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Avatar universal

hemangiosarcoma of the spleen

We euthanized our 7 year old GSD this week who collapsed a few days prior.  He was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen and had it removed in emergency surgery in August 2007.  I took him through chemo and he survived 6 months following the surgery.  On his last day, he was rebounding following a traumatic night a few days earlier vomiting and collapsing.  He couldn't get up the next day but was more responsive the following.  Although fatigued, he could walk the day after that and even began playing with his toys.  So he was recovering.  But he still had a nasty cough, no appetite outside a handful of food each day, and fatigue/anemia.  

I read the natural end was not painful-a collapse, shock and death.  But what I saw Saturday night was terrifying for us both.  He was so sick and scared so I made the decision to "help". I now I have huge regrets and need some answers or any information to deal with my devastation.  

How long does a dog having hemangiosarcoma typically have from the initial collapse to the final?  I understand the inevitable outcome of the diagnosis but loved him more than anything.  I'm tortured by my decision.  I did it for him but can't seem to find an answer.  Is there pain and suffering in a natural death in this case? What is typical?  Are there other regrets either way?  I know these are questions that should have been asked earlier but the entire experience has missed my expectations every step of the way.

I thought I had more time.  Thank you for any help you can offer.  
65 Responses
165308 tn?1323190145
Even though we battle with decisions, I feel that final answer that we make is done very quickly..almost like a blur.  That is the way that I feel about putting my dog down in December.  On this site I have read regrets about putting dogs down (which I feel it is part of the grieving process)....as well as those whose dogs died naturally while suffering from an illness, regret that they didn't put their dog down sooner, because they didn't want any unnecessary suffering.  Either way it goes...we all wonder but we all did the RIGHT THING.  Even though no one wants to make that decision, we do what we need to do in our pet's best interest.  Please do not go down that road of guilt.  You know what was best for your dog.  You know the quality of life.  Just the fact that you are questioning yourself shows how much you love your dog and would only do what needed to be done.  I wish you peace and hope one day soon you will be able to smile at the happy memories that you have shared.
Avatar universal
I'm so sorry to hear about your struggle dealing with this decision. 18 years ago I had to put my beautiful dog, Bruno, to sleep. It was the hardest decision I ever made. After I made the decision I doubted my decision greatly, but now I realize I actually waited too long. My father was ill for 10 years and I wished I could make the decision to put him out of his misery, but when the time came for me to actually decide his fate I almost couldn't do it. So many people say it is so much better for our furry friends because we can put them out of their misery, but that decision is heartbreaking. You just pray God will make the choice for you. I understand your feelings and they are completely normal. I really think for me it was part of the grieving process. Be around people who understand how much your dog was a part of you. To me by Sam is my life and just as important as my husband and other family members.

I am now beginning the process with my dog Sam. I noticed the growth in his mouth 6 weeks ago today. It was found in his mouth and I prayed it was skin hemangiosarcoma, but it wasn't. They don't feel they removed all the mass. We were suppose to start chemo yesterday, but due to his lack of appetite, vomiting and occasional diarrhea he isn't strong enough. I am taking it day by day. It's hard, but I am SO thrilled that I adopted this stray beautiful puppy and saved his life. I really try to concentrate when times are so tough how much happiness he is giving me and how great of a life he had. I also let the tears flow cause it is also a natural way of healing.

I will keep you in my prayers.

82861 tn?1333457511
Please try to let the guilt and regret go.  Everything you wrote tells me you made the perfect decision.  There's just no telling how much time any person or animal has where cancer is concerned.  All it takes is for it to invade one "wrong" place, and that's the end.  There is no expiration date with cancer.  

Try to look at your decision this way:  you did him a huge favor.  I recently had to euthanize our old dog who was in kidney failure and know how terrible that decision can be.  You did RIGHT.  I don't care if you have to tell yourself that a hundred or a thousand times a day, but do it until you finally believe it because it's the truth.  He's gone to his final reward and will never have to be sick and in pain ever again.  The one drawback to loving animals is that they just don't live long enough to suit us.  It hurts so badly to lose them, but we're special folks because we pick ourselves up and do it all over again with yet another lucky pup, or kitten, or bird - it doesn't matter as long as we don't lose our capacity to love.
165308 tn?1323190145
Jaybay always has the right words...I read her posts again and again because they help me to get peace.  Thank you, Jaybay.
172023 tn?1334675884
I had to watch one of our beloved Dobes die a long, slow, painful "natural" death when my husband couldn't bear the thought of euthanasia.  That poor dogs final 2 weeks will be forever etched in my mind with shame that I didn't intervene over my husbands wishes.

He literally drowned slowly and painfully in his own fluids in front of our eyes.  I still cry to this day, remembering his suffering and pain.

You made the absolute right decision.  Our dogs depend on us to care for them, and that includes making the ultimate decision for a peaceful death, when death is inevietable and they are suffering.  

You are in my prayers.  
82861 tn?1333457511
Aw Suzi, you're about to make me cry.  I'm glad that anything I've written helps you out, but you need to give yourself credit for moving forward.   When it comes right down to brass tacks, moving on through our grief is up to us as individuals.  I think you're coming along just fine.  :-)

peekawho, I know exactly what you mean about these things being a learning experience.  The first time is always the worst.  We all second-guess our decisions.  My husband couldn't deal with both euthanasia incidents in our married lives, so it was up to me to make sure our dogs didn't suffer.  Not a fun place to be in, but somebody has to step up to the plate.  Hubby is beginning to "get it" and I don't relish having to make future decisions with our current dogs.  It's just part of life unfortunately.
Avatar universal
We had to let our baby Nina (GSD) go on Monday 3rd March, 3rd and best GSD i've raised - beautiful character!!

Reading your words here have helped us hugely at this early stage of our grieving - she was 11 1/2 and had tumor on spleen which was found through scan after she collapsed on Sunday night.

We had both always agreed that we would never make her suffer for us and that if we were put in this terrible position we would do the right thing as her guardians - we believe we did and in some moments of doubt read your comments for others and regained some strength.

Thanks a bunch and keep up the good work for others

Mark n Vilna (x Nina x)
Avatar universal
i had to have my cocker spaniel put to sleep on friday 3rd october, two days ago.
i got up in the morning and he was lying on his side and could not get up and he was breathing very fast.
when i got him to the vets they put him on a drip gave him painkillers and they xray him.He had a white mass on his spleen and liver.
the vet rang me and said leave him there for the night and he will ultrasound him but i got a phone call 30min later and the vet said it looks bad and the only thing he can do next is cut him open.I refused to have this done, my darling Joey was 13 years old and i was with him when he was put to sleep and i will never forget that even though he could not move when i was talking to him he was wagging his tail.
even though i am in tears writing this im hoping in the logn run it will help.
Thankyou to everyone for your stories as i am feeling very guilty, could i have done more but i couldnt stand the thought of him being cut open.
462827 tn?1333172552
Rayner...Please don't feel quilty...You did the right thing. I would have said NO to the cutting him open at 13, also.  I'm sure sorry about your loss, though. I hope time will heal your pain...Again, don't beat yourself up and don't cry. (I know it's hard!)  Joey knows you were trying to help him and he loves you for it!!!        Karla  
Avatar universal
We euthanized our 11 yr. old Pom. on 10/09/08 and I am devestated.  He has been treated for Addisons Disease and heart problems for 6-7 yrs. and I always thought my wonderful vet could pull out one more miracle for Cody.  Wed. evening he collapsed and we took him to the Emerg. Animal Hosp.  He was severely anemic, had fluid in his abdominal cavity and having very rapid heart rate.  The ultrasound the next morning revealed a tumor on his spleen bleeding into his abdomen.  It was most likely a Hemangiosarcoma of the spleen - he could not have survived surgery and the cancer would have been fatal.  I would never let Cody suffer for one minute knowing that it was never going to get better.  I held him and told him  how much I loved him and as Cody died, a part of me died.  I keep thinking, if I could have just had one more hour or one more day but it all happened so quickly.  I am heartbroken and can do nothing but cry.  Does anyone have any suggestions to ease the pain and memory of every second of the euthenasia.  I can't get it out of my mind.  Cody's (AKA "Code-Man") mom
649859 tn?1226540188
My dear sweet Hilde girl died today Oct 13, 2008 of hemangiosarcoma.  I loved her so much.  I thought she had a blockage or something that could be fixed.  Hilde was very thirsty, lethargic, and had to urinate often.  She had a small bit of diarrhea and not eating much except for a few treats. I felt some large lumps in her belly.  The vet opened her up and said her spleen & liver were in bad shape and that she wasn't going to wake her up.   Hilde was full of cancer and only 5 years old.  My sweet pit/lab mix is gone.  I am just devastated.  I love you Hilde.  You went away too soon.  I will love you forever.  Remember Mama loves you!
Your sweet sister Molly is now in heaven with you Hilde.  Molly was put to sleep Aug. 25, 2015.  Poor baby couldn't sleep as she breathed so heavily.  Molly didn't even want her treats much anymore.  One morning she cried because her legs couldn't lift her up.  Molly my sweet angel.  You had hemangiosarcoma like your sister.  I miss you both everyday my sweet angels.  You were the best dogs ever.  I adopted these two wonderful lab/pit mixes from animal care & control of Jacksonville Florida.  They were the best, sweetest dogs ever.  Don't let the pit part keep you from adopting one of these wonderful dogs.  I love you Molly & Hilde forever.
Avatar universal
I just had a similar experience as CMCoct and got to this blog needing the same answers - only too late.  My baby Bear had a tumor on her spleen, which surgery removed in July.  Biopsies revealed it was hemangiosarcoma, but other biopsies of her liver and lymph nodes suggested it had not spread.  We went through chemo which she tolerated great.  She was actually like a puppy again.  Then right before Thanksgiving she had the same symptoms that led to the spleen tumor diagnosis, and sure enough, she had a tumor in her liver.  IT was much sooner that I had hoped but not entirely unanticpated.  I thought, ok we'll just play it day be day we could have another month or 2 together.  Then only a week later she had what for us had been her worst 'episode' that I at least had seen to-date.  She collapsed and couldn't walk and it scared her and me so badly I decided I should let her go that next weekend.  
She was fine the next day and had a great week - playing running and eating well.  I told myself it was best to let her go when she was happy.  When I got to the vet yesterday, I was having second thoughts given her great week.  I needed the vet to say you are doing the right thing,  But she said, well, if she is still eating well and she looks good now you could wait and I could give you a shot to give her during the episodes, but they are not necessarily painful she just is weak.  But it had taken all the strength I had to get her there and I did not know if I was capable of doing that again.  I kept telling myself it was best to let her go when she was still happy. So I went ahead and she is gone.
Now I am devasted that I did the wrong thing.  It sounds like now that she wasn't really even in pain during those episodes - I had just assumed it but I was wrong.  Like CMCoct, I have no idea why I didn't ask my vet that question beforehand.  I could have had her who knows how much longer, and she would have been happy and it would not have been me just being selfish.  Now I am guilty and heartbroken. I miss her so much and I don't have the comfort of knowing I did the right thing.
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