menu search
cross
?>

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

Related Posts

73 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. 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

  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. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.