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We Suddenly Lost Our Dog to Hemangiosarcoma

I want you to know what happened because hemangiosarcoma is common. Our rescue pit bull Scooby entertained extended family with his usual antics on Mother’s Day. He jumped into my husband’s lap at the table knowing that’s where he was most likely to source scraps of the expensive poached salmon I ordered from a restaurant down the street.

Pit bull rescue with hemangiosarcoma
He was my perfect boy.

We pulled his bed over to the table so that he could snore away, per usual, while we played some card games after our meal. He and I later curled up in bed to enjoy the penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones.” It was business as usual.

Monday came and went without much fanfare. On Tuesday morning, everyone (including Scooby) enjoyed their usual harried breakfast routine before school departure. I went out to yoga, and my husband headed out for a beach jog but noticed on his way out that Scooby was a little uneasy, which wasn’t entirely unusual. He was a nervous dog, had just turned 10, and loud construction noise radiated from a neighbor’s house. Noise, trucks, and strange men talking scare him, so he wasn’t behaving out of line.

When I returned home, Scooby wasn’t at the door to greet me. He was lying on the living room rug and wouldn’t even get up for food, a highly unusual event. The dog loved food. I had to coax him up. 

A few hours later, we were sitting in the vet’s office. Fecal and blood tests were run and returned with normal results. His physical exam didn’t reveal anything unusual, either. Maybe it’s his thyroid. Perhaps it’s the result of a hypoallergenic diet that included grain-free food, a topic for another day, but one dog owners should be aware of. Dinner was refused, but he slept well and woke up on Wednesday morning with tons and tons of energy.

Relief swept over the entire family. The only thing out of the ordinary was that he was extra hungry from having skipped dinner. I’m so glad we indulged him with a little bit more bacon and other treats throughout the entire day.

We took our usual walk, and he eagerly jumped into our bed in the middle of the night to sleep with us. I wrapped him in a blanket, and he snored away until he, per usual, bolted out of bed after hearing my daughter wake up for school. Breakfast came and went, and so did our housekeepers (which causes him stress). 

My radar went up again when he refused his usual midday Greenie snack, which he gets while we make lunch. Instead of being tired like he was on Tuesday, this time, I could tell he was uncomfortable. Maybe he just needed sleep, which seemed to work wonders on Tuesday. Instead, he tossed, turned, and shivered in his bed next to my desk. He still barked to announce the arrival of the mail carrier and moved with me to other rooms in the house.

I knew something was wrong, but at the time, it was impossible to tell if it was indigestion or something more significant. After studying him for a few hours (which I regret), I called the vet again, and we were summoned in for a chest X-ray to rule out cardiomyopathy. I wasn’t sure if we needed to go to the vet, given his previous day recovery, but went anyway.

He never came home (or even whimpered once throughout the entire ordeal).

An ultrasound revealed fluid in his abdomen, and a sample taken revealed that it was blood. She told me that dogs with this condition go to surgery or heaven. Given that it was rush hour to the nearest pet emergency room, they gave him an IV of fluids (and lots of hugs — he always held everyone’s hands in the vet’s office, which was funny) to keep him comfortable during the car ride, left the catheter in, and sent us on our way. 

We’re not strangers to the veterinary hospital where our local emergency room is, given that we’re there at least every six months to have his hemangiomas (more on these later) lasered off. So, he sniffed the same plants and dog area on the way in and politely sat down as a couple cut the line in front of us. I had to push my way in. We didn’t look like it, but we were as emergency as it gets, which I now understand more than I did at the time. 

An ER tech immediately came to get him. Rather than the usual paperwork I fill out when there, I verbally agreed to specific procedures and a do not resuscitate order (DNR). (This was hard. I had always indicated yes to resuscitate because his laser surgeries had always been minor, and the surgeon’s staff agreed with this choice because if things went south, we’d make a decision later.) Our vet had already called ahead and sent the X-rays and test results.

He was rushed away though my husband points out that he walked himself throughout the entire process. Dazed, I sat in the waiting area. Thankfully, the most social and well-behaved cat on a leash distracted everyone in there. People in the waiting room at this time of day are usually not there for happy reasons.

It didn’t take long for them to call me into a room where I waited for the ER doctor. She confirmed that her ultrasound showed fluid in his abdomen. Since our vet extracted blood, and he had a history of hemangiomas on his skin, I had two choices.

  1. Ultrasound his entire body. I would only do this if I was consenting to surgery. Surgery with a condition like this typically extends life by a month, if it is even successful. And, he was going to need a blood transfusion first which takes time that he wasn’t going to likely have. The cancerous blood already washed his major organs.
  2. Euthanize him right away because he was bleeding to death.

That’s a lot to process out of the blue.

I called my husband, and we agreed to number two. The ER doctor flat out told me this was the most humane thing to do. I trust this hospital and its staff and do not have regrets about this decision.

I spared no expense on Scooby throughout his entire life (including TPLO surgery that he healed brilliantly from). I would have paid ridiculous sums of money to save him if I could have. Number two was about his quality of life. And it needed to be done as soon as possible.

My next decision though haunts me. I wasn’t sure how quickly number two would occur. Is it normal for a 12-year-old to see her best friend euthanized? (The answer, I later learned, is yes.) There was more paperwork (a blur), and then I was led into the room where it happens. It took a little bit of time for Scooby to arrive, and I was told to take as much time as I needed with him. I only took a few minutes because he looked terrible and had obviously slid downhill to the point where there was no question number two was the right thing to do. I was the only other family member there, but he and I were bonded. I was his person.

By the time we were in that room together, though, my daughter and husband probably could have fought traffic to be with us. I didn’t make that calculation, nor do I ask what the time frame would be. If you’re ever in the same position, ask how long you have. I wish they could have brought his favorite blanket and held his hands, too. Everything happened so quickly, but no one wanted to prolong his suffering. 

I spooned him like he was used to and told him what an amazing dog he is. A deep sedative put him to sleep, and then a second shot stopped his heart. I felt it stop beating on my arm immediately. It was quick.

A few days, many tears, and many Google searches later, I now understand what happened to my perfect boy.

Pit bull with a squeaky chicken

Hemangiosarcoma

I’m not a veterinarian. I’m writing this as a pet owner who has gone through a dog’s sudden death by aggressive cancer called hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessel walls. I hope that if you see the same signs that I did, that you will not hesitate before calling the vet, which will hopefully allow you to give your dog the best quality of life and the least amount of pain until the very end. 

This silent killer usually shows no clinical signs until the end is inevitable. I’ve now read multiple stories from other dog owners in shock from how their dog can drop dead a few hours after being wholly energetic and fine.

Dogs very rarely die from heart attacks, but they do suddenly die from hemangiosarcoma. The Golden Retriever Club of America National Health Survey revealed that the chances of golden retrievers developing hemangiosarcoma in a lifetime are 1 in 5. Pit bulls, Labrador retrievers, German Shepherds are also prone to the disease. 

The most common place for malignant tumors to grow is on the spleen, but they can grow anywhere there are blood vessels and spread to other major organs. Since you can’t see them, you and perhaps your dog won’t know cancer exists until things have progressed to the point of no return. If tumors are isolated to the spleen and haven’t burst, the spleen can be removed, which may buy your dog some time but not usually more than a month. And, chemotherapy might be recommended to extend life a few months beyond that hopefully. It’s a no-win situation. 

I should have known he was at risk for this cancer, given his history of cutaneous hemangiomas. Hemangiomas are the benign form of hemangiosarcoma. I had not linked the two, and it’s a probably good thing because I would have obsessed over his every ailment even more than I already did. 

Cutaneous hemangiomas are likely (but they’re not sure) caused by the sun. They look like blood blisters. He has one on his cheek in this photo.

Pit bull with hemangioma

Cutaneous hemangiomas grew on him quickly and in all sizes, even though we kept him out of the sun and covered him in dog-safe sunscreen when he was in the sun for walks and short outings. They ranged from light red to nearly black. Four months before he died, a rather large one appeared on his leg that had grown to the size of a grape. Our surgeon wasn’t worried, and we always sent the suspicious-looking ones to the lab. The rest were lasered off.

His history of cutaneous hemangiomas combined with burst tumor(s) internally is why the ER vet didn’t hesitate to recommend euthanasia.

Warning Signs to Look For

Scooby’s symptoms were sudden lethargy and lack of appetite. They think the reason why he experienced this on Tuesday and seemingly recovered for one day on Wednesday is that the bleeding was light, somehow clotted, and he made more blood cells to compensate for the loss of blood. On Thursday, the day he died, the bleeding restarted more forcefully.

I debated whether or not to take him to the vet on Thursday afternoon, and would have taken him in a few hours earlier had I known to check his mouth. Pale gums and tongue indicate anemia combined with lethargy and lack of appetite signals that something is wrong.

His gums were fine on Tuesday, as were his labs. On Thursday, his gums were very pale. I wish I would have known to look at them because I’d have known it wasn’t indigestion. Before going to the vet on Thursday, we had no idea that he was ill.

Other symptoms that are common with hemangiosarcoma, that Scooby didn’t have, include a distended abdomen, seizures, collapsing, arrhythmia, abnormal breathing. 

Long Days Afterward

Hemangiosarcoma causes dog owners extraordinary pain because we’re forced to make immediate decisions we’re unprepared for. We question what we did wrong (which is probably nothing) and wonder how we missed the signs (because there weren’t any). The loss is sudden and traumatic. It will take a long time for me to recover.

The other point of this post is to let people going through this same miserable trauma know that they are not alone. There are a lot of us. You’ll soon see what I mean when you start talking about it to others.

One of the many things I need to reconcile with is that Scooby was not the type of dog who would have handled a long term disease well (not that anyone does). He liked to be within a few inches of or attached to a human at every minute, and this does take a lot of moving around, given that we have a tween in the house. If I could have carried him in a Baby Bjorn all day, he’d have been cool with that.

We felt he deserved whatever we could give him, as we’re confident he was abused before he came to us. We are desperately trying to take comfort in the fact that it was a “good” way for him to go because he likely didn’t experience much discomfort until his final day.

He was so loved, and proof that rescued pit bulls can make brilliant family dogs. It was just his time.

Update: I originally wrote this post in June 2019. It’s near the end of 2020, which has not been the greatest of years for most people. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Scooby. We did rescue another pit bull, which was unimaginable at the time we lost him. She’s different and she doesn’t replace him. I read all of your comments and emails and want you to know that you will feel the loss for a long time (how long, I have no idea) but you will — eventually — feel better.

My daughter cuddling our pit bull rescue

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113 thoughts on “We Suddenly Lost Our Dog to Hemangiosarcoma

    1. This is exactly what happened to my dog Captain. 2 days before he died he ran 4 miles with my husband while he was biking. It was so sudden. A year later it’s still shocking. He was a german shepherd mix. The sweetest boy. I’m sorry for your loss and thanks for writing about it. I came across your blog when searching hotels but saw this and thought “that’s what happened to MY boy”.

    2. Thank you for sharing this post. My husband and I just went through this today. Our fur baby Dean went to heaven. He is a German shepherd. We went a head with the surgery and his pancreas burst. They found a secondary cancer in his stomach too, so they called us with the decision of proceeding on with the surgery, or let him go to heaven. We chose Heaven and that was a hard decision. Like you posted the onset is sudden. Dean started yesterday with vomiting around 4 something. He was lethargic, he collapsed, didn’t eat food, and his belly was bloated. Dean would of turned 8 next month. We just thought that he is getting a little older and was getting a little belly. It was larger this morning. You are bombarded with fast decisions to make with the fast onset. We called the vet around 9 am today and they got us in at 10:30. At the vet’s, they took his temperature and it was 104. The vet had taken him back for xrays and there was a tumor on his pancreas the same cancer that took your fur baby. My husband and I have gone back and forth with would of should ofs and with the information in your post helps us realize that the outcome would of always been Heaven. We are very raw right now, kind of in shock, denial, and disbelief. It happened so fast. Thank u for posting.

      1. This happened to my Siberian Husky only 3 days. I am still mortified by the fact that I had to make such a dire choice. I am struggling with the survivor’s guilt of the ordeal. My husky had a mass covering the length of his abdomen, compressing his intestines caudally towards his pelvis. He collapsed and could barely stand up. He ran a fever and was severely anemic. I wasn’t sure that he would survive stabilization for even a few days to go under surgery. And the prognosis was so horrifying. Nevertheless I seem to feel guilty still. Thanks for sharing this because it shows that I am not alone.

    3. I feel like I could have written this article. Our sweet 10 year old Jake, a chocolate lab, just passed last Tuesday, most likely from this. It was so fast and unexpected; we are devastated.
      Thank you for sharing, and sorry for your loss of Scooby.

    4. This too happened to me 3.5 weeks ago. A lump appeared on my 10 year old Chocolate Lab’s torso on a Friday and I took him in for an aspirate. Nothing. We scheduled a biopsy for Tuesday but he didn’t live until then. Friday night I noticed he was unusually tired, which I thought was for a busy day at the vet and a nice walk, with cold paws and a little shivering. It was cold out so I figured he was chilly and wrapped a blanket around him. He looked so cute I even took a picture. Little did I know it’d be the last. I woke up the next day and he couldn’t stand, was lethargic and cold to the touch. I immediately took him to the vet where they took an X-ray and found blood surrounding his organs. They told me they suspected ITP and we rushed to the ER for the worst news of my life. Rex would likely not even survive a surgery, let alone another day. I could see his suffering and knew there was no other option but say goodbye. I had to make that decision right then and there, one of the most excruciating and shocking experiences of my life. I had to say goodbye to my best friend in the same room I said goodbye to almost 3 years earlier. I have been told the skin lump I found was unrelated but am grateful I took him in for that. It is comforting to know that I was at the vet the day before and they too found nothing wrong. Not due to negligence on either part, there was just no way to know. I am so lucky to have been with him in those last moments for if I’d found him dead in my home I’d likely had died from pure confusion, regret and sorrow. This is the first time I’ve never regretted the timing of bidding farewell to a pet. I knew it was the right thing to do. My heart is broken and I hurt for his twin sister so deeply. They’d never been apart. Now I have my baby gurl who looks just like him and it’s hard to not see them as a pair. I am suffering. It’s not just hard the first few days or weeks and people send condolences on social media then just carry on with their lives posting stupid things getting more ‘likes’ than my posts about missing my dog. I know it’s just FB but it hurts. What have we come to in this world where we can focus more energy hating the president than we do on our friends who are grieving in isolation. If you’re reading my novel here, you get it. You understand my pain of such a sudden loss. I miss Rex so much it hurts. If anyone has suggestions on how to navigate my healing process please share. I know I’ll never get over it, but I want to be the best mom to his sister and that includes not crying around her all the time. She is already hurting more than me. I’m so sorry for all your losses. Love.

      1. Hi Meg,
        I’m just now seeing this, so I hope you find my response so many months later. I am deeply sorry for your loss. Rex sounds like a wonderful boy and special companion. I hope you have found some comfort but it can take a long time for the immediate grief to pass. Eventually, you will remember happy times and see pictures of Rex without the sudden rush of pain that is so common at first. I would suggest journaling about your feelings, or some people find comfort in poetry they write about their furbaby. If you want to do something more tangible, you can plant a special flower garden or a tree in your baby’s honor. Another idea is to sponsor a pet online through a shelter or other animal welfare organization. It always helps to share with like-minded people, so don’t worry about FB – you have to seek out forums or articles like this one to get the perspective of other pet owners. I have lost several pets to cancer over the years and it is difficult each time. But there is a measure of peace and healing that comes with time. Hang in there, Meg. You are not alone.

    5. I too lost my American Bulldog Apple at 10.5 years …
      I am having a hard time with losing her…
      I have another Bully MnM, 7 years, who is exhibiting the same symptoms as Apple…
      Now i need to brace myself for that as well.
      I also lost my Dad to cancer and Brother this year as well…
      This has not been a merciful year….
      2020 has been brutal to be honest.
      But i know in all things seen and unseen…
      YAHWEH ELOHIM is in control of all Creation…
      Life is a gift of which should never be taken for granted.

    6. Hi I have just lost my Westie Jock. It started off with him being sick and continued multiple times and we took him to the vets. We thought that he just had an upset stomach and everything would be ok. The vet came out with a form which we signed to give him any treatment that he needed. They phoned us later that day and said Jock was stable and that the x rays came back fine and they had him on a drip and were giving him pain meds and something to settle his belly.
      In the middle of the night we got a phone call and the vet told us he was gone. His abdomen was filled with blood and it was coming out of his mouth, nose and rectum. I am absolutely devastated he was my little man. He was always happy and I miss him cuddling into me on the sofa.

      1. I’m so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your story. I think that is what is so hard for everyone. You think it’s something fairly common or normal and then it’s quite the opposite. 🙁

    7. Thank you for sharing. I’m currently going through it and will lose my little girl, Gracie, very soon. I’m completely heartbroken and don’t know how I’m going to get through it.
      Early August 2020, after a normal walk she showed signs of distress. Within the hour of observing her I took her to the ER. She had emergency surgery to remove her spleen due to rupture. The surgeon also removed a section of her liver that had tumor growth as well.
      I chose chemo therapy for her to give her some more time with me. As long as her quality of life remained it was worth the expense.
      After she recovered from surgery, her energy and behavior was better than ever! I hung onto hope that she would have several more months with me. Last week, she would have started her 5th round of chemo but the scans showed tumors in her abdomen with surgery non beneficial.
      The vet recommended not continuing the 5th round of chemo. The Dr did give me some other chemo therapy options but I just couldn’t put her through anymore hospital stays at this point.
      The Dr told me 1-2 weeks now.
      The first week is over so I’m preparing for the loss soon. She is still eating and drinking normally and wanting her 2 walks a day. I just can’t put her to sleep with all of her normal routines and behavior I am seeing as if today.
      I say goodbye to her everyday knowing the end is near. I’m grateful it’s been 4 months since our ER emergency surgery but I’m completely devastated and forever heartbroken.

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for posting about this. Sadly, we too, lost our sweet Honey Bear to Hemangiosarcoma. Honey was a Pit/Shepherd rescue, and a truly amazing dog. Similar to your situation, it was sudden and seemed to come out of now where. We took her to the vet and were given the same options, she was 11 yrs old, and already bleeding to death when they took her vitals. We took her home and had a service come out the same day, this allowed us the privacy to grieve and have our last moments with her in the comfort of our home.

    It was incredibly devastating, but we actually had a couple of warning signs that we were not aware of at the time. She had a couple of random days where she wouldn’t move much or eat, but always bounced back to normal the next day. We later found out that this was most likely due to internal bleeding, and she bounced back once her body absorbed the blood. Apparently, the tumor was slowly bleeding but we were not aware of it until it ruptured.

    Being a pet owner, dog lover, and puppy foster for a local rescue organization, I believe awareness helps us take better care of these precious lives and enjoy them while they are with us. Thanks again for talking about this!

  2. The same thing just happened to our boxer three days ago. We are hurting and heartbroken. We definitely understand your pain!

  3. We lost our 5 year old Boxer/Pit mix a month ago to a ruptured splenic tumor, which we believe to be a Hemangiosarcoma. I have a picture of him begging for my daughters food from that morning. I noticed he looked kind of out of it that afternoon, but my daughter was cranky and had just fallen asleep, so I got my food and went back downstairs to where she was. I will regret that forever. Why didn’t l just bend down to check on him? We took my daughter to urgent care because we thought she had an ear infection, she didn’t. We then went to target after. I regret the whole evening. We were out while my poor bub was bleeding to death. I was his person, he was my soulmate, my heart dog. When we got home he was so lethargic, we rushed him to the emergency clinic. I was a vet tech for years, how did I miss this? I knew he was going to die as soon as I saw his gums, I knew what had happened.
    I’m devastated, guilt ridden, and lost. Losing him this way has traumatized me. I cry myself to sleep every night.

  4. So sorry to hear about Scooby what a gorgeous dog , we are in shock after taking our beautiful dog George to the emergency vets last night only to be given the horrendous news that it was Hemangiosarcoma of the heart and devastated that was to be the end of or George’s life story we are all very upset and i can’t stop crying i just wasn’t ready to say goodbye ?x

  5. So Sad to read about Scooby and all these other very sad stories ours is much the same our beautiful! 10 yr old Bullmastif staff cross George who was lagging after his usual nightly walk and off his food also restless during the night a vet visit on Friday 19 th and looking up his symptons we thought maybe Pneumonia but antibiotics and fluid retention tablets didn’t work his gums were pink too so he didn’t seem to be anaemic and another appointment needed for an ultra sound as none was available . Friday night he was in our bedroom and slept right through wrapped in his blanket and his favourite pillow but Saturday came and he was struggling to breath and just couldn’t sit down or lie down he was struggling badly our youngest of 5 Chase was home from his graduate Geo job in the mines and they were best friends like his brother Chase would say well we all decided Emergency vets visit -it was to be George’s last ride in the car an ultrasound and a a syringe to draw blood from around his heart showed he had Hemangiosarcoma of the heart he was given oxygen to help him and came in looking weak but with a wagging tail pleased to see us this made me crumble we were given our choices which was none as I asked for as much info on his prognosis and we knew what was the right decision for George by this time his gums had lost their colour and his legs were struggling we did have his blanket and favourite lamb toy with us and we said our goodbyes but I was a mess our brave boy hadn’t even whimpered just endured it all driving home without him was horrendous I have had trouble dealing with losing our beautiful boy all of us have I think perhaps because up until this he has been so healthy and looked so young for his age my chest hurts and I’m constantly crying we will miss him so much our house feels empty and his face isn’t looking through the glass door waiting to greet us anymore when we arrive home . Our son Chase didn’t make his 7 hour drive back to his job he stayed home an extra day and we comforted each other but nothing will help just time he was such a special dog and will be in our hearts forever along with our lovely memories . Xx

  6. Sorry for your loss. I just found out 48 hour ago my “Perfect Boy” Has a large tumor on his Spleen. It does not appear to have metastasized (at least they could see on ultrasound). But at Ten and a half with the quality of and length of life left I’m finding it difficult to justify putting him through such an ordeal. I don’t want him to suffer or, god forbid, blead out alone at home with no on around. but he’s stable and being spoiled for now. Other than his grey face and the ticking time bomb in his belly he’s really got the body of and attitude of a much younger dog. He had all the good food and treats, regular exercise slept on the bed and all the loves, rubs and squishes a good boy could want. I’m sad and angry as he’s been such to best boy his while life and this is so undeserving. I’m hoping I can be brave for him but I suck at this kind of stuff.

    1. Hi Shawn, this is the exact situation we are going through right now. Just found out today about the enlarged tumor on his spleen but he is stable and doing well for now. What did you end up doing in the end and did your baby live a while after finding out the issue?

      1. Hi Courtney. I’m sorry to hear about your dog. We just got the same diagnosis for our 9 year old miniature schnauzer. The vet says he has a 50/50 chance of survival depending on whether we do the surgery and they find out it’s cancerous. We are trying to decide what will be the best quality of life for him. Sending strength to your family.

  7. Just to let you know, you’ll never really get over this. The same thing happened this January to our beloved, crazy, energetic whippet-shepherd mix. Apparently, Java was fine most of that day, playing and acting normally. But by the time I got home from work, she had already collapsed once in my daughter’s room. And while trying to get in touch with our local vet, Java wobbled on her legs and collapsed again. Her stomach was so distended it felt hard and when I checked her gums they were an eerie white. Realizing immediately it was serious, my wife and I grabbed Java and we jumped in the car. At the vet’s office, she tried her best to be happy, wagging her tail and wanting attention from all the staff. We didn’t wait very long, but it felt like forever due to the anxious situation. The vet did a X-ray and showed us that a large amount of fluid was obscuring the view of her abdomen. The vet said that it was likely blood and she immediately referred us to an emergency vet for an ultrasound. On the drive to the emergency vet, I could tell Java was cuddlier than usual, sticking tightly between my legs in the passenger seat. Again, we didn’t wait long, but it felt like forever, especially when they took Java from us to examine her. Minutes later, they brought us into a room and we met the emergency vet. He explained that he had drawn a syringe from her abdomen and that it was full of blood. He said that it was very likely, based on her breed, that she had hemangiosarcoma and that she would need emergency transfusions and surgery to remove her spleen. Interestingly, they wouldn’t do the ultrasound that we came there for because they already knew Java’s situation was serious. Then things became worse. Java’s prognosis with surgery was only a month and with the additional cost of chemotherapy six months. Having no pet insurance, the estimates ranged from $9,000 to $14,000 to begin her emergency care without any positive outlook. It was a horrible gut punch to find oneself in such a situation with no good options. Why was this happening? Why was it so expensive? What were we going to do? Our dog was facing her imminent demise with or without intervention. We were completely overwhelmed, but it certainly didn’t seem wise to me to extend her life for months only to have to return to a vet again for an eventual euthanasia. It was especially devastating when we had to call our daughter, who was home studying for her finals, to tell her the news. She wouldn’t get a chance to hold and love her dog again and she couldn’t, due to poor cell coverage, have one last, sad interaction via Facetime. In retrospect, we maybe hesistated longer than we should have making that quick decision on what to do. It’s especially bad when I think that that whole time Java was still bleeding out into her abdomen. It was horrible! Eventually, we opted to say goodbye to Java and we were escorted to a special room with couches and blankets. Once inside, Java was preoccupied with standing or sitting by the door, probably wanting to get away from the whole situation. The emergency vet and the tech each dropped in to see how we were doing and when they did Java perked up a bit to see someone new. The tech tried to tempt her with a toy and hot dogs, but Java just wasn’t interested. By that point, I think all her energy was being used up just to keep going. Finally, we were able to bring her closer where we could pet her and say our last good byes. My wife and I were both crying and in shock. Java was always so hyper, like in your face. She was an explosive ball of energy her whole life and to see her like this was unreal. I did my best to pet her in her favorite spots and to tell her she was a good dog and that I loved her very much. As we left, our old friend was lying there peacefully as if fixed in a dream. I’ll miss her always and there really isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t find ourselves thinking of her and how her life was cut short. It’s an absolute tragedy.

    1. You did the right thing. I went through surgery with my dog once and the recovery, when you’re a dog and don’t understand why you have to lay around and take meds, was incredibly difficult and no fun for anyone so I can’t imagine going through that only to extend life by a few weeks (and who knows if my dog would even be feeling good during those few weeks anyway). It’s a rotten thing to go through and I have so much guilt about it. We did rescue another pit bull and that has helped a lot but as you said, I think about Scooby what feels like all day every day.

      1. Thanks for reply. I’m glad you have another dog to focus on. We do too, thank goodness. Bo is a Belgian Malinois, who we adopted last summer. He’s so sweet and very much a puppy. Java was his teacher and it’s been a hard adjustment without her around. Bo’s flooded with affection every day. I guess that’s Java’s legacy. Lucky for him.
        I too have done my research on hemangiosarcoma. Like you explain, it’s common and like most things in life it’s off people radar until it affects them directly. Before Java, we had another sheperd mix, Jambo, who lived to be 17 years old. He had odd bumps on his skin, which now I suspect were cutaneous hemanigiosarcoma although no diagnosis was ever formally made. Java, unfortunately, had the more lethal spelenic kind and she never saw her 10 birthday. Both Jambo and Java were Helen Woodward rescues, who were neutered and spayed very young. That may have been part of the problem. When dogs, especially those breeds suspectible to hemangiosarcoma, don’t have their protective hormones during development, they may have increased risk to the disease later in life. Veterniary research on hemangiosarcoma is about a decade behind and more needs to be done on hemangiosarcoma and prevention.
        I wish only good things for you, your family, and your sweet, new furry friend. Loss is hard, grief is persistent, but life goes on.

        1. I’m so sorry to all of you for the loss of your fur children. I just wanted to tell you that I lost my sweet boy (a grey border collie) at 11 years of age, only a few days ago, so it’s very raw. I read your reply and felt the need to tell you that we didn’t spay my boy until he was 5 years old, as we wanted to have one litter between him and my other dog (which we did) and he still got this awful cancer. Hope that bring some peace to your ‘what if’ thoughts. We also only vaccinated him twice because my other dog had a bad seizure after being vaccinated once when she was only 3 and we decided never to vaccinate them again (I’m adding that because I hear lots of people linking vaccination with this cancer also). It seems it’s a terrible form of cancer that might not matter what you do/don’t do. In saying that, I’m so fearful now of a genetic link as our third dog and my parents dog are from his litter- they are now 8.5 years old.

  8. We are going through this right now. She had a bad day Friday night into Saturday and vet claims it’s this. Then today she is pink again and warm and energetic. I just don’t know what to do. I’ll take it day by day but it’s definitely like a ticking time bomb. But how can I euthanize when she’s perked up now?? So sad

    1. We lost our golden retreiver to this horrible cancer a month ago he lived 7 weeks from being diagnosed he had a ultrasound test to confirm it and blood tests we are all devasted he showed us nothing but loyalty love and happines

      1. I’m so sorry to read this. I’m glad that you were able to enjoy some last moments knowing about it. That’s the thing about dogs. Nothing by loyalty, love, and happiness even until the very end.

  9. So sorry for all your losses. I lost my first German Shepherd to hemangiosarcoma when he was almost 10 years old. On July 25th of this year, my beautiful female German Shepherd passed away in her sleep at 8 1/2 years old. I chose not to do an autopsy but now questioning if she had a heart issue or hemangiosarcoma. She had been playing all night, happy, ate…then went to sleep in her dog bed. I found her the next morning as if she had been sleeping deep. To say that I am beyond devastated is an understatement. She had her share of skeletal issues, with hip dysplasia, spinal degeneration and arthritis in her knees. I had her at the vet every month for chiropractic care, what i thought was the best diet… I guess I was foolish to think she wouldn’t have other issues… As i did with my first Shepherd, I scoured the internet…The only things I can think of are cardiomyeopothy or hermangiosarcoma.. It helps to know that she went in her sleep and had a great day and knew she was loved more than any other…..

  10. This has been very helpful.Its now nearly 16 months since our beloved German shepherd, Zion died from this terrible disease. I still cry a lot and the suddenness of his death traumatised us completely.Iv been going for grief counseling but the pain in my heart is still too much to bare sime days.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! Truly! I’m sorry for your loss. We just found out that our blue pitbull has a hemangiocircoma near his penis (he’s got white fur there) and I have been a mess knowing that the vet’s recommendation of surgical removal is not fool proof. He’s almost 10 and like yourself my boy and I’m his person. My biggest concern at this point is recurrence.

  11. We just had the same experience and outcome last night with our 6 year old rottie. Still trying to process it all. Thank you for making me feel a little less alone.

  12. I lost my 9 year old boy to hemangiosarcoma. The day we found out he had it was the day he died. He passed the beginning of August. I remember a month before that, he had a little trouble getting up but the vet told us they thought he had arthritis. I said I didn’t think he did because he gets round just fine and walks fine. It’s just getting up. He still had his appitite and acted perfectly normal. Once we gave him medicine for arthritis, he wasn’t having issues getting up any more so I thought maybe it was arthritis. Then august 3rd….we left to take the kids to the park. We came home and our Jack did not greet us at the door. I ran into the kitchen and he was just laying there. I rushed over to him and he wagged his tail but was so weak. My heart broke as we rushed him to the emergency room. The vet immediately took him back and did an ultrasound. She said they saw a mass and his abdomin was filled with blood. We agreed to the surgery and so they did the surgery but came out and called us back in the middle of the surgery. The cancer was spread through his whole insides. It was covered in his abdomin and his diaphragm. The vet said at this point, they can remove his spleen but the cancer has spread through his whole entire body. She said they would give him a week or 2 at the most to live but he would spend that time recovering from surgery and I didn’t want him to be in pain trying to recover from surgery and dying from cancer. So we had him put to sleep. I hugged him hard. I cried so hard I bursted blood vessels in my eyes. He was my first baby. Had him since he was 8 weeks old. My heart still hurts and I cry every day. Every day.

    Walks everyday with him, hugs and snugs on the couch, he loved our children when they were born and cared for them like his pup’s. He helped them with first steps being there and walking along side them as they learned to walk. He was there for my son’s first day of kindergarten. He was so much apart of our life. He was family. We did everything with him. He’s gone. I spent a week in bed. My husband had to take off work to take care of us all because I was not able to. Even though I’m back on my feet doing normal daily routines, I’m broken inside. I am in agony. It’s been a month and I sometimes feel I can’t go on. My baby boy..

    1. I’ve just experienced the same thing…my boy; Alfie (a white GSD with hip dysplasia since a pup and who was a month from his 10th birthday) was my husband’s dog originally but in the last 9 weeks whilst my husband has been away on training had become like velcro to my side. I first noticed he was a bit under the weather on Tuesday 17th September 2019 – didn’t want to eat, not interested in his favourite treat, drinking more than normal, panting heavily and was a bit unsteady on his back legs. I thought it was his hips as we had been told by our vet to gradually reduce his Metacam for his hip pain, so I increased it a little. The following day he was very lethargic and just wanted to lie down. He was the kind of dog that slept most of the day anyway but it was different. I gave him breakfast and sat on the floor with him whilst he ate and then had a wonky chomp (his favourite). I let him and our other GSD; Barney, out into the garden and he just lay on the patio. I was concerned and notice his gums were so pale they were verging on white and didn’t react when I applied gentle pressure. I got him to the vet and he walked in on a loose lead (never happened he usually pulled like a train even in his elderly years) and he half heartedly barked at another dog (Normally reactive to other dogs and wanting to show his dominance). The vet did bloods which showed nothing other than a bit anemic and did an ultrasound which showed his abdomen full of blood. I was hit with the choice of operate or let him go for the big sleep. A teary call to my husband who was 5 hours away and we decided to operate and give him a change. I saw him, gave him kisses and told him to be a good boy and I’d see him soon. I was sent home to Barney but then got a phone call from the vet telling me that they had removed his spleen which had ruptured and stopped the bleeding but that just prior to stitching him up, they had checked his liver and found this cancer in a 4cm tumor about to rupture and the kindest thing would be to let him go. It broke my heart and I went back to say goodbye after he had gone and took Barney so he could understand. Barney (notorious for going beserk at any vetanary member of staff) went nuts but immediately started nudging and licking Alfie’s body. It was heartbreaking. I took Barney back to the car so I could say goodbye to Alfie without Barney going mental. The vet had done a keepsake paw print for us and I stroked and kissed him telling him to still be a good boy and that he was very much loved. We are having him cremated and his ashes returned to us to keep and today I have printed a photo so I can still see him. I have been in tears constantly and it hurts that Barney has lost his brother and playmate, that the loveable old man is not trotting beside me or popping in when I’m in the bathroom and I only make one meal not two. My husband hasn’t been home yet until tomorrow and I know it’ll hit him when he walks in and Alfie doesn’t greet him at the door with a toy and a wagging tail.
      The vet said it was so quick and I got him there as early as I could and I know he didn’t suffer much but I’m still so devastated and didn’t realise how much I loved him. I knew I did, he was my boy and one of my furry children but I didn’t realise how much I’d miss him. Due to his age we had talked about when the time came but this was so quick and unexpected. Right now I don’t know how I’ll get over it I’m just so broken, upset constantly and struggling to eat or sleep. I just want my little man back so much. I’m trying to be strong for Barney and when my husband comes home and the realisation hits but I’m crumbling more and more as time goes on and he’s not here.

  13. I lost my darling dog to this horrid disease on Sunday 15th September. I knew it was coming. Six weeks before I had taken him to the emergency vet with a distended stomach. He received an emergency spleenectomy to remove his spleen and a large tumour which had ruptured. I was warned that this was an aggressive cancer and would return but he recovered so well I convinced (deluded) myself that he would be ok. We had another precious six weeks together before I awoke at 4am on Sunday morning to find him acting quite sleepy, trembling gently and with pale gums. I rushed him to the vet, knowing that he wouldn’t be coming home again. He died peacefully, with his head in my hands. I collect his ashes tomorrow and I’ll scatter them in his favorite woods where he played as a youngster. This is just so incredibly painful, I’m sorry anyone else has had to experience this but I find comfort in knowing I’m not alone.

  14. Thank you for sharing your story. I was shocked to see Scooby had passed as I had come across your post regarding TPLO recovery which helped me with Phoenix’s recovery this past January. I’m sorry about Scooby. I’ve come again searching for owner accounts about aftercare of hemangiosarcoma post splenectomy. I know I’m fortunate that I’ve gotten this far with a live dog. Phoenix had a splenectomy today and I know the biopsy will come back positive for hemangiosarcoma.
    I lost Phoenix’s littermate Harlow 2/28/2016 to this cancer. Harlow was misdiagnosed for 2 months. Pancreatitis after I pushed back on the vet regarding arthritis. I’m sorry but arthritis does not explain anemia. Pancreatitis … maybe but she still wasn’t getting better. I opted for another vet with a 2nd opinion but I was a day short of her ultrasound appointment when her spleen ruptured, I elected a splenectomy. Post op they said everything went great, she was alert and ready to go home same day after surgery. She was 35 lbs post op and died 3 days after surgery from a secondary complication, her blood did not clot. They couldn’t figure that out before they sliced her open? I would pay 1000xs over to go back and not let her die for 2 months and suffer post op. I would’ve never done that to her had I known. Looking back I realized she was too anemic to recover at that point from surgery even after the blood transfusions. I honestly believe she lasted 2 months bleeding internally because she was a pitbull. She was absolutely stoic for those 2 months just worried eyes and a lick of I don’t feel good while I gave her arthritis and pancreatitis medication! It was so wrong!
    This go around with Phoenix, I didn’t mess around. I recognized the yelp when I touched her belly. The lethargy and pale pink-white gums. I went to our new vet and asked for blood work (anemia confirmed) and an ultrasound same day (splenic masses confirmed) scheduled for surgery next morning. Slept restlessly I was scared her spleen would rupture. In the morning, this time my directive, do not cut her open if she’s too anemic for her blood to clot. I’d like another blood panel pre-surgery. I don’t care if we ran one yesterday, I can wait. Are you good with the blood results and her ability to clot? Yes, she’s a 33 which is lower than 40and that might be as her blood is currently clumping/clotting the current internal tear. If she was lower …18 or 4, but I strongly believes she’s clotting and I would keep her overnight post op to monitor. She was 53 lbs during the ultrasound, 51 lbs pre-surgery and ~45 lbs post op. She’s staying a total of 3 nights (my request for 2 additional nights) with the vet for monitoring.
    This time around I’ve made sure I advocate for Phoenix and mDr. Coffman and his staff support my internal guide I have for this girl (my last girl). Even my work, I’ve unapologetically dictated my schedule, time off, work conditions/assignments to my bosses/co-workers to take care of Phoenix.
    I know it may be 2 weeks to 3 months is all the time I may have … if that … and I’m fine. As long as it’s kind and loving … what I owe to my dear, sweet Phoe. 12 years of friendship, happiness and unconditional love even when I was less than what they deserved.

  15. I am so glad I stumbled upon this post. I lost my boy 7 hours ago. He just turned 10 in July. He was a beagle bulldog who had hip surgery when he was 5 but was a little fighter and acted like a puppy ever since. His only loves in life were myself and food. We have a 14 month old boy which I know has been hard on Benson, not being my whole world and often being sent downstairs so he wouldn’t trample the baby or jump up and steal his food from his highchair. I’m feeling so guilty about every single minute I didn’t spend cuddling with him and making sure he knew how loved he was by me.
    This morning I came downstairs made coffee, made a bottle for the baby and fed Benson, who is usually drooling by his bowl at 658 before I even get out of bed. He didn’t get out of his bed when I poured him food. He was so lethargic, he couldn’t really even get up. He got up off the couch once and could barely walk. I called the ER vet bc something wasn’t right. He vomited at about 10am and it looked partly black which I now know was probably blood. I thought of he just ate something bad and he’ll be fine. He then limped into the dining room and collapsed on the floor. He’s quite lazy but this was different. His breathing looked labored and he had this blank stare. I called my husband and told him that to come home, that the baby was napping and that I was going to bring him to the Er. My husband could barely get him in the back of my car. He usually gets anxious in the car but the whole ride to the Er, I wasn’t sure he was even conscious. I had to basically carry him (70lbs) from the car to the lobby and he was wobbly and confused. They looked at him, yelled for triage and a nurse came out picked him up and took him back while I stood there sobbing. They brought me to a patient room where I just sat sobbing, having this gut feeling something was wrong. 5 minutes later the vet came in and said there is fluid around his heart and in his abdomen. We will test to see if it’s fluid and clear or if it’s blood. If it’s blood, it’s most likely cancer and if it’s clear, it may be heart failure which means they could drain the fluid but he would inevitably be back with the same issue at some point, however that was the best of the possible cases. She left and said she would come back once they drained the fluid. She came back in saying it was blood, meaning it was Hemangiosarcoma and that they could keep him for monitoring for 12-24 hours, that they understood euthanizing could be the best thing but that they wouldn’t pressure or push that. My husband and toddler cane, we went back to see him. He was hooked up to monitors and shaking and had heating blankets on him. I kissed him and said I loved him and decided to have them monitor him for the rest of the day. She told me if the fluid doesn’t return, most people would take their dogs home but know this could happen again but that he may improve today and be ok for a while. I decided to go home while they monitored him but ultimately decided if fluid doesn’t return, that I’ll come back and pick him up tonight. If he could recover and maybe stay fluid free, I didn’t want to jump the gun and I was too scared and shocked to consider the latter, especially if the fluid wasn’t returning. 3 minutes after I left, I got a call from the vet saying they checked the abdomen and it was full of blood, meaning the cancer had metastasized and spread to his organs. She said they either needed to do immediate surgery to remove the mass or they needed to put him down quickly. She said surgery wasn’t recommended and that given how bad it is, the most humane thing to do would be to euthanize. I continued to drive home while my husband found a neighbor to come supervise while my toddler napped, grabbed his favorite blanket and a jar of peanut butter, sobbing the whole time like is this really happening? We got back to the Er and brought into the comfort room to wait for Benson to be brought in. My husband is not a huge dog lover and while we’ve been together 6 years, I’ve had Benson for 10 and love this dog with ALL of me. My husband was surprisingly crying pretty hard when they wheeled Benson in. He seemed to be in a lot of discomfort, partly sedated. His belly had been shaved, his gums were white and he could barely open his eyes. They put him on the couch next to me and he didn’t even have the energy to get into his comfy spot behind my knees. They said to take as long as I wanted with him but seeing how much pain he was in, I rang the bell pretty quickly. I held my boy, my first loves face as they inserted the medication into his iv. Within seconds, his breathing stopped. I am without a doubt, in one of the saddest places I’ve ever been in right now. Did I make the right choice? Did I ask the right questions? Should I have done more? Were they sure and correct that it was hemangiosarcoma? I am sure that this was not a place Benson deserved to be in going forward but it happened so fast. Yesterday he was drooling by my toddlers highchair begging for puffs and today he’s so sick he had to be put down? I can’t wrap my head around it and I can’t stop blaming myself for not giving him the chance to fight. Maybe he could have. Maybe we was being selfish bc it would be too hard on me to see him in more pain. The house feels empty. 10 years is a long time and for a lot of those years, it was just us. I was his person, his love. If I was sad, he protected me. I am scared that this happened so suddenly, that I’m going to have a hard time processing it all and feeling confident I made the right choice. I just wish I had more time. I wish I had slept on the couch with him last night. My heart is so heavy and I’m scared it’s going to take me a long time to feel ok about this. I’m sure no one is reading my long saga, but for the past 10 hours, I can’t figure out wtf just happened. To say my heart is aching is an understatement. I miss him so much. I wasn’t ready for this. Does it get easier?

  16. It’s been just over a year since we lost our Pointer to hemangiosarcoma of the spleen. My husband came home for lunch break to let him outside and he couldn’t stand. When we got to the emergency vet the tech peeled back him gum area and even though I’ve never owned a dog I knew we what I saw was just freakishly wrong. I’ll never forget my poor babies white gums. We said goodbye to our baby and he almost didn’t even make it for the shot. He was already so far gone. I am so sorry to all of you. I think of him EVERY DAY. I am commenting because I had never heard of this and I really feel like it’s a silent killer. There’s no signs this is happening.

  17. We just lost our sweet Zoey last night. We are still trying to wrap our heads around the sudden nature of this tragedy. Zoey is a Lewellen Spaniel/Border Collie mix. She is 9 years old and is very healthy and active. 7:00PM she was fine. by 8:30 she was holed up in the bathroom and couldn’t walk. We brought her to the Emergency Vet in Windham N.H. near where we live. They brought her in, less than 10 minutes later we got the news. She has a Hemangiosarcoma that ruptured. The options were limited at this point. She was too far along to stabilize and we had to decide to put her to sleep. Before the Dr came in with the drugs to perform procedure, she was gone. We were with her and it was peaceful and without pain. We are trying to wrap our heads around this. Tuukka her 9 year companion brother ( a Chessie/Aussie shepard mix) is showing signs of depression. I’m trying to keep his routine and give him extra exercise. We just didn’t have time to prepare.

    1. We lost our boy Chance yesterday in the same way. I can’t stop crying. I have severe guilt because before they could even find a place to give him the medication he was gone. I struggle with wondering if we took too long to say goodbye that he may have suffered in pain to go on his own instead of getting the medicine to save some suffering all so we could say goodbye. Ive been searching for another story like ours where the passing came when they were getting the medicine ready. Thank you for sharing your story so that we know we aren’t alone, even if I can’t forgive myself. I truly wonder if you can die from a broken guilt ridden heart.

      1. I get it! I felt guilt for some time but once I could see through the grief I came to peace with it. It’s not your fault and it was quick. My husband keeps reminding me that we will be lucky to have a swift end no matter what as so many suffer for long periods of time. Dogs, from what I understand, also don’t have a sense of time that we do. He was ready, otherwise he would have waited for you. It will get better, I promise. I did feel like I was going to die, too, in those first few days.

  18. It hurts so much reading all this and i’m so sorry to all of you who lost your beloved furbaby ;( I had NO idea this awful sickness existed until last weekend. I lost my beautiful german shepard, Luna, Oktober 12th. She was 9 years old. So vital, so full of life, such a puppy at heart.. she was everything to me and i’m beyond devastated. I‘ve been reading so much about hemangiosarcoma after her sudden death and i can’t believe the vet never told me about the risk earlier so i could’ve taken an ultrasound on her seniorcheck a few months back. My heart bleeds. I feel guilt.anger.pain. I would’ve done everything to save my baby.. but she gave up fighting in my arms after a tumor cracked on her spleen ;( Reading these stories make me see how common this is, and that i’m not the only one who has been in this traumatic situation. It all happened so fast ;( our pups did not deserve an ending like this.

  19. We just lost our German Shepherd to hemangiosarcoma yesterday. He was just over 10, like so many others mentioned in the comments here. My deepest sympathies to all of you whose beloved dogs have had to deal with this merciless cancer.

    Misha had just recovered from a gastric infection, and was in really great spirits on Sunday morning, demanding that my dad take him for a longer walk than usual. He had a good late breakfast, and three hours later couldn’t get up for his afternoon walk. Luckily the couple who live below us are vets, and they very kindly rushed with us to their clinic and got in their support staff. An ultrasound revealed massive tumours on the spleen, in the liver and in the stomach. The vets very gently told us that he had a few days more at best, possibly only a few hours. They gave him blood replacement and a clotting agent to perk him up and give him a bit of ease, and a big dose of painkiller. They asked us to carry him home, and make him as comfortable as possible, and give him anything he might want to eat. And to call them when the inevitable final collapse began and if we felt he was going through prolonged suffering, so that they could help him on his way peacefully.

    Our boy insisted on walking out of the car and was able to walk in and out of the elevator and to one of his favourite cool spots in our living room. I knew he was beginning to fade though, so I sat on the floor with him for the next 90 minutes which were all that remained of his time on this earth. My parents were in shock at the abruptness of everything, and were trying to go about their usual evening routine, but it quickly became apparent that he wasn’t going to make it through the evening.

    Five minutes before the end, he managed to get to his feet, looked out of our balcony one last time with his tail wagging, and then flopped down next to my mum, and began to fade rapidly. He did suffer at the end, I’m sorry to say, but mercifully only for a minute or two, and was gone before we had even collected ourselves enough to think of calling the vets. He died surrounded by and being stroked by his human family, our other two dogs, and our tomcat Percy. And just like that, this wonderful, loving, gentle and brave spirit that had filled up our lives and protected our home for 10 years was reduced to a still handsome but ravaged 30 kilos lying motionless on our floor.

    We took him to the crematorium almost immediately, and before he went in I uncovered his lovely face one last time, and stroked his incredibly soft ears and his greyed muzzle.

    Two things make it hit even harder: Coming home to a quiet welcome from our other two, less boisterous dogs instead of riotous barking and jumping from all three dogs instigated and led by Misha. And even worse is looking at our three young cats, who have been ‘brought up’ by Misha, from the time they were tiny enough to fit in his mouth. Looking at them, and remembering how kind and gentle he was with those frail little babies brings an unbearable lump to my throat and probably will for a very long time. I remember how he let the kittens jump on and around him, how he grinned at them and rolled over onto his back when they played with his feathery tail, whimpering slightly when they actually got their tiny claws and teeth through his thick fur. I remember how fiercely protective he was of them, growling and barking at any stranger who approached them. And I remember how he and Percy, the tom, would spend hot afternoons lying side by side in the shade.

    The really hateful thing about hemangiosarcoma is how little time most people get to prepare themselves. We had barely two hours from knowing that his time was near to his death. And we felt completely powerless, since in his case there wasn’t even the ‘bad’ option of a surgery, due to the liver and stomach tumours.

    We’re an animal loving family, and have gone through the grief of pet-loss before, but this seems particularly cruel. In time, I’m sure we’ll go from actively missing him to gratitude for the blessing that his life was, and laughter and a feeling of warmth and fuzziness at the memories this wonderful dog shared with us.

    I pray that every single one of you who are experiencing this same grief reach that place of acceptance and peace in your own time. I have no doubt that the selfless, generous souls of the animals who have left us wouldn’t want us to grieve a moment longer than necessary. God bless you all.

  20. I am so sorry for everyone’s loss. I lost my German Shepard last Friday 11/15/2019. Levi was only 6 years old. He was not eating well for a few days & seemed a little off, but seemed like nothing too bad. I looked at his gums & they looked a little pale to me, so I called the vet. Took him in & while in the room noticed his stomach looked a little bloated, as did the vet when she came in. Took him back & came in with a vial full of blood, which was what was in his belly. His blood work was pretty good, a little anemaia. Emergency surgery showed her the spleen was not to bad, but his liver was in rough shape…needless to say he was euthanized….So hard to believe you take your dog to the vet for something you think is not to serious & 3 hours later he is gone. We are heartbroken & just feel such a loss….Camilla feeling all the same emotions as you, pain, guilt, anger, loss. I pray with time we can all heal. xo

  21. I’m so sorry for your loss! We just lost our beautiful Chocolate Lab/Dane mix named Chase last night suddenly. We rushed him to the Hospital an hour before and the doctors ran tests and immediately advised that he had so much blood in his stomach and his blood pressure was at 40. He was just running around hours before, and this downfall happened so quickly. From the tests the Doctor diagnosed him with Hemangiomas and didn’t give us very promising survival news. Chase looked so tired and was in quit a bit of pain at that time. The Doctor advised that with the surgery we would be lucky to get 3 months if he makes it through the surgery, and that recovery would be painful for Chase with the hard chemo that he would require as well. My sweet boys were full of tears when they told us. We had to make a decision fast as the Doctors said his blood pressure was not good at all. We didn’t want him in pain anymore and his quality of life just wouldn’t be the same . He loved to catch the baseball and frisbee, and he just wouldn’t be able to do that after this surgery and would be very sick. We didn’t want him hurting and he didn’t deserve the pain. We adopted Chase from a local shelter and had 14 amazing years with this beautiful loving dog. The Doctor advised that the best thing would be to euthanize since the surgery was not very promising. It was the most gut awful news and my boys became historical. With tears. I just had to leave the room with them in order to hug and calm them down. I felt I didn’t want a 9 and 11 year old to witness Chase being Euthanized. We went back in the room and hug and kissed Chase telling him and kissing him over and over that we loved him more then anything and promised that we would one day see him in heaven and run again. I felt like at that moment my heart just dropped but I knew I had to be strong for my boys and be there for them the most. My husband stayed back to hold Chase in his arms until his last breath as my boys and I hugged and waited in another room. It was so fast and surreal as my husband walked out 2 minutes later and let us know that Chase is at peace. I just lost my breath at that very moment.
    As we left the Hospital, I really thought this was all a dream and we were going to get home and Chase would be there to greet us at he door with a wagging tail and bark, but instead it was silent and quiet not what we are use to. We all sat on the coach where he slept all the time and weeped for hours hugging each other and talking about great times, and all the happiness brought to our lives. It’s not going to be easy, he definitely was one of a kind! I just know my husband and I have to be stronger and be there for our boys to talk and wipe their tears when they get sad. That beautiful boy will always be in our hearts forever!♥️

  22. It is two months since my last post and the missing and longing for my Zion child, 6 year old GSD doesnt feel better.we have taken in a long haured gsd, Boots who has indeed climbed into my heart..im able to start speaking to her about her Sbrother and explained that he is at the rainbow bridge whete we will all meet up one day.She will never take his place but filling up her own. Tonite i have finally acvepted that im not ecoexted to acceot losing my child and is helping me.Much love to you all.

    1. I can sympathize with you completely. Only we opted for the splenectomy after my 9 year old Plott Hound’s tumor bursted and she had the same symptoms as Scooby. Katies tumor turned out to be hemangiosarcoma as well and we also opted for chemotherapy, which was covered by our pet insurance, along with the surgery. Katie lasted just 2 1/2 months, tolerated the chemo very well (doxorubicin) and Yunnan Bayao supplement . We fed her red meat (steaks rare) and she was living the dream until she had another bleed. At that point our Vet recommended we put her down. With heavy hearts we had to do what was right for Katie. Sure insurance would have paid for exploratory surgery to find out what was now leaking blood in her abdomen (liver, etc.). However, Katie’s immune system was already taking a hit from the chemo and who knows what her quality of life would have been after surgery. There are a lot of studies out there on this particular aggressive cancer, some seem promising but they are blind clinical trials (you either get the pill or a placebo).

  23. Thank you so much for this post. My experience with hemangiosarcoma is almost identical to your story- including both debating the morning of whether and when to take him in and the sadness for my sweet boy having been abused prior to joining my family. I lost my Cider last week seemingly out of the blue and reading this article and comment string brings me comfort knowing that I’m not alone in this experience. I feel grateful that the disease came on so swiftly and that he was not in prolonged pain. As hard as it was for me to not have time to prepare to say goodbye, I’d much prefer his quality of life over my own emotions. In so many ways, the road to the ultimate outcome could have been so much worse- prolonged and painful. It’s wonderful that people can share their stories and connect with with strangers over the internet through shared experiences. Thank you again.

  24. Thank you for posting this about your very loved Scooby. I came across it while searching on “hemangiosarcoma.” I fostered (failed) a 10 year old chocolate lab (Coco) in August of this year. I knew she had some health issues and we could afford to address them. Our ability to financially and phsycially take care of a senior dog, and her incredibly sweet face (and personality) took me about 1/20th of a second to decide to adopt her. Yesterday morning she was her normal self and by noontime we had to euthanize her. It was (is) heart wrenching. I was her person and she way my girl. My husband and kids always rescued and were our dogs’ people but this girl was mine. She snuggled next to me on the couch and would like in her bed next to me while I worked, and went EVERYWHERE with us. Coco did not miss a chance to ride in the car. My husband and I even decided to fly our kids to Florida the day after Christmas but we were going to road trip with Coco so she could ride. Sadly, our scenario unfolded yesterday exactly like you describe yours. In retrospect, she was a little more tired at times over the past couple of days and would lay down between our backyard and the front door, which we thought was because her paws were cold in the fresh snow, so we would just scoop her up and carry her inside. Now I realize she was most likely having intermittent bleeding. I have been reading non-stop about Hemangiosarcomas, what could I have done differently, should I have caught it, and did I make the right choice (resounding yes). I am heart broken but appreciate you putting your heart out here for others, like me, to find. It is devastating to say the least. I am grateful though for my four months with Coco, incredibly sad and thankful to find your post. Much love.

  25. We just lost our beloved dog this afternoon from the very same thing. He experienced all of the early symptoms you describe…reading your post was almost exactly what happened to us. We are grateful to have had him for 12 plus years. They are special creatures…truly our best friends.

  26. I am devastated reading this for I just lost my beautiful border collie aussie mix Mac to this horrible disease yesterday. He had just turned 11 on new years day. No signs, no symptoms, no change in appetite, no nothing until 2 days ago. I came home from work, he greeted me as usual, then collapsed in my arms urinating on himself. Immediately went to the vet, a chest xray done with abnormalities noted of either lung cancer or fungal infection. I was then sent the next day to a specialist for an ultrasound. Then came the diagnosis with a mass in the spleen bleeding into the abdomen with fluid around the heart with suspected mass in heart, and cancer everywhere. Horrified and devastated. Brought him home and made dreaded appt for euthanasia for later in the evening. Wanted to have 1 last day with him. We ended up bringing him to his appointment early for he collapsed again in the afternoon. He walked into appt like there was nothing wrong with him. He did not look like a dog that was dying. Now I am questioning myself if I did the right thing for he did not want to die. He would not sleep after given the sedative. He finally went peacefully with the phenobarbital but he did not want to die. After reading this post I also understand how sick he really was and that I did the right thing. I am still so devestated, heartbroken, and very angry. He was too young and I feel cheated that I should have had 3-4 more years with him.

    1. You did the right thing and, sadly, you were cheated. I think we feel tremendous amounts of guilt because we’re the ones making life and death decisions for our pets. This disease is difficult and I’ve received emails from vets who have gone through the same shock with own pets. I still feel like I should have noticed something earlier but I get that there really wasn’t a way for me to. You will feel better eventually — life will not be the same but you’ll be okay, one day at a time and Mac will have left this world very loved.

  27. I have lost 2 labs to this disease, both at 10 years old. Both had the expensive surgery and neither lasted very long. The first, my boy Reese, only lasted a couple weeks. The second, Carmel, lasted 3 months. She would have a low day and the only thing she wanted to eat was turkey so we roasted 4 of them over the 3 month period. We opted to not do the chemo drugs because the warning labels said you had to be careful with all excretions and I couldn’t imagine not holding her and kissing her in her end days. We also had a puppy arrive 3 weeks after her surgery. She is a lab as well and turned out to be a gift from GOD because Carmel absolutely loved her.
    Last day we had her we carried her in her favorite blanket with her fav toy in the back of our suv. The vet agreed when he saw her, took a quick blood test to confirm, and administered the final shot. We held her and told her we loved her the whole time. One thing I did differently this time- I found a local animal crematorium and I drove her there. They were so kind- I wanted dignity for her. They called me the next day with her ashes and I created an Ofrenda in my living room. It has helped me and I pat the box everyday and say a prayer for her.
    Btw- Carmel had a tplo surgery at 5 years old just like your Scooby.
    I wonder what is causing our dogs to get cancer at such a young age. Flea meds, heart worm meds, vaccines? I wish I knew if someone was working on that.
    Healing takes a long time and this new pup, Monterey, is filling my broken heart with joy.
    Keep in mind that DOG spelled backwards Is GOD. I hope all of you who have written here find a way to heal
    Kathy

  28. I wanted to say I suffered after my first dog died because I knew so little and I second guessed myself. It was awful and didn’t help with the healing process. In fact for 10 years- I doubted my decision to put Reese down so soon. I beg you not to do that. It is obvious everyone here LOVED their babies and that decision is one of the hardest you’ll ever make. This particular cancer is brutal and will kill your dog. There is no cure. It’s just a matter of time. Each person has to do what’s best for the Dog and for your family. Don’t look back or have regrets. After they are gone, when you think of your sweet companion, Embrace not Erase, and focus on the joy they gave you. Joy is such a precious gift and they woke every morning with joy and a dog smile. Remember that.

  29. I’m reading these stories as I dread that in a few hours I’ll be putting my beloved boy down. I guess my husband & I were lucky, we experienced the exact same collapse, white gums, rush to er vet last Friday night, to be told Charlie our ten year old Basset Hound was filled with blood & ultrasound saw a liver mass. Options were surgery immediately, take him home to have a few good days with our boy & hope the next rupture would not end his life in a very painful way, or euthanasia right then & there. We were shocked. Our forever ‘puppy’ with more energy than some of his actual puppy playmates! We took him home Saturday night as the er dr told us he was running & making friends with every employee in the back of the hospital. I was going back & forth all day Sunday between surgery or putting him down, not being able to believe our ‘child’ who was eating drinking & playing normally was ill. By Monday morning, he was a bit lethargic & gums were a little less pink, he didn’t want to eat much. I called for an in home vet service to put him down, but they couldn’t come until Wednesday morning. Tuesday we were blessed with Charlie being alert, energetic, & wanting to snack on his favorite Romaine leaves & jerky all day. Hemangiosarcoma went from having not even been on my radar to my research keeping me up at night. I’m so sorry to all those who lost their dogs in a much more traumatic way, while we’re literally watching him breathe & making sure he doesn’t appear to be in pain every moment until his appointment later today, we had a few days to say goodbye. Thank you all because now I know we’re not alone.

  30. Thank you so much for sharing about Scooby. And thank you everyone who has posted their heart wrenching stories. It has brought me some comfort during this difficult time. We lost our beloved Bleu on February 9, 2020. He was a 12 year old Lab mix and just a Prince of a dog.

  31. I just wanted to thank you for sharing this. I was so shocked and saddened when I saw your Instagram post about Scooby’s passing. Sadly we lost our Emma two weeks ago today. They did not tell us specifically that it was Hemangioma Sarcoma (they did find a tumor on Spleen) but nearly everything you described is what happened with our Emma.
    As hard as it is,understanding what was happening based on your description helps me know that we made the right decision and did the best for our sweet girl.

  32. I am so very sorry to hear about Scooby. I know that you were the best possible mom and family for this beautiful boy. We are currently dealing with this as well. We found out my mother’s Schnoodle has lesions on her spleen, liver and lung. We do not know what to expect, or how long we have. It is devastating. She lost her last two dogs to cancer. Different kinds. This pain is just too much.
    But I am so very sorry, and wish you peace and comfort. Thank you for sharing.

  33. Thank you so much for this post. My soul mate, Sandy…a 10 year old male Golden Retriever has a sudden loss of appetite and blood counts showed severe anemia. Prednisone brought his appetite back, but I just felt it was more than anemia. His swollen belly kept making me think Hemangiosarcoma. I studied and studied both anemia and Hemangiosarcoma (which killed my previous two dogs!) Yesterday I found your post and it was heaven sent. I knew then. I talked to my vet on the phone, he agreed that was probably the case. The decision to put him to sleep was made for the next day. That night was his first night with crying. I gave him plenty of Tramadol. This morning I cuddled Sandy in the back of the car we had so many adventures in while my wonderful vet peacefully sent him on his way. I am so thankful that I didn’t try to wait until the Prednisone course was done in hopes that his blood count would be up. I am thankful I saw the truth. Your post helped me see that and that is what saved Sandy a lot of pain. I was also fortunate to be able to take off work for these last 2 weeks or so and spend all that time with my dog. Thank you for telling your story. It made a difference for us.

  34. So sorry for your lost, came across your post googling this disease. My dog Skittles (10 years old, golden mix) got this diagnosis today and I am devasted. I see her change by the minute and think that she may not make it until next week’s appointment with the specialist. I hate to see her suffer. Thinking I should euthanize her tomorrow, even if this is totally killing me. I am not sure who rescued who here, but I still can’t understand why her previous owners surrendered her. We have been thru so much together, everyone loves her. I am lost

    1. I am really sorry as it is a horrible decision to make. I opted for sooner rather than later because I saw him and I knew and the vets were unequivocal. I didn’t even feel that I could wait for my family to get to the hospital (he was declining rapidly). It’s the unknown though that is difficult because Scooby did, they think, clot and was okay for a few more days. You’ll probably know in the morning. We have a 24-hour veterinary hospital that is quite good. If you have similar nearby maybe you can call them with questions if they arise overnight.

  35. I just went through a similar experience with my 8 year old rescue, Mason, last week. So I completely feel your pain. Unfortunately, the undetected tumor apparently burst, unknown to me, and I had to carry him to the car and rush him to the emergency room. The Coronavirus pandemic complicated matters too. I had to wait in my car and talk to staff by phone. When the doctor told me that he was confident Mason had hemangiosarcoma, I was both surprised and devastated. He had had his annual bloodwork just weeks before. Nothing significant had shown up. He had had a similar episode to this one about four months ago, but he recovered. He had also had a major gastrointestinal problem three months ago, but neither the numerous x-rays or numerous ultrasounds had caught it either. It’s an insidious disease. Since it had burst, I was forced to make decision immediately. I decided on euthanasia. I thought it the most humane. The prognosis was three to six months if surgery was successful. I didn’t want to put him through the agony of the major surgery, long recovery, and having to deal with a missing spleen for a large part of his remaining time. He had suffered through enough when we first got him: some kind of serious trauma to his hip, maybe being hit by a car, before we adopted him, went through femur head removal surgery, and a year long hip rehab to restore the use of his back leg, which he had stopped using. It just didn’t feel right putting him through more. So, I understand the pain you went through with Scooby. It is the most difficult decision any pet owner has to go through.

    1. I am really sorry to read this. I think you did the right thing. It is such a shock but it does get easier I promise.

  36. Thank you for sharing your story, I’m sorry for your loss. We adopted a senior dachshund 1 1/2 months ago and just found out today he’s suffering from Hemangiosarcoma on his spleen and most likely liver too. We brought him home until his quality of life becomes too affected. I knew I wouldn’t have years and years but had no idea he would be going this fast. It’s heart breaking.

  37. This just happened to us yesterday. Our beautiful just shy of 13 year old Rottie/Lab Mix had to be put down yesterday. We aren’t naive to the fact that she was old, but she was such a healthy and happy 12 year old dog. She was just seen by vet not too long ago and everything looked great. We thought we had at least another year and a half because of how healthy and active she was. I went outside because I was surprising her and our other dog with a cheeseburger from McDonalds and she tried to stand and collapsed instantly. She started to seize and urinated herself. She wouldn’t take water or food. She couldn’t walk. 30 minutes before this, she was fine! We had to find neighbors to help us carry her to the car because she was 85 lbs and could not move. We rushed to the ER vet 30 minutes away and they had to take her without us first because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We sit in the car with our 2 year old daughter waiting to hear something. We thought maybe she got hot from the sun? Maybe heat stroke and just needs fluid? Everything except this made sense. They call and get a more detailed history and put Sophie into an oxygen tank room because her breathing was labored. An hour goes by and they finally call us with news that an ultrasound showed a ruptured mass on spleen with free fluid everywhere. She was bleeding internally. Our Options: 1. Emergency Surgery to remove spleen. 2. Euthanize. We were told statistics and that most of these cases- this rupture is due to cancer. Her red blood cells were very low. Pale gums. Labored Breathing. Lethargy. If we choose the emergency surgery- we could do chemo after, but we are still looking at 4-6 months. We asked them what will her quality of life be after the surgery? The vet said that she can recover decently after 2-3 weeks, but more often than not, these tumors will reappear and probably on the liver. She would be in pain. We didn’t have much time to think about it because she was bleeding internally. We couldn’t bring her home and think about it. We had to make the decision soon and fast. We told her we would call back. We sit in the car shocked and in denial on what is happening. We call our close family/friends who knew Sophie. We tell them. Then we talk and we know that we have always talked about her quality of life being the most important thing. One of the hardest decisions we ever had to make. We chose option number 2 as well. With TONS and TONS of hesitation and reassurance from vet that this is the best thing to do. We wanted to get the surgery, but we knew it would be brutal on her afterwards especially almost being 13 on June 1. They allowed us to go in and sit in a room with Sophie. We sat and spent time with her for 2 hours. Tried giving her treats. She was so happy to see us, but anytime she put her head up- the heavy breathing started again. She just stared at us and we told her how much we loved her. She was the best dog in the entire world. We think she knew she was going. There was never a right time to put your animal down. If we chose the surgery- it would have been for us and not her. We put her health first. The last thing I thought when going to the ER vet was that we weren’t bringing our beautiful dog home that day. Last night was so hard and today even worse. Our whole world has crashed. Our routine is off. Our other dog is searching for her sister. I know time will make is “easier”, but this hurts more than I can ever express. Such a shock. We miss her so much already. Our house feels so empty without her. The only comfort is that she is no longer in pain. We know we made the right decision, but I think the shock and how fast this happened has made it difficult to accept it. Especially not knowing she had this tumor and then all of a sudden it ruptures and hurt her quickly.

    thank you for sharing your story.

  38. Thank you for your blog. It really does help knowing how common this condition is and how we are not alone in having to make heartbreaking decisions. My beloved Jagger first showed symptoms of lethargy on Good Friday. I watched him closely during the day, debating whether to take him to the emergency vet but he seemed to come good by the afternoon. Two weeks later it happened again, but his symptoms were worse. Took him to the vet to have him examined. After a physical exam and having bloodwork taken, the vet suspected a possible mass on the spleen from our description of symptoms (he was kind of back to his normal self again when we had the appointment) but his bloodwork showed a clean bill of health. He didn’t have a distended abdomen or pale gums. We were advised that we could go ahead and get X-rays or ultrasound, but not totally necessary at the time. We opted to wait and see if it happened again, and of course it did, 8 days later. This time he was admitted straight away and an ultrasound confirmed the vet’s suspicions that he had a mass on the spleen that was bleeding. As his red blood cell count was still in the normal range, she thought he would be a great candidate for surgery, and that he could possibly last for years if the mass was confined to the spleen. She was completely honest though and told me what could happen when they go for surgery and to be prepared. I had no idea when I dropped him there that he would never be coming home. Unfortunately when they opened him up, he also had several spots on the liver, with one of those bleeding too. She called me mid-surgery to advise me on the findings, but said realistically he would only have 2-3 months at best if he recovered from surgery. I couldn’t do that to him so chose to have him closed up, cleaned up and brought to consciousness enough for me to say goodbye. As soon as he heard my voice as I entered the surgical ward he started crying for me. I dropped everything and ran to be with him. I managed to calm him down, held his head in my hands and showered him in kisses and tears and told him how sorry I was. I think he knew it was goodbye. I will never forget how he looked at me. When I was ready the vet gave him the first injection to put him back into a deep sleep, and then the second to stop his heart. I am so grateful to have been with him at the very end, and that he knew his Mummy was with him. I am also grateful that I didn’t get the ultrasound on the first vet visit, as that bought me an extra 8 days with my boy that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I know it was the right thing to do in euthanising him, but 10 days later it still hurts so much. I know it will get easier though, and will get another pup when the time is right. Thank you everybody for sharing your stories. It really does help knowing we are not alone.

  39. Thank you for sharing this. I just lost my German Shepherd, Luna, in this very same way yesterday. She was 8 1/2 years old. My family is devastated (my eldest son especially because he raised her from a pup and they were best friends). I took comfort in hearing your story because I am still struggling with our having to make the choice so quickly.. I keep wondering if there was something I could have done to realize this was happening sooner. Thank you again for sharing your experience; maybe I’ll be able to finally sleep tonight knowing we did the right thing for her.

    1. I get it because actually a few days ago the woman who did our home check for Scooby when we rescued him had missed my postings about his passing. I told her that it took me a long time to get beyond the guilt that I felt for missing the fact that he was sick. I’m okay with it now. He probably didn’t know. Or, if he did, it wasn’t for very long. I am sorry for your loss. It is tremendously hard on the kids not to mention us but you will find peace eventually, I promise!

  40. Hi, I lost my baby, Cocoa, on Monday, today is Wednesday and I have been crying off and on all yesterday and today. Cocoa was my 14 1/2 year old black miniature poodle. He was such a wonderful dog and although I did not expect him to live forever, he seemed healthy and played like a puppy up until the end. I just assumed that he would probably live a few more years. On Sunday he was fine and energetic and was so excited to bring me his ball to play fetch. And, as I played with him I delighted in how energetic and healthy he was. Monday morning he seemed fine and ate breakfast. I was busy about the house on Monday but let him out multiple times to play in the yard and potty. I did not notice anything unusual. At 6 pm I returned home after being gone for 2 hours and went outside with him. He took a few steps and then just stopped. He was unresponsive when I called him and his eyes had a blank stare. I knew something was terribly wrong. I told him to sit and then down and he did so and then just lay there inert. I checked his gums and they seemed pink enough but his gums are mainly black so hard to tell. I shown a flashlight in his eyes to see if his pupils were contracting and I could not tell but it seemed they were not. I called my husband who was out of town and told him something was terribly wrong and I would take Cocoa to the ER. I got him to the ER within 30 minutes and they carried him in and I waited in the car because they were not letting people in because of covid. The doctor on staff obviously knew what to look for given his sudden symptoms and immediately did an ultrasound. She came out to the car and she was so kind and honest and told me that usually these tumors are malignant and have already spread so although he could have emergency surgery to remove his spleen to stop the bleeding (the tumor had ruptured), she said that if it was her dog she would end his suffering. I agreed with her and she said I could come in and hold him. She told me I could take all the time that I wanted but I told her to get the syringe because I did not want Cocoa to endure any more pain. Despite my grief, I would not have wanted my dog to have a weeks, months or years of pain and suffering from illness or age infirmity. Even if there was statistically a good chance that the tumor was benign, I still would probably not have put my elderly dog through a painful surgery. Having him happy and active to the very end is what any dog owner would want. I understand the logic of that and am grateful that his end was quick but I still can’t stop crying because he was such a big part of my life and I loved him dearly. In hindsight, there were in fact, several, short lived episodes in the three months prior that were clues that something was wrong. He had one day when he did not eat breakfast and was very lethargic. The tumor was probably bleeding slightly (and internal bleeding causes a lot of pain). There was a second episode where he would not come out of his crate but was fine a couple hours later. I assumed it was arthritis or other age related ache or pain. Even if he had been diagnosed prior to the catastrophic bleed, there is treatment for this disease.

  41. Thank you, all of you. I started at the beginning and read everything. Because of your comments, I am going to be better prepared in the days and weeks to come. I have known for six months that my almost 15 year old Afghan, who has congestive heart failure, also has an abdominal tumor. It is, most likely, a splenic tumor. But it doesn’t matter. Surgery is not something I would choose for her. Comfort care–hospice care, is what she is getting now and euthanasia at home, if her tumor ruptures or if she shows signs of pain or distress.
    Your comments were especially helpful as you described your beloved pets as having bad days and good days. We used to walk miles every day; now we take the same amount of time to walk around one block. But she rallied on Monday and took me to her favorite pet food store, a round trip of more than a mile.
    I know that it isn’t going to be very long.
    I have contacted a local agency that is available 24 hours a day for home euthanasia and/or cremation. I am relieved to know they are there for us. It is very difficult to choose the right time, isn’t it? Or make the right choice. Or feel that we have made it. I do not want to wait too long. I do not want to her to suffer. And I do not want to lose her.
    I thought you made very good decisions. Hard decisions, but decisions that were best in the circumstances. I hope I can do as well. I offer my condolences, my empathy and my thanks.

  42. This same thing happened to our pit mix just 2 days ago. She was only 5 years old. I am still in shock. This comforted me in knowing I made the best decision for her. Thank you

  43. I am so glad I found this post. Just on Monday, we had to put our 7 year old sweetheart Tucker to sleep. He had always been a bit of an anxious dog. A forever puppy. But just two months ago, his anxiety got worse and he was becoming harder to deal with. We couldn’t figure out anything wrong with him, he wasn’t showing the classic signs of anything being wrong health wise (he was eating, walking, drinking, etc.), but looking back I realize the big personality shift should have signaled something deeper was wrong.
    We took him to the vet at the beginning of June to make sure we hadn’t missed something. They diagnosed him with severe anxiety, which was a relief to us. We catered to his anxiety and tried to make life more bearable for him and for us. Then, two weeks ago, he became extremely lethargic. He wouldn’t even jump up to greet me anymore. A few days ago, he wouldn’t even sit up for a treat. Then we noticed his breath rate had spiked to 55 breaths a minute. That was when we called the vet and set an appointment to check on him. At 1:30pm on Monday, we were told that he had a massive tumour in his gut and the only options we had were to take him home for palliative care and let him pass naturally or to euthanize him. My little sister (who was his fur momma) made the difficult choice of putting him out of his misery. She even held him as he passed. It was heartbreaking.
    We were blindsided. We felt so guilty that we didn’t see the signs. We knew something was wrong, but we couldn’t figure out what! Until it was too late. But knowing that it is a common thing with this sort of cancer is a bit of a relief. It is also a huge relief that we don’t have to worry about Tucker anymore. It had taken over our lives. And now we can fully focus on our two other dogs, Tucker’s sisters Sophie and Brandy.
    It’s only been about three days since his passing, but I have already accepted it. I sure do miss him. It’s crazy how much a little animal can affect your life in such a BIG way. We will miss him for a good while, and I know that the initial sorrow will subside. For now, I am gonna get comfortable with grief hanging around for awhile.

  44. Your post has been a light in an otherwise dark and painful week. We lost our little staffy girl to what I believe was the same thing just last Thursday. Your experience mirrors mine exactly. She was her normal self but maybe a little tired and lazy. Then again it was really hot here and she was kind of couch potato anyhow. She ate her breakfast and played with her brother Thursday morning, and then returned to napping. Same old, same old until dinner when she wouldn’t even lift her head. She was a little piggy so that was really unusual. I tried treats and even a cheese stick but she wasn’t interested. I noticed her mouth was cold when I was trying to give her treats and then saw that her gums were completely white. From there it was the same experience you had: a frantic trip to the emergency vet, xrays, and then the bad news. She was in so much pain and barely wagged her tail when they took her into the vet, which was also not like her because believe it or not the vet was her favorite place on earth, haha. It felt like such a rushed decision and I’ve been struggling to understand what happened in those two hours. But seriously, your post has lifted a weight off of my shoulders. Thank you for sharing and I am so sorry you lost your boy. These pitties are just so special and it’s so hard to let them go. But I know we both made the best decision for our babies.

  45. Today my heart is broken as all of yours have been. Yesterday our German Shepherd, approximately 10 years of age, was taken from us after his tumor most likely burst. I just had him at the vet on Thursday for a puncture wound. They gave him antibiotics and I brought him in early Fri. morning for surgery to remove what we thought was a foxtail. No foxtail-they flushed the area, glued it back up and sent him home with an extra dose of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory, pain meds. Sat. he was fine. Did his normal walk, good appetite. Sunday morning another good walk. I had my husband give him only half his breakfast so he could take his meds as we feed our Goldendoodle at the same time as our shepherd at a later time. He obviously wasn’t feeling well and I thought it was an upset tummy from his meds. He wouldn’t tough his remaining breakfast which literally has never happened before. He was also drinking a lot of water. About an hour later I looked as his distended stomach and off to the emergency hospital we went. On arrival his gums were very pale so they rushed him in. They called us later, blood work looked good giving us a false sense that all was well. Still needed to do the ultrasound. Then came the bad call….4 1/2 inch tumor on his spleen and his stomach full of liquid. 80% change it’s cancerous and chemo would only extend his life for a few months. Up until we arrived at the vet to say goodbye, I was in a state of shock, quietly thinking my husband would say go ahead with the surgery and it wouldn’t be cancer. Covid19 is bad enough changing our world, but not being able to touch our boy without gloves while we said goodbye was very difficult. We had to make our goodbyes fairly short as he was obviously struggling. The thing that kills me is he was quietly shaking the entire time we were with him. Did he know he was leaving us? Today, as yesterday, I can’t stop the tears and my grief is overwhelming. Thank you so much for sharing your story of your loss of your Scooby and allowing us to process our grief.

  46. We lost our sweet girl pittie nearly two weeks ago and this post has brought me some peace. You’re pretty much describing my experience that night. No prior symptoms, nothing unusual that morning and then suddenly that evening she refused her dinner, treats and even cheese. She seemed tired and for a minute I thought it was just an upset tummy. But when I touched her face it was like ice, which made me take a look at her gums. They were white and really almost grey. I immediately called her vet and was told to take her into an emergency clinic. From there it was the same story: fluid in her chest and abdomen, most likely cancer and very slim odds of her surviving more than a week if the fluid was drained. The vet said the most she had ever seen a dog live afterwards was a month. I felt the same as you, that I almost rushed through the euthanasia. But then again, I knew it had to be done and I had to get it over with before I lost my nerve. Besides, she was just falling asleep when they brought her into the room, which was unusual because she loved being at the vet. One time she got into a pretty serious fight and was bleeding from several wounds, but she was so excited to see the vet techs and vet that she wiggles her body and shook blood all over the office, haha. She was such a loving little clown. But I do wish I would have asked how long we had. I wish I would have held her longer both before and after. I miss her soft fur, her smile and her sweet piggy noises. This has been such a major loss for our family and I’m not sure if we will ever be the same after.

  47. My heart goes out to everyone on this thread that has lost so much to this horrible disease. I stumbled upon these postings Googling “Hemangiosarcoma,” looking for something, anything to assuage my guilt and ease my pain from the loss of my 12.5 year old Golden. I’ve found it comforting to know that I am not alone. At a routine wellness/vaccination check in May, I mentioned to my vet that Jag was panting a little more than usual. He noted that I could have a blood test run, but almost talked me out of it because we had just had one about 6 months earlier for some minor surgery. Since Jag was on the older side, I wasn’t taking chances and had the test. It showed a low red cell count, which our vet said could be a number of things, and noted that we could have an ultrasound done if we were concerned. He mentioned the possibility of a tumor, specifically on the spleen. We had the ultrasound done, and that’s what was discovered. When he told us of the results, he informed us of the possibility of hemangiosarcoma, but explained there was no way of knowing without surgery. We quickly took our boy to an animal hospital that had surgical specialists and an oncology team. He had surgery and we were able to bring him home the very next day. This was mid-June. The first night was tough, as he had some difficulty getting up and vocalized some pain, but after that he bounced back fairly quickly. Since he was not permitted to climb stairs for two weeks, I slept next to him on a cot in the den during that entire period. Somewhere along the line, we received a call from the surgeon who confirmed that it was hemangiosarcoma. We opted to speak with the oncology team to discuss our options and ultimately decided to proceed with chemo. She was confident it would be well tolerated and would not impact his quality of life. There was no evidence of spread and his mitotic index was low, which sometimes is an indicator of lower rate of spread. We were told the statistics, maybe about 6 months median, and that this was an aggressive cancer. We chose to proceed with chemo, and put him on a regimen of I’m-Yunity. Between then and now he had two chemo treatments, 500 I’m-Yunity pills, traveled with us to North Carolina and upstate New York, where he slept with me in my tent on the banks of the upper Delaware River and acted like a pretty happy old boy. He continued sleeping most of the days on my home office floor, and climbed the steps each night to lay in his doggie bed next to ours. The only big difference was he didn’t seem to have the energy for very long walks and he panted a lot, but we were in the middle of a month long heat wave. He also started refusing his dry food, but we were fine with more wet food, sardines, salmon, chicken, liver, eggs and cottage cheese, all of which he ate without much hesitation and supplied him with the protein and omegas we thought would help him in his battle. My wife even foolishly though he could “beat” it, or at least go well beyond the median numbers, and I too was cautiously optimistic we could make a good go of it. This Saturday was like any other day with him. We were relieved, as we always were, when he ate everything presented to him, we had a nice walk, and he heartily greeted some friends that spent the evening with us. At about 11:30 PM Saturday night, I cleaned up downstairs, took him out (he would always wait downstairs until I went up to bed) and we went up to bed. At about 3:30 am Sunday morning, I heard a commotion. He apparently had jumped up suddenly, maybe had cried out, and was in the process of having a massive diarrhea attack. I rushed him downstairs and out into the dark back yard and when I looked back for him, found him collapsed in the yard. While my wife cleaned up the bedroom, I sat with him in the darkness waiting, on 3 hours of sleep, hoping beyond hope that he was just feeling bad, that maybe things hadn’t sat right in his belly. Although a rupture was in the back of my mind, I just didn’t think it was possible, or didn’t want to believe it was. We had gotten the tumor, they said everything else looked clean, he had had two chemo treatments, he was taking I’m-yunity, he was eating well and it was only 2 months since surgery. It just couldn’t be, I thought, even though I knew collapse was a sign. After a while he sat up and then moved to a new place, but again he went down. Finally, after too long, my wife and I got a blanket under him and carried him inside (he weighed over 90 pounds). I negligently had not made a habit of noting his healthy gum color so could not tell definitively if his gums were pale, but they were cold. We finally made the decision to get him to the emergency room. I rode in the back hatch with him and touched him and let him know I was there. But it was too late, and by the time he was in their hands, he was fading, if not gone. I know the end result would almost certainly have been the same, but I am tortured over the time I delayed in bringing him to the ER. I’m fairly certain the best they could have done was keep him alive temporarily, but the ultimate decision would have been to put him to sleep. I try to rationalize things, for example, by thinking that what happened saved me from possibly making the selfishly wrong decision to open him up again to fix the hemorrhage, and expect things to go back to “normal.” I don’t think I would have done that, but I would have been tempted. I tell myself, and it’s all true, that he had a great, and actually a relatively long, life. He was fed quality foods, had new toys and chews constantly and, more importantly, had a ton of quality outdoor and family time. He was taken to nearby lakes and trails and went for walks in the large expanse of woods behind the house or through the neighborhood nearly every day. I was fortunate enough to start working from home 2 to 3 days a week when he was just 3, and full time when he was 8, so we spent nearly every day together. Part of what helped with the cold New Jersey winters and short days were my late afternoon excursions into the woods. “Jag and I are going woodsing,” I used to say. Yet I can’t get the thought out of my mind that I failed him in the end. I hope that part of the problem is that it’s just absolutely incomprehensible how this disease silently progresses, and then springs devastation seemingly out of nowhere. I know I should be blaming this horrible disease, and not myself, but I can’t stop. We are devastated, numb and heart-broken. The entire world looks and feels different and there is absolutely no joy. I miss him terribly. This posting is so long, I don’t expect anyone to read it, but I had to get it all out. My sympathies to all on here that have gone through this in some form.

  48. We are going through this very thing right now with our pup, Niko. He’s a 10.5 year old Alusky ( Alaskan Malamute/Husky mix) & was diagnosed with a splenic hemangiosarcoma 1 wk ago tomorrow. We were told we have have 1 to 6 weeks left with him. It is devastating – especially during this Covid-19 mess. Work is hard ( I’m a Special Ed Teacher & need to be lesson planning right now but am “here” seeking solace instead ) and now being home is hard, too. I’ve been feeding him steak every day since the diagnosis ( helps with the anemia from the bleed outs, supposedly). It is just truly dreadful. I can’t stop weeping. This is so difficult & I’ve had pets my whole life. This just came out of nowhere. We thought we’d have a few more years with him. He’s been such a joy & comfort.I don’t want him to suffer & will take him in to be euthanized when he it’s time. – which could be any day now. He’s still eating & has an appetite for now. I’m glad I came across this article & these comments. God bless each one of you reading this. I’m so sorry we are all going through this or have gone through this.

    1. I’m so sorry for what you’ve gone through. I’m in the same situation right now. My sweet girl Lucy, a 10 year old beagle mix I adopted at 3 months old, has a large mass on her spleen. CT scan showed a lung nodule and changes in the liver so it looks like it’s already metastasized. She was completely fine until a few days ago when she had a decreased appetite and energy level. We are not doing surgery since it’s already spread and she wouldn’t have much time, but I’m struggling deciding when to put her down. The last two days she’s rallied-is eating all the yummy food I’m making her, has been playing with her toys, and even went on a short walk today. I feel awful putting her down while she’s relatively ok but I know her spleen could rupture at any moment and she could bleed out. I hope to save her the traumatic ending that so many other posters have had to endure. I’m so grateful for this thread because I have also been really struggling with how quickly this came on and how difficult a decision this is. My Lucy is the sweetest girl with the most beautiful brown eyes and she’s been with me through everything.

  49. I lost my beloved dog to this cruel cancer this evening. It’s 4:40am and I’ve been relentlessly googling the web trying to find out what we could have done different. Your post brings me comfort and I thinks it’s a sign to go to bed for me. Thank you.

    1. I lost my golden retriever the same day. The tumor was on her spleen. One month away from her 11th birthday. It has 100% destroyed me this year. While comforting to know I’m not alone, it breaks my heart to read all these comments. We had no idea. Nothing detected at her December checkup to a cantaloupe sized ruptured tumor on August 26th.

  50. This is heartbreaking to read but even worse because i had never heard of hemangiosarcoma before yesterday, when my best friend, a 3 year old Belgian Malinois named Finn, died of this horrible disease. He had his annual check up on August 6 and was fine. He had been panting lately but it has been a beastly hot summer so i was panting as well. It had finally cooled down a bit and we were looking forward to getting back on the trails, hiking in the Shenandoah valley, one of our favorite pastimes. Finn seemed a little depressed so i increased his visits to our dog park so he could play with friends. In early September. he stopped following my every footstep but still hounded me enough to be slightly annoying. It was with confused concern i noticed he continued to pant, even though it was much cooler. I wrote it off. By Labor Day i was concerned enough about his change in energy and engagement that i resolved he needed to see his doctor. The Labor Day cookout was his last. He vomited 3x and i was frantic. We woke up together on Tuesday and I reminded him he would need to see the doctor today and get whatever was wrong with his tummy resolved. Less than 8 hours later, he died in my arms at the vet specialist’s office. He had a mass the size of a basketball in his stomach, originating from his liver and compromising his spleen, kidney and intestines. As la Jolla mom did, i had to make the most painful decision of my life on the fly. The surgeon said he would not be able to resect or remove the tumors without Finn bleeding out on the table. The choices were: wake him up, take him home and watch him bleed to death or euthanize him while he slept. I don’t think I have ever screamed so loud and in such agony. My sweet, inquisitive, goofy buddy- who went virtually EVERYWHERE with me,who was my constant companion and touchstone- would never come home again. The vet’s office allowed my request to keep him sedated until I got there and, despite COVID, with a mask on i went to an exam room. They wheeled him in shortly thereafter. He still had the ET tube in and was covered with a green plaid blanket. I kissed him, told him i was so sorry but we couldn’t fix his tummy. I kissed him and cried and held him as he took his last breath. Two years ago, i lost my nana. Last July i lost my German shepherd. Now my last puppy- and he was still a puppy- is gone. I returned home with the new toy i had just bought him that had arrived in the mail and and empty collar. Nothing can stop this pain. His empty bed. A silent house. A broken heart. The doctors said i couldn’t have known but that doesn’t make the pain less. I wish every owner of a susceptible breed would be told about this so we could be more vigilant. I don’t know if that would help. I just know a part of my soul left me yesterday and nothing will ever bring it back. I love you, Finn. Forever.

  51. I found your blog post yesterday, I lost my boy today to Hemangiosarcoma, it’s hard because he looked fine but was not holding any food down and the X rays showed us too many masses. But thanks to you I was prepared with a blanket and even though it sounds silly and small it made a huge difference while holding him down on the floor and not having to go through this on a cold floor. Thank you for telling your story, I’m heartbroken and thankful.

  52. We just went through this unexpected illness and euthanasia of our dog Sammi last week. Over 2 days she deteriorated. We are in a state of disbelief and grief. Thank you for explaining this disease so that we don’t blame ourselves.

  53. Our 8 year old boxer has hemangiosarcoma. In May, she was fine one minute and not fine the next. I thought she had hurt her leg and that is why she wouldn’t get up. She had torn her ACL and had had surgery for that in December. My husband and I could not get her to get up, so we got her into the car and took her to the ER vet. Due to Covid, we had to wait in the car while she was checked. We were blindsided when the dr. called and told us she had fluid in her abdomen, a huge mass on her spleen and that our options were to euthanize her or do surgery. She then told us she felt confident it was hemangiosarcoma and if that was the case, gave us the survival rates. We were given the option of doing surgery, which is what we decided. We did not want her put to sleep if there was any possibility it wasn’t cancer. She came thru the surgery and there was no metastisis that they saw. The biopsy confirmed it was hemangiosarcoma and we decided to not go the chemo infusion route. We have started her, just in the last 3 weeks, on the chemo oral pill. We were told the average survival time would be 1-3 months. She has now survived almost 5 months, but we know this can change at any time and change quickly. We are just trying to let her live her best life, with eating the best foods, for whatever time she has left. I have been reading the comments and as much as I love my vet, I feel like the severe panting that she was doing every single night, which I had discussed with the vet several times, was never addressed. They never mentioned possible cancer, and I had brought it up to several drs. different times. After reading the comments from others, I see their dogs were doing a lot of panting also. Not that it could have changed things, but I wish they had done an ultrasound just to see. We had no idea she had a tumor on her spleen until it ruptured!

  54. My border collie had the operation, he was like a puppy again for nearly 3 weeks( he is 12) this morning he isn’t well and I need to phone the vets, it’s time and my heart is breaking 😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢😢

  55. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing. I’ve been spending the major part of the last 24 hours trying to find answers. This post is the only one which gave me a bit of comfort in this extremely sad and traumatic experience. I’ve been reading everyone’s stories and my heart is beating and crying with yours. We woke up yesterday morning to our Lenny lying lifeless on the kitchen floor. Lenny was a loving and exceptionally sweet 9, almost 10, years old Shepherd-Rottie mix. My partner adopted him as a puppy and Lenny was 6 when they came into Lhasa (my now 6 years old Bernese-Rottie mix) and I’s life. Lenny and Lhasa eventually became inseparable and I instantly fell in love with this big goof. He has been such a source and a bundle of joy. His unexpected and sudden absence is hurting so very deeply. There is nothing that could’ve prepared us to find him like this yesterday morning. He was aging like any dog would typically age, skipping some meals but always hungry for treats – so we just thought he was his old fussy self, he wouldn’t chase the ball anymore, but we’ve recently gotten some backyard chickens and he would proudly herd them back in the coop the second we would let them range as if it was his solemn duty. We didn’t think for a second that he could be ill. He still had a spark for life and brightened everyone’s life around him. My heart aches so much to know he died overnight while we were asleep, without us being there next to him to at least comfort and surround him with all the love he deserved in those last moments. I still can’t fathom he is gone. After doing a bit of research and talking to a vet, I was told it was probably a case of hemangiosarcoma. A few more hours of research into this dreadful disease led me here, and although it doesn’t take away the awful pain and emptiness we feel, knowing we’re not alone feeling completely devastated after undergoing such a distressing ordeal brings a bit of solace. There is a long road ahead of us as we go through the motions of grieving Lenny. Thank you for sharing your stories, and for reading mine. Hopefully by sharing, more can be done to prevent this from happening to others, or at least prepare future puppy parents for what it entails.

  56. My beautiful 10 year old long haired German Shepherd dog named Frazier died suddenly on Monday, September 28, 2020. My sister, our other sweet long haired German Shepherd named Charlie and our two cats, Rusty and Nick went on vacation to Wisconsin the week prior. The weather was lovely, maybe a little too hot for the boys at times, but the nights were cool. Frazier, Charlie, Rusty and Nick went on several pontoon rides; they went leaf peeping; Frazier was in the car one day and came face to face with a deer outside the car window. He didn’t even breathe, he was in seventh heaven. He would sleep with me on a comfortable bed at night and enjoy the cool crisp northern air. He went on picnics with us, met lots of people who adored both of the dogs. Frazier was a rescue. He was found by the humane society with a fractured leg under a block of ice. Therefore, if he wasn’t found, he would have died and we wouldn’t have been able to adopt him at 8 months old. He was a corker. The first night we brought him home, he reached up on the kitchen counter, took a steak off a plate that we were going to grill and paraded it around in his mouth like a king. He was always full of antics. He loved his bunny and squirrel chases. He was so affectionate and met me at the door with tons of wonderful kisses. He was the peacemaker in our family and I would even say the “glue that holds it together, as he would go up to my sister and I when we had our sibling quarrels to kiss us to make us stop fighting. He loved car rides and he was my buddy when I would do yardwork and lay out in the sun. I always told him that I adored him and would die without him. In fact, I prayed that I would be the one to go before my precious dogs. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Over the last month, Frazier who was fairly food motivated refused to eat a couple of meals. We called the Veterinarian and she said that if he didn’t resume eating the next day, to bring him in. Well thankfully he did resume his good appetite. Also, in the past 3 weeks, he had a couple of bouts of diarrhea. We had changed their food so we blamed it on his adjusting to a new dog food. He had energy throughout the vacation and didn’t seem to miss a beat. Not until Wednesday of that week when he didn’t want to eat his dinner. The next day, he ate two very good meals again and so we were relieved that he was back on track. I had discovered a little spongy bump on his foot so we had scheduled a veterinary appointment on that Monday to ensure that it was not something serious. He was scheduled to go through eye surgery on the 14th of October as he had a cancerous tumor on his eye that the Eye Doctor said was not at risk of spreading. She did want it removed so that he wouldn’t have vision loss down the line if it got bigger. I would take him anywhere anytime for services even if I had to mortgage the house – that’s how much I loved him. We all adored him in the family and my sister is devastated as well by his loss. Needless to say, we decided to stay in a hotel overnight instead of driving home and then going 90 miles to see his vet the next day. We loved this vet so we didn’t mind the travel time. On Sunday night, the 27th, we were all exhausted. I got Frazier and Charlie some chicken for supper (they were used to having boiled chicken every night) but Frazier refused to eat it. Again this worried us but we thought well, he has this appointment tomorrow and he did eat lunch that same day which seemed like it stayed down. On Saturday, he had a bout of diarrhea but it seemed to have cleared. He was such a good dog, he never went in the house. Anyway, my sister decided to take him out to go potty before we retired for the night. She said that he was very interested in the good smells and seemed to enjoy his walk. She said that he briefly sat down but then got up soon thereafter. When I opened the door, I saw him just standing with my sister in the hallway of the hotel, kind of hesitating to return to the room. I went to walk him back. He jumped on the bed and later lay on the floor in between our beds. We both periodically pet him before we fell asleep. I was zonked from driving so much so I was practically in a coma and didn’t hear anything. My sister got up about 5:30 am to use the bathroom and she said that Frazier looked up at her and wagged his tail a little bit. She acknowledged him and again went back to bed. She got up again around 8:30 am and decided to take Charlie out followed by Frazier. When she went to put the collar on Frazier who had since moved to the head of her bed on the floor, she called my name and said: “Mary, I think he died”. I will never forget these horrible words. I flew out of bed and sure enough there was our precious boy lying cold on the floor. After checking for a pulse, etc., we put a blanket on him and gave him kisses and pet him profusely. Poor guy, he was covered with tears as we could not stop sobbing over him. We still have not stopped crying and probably won’t for a very long time. Maybe never! We had to call the veterinarian because we wanted to know what could have taken our sweet Frazier, therefore we inquired about an autopsy. He agreed that this was a good idea. Therefore, we put him in our car and drove him an hour down to a clinic who does autopsies. My sister sat in the back seat with Frazier’s head on her lap, and pet him the entire time. When we arrived at this clinic, the woman at the desk was so cold – she told us the price and then proceeded to tell me that they didn’t accept my type of credit card. We were whaling in tears at the time and she didn’t even say that she was sorry for our loss. When we had to leave him with the people in the bay area who take him into the clinic for the autopsy, I thought I would die. This was probably the hardest thing I have ever done was to say goodbye to him that way. My sister is more rational than I am, but I agonized about what could have happened; what did we miss, did he get poisoned somehow while we were by the lake or the one day he swam, did he get infected with any algae, etc. I still am torturing myself with why and what if’s. We couldn’t stand the wait any longer so we called the person who performed the autopsy. Even though the receptionist was cold as ice, this doctor was fabulous. He would have remained on the phone with us as long as we needed him to do so to answer our questions. The autopsy is not finished but he suspects that Frazier succumbed to what he calls a “very bad actor”, i.e. hemangiosarcoma. He said that most of Frazier’s organs looked good, but he did not that his spleen had a tumor that likely burst and there was a start of a small tumor by his heart. We asked him how we didn’t see the signs and he said that with this disease, a dog can be energetic, running up to catch a frisbee and drop dead. He said that we can be thankful that he probably died relatively painlessly. He is still checking out additional causes. I can’t believe that he is gone and I will probably never forgive myself that I didn’t know more about this dreaded killer and see if I could have done something to ward it off. Thank you for all of your commentary as it helps to know that we are not alone. Frazier gave me so much love and so much to our family and strangers, etc. I pray he is at peace now and I look forward to the day that I can meet my dear buddy and friend at the rainbow bridge so that we can resume the second part of our journey together. God bless all of you for your losses.

  57. I’m laying in bed reading your post almost a year after I lost my pup Mac to the same circumstances. Still trying to figure out if there was anything I could’ve done differently.

    Hemangiosarcoma is a nightmare. Mac was almost 12 years old and my best friend. He was a blonde lab/pit/something mix with white paws and a white mask. 75 pounds of pure love. He helped me survive my pregnancy, as a single mom to be, and was truly the only guy who never let me down. He was never a cuddly dog and only wanted to be petted when he felt like it, but he changed during my pregnancy. He would lay his head on me and fall asleep, which was unheard of. He stayed glued to my side, more than the usual.

    He had such a strange personality for a dog. He acted more like a human from his facial expressions, to his ego, to his selectively antisocial tendencies. He looked forward to opening his birthday and Christmas presents and unwrapped them with his teeth and paws in a hurry to see what was inside. He gave hugs and knew all the tricks. Everyone loved him and he was welcome anywhere. Even rode in a cop car three different times lol.

    I had to have him put to sleep just one week after giving birth to my son. In the five days after we came home from the hospital, I didn’t get to pay him near as much attention as I would’ve liked and still beat myself up over that to this day. My life was just a flurry of crying, feedings, and diaper changes. Mac was an old man in a dog body so when he got very lethargic those last few days, I just thought he was tired from the baby keeping him up. I still joke to this day that he decided he was “out” cause he couldn’t take all the crying. He made a point to lay on the couch with us and sniff Eli, checking out our new addition to the family. He loved him. It was obvious.

    It happened so fast. One of my friends had brought over some Arby’s and Mac loved their cheese sticks as much as I do. He wouldn’t come to me to take it that evening though. I tried harder. He finally got up slowly and came to take it from me. I knew something was wrong. I looked him over that night and noticed his belly was swollen. I started googling and knew I had to get him to the vet. I had to have my sister take him To the ER cause it was around 1am and the baby was seven days old and breastfeeding. It broke my heart to send him off and somehow I knew he wasn’t coming home.

    She called me when the doctor came in the room and put me on speaker like I told her to. His stomach was full of fluid from the X-ray and they wanted to run more tests but I was close to broke after being off work for a couple weeks. I sent her with my last $300 and told her to spend it all if they can figure out what was wrong. The doctor decided to draw fluid anyways, even though I couldn’t pay, and it was blood.

    We got the same two options, surgery or euthanasia. I was sitting there on the phone, with the baby asleep on my chest, trying not to completely fall apart. I could’ve borrowed the money for the surgery, but they said it was unlikely that he would survive it, and if he did, at his age, it would be extremely hard on him. I told her I was on my way and hung up the phone. I started pumping some breastmilk and called my mom to have her come watch Eli.

    When I got to the vet he was laying in the back seat of my sisters car. He was tired. He didn’t really wanna get up but he hopped out of the car to see me, wagging his fluffy tail. I spent a few minutes with him in the parking lot. I gave him hugs and he hugged me back one last time. It had been raining but I think it stopped so we could have a few good minutes outside. My house shoes were soaked through. I didn’t care about anything in that moment except my best friend and how sorry I was that I was so focused on the baby those last days I had with him. I didn’t know he was sick until it was too late. I wanted to sit on that wet pavement with him forever. I didn’t want to go inside. None of it felt real. I only spent a few minutes because I didn’t want him to hurt anymore and you could tell he was just tired. He had started to have trouble breathing by that point so we went inside and I had them hurry everything along from there.

    I know God’s timing is perfect even though it hurts sometimes. If I hadn’t had the baby to keep my mind occupied, I probably would’ve grieved myself to death. Mac had a great life but I wish he could’ve spent more time with us, with Eli. Hemangiosarcoma is a brutal killer but I’m just glad it doesn’t seem to be a painful disease. For all the pain he took away from me, he deserved that at the very least.

  58. We lost our pup on Monday after liver surgery to remove a hemangiosarcoma mass. I am suffering from guilt of putting him through the surgery, even though I know he wouldn’t have lived long without it. Our dog was a BEAUTIFUL red merle australian shepherd. He had one icy blue eye, and one copper-y brown eye. His left ear stood up higher than his right. I got him when he was 6 weeks old, just 3 months before my husband and I started dating. We are expecting our first human child in March, and I can’t believe he won’t get to meet his little brother.

    A week before his surgery, he has very similar symptoms and they came out of nowhere. Now, looking back, I can see a few other warning signs, but not many. We took him to the ER and they found the mass. We were able to bring him home a day later and spend the next 5 days with him as we went to an oncology appt and dropped him off for surgery on Monday. Because of COVID, they had to come get him from the parking lot and we weren’t allowed to go in. The surgery was tough on him, as the mass was close to the base of his liver. The doctor thinks his heart went into shock. We woke up to a phone call at 12:06 am that his heart had stopped and they were doing CPR. I’ve never experienced anything more traumatic in my entire life. My heart breaks that he wasn’t with us as he went to heaven.

    I’ve woken up at 12:06 am every single morning since that day. I don’t know how it’ll ever get easier. I just want him back and I wish we didn’t take him to surgery.

  59. We hadnour gorgeous golden retrevier put to sleep last week he took ill twice in 7 weeks had ultrasound done first time so he had 7 happy weeks with his family we are all in bits even though we knew he had it he collapsed at home was fighting for breath his gums had turned nearly white

  60. We lost our 12 year old Boston Terrier, SuzieQ, to this at 6pm tonight. I am absolutely shocked and devastated.

    She has Cushings Disease which, along with skin issues, also causes a bloated abdomen; so since her energy had been fine, she ate/drank/pooped/peed like normal, any abdominal swelling we chalked up to the Cushings that she’s had for months.

    This morning, she had a runny nose (like a cold) and was breathing through her mouth. Seemed disinterested in going down the stairs, but again, she was old so this didn’t alarm us. We called the vet to see about getting get an antibiotic for her “cold” but the earliest appointment was in two days. I gave her immune supplements, knew she’d be safe with my husband and daughters all day, and headed to work. That was at 11am.

    Husband texted all day saying she seemed fine aside from the “stuffy nose/mouth breathing”: stealing food from our kids, licking hands, being a dog.

    At 7pm, I received a frantic call from my husband telling me to get home immediately, that Suzie had just laid down on her side and wasn’t breathing right. I was home within **5-7 minutes** since I work close but she died he said maybe two minutes before I walked in.

    I still grabbed her and drove to the nearest pet ER but, as I knew would be the case, she was gone.

    I am absolutely sick thinking she was going downhill all day and we didn’t know; but I’m seeing this is common. I am sick that she died in my husbands arms and not in mine (or at the vet in a calm manner). It’s now 4am and I cannot stop crying and seeing her laying on that table; I read that she likely would have gone into shock rapidly and not suffered but I feel so much guilt for not having her in this AM when the “stuffy nose” started. I just want to bring her back and tell her I’m sorry.

  61. I lost my 9-year-old Siberian Husky to Hemangiosarcoma 2 months ago. The most painful decision I had to make. Until now, not a day passes by that I feel my heart break over and over, wondering if I made the right decision. I miss her so much.

  62. I feel so sick right now. I lost my beautiful sweet Lucy at 10 years old to what was presumably hemangiosarcoma yesterday. Like many others, she was completely fine up until last week when I noticed decreased energy and appetite. Vet visit revealed a large mass on the spleen. Went to the ER for more work up which showed abnormal liver tests, anemia, and low platelets. CT showed an “abnormal” liver and a nodule in the lungs. The vets thought it was pretty clearly indicative of metastatic disease and we knew the surgery wouldn’t give her much time so we opted for euthanasia. I feel awful about this decision though because we didn’t have a formal diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma from a biopsy. And because she was feeling relatively ok-wasn’t in a lot of pain but clearly low energy and uncomfortable at times. I didn’t want to put her down in that state but I was afraid of the large mass bursting and her bleeding out. She was the best, sweetest girl. I don’t know how I’m going to get over this decision.

  63. Thank you for sharing. I loss my Brucie Kaboosi (Akita) on 10.14.20. It was sudden. I was not prepared. I lost Julibaby (Huskie mix) in 2014. I euthanized her. It is never easy. It doesn’t matter how it happens. The most important thing that I’ve learned is to never take their lives for granted. Give love always. Provide your beloved pet family members with a beautiful quality of life. It took three years before I could even talk about Julibee. The loss of Bruce was drastic and sudden and I obviously still cry deeply. I had a dream the second night after Bruce died. It was Julibee!! She was super happy! I hadn’t dreamt of her since after I put her down. Actually, it was also the second night after she had died that she visited me in a dream. That dream provided me a lot of closure. So this morning 10 days later, I finally had a dream with Bruce but it wasn’t closure providing. He was buying veggie pizza with me at costco, typical Brucie! He way laying down though so I didn’t see his face. But honestly, I’m just happy he came to my dream. I saw two rainbows at night the night he passed away. It also get really foggy and misty. I felt he sent me those signs. I’m hoping Bruce and Julibee are running around happy in their next life energy form. I love you guys. You were my heart! You are still my heart and will live with me forever! Thank you for this article and letting me get these feelings out. May God shine light on all life in this world. xoxo

  64. 8.5 yr old female white gsd, developed a lump immediately after a “required” rabies vaccine. vet said to wait, prob a hematoma. Worst advice ever! The lump continued to grow, and after 4 weeks went to an internal med vet, to aspirate(inconclusive result) and do other diagnostics. We had 3 vets inspect the lump which was now the size of half a grapefruit on her left shoulder. Never got a solid answer but after researching figured it was a subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma. A few days after the last vet visit the lump,(fluid filled sac protruding from her shoulder) doubled in size in one 24 hour period! It has since spread down all the way down her left leg and is continuing around the nape of her neck. It is like a water hose is injecting fluid between her skin and muscle! Moving incredibly fast now.
    I know my girl has a predisposition to this disease but firmly believe the rabies vac set it off, and i might have had a chance to save her if the vet would have checked it when small. WARNING: the vaccine manu is “aware” of injection site sarcomas, and NEVER forget to document where the shot is given!!

  65. Hello Katie and all that have shared, especially those of you who lost a pup,

    I too have had to put pups down and lost others to disease, although not this one. Know that your pups were living their best lives with you all, and the love in their hearts for you will be with you always. I will pray that God comforts you all and wraps his arms around you.

  66. We are going through the same thing with our rescue pit bull, Bella. 2 years ago she was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma and luckily we were able to have her spleen removed along with a basketball sized tumor that had grown on it. The vet didn’t give us a great prognosis and said we will be extremely lucky if she lives another 6 months, but given the terrible life she came from before being rescued we wanted her to have as many days as possible living her best life. Before Bella was rescued she was used as a bait dog and had her teeth filed down so wouldn’t hurt if she tried to bite her attacker. Meeting Bella you would have no idea the life she came from because she is the most gentle, loving dog I have ever owned. Unfortunately, a month ago we learned the cancer is back and since it’s spread there’ not anything that we can do. The vet has been keeping her comfortable, but as we watch her start to decline, our hearts are broken and we have started to consider euthanasia. We are fortunate that there are several great vets in our area that will come to your home to make it as comfortable as this can be.
    In a brighter note, we were in LaJolla at the beginning of October and always love visiting your town. We are animal lovers, so our favorite thing to do is watch the sea lions and seals. It frustrates me that people don’t seem to realize that they are wild animals and people need to keep a safe distance. There was a sea lion with a fishing lure hanging from it’s mouth and the park ranger was trying to keep people away from it so it would stay on the rocks until Sea World got there to remove it and no one was listening to them. It was almost as if the people didn’t think it didn’t apply to them.

  67. I lost Buffett Monday afternoon. He had just turned 8 years old a beautiful white English Lab with the softest coat. For a few days before seemed a little tired intermittently but still chased the ball in the backyard until you made him stop. He had one day where he vomited while eating, but he had a bowl to help him eat slowly and a few nights later did not want to eat his dinner. Monday morning he had a piece of chicken for snack and wasn’t interested in his chewy. His sister Lola had spent the weekend since my daughter was out of town and all was pretty normal. My daughter drove home and came over to pick up her dog and let the dogs out in the backyard, Buffett was his normal over the top self greeting her wagging his tail until she took him outside She threw him the ball once and he retrieved it and started to run to get it again but his backs legs gave out and he fell over. My daughter ran to him, he was breathing hard and his heart was pounding he lost control of his urine and bowels and seemed at ease not at all agitated or anxious. He stopped breathing quickly, my daughter was holding his head in her arms. I drove home as fast as I could Buffett had passed.
    As all the other posts out of nowhere a perfectly healthy( just had his 6 month check up in October- healthy all labs WNL weight 76 pounds) dies suddenly.
    We did have an autopsy and the doctor said Buffett had cancer: hemangiosarcoma a tumor on the right side of his heart that had grown causing a hole in the pericardium and the cancer had metastasized to other areas as well.
    The autopsy gives some closure and reassurance there was little we could have done especially for my daughter. He was doing exactly what he loved when he died chasing the ball and being held by my daughter
    As someone else said we have many dogs, cats, guinea pigs, this is the first One who chose me as his person. I miss him and am truly grateful I had the last 8 years with him.
    Thank you for posting this blog and letting people share their experiences and to know you are not alone.

    1. You are definitely not alone. I’m glad that you had an autopsy so that you daughter can feel at peace that there is absolutely nothing she could have done to save him. Not all dogs could be as lucky to pass while being held by a loving family member, too. Thank you for sharing your story! It really does help the people who come here looking for answers.

  68. It’s November 2020 we had our lovely German shepherd Dali a big black strong boy. He became our rock because my wife left me and my three boys for a builder we got in to do work on our family home, Dali was there to protect us and comfort us and now his gone. It’s the same it was quick a d sudden one minute he was ok next he just went off his food I took him to the vets in one week 4 times they could not find snything on his scans it was only when I got a second opinion from another vet he found fluid blood in his tummy an X-ray revealed cancer had spread everywhere
    How could this be he was fit well healthy no weight lost he was only 9
    We miss him so much it hurts we don’t know what to do me snd my children just want him back
    We are going through hell with my wife and our Dali made it easier it’s terrible we want him home

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. You are not alone. I promise that you will feel better eventually. There was nothing you could have done and I’m so sorry for the horrible timing. It’s extra tragic when you’ve already been dealt a big blow. 🙁

    2. First of all thank you to Katie for this article on Hemangiosarcoma which I have just found. Dean we are going through the same & it is brutal. We lost our German Shorthaired Ponter on Sat 28/11 he was 8yrs old and would have been 9 in Feb next yr. The shock of that day is immense, Sonny was fine all day but fell.ill on his way back from his walk with my partner Rob. We rushed him to the emergency vet & after examination it was found he had a large mass on his spleen which had burst. An operation was vaguely mentioned but this would only give Sonny a few wks. We had no choice & we are devastated. We have no children so Sonny & our little cat Fred were our fur babies. No warning & no symptoms is hard to take, he did have a skin cancer removed last yr but all scans were good. As i said before this really is brutal, we hoped to see Sonny in to old age, he was such a lovely dog in everyway. I can’t say our experience at the vets was a good one, firstly because of Covid & secondly because everything we were told was said ovee the phone, we feel some anger over that. The more we read about this disease the more we realise whar we are up against & there was nothing we could di to save him. Dean, we cry everyday at the moment, can’t sleep properly, eat properly life is very hard so we understand all that you & your family are going through. We want our Sonny boy back too. Please take care & just like us take one day at a time & stay safe.
      For some reason today has been particularly bad emotionally & i know that’s how this awful process goes. Love from the UK x

  69. Hello Katie,

    Thank you for sharing your story, it has brought a lot of comfort and closure for me. I am so sorry for your loss. Our Australian Shepherd Snickers, also died of hemangiosarcoma just this past Friday November 13. She had no symptoms before hand to let us know something was wrong. The night before she passed she had black diarrhea which we bagged a sample of to take to the vet next day. She was up at 2:00 in the morning drinking water and then went back to sleep by our son who was sleeping on the coach next to her bed. That morning she did not get up to eat and when I left for work she waved her tail (yes we picked her at 3 days old so they would not chop her tail) licked my hand and laid her head down. I had felt he stomach and it was soft, not swollen of distended.
    My husband and kids took her to the vet at 10:00 they saw a mass on her spleen and too her into surgery. They removed the mass on the spleen and took about 2 liters of blood out of her stomach. She was still leaking blood and upon further probing saw that her liver was riddled with tumors that they could not remove or stop the bleeding from.
    We were able to go see her when they brought her out of surgery and she was just coming out of the anesthesia. They said Snickers, had too many tumors and they could not control the bleeding. So we spent time with her, and the doctor then came in and put her to sleep with each of us holding her paws and stroking her fur.
    I of course researched this and it is the primary cause of non-accidential death in Australian shepherds, about 7 out of 10. It has been suggested that when your Aussie turns 5 you should have annual blood testing for cancer and ultrasounds for tumors. Also, if you dog starts licking her paws uncontrollably, that is a small sign that they may have pain in other parts of their bodies.

    My son is in his Sophomore year of college and my daughter is graduating high school this coming spring. Snickers was definitely the family dog, and was going to be our transition to our kids leaving us as empty nesters.
    I miss her and just wish I had known about this type of hereditery cancer. I can’t second guess myself, we had 9.5 beautiful years with her and the only way she could have survived is if she was in God’s operating room. God Bless all of you who have taken the time to write and share your stories.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story! That is the first I have heard about black diarrhea but it does make sense given the disease. And it is interesting to know how common it is in Australian shepherds (my childhood dog was half border collie half Australian shepherd… such SMART dogs). I hope that you can find some peace.

  70. I’m so glad that I found this post! We lost our rescue Pit Bull Thor on Monday (11/23/20), to the exact same thing. It was so sudden! We had not expected it at all. I’m comforted to know that others have experienced this as well, and that there are literally no signs until its basically the end. I’ve kicked myself for thinking that I missed all these signs of our dog being sick, but in reality, its just the nature of the disease. Thanks for posting this.

    1. Oh I’m so sorry for your loss! It’s not your fault and it will get easier. The more you talk about it, the more you’ll realize how common it is and you’ll probably save someone else from the same kind of guilt because they’ll be able to recognize it and know that it’s just one of those things. Doesn’t make it any easier, I know. Hang in there.

  71. I am so thankful to have found your post while searching for more information about hemangiosarcoma. We lost our beloved French Bulldog, Lexie, to this horrible cancer on Friday, Nov. 20th. She was days away from her 13th birthday. As I read through the other heartbreaking stories of so many dogs dying at young ages, it helped me realize how lucky and blessed we were to have Lexie as long as we did. Though, it does not make saying goodbye to her any easier.

    On Friday morning, she was a bit more unstable than usual. She had arthritis in her hips and back for the last year with some muscle wasting and was on several medications to help including anti inflammatories, gabapentin for pain, among others. I really did not think much more about it at the time. The day started out pretty normal. I let her sleep out on the patio in the sun for part of the morning (one of her favorite activities) while I was working and then brought her in for lunch. Her appetite was normal other than wanting to be fed by hand that day (yes she was spoiled!). Honestly, I was always happy to do it when she wanted it because it gave me more quality time with her as she was getting older. After lunch, I took her upstairs with me to the office. She wanted to sit in my lap while I was working. I put her down at one point when I needed to join a Zoom video meeting. She walked over to her bed in front of my desk and went to sleep. Around 3:30 pm, she woke up and tried to get out of bed. She stood up, stepped out of the bed and then completely collapsed. I ran over to her and picked her up screaming her name. She was completely limp in my arms and was not breathing. I ran downstairs with her and she starting breathing again. She lost control of her bowels and bladder. I rushed her to the emergency veterinary hospital. They took her back to the ER immediately. Due to Covid restrictions, I had to wait in the car for the vet to call me with an update. The wait was excruciating. The vet eventually called with the terrible news. The X-rays and ultrasound showed fluid around her lungs and heart, multiple tumors in her lungs and liver, and large masses in her chest cavity. They did a thoracentesis to try try remove some of the fluid around her lungs to relieve some pressure and help her to breathe easier. Unfortunately, they discovered that the fluid was blood. The vet said she was certain it was hemangiosarcoma because she sees so many dogs in the ER with it. They recommended euthanasia as they did not think she would make it through the night. I knew it was the right decision although it completely broke my heart agreeing that was the best option. I told the vet that I could not do it there because Lexie hated going to the vet and especially the ER. Having been to the ER a few times over the years, she knew nothing good ever happened there even though all of the vets and staff were wonderful with her. They let me take her home after we were able to find a vet who would come to our home and do the procedure. We were able to spend a couple of hours with her before the vet arrived. She died peacefully in my arms at 8:20 pm on Friday, Nov. 20th. I could not imagine doing it any other way. I wanted her to know how much she was loved. I kept one of my hands on her chest while I held her in my arms. I felt her very last heartbeat after the second injection and I knew the exact moment she passed and left this world.

    Losing Lexie has been almost unbearable. She was the sweetest and most loving little creature. I have had many dogs over the years and I have loved them all; however, Lexie was truly special. She will always have a very special place in my heart. The grief is still very deep right now. I truly appreciate everyone who shared their experiences here on this blog. While I wish none of you had to experience losing your pets to this horrible cancer, I found some comfort knowing I was not alone.

    Knowing how common this is, I think we have to find a way to encourage and support more research in the earlier detection and development of new treatment options for hemangiosarcoma. What a great legacy that would be for our beloved pets that we lost to this disease.

  72. I was informed by Jack’s vet today that he most likely has subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma. He suggested a biopsy, but probably not surgery because it appears quite imbedded in the muscle near his spine. I am opting for ultrasounds of his inner organs to see if it has metastasized. Then I will know how to proceed as the disease progresses. He is an 85 lb. German shepherd rescue, 10 years old. I’ve had him 3 years and he’s the best. If something happens at home, I would not be able to get him to the vet. So I’ll need to have him euthanized, hopefully at home, before he gets too far along. But he’s had the lump since May and it was diagnosed as muscle problem connected to his arthritis. Maybe something could have been done when it was smaller. It’s too large now. Quite a lot to digest.

    I’m glad I ran across this article.

  73. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for this blog post. I was crying myself to sleep for several days after we had to put our sweet Zoe down when I came across your blog. My story is just like everyone else’s here, but the guilt was eating me up. I thought we did something wrong. I thought we were pushed into a quick decision we weren’t prepared to make. I thought we could’ve done more to save her. But after reading your post and all these comments (and crying for every one of you), I realized that there wasn’t much we could’ve done. It was just an awful, horrible, traumatizing thing that happened to us. And I thank you for speaking out and letting me just mourn my sweet furbaby without the guilt. My heart just breaks for anyone going through this. Hugs.

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