 yr old GSD go after being diagnosed with an acute, life-threatening rupture of a splenic hemeangiosarcoma. We felt that the stress of surgery and chemotherapy so WE could have her 3-6 more months would have been unkind to our sweet girl. We learned our lesson last year with our other dog who had meningioma. His last few weeks were miserable and not what he deserved. My heart has been broken twice in 12 months, but I know I did right by my girl. Prayers for all who have made the same humane decision.

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Athena   Liberty, Missouri

3/20/2015 2:48:08 PM

RE:
CJ

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
month.

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
way.

With
sympathy,

Athena

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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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