Health

Dogs Don't Get Heart Attacks, But They Do Get This

Hemoabdomen cases seem to come out of nowhere

April 20, 2015 (published)

There are all sorts of pluses and minuses to the world of veterinary medicine when compared to human medicine, but in one area veterinarians come up clear winners: In all but the most vanishingly rare situations, dogs don’t get heart attacks.

Dogs almost never develop the same sort of hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, that makes middle-aged men and women clutch their chests, drop the 3-wood and shuffle off this mortal coil. Human medicine has all the shiny toys, insurance money and human-life-is-so-important stuff going for it that it makes veterinarians green with envy, but I thank my lucky stars every day that I don’t have to deal with heart attacks.

The canine equivalent, at least in my opinion, is probably a phenomenon known as ‘spontaneous hemoabdomen' even though it is not related to coronary artery disease. Your average veterinary ER probably sees two or three of these types of cases a week, and as the pet population ages they are bound to become even more common.

The thing about hemoabdomen cases that makes them so frightening for pet owners is that they seem to come out of nowhere, and they hit like a random, unforeseen lightning strike on an otherwise sunny day - like a human heart attack. One moment their dog may be happily cavorting in the yard, and the next they’re lying on a gurney in a veterinary ER fighting for their lives.

In most cases, a tumor on the spleen, which may have been growing for weeks in the abdomen without being detected, ruptures and starts to hemorrhage internally. This condition is called hemangiosarcoma. Dogs can bleed to death within a few hours if the bleeding continues unchecked. They can be quite literally felled in their tracks.

The bleeding is internal, and there is no evidence of bleeding that can be seen externally by the pet owner. All they know is that their dog was fine one minute, then collapsed and couldn’t get up the next. No blood in the stool, none in the urine, none anywhere; just a big pool of blood building up inside the abdominal cavity. Blood that should be circulating and bringing oxygen to tissues is suddenly settling in the abdomen. Shock and low blood pressure set in almost immediately.

The signs are typically a sudden onset of weakness and inability to get up. These can happen in any breed of dog, but the majority are in dogs that share a genome with German Shepherds. Golden Retrievers, sadly, probably take the number two spot. Any dog over eight years old that’s related to a German shepherd or Golden is potentially at risk for a spontaneous hemoabdomen, and this disease should be considered in any dog of this type who has a sudden episode of unexplained weakness. Check their gums, as they are often as white as a sheet during this event.

In about three quarters of the cases, the ruptured mass on the spleen is due to an aggressive malignancy called a hemangiosarcoma, a really nasty cancer that grows out of blood-forming organs (the spleen is a tongue-shaped, flat organ that sits on the left side of the abdomen, all snuggled up to the kidneys and other giblets). Hemangiosarcomas love to grow rapidly, spread to other parts of the body and, worse, they usually eat powerful chemotherapeutic drugs for lunch. It is just a miserable type of cancer to have, and most patients with them are not around for long, even with a full-court press of medical intervention. I hate diagnosing hemangiosarcoma because it usually means I have just pronounced a death sentence for a patient.

For that lucky one out of four that doesn’t have a hemangiosarcoma, they likely have a benign and slow-growing tumor called a hemangioma that just decided to break open and start bleeding (we keep the names similar to confuse the tourists). These, fortunately, can be completely cured through surgery. You still have to deal with all that life-threatening hemorrhage and accompanying scariness, but at least you get good news when the biopsy comes back.

The survival rate for dogs with hemangiosarcoma after emergency surgery to stop the bleeding is, on average, about three months. That time span can be doubled with the help of powerful chemotherapy, which is an option that all owners should be offered. We tend to not be as aggressive with chemo for our pets as they are with people, so that can mean fewer side effects. For some folks, six months of good quality life is a blessing, while for many that is nowhere near enough to justify the medical high-wire act that must happen to even hope for a little survival. The word ‘cure’ is almost never uttered in the same sentence as the word ‘hemangiosarcoma.’

Many owners decide to not pursue surgery when we make the diagnosis of hemoabdomen, and I can’t blame them. They are usually looking at a 75% chance that their dog has a disease that will very likely kill them inside of 90 days. The alternative is a fast and painless euthanasia, or, in some special cases, a death at home. Despite all the drama of this disease, it is usually totally painless and I will honor requests to take pets home to die if the owners are educated about what may happen. For those that elect to pursue treatment (I would say about one-third to one-half of owners opt to treat), the goal is to take them to surgery as soon as they are stabilized. This means blood transfusions and other methods to try and make them the best anesthesia candidate we can, quickly.

All of this comes at owners with dizzying speed. I am often in the unenviable position of trying to get them to make a timely decision on a very expensive, delicate matter with little information and no guarantees. Unfortunately, lengthy Q&A sessions in the middle of this type of crisis only makes the prognosis grow more dim for the patient as their lifeblood seeps into their abdominal cavity. I have had patients go from the front door to the surgery suite in under an hour, and sometimes with only the briefest of introductions of myself to the pet owner.

However, I recognize the need for people to feel that they have made the best and most informed decision that they can in this scenario. I try to answer as many questions as time permits for the patient, and steer them to make a decision if we start covering the same ground repeatedly. I want to note one important point right here. This is an excruciatingly difficult point in the lives of pet owners, and it becomes a critical juncture for me to talk to the owners, hear their concerns, and help them make the best decision we all can, given the imperfect information we have on hand. Unfortunately, in this case the patients simply don’t have time for anything but a rapid decision.

The cost for surgery and ICU aftercare can easily run into the thousands (many will hit the $5,000 mark before discharge), and many will have post-op complications that can escalate that amount.

I had one case several years back where post-op complications kept the dog in the hospital for a week, at a cost of over $10,000. The biopsy came back shortly after discharge and was what we all feared worst: hemangiosarcoma. The dog, owned by a very nice and caring physician, lived for another month before the cancer grew back and caused more bleeding. For most of us, $10,000 for another month of life would never fit the budget (or, for some people, their concept of what is right), but for this man, he assured me it was the best month he ever had with his dog. They hiked, they fished, they lounged on the couch eating Doritos and drinking Yoo-Hoo. They did everything but go 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu. They lived like the dog was dying, and got everything out of it they could. He was happy with his initial decision and told me, as I put his dog to sleep, that he would have made it again.

For a bad outcome, that’s a pretty good way to look at it.

75 Comments

Ally
October 22, 2021

This happened to my dog a few months back,m. He woke up sick randomly out of the blue one morning completely unexpected, and he had to be put down the same day. There was absolutely no warning signs until it was too late, no change in appetite or anything. He was a trooper.


Diane MacPherson
October 20, 2021

About a month ago, Our Golden, Bailey, at  11 yrs & 5 months old was not acting himself, we took him to the vet. They ran blood, did an ultrasound and then we were told he had this tumor on his spleen causing it to bleed internally.  They said they saw large spots on his liver which leads them to believe He has cancer. We were told he was not gonna make it through the night. That was a month ago. We are giving him the best life we can letting him pass at home and letting all of the people that love him get a chance to say goodbye. He deserves this extra special time with his humans.  We were told that his body must be clotting the bleed due to him being so active at the vets and having days he acts somewhat normal. Therefore we are giving him these days to have good days and allowing him to chose when he goes.  He is not in pain, he is still eating, drinking, going outside to do his business at his pace. If your dog is walking and still looking at you with that golden look and waging his tail. Let him have those final days at home with loved ones. We all get old and get slow, it is a matter of time. I am fortunate to be able to work from home and be by his side on a daily basis, we know that his day is going to come, but until then we’re giving him the best life ever. We love him and will miss him so! Signed, The mom of the best dog ever!


Tyson's Mommy
October 18, 2021

Our sweet angel Tyson an 8 year old Boxer passed away on 10/16/2021. Over the last 2 1/2 weeks he had blood in his stool which eventually turned into black tarry like, which then turned into liquid black/blood stool. He was initially treated for hookworms after 1 week. Upon completion of that medication he stopped wanting to eat and begun drinking a ton of water. On week 2 he was diagnosed with stomach ulcers- and we were told he should be back to normal within a day. By the end of week 2 (4 Vet visits later) he was being diagnosed with Stage 4 multi centric lymphoma effecting his spleen and unidentifiable free fluid. We were told not to worry about the free fluid that would appear as normal. Inflamed abdomen and anemic. Said no visible masses were detected. That was Thursday 10.14.2021. They started him on ELSPAR and a steroid Prendisone. He ate Thursday night. Friday he was tired. We gave him CBD Oil Friday night and Saturday morning and he seemed relaxed and not in pain. Saturday afternoon he became unresponsive. Restless. He stopped drinking water around 12 noon. At 4pm he collapsed in our living room. We rushed him to the ER but it was too late. They told us the free fluid was blood and he had internal bleeding. Tyson passed away naturally. Although we rushed him to the ER I believe his last moments were here at home with us loving him. Just 5 minutes before I begged him for kisses and he squeezed out a few licks of my nose. Tyson was very beloved it’s truly a mystery on what exactly happened we will miss him dearly.


MIlo's Mom
October 18, 2021

I lost my Australian Labradoodle to this last week. Do you know if there is an early screen for this risk in canines? Pedigree dogs have a lot screened for with hips, eyes, etc. You pay a lot for puppies for this health check. In retrospect,the gums and teeth were  the first signs.Pay attention owners and vets!! I was waiting on a canine dental specialist to get my dogs teeth looked at on my vet's recommendation. No other possible health concerns were mentioned. Went my dog suddenly started limping I noticed a swelling on his thigh. I shot a video and sent it to my vet so she could see my concern.She told me to go to the ER straight away. Results from Ultrasound, CT scan, cytology all came back as Hemangiosarcoma. Blood was filling up in his thigh muscle cavity where the tumor was and it had spread to lymph. He was bleeding out. Sadly I had to say goodbye. I wish there was early detection or genetic testing for this. Did his Sire or Dam have this?


Abigail
September 19, 2021

Just lost my 13 year old yellow lab to this very same thing 2 days ago. She was so very special, and I will probably never get another dog like her ever again. 3 days before we put her down, she started to not eat as much, which was very much unlike her. This had happened before but after taking her to the vet and finding out in was just something she ate we thought maybe that’s what happened again. By the night of day 2 she wouldnt eat or drink anything, not even her favorite, peanut butter. We knew something was wrong. By the morning of day 3 she wouldn’t get up, we had to carry her outside and then eventually into the car to the vet. We were faced with the same decision of surgery or the rainbow bridge. The vet said with her age and current state of health it would be unlikely she would survive the surgery and if she did it would only give her a few months. We chose the rainbow bridge. It was the hardest thing to watch in my life, I tried to stay strong for her since she was very attached to me and always knew when I was upset. These past few days have been rough, I felt very guilty and wondered if I did the right thing. Reading this article has given me so much comfort in my decision. Thank you for writing this.


Sherry
September 12, 2021

Just lost our sweet girl, Kaya, on 9/8/21. She was a 7 yr old German Shepherd and the sweetest, smartest girl. It happened so abruptly. We had a normal day and everything seemed fine, although looking back she wasn't as interested in food as normal and she was sleeping more during the day. I took her out to go potty, she squatted to do her business and jumped up like she had an itch. At this point, she just collapsed and never returned. By the time we got her to the vet she was gone. I had considered that a curse until reading this article, now I consider it a blessing that I wasn't forced to make that decision. Thank you for sharing your stories. It has helped in coping with this horrific situation. I miss her every minute of every day.


Meg Dimsa
August 30, 2021

We just lost our 12 year old Husky mix to this today. Like a puppy yesterday, fine on his morning walk, and then I received a phone call this afternoon that he just collapsed.  We rushed him to the vet ER and all of a sudden I was making a decision without understanding what was happening. A few weeks prior he started to slow down and was diagnosed with hip pain which is common for dogs his age. And then, this. Understanding that there is no pain, is a tremendous comfort. By the time we got to the ER the vet told us about the surgery and ‘quality of life.’  I know I made the right decision to say goodby peacefully curled up behind him, but this sudden void is hard to make sense of. I am thankful for this thread to bring some comfort - sending love to all who have gone through this.


Ivana Velickovic
August 28, 2021

So, as far as I understand, in the case of hemangiosarcoma, internal bleeding causes painless death,for several hours while the dying process takes place?


Jennifer
July 30, 2021

Our puppy was 4 months old. She didn’t show any signs to lead to believe something was wrong. It was like any other day I came home and she was happy jumping. I fed her but she wasn’t acting super excited like her normal self. I didn’t think anything of it though. Maybe she just wasn’t hungry. She sat for a minute then wanted out back. I let her out went upstairs to change and that’s when I heard her scream. Ran downstairs and I found her collapsed and not breathing. I was so shocked . I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea what just happened. I feel horrible. I keep thinking maybe I could have done things differently but like what. I feel like I’m never going to over come this.. it’s an aweful feeling seeing your pet fine one minute and dropped dead the next.


Kate
June 27, 2021

Archie, my world. Suffered the hemmoraged yesterday. He was so healtly for a 12 year old lab x retriever and then suddenly he went of his food. Was very lethargic and wasnt my normal boy. Fast forward 3 vet trips later and i made the kindest decision to let him cross the rainbow bridge. I got to lie on the ground with him, wrapping my body around his, cuddling my head on his furry one, telling my baby it was ok to leave this world. I had very little time to comprehend it all and im still struggling as we speak.  But reading the above has helped my mind understand the why and that my decision was the right one. He was the best doggo and loved his boopy snoots, living his best life by my side. Im very thankful we got 12 long years together.


Alex
June 21, 2021

Thank you so much for your article. This has been immensely comforting for me and my family at a difficult time.


April
June 16, 2021

As we're going through the process of losing our 12 year old Cairn terrier to this, I can't tell you how comforting it is to read that it's painless for him, and to see that it isn't unusual to still see so much life in him as we approach our appointment for in-home euthanasia. I've been through so many losses as a "dog person," and the hardest hurdle to overcome with each one is whether I've done the right things for them in the end. Thank you for adding to my understanding, and aiding in my comfort this time around.


MarciEllen Gerber
June 13, 2021

It happened to the love of my life 6/8/2021/. He died in my backyeard as I frantically ran from neighbor neighbor and pleaded for hep. He took his last breat without his mommy by his  side/ I hate my self for nottaking him to vet Sunday when he fist showed blatent signs   something terribly wrong.I am crushed am livind vet would not listen all the times I said something was wrong


Terri Dillon
June 6, 2021

We lost our 10 year old German Shepherd, Roxy, to this cancer on June 4, 2021.  She had been having a couple days of not being herself.  Came home that morning and she would not get up from the floor.  Checked her gums and they were so pale they were almost white.  Rushed her to the vet.  They did x-ray, ultra sound and drew blood from her abdomen that was pooling there.  She had a large Hemangiosarcoma tumor on her spleen that had burst and she was bleeding to death.  We had to decide then and there to do surgery or put her down.  The vet said that the cancer had spread to other parts of her body.  We decided to let her go.  Everything happened so fast, our heads were spinning.  We never thought she would not come home.  She was my shadow, my best friend, and I feel so very lost.  Heartbreaking.


Lee Bowes
June 1, 2021

I lost my rescue boy buster 2 weeks ago he was a very young nearly 16 year old  I gutted he didn’t make it to July his bday .he would have blood tests every 4-5 months as he was on previcox for his arthritis and bloods were alway fine , last year he had 3 teeth out so when he started not wanting his food we thought it was his teeth as vet commented ow bad they were and 2weeks before he died he had a swell on the side of his nose so vet gave  10 days of antibiotics and to think about having another dental! His always had sort of a sensitive tummy and it seemed to be getting a little worse and we put it down to his teeth he was eating grass and being sick more often then 3 days before he died he stopped eating and drinking I was using a stringe to give water and he liked it otherwise he wouldnve walked off but he stayed to get fluids  I managed to get him to eat a sausage (as in the raw ones on a string he loved ) and way Monday came he went vets I explained everything they should have known anyway and what peed me off is everytime I d took him vets at the end I’d say can you check his belly his got a sensitive tummy oh it feels fine ! Never asked shall we investigate ! So on the horrible Monday when he went in his heart rate was in the 90s  she said it wasn’t his teeth ! I’d already asked for a scan on belly after his dental cos I was getting worried! She said I’ll do scan and keep him in all day with IV fluids as his dehydrated and his lost kilo since last time he was seen (10 days ok wen the other vet said he was a good weight and it’s better for his arthritis) well scan results came bk 9cm spleen tumour and liver nodules !i ve since researched and most livers  have nodules esp older ones and with a spleen scan it says sometimes it will look like it’s spread to liver  but it hasn’t .well we thought we had days or weeks left with him and on the way to pick him up vet called to say his blood pressure has dropped and his heart rate is 36 when we got there I said it’s down to the drugs his gave him while she half agreed she said it shouldn’t go down that much so I asked her  to recheck and it had gone up to 40 something ! Well my boy was PTS that day it was to sudden he was the life and soul of the family so lost without him


Victoria
May 18, 2021

Our 10 y/o golden retriever girl was just dx with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen yesterday. Shocked, to say the least.  She's been very healthy all her life. We thought she was having seizures but come to find out, she is very anemic and mass on her spleen.  I am choosing not to put her thru surgery, just want her to live her last days out at home. I am going to try some holistic items that hopefully, will help her. I have read thise horrific disease is painless. I hope that's the case.  She was spoiled tonight with a steak. We have never given her nor our other dogs table food but this was the least we could do for our princess.  Devastation doesn't even describe the feelings we have.  She looks better today than when she started looking a bit I'll a week ago. I pray to God that when it's her time, it will be fast for her.  She sits under my desk every single day while I work. I love her so much.  Prayers for all the furbabies out there and the families who are enduring heart wrenching pain and decisions.


Karl Eid
May 18, 2021

Our german shepherd passed away today. What you described is exactly what happened to her, she had a ruptured spleen which lead to internal bleeding. We went to our vet and she should have been operated this morning but she didn’t make it through the night even if they provided her with IV fluids and blood transfusions. My heart aches and I was reading your article yesterday when it was unfolding . Thank you for bringing us a bit of closure with all your explanations. She will be missed


Adi
May 16, 2021

My neighbor's dog died suddenly and it sounds just like this except she said the dog had large amount of blood come out from the rectum after death. Is that indicative of this type of condition?


CJ Foster
May 6, 2021

Am currently awaiting a biopsy for my 9 year old Rott. We just lost his brother (3 weeks ago) to osteosarcoma and are doing our best to prepare for the worst, whilst hoping for the best. Thanks for setting this out so clearly. Hard to say good bye to our best friends regardless of the cause, but we take some solace in knowing our “livewire” won’t have to endure the discomfort our bigheart experienced.


NikkiPete
May 2, 2021

My sweet Louie... I lost my boy April, 22.  One day, in early April, my Louie wasn't quite acting himself.  He wad a standard poodle, and had the most expressive, human eyes.  He looked up at me with those brown eyes, that had such sadness in them.  I asked him what wad wrong, and rubbed his belly, dismissing it as a possible tummy ache.  The next day, He was back to himself playing with his fur-sister, so I thought nothing of it.  April 6, I had a house fire, and felt like my world was turned upside down.  My pets were removed from the house, by the firemen, with the exception of my 3 dogs, since they had a doggy door, to go outside in the fenced in yard.  After the fire, I was not able to stay in my house, so my pets were displaced to temporary locations.  Since my basement was the only room untouched by the fire, I left my dogs at the house, still having access to go outside in the backyard, at will.  I just made daily trips to the house to feed them, and check on them.  With everything going on, after the fire, and not being with my dogs on a FT basis, I guess my mind wasn't focused on my Louie.  Wednesday, April 21, while visiting my dogs, I noticed Louie came over to me, and plopped down, in a laying position.  I asked him what was going on, and called him to come to me.  He just Layer there and looked, but wouldn't get up.  Being a finicky eater, I knew what would get him to come to me... his favorite chicken Jerry treats, but even that didn't encourage him to get up.  I handed him the treat, and he took it, but just held it in his mouth.  I was concerned, but didn't think it wad anything too serious, so I left, and figured I'd take him to the vet the next morning.  April 22, I checked out Louie, on my stop past the house, and she Louie seemed more himself again, but something still seemed a bit off.  I pulled his gums back to look at his teeth, and noticed his gums looked paler than normal.  I took him to a ready care vet, where the vet looked at Louie, using an ultrasound, and she a tumor on his spleen, and blood pooling in his abdomen. He told me to get him to an ER immediately.  En route, I called a friend, who just the year before experienced this same diagnosis with her 9 yo German Shephard. My Louie was currently 9 yrs and 4 months old... she told me she had her dog's spleen removed,and had him on all kinds of post surgery mess, and he still died 3 months later.  She said she paid over $10,000, which she didn't regret, but said she did regret all the pain and torture she put him through opting for the surgery.  She said every day she feared waking up to find him Deceased, until the day came, that he was truly gone.  She advised me to just let Louie go peacefully, and not to put him through what she put her dog through.  Her words left with torn with fear, and agony, as I tried to decide what wad best for my sweet boy.  In the end, I opted to euthanize Louie... it wad the hardest decision for me to make, but in the end I feel it wad the best decision for Louie. We spent time with him in a room, where I tried to be strong, for Louie, since he wad so in tuned with my emotions, I tried to mask my sadness.  I have him lots of kisses and hugs, and upon petting him, discovered that under all that hair, he was literally bones.  With me being so distracted, from dealing with post- fire living, and not being home FT, I hadn't noticed how much weight Louie had lost... this added to my pain and shock of knowing I wad about to loose my dear, loyal friend.  I apologized to Louie, for failing him... for not noticing sooner... for not being able to save him... and for his life being cut short prematurely, and laid on the floor holding him, and calling out his name, as the vet administered the drugs, that sent my Louie over the rainbow Bridge.  It was hard going back to my house, and seeing the eyes of my surviving dogs, wondering why Louie didn't come back with me... I still have a gaping hole in my heart, that hopefully in time, will get smaller, but I doubt will never fully close...


Debra Brown
May 1, 2021

We just suffered the same devastating loss of our beloved 11 year old Doberman, Gunther.  I feel so lost without him and will probably check back here every now and then as another pet parent has said. My hope is that I too will find some comfort in this very sad club.


Kristin
April 27, 2021

We just lost my 7.5 year old Chocolate lab to this. Basically I noticed he wasn’t eating as much about 3 weeks ago. Thought maybe he was just having a belly ache, his knee was hurting, or just being picky. He had blown his doggie ACL in January and we had lab work and xrays done at that time. I took him to the vet on Friday 4/16. They did lab work and said he was perfectly fine, although he had lost 10lbs in about 2-3 weeks. He had a couple episodes where he threw up some grass and bile but not excessively. They gave me some appetite enhancers and tried pepcid. He acted nauseated all weekend and went from eating about a chicken breast a day we had to hand feed him to absolutely nothing by that wednesday. I took him back to the vet and they sedated him and did x-rays. Then I got the news that he had hemoabdomen and a mass on his spleen. We went back and forth that night whether we should do surgery, with the little hope it was just a hematoma. However, that night he just kept throwing up stomach acid and bile. I read everything I could about the possible causes of hemoabdomen and came to the conclusion due to his other symptoms he most likely had hemangiocarcinoma. We spent the day with him Friday. He was trying to be his usual lab self and wag his tail but he spent the day chugging water and puking and trying to hide from us. We made the difficult decision to euthanize him on Friday 4/23. Just seemed so fast, he had no signs in January, and very unexpected. He was so young. We are heartbroken.


Leslie
April 23, 2021

I lost my precious 13 and a half year old Pekingese, Ming, to this disease one month ago. He had never been sick in his life with the exception of a stomach bug a time or two that would clear up after a few days on antibiotics.  He was very active, ran and barked and played like a puppy, and took nightly walks.  He was perfectly normal all day, ate well, took his walk and sat on my lap while I watched TV which he did most of the time.   While watching TV, he stood up and acted like he wanted to jump down, which he never did and because of his short legs I never let him jump.  He looked like he was uncomfortable for some reason but laid back down on the chair.  I was getting ready to let him out before going to bed and when I picked him up to put him on the floor he held his head back and to one side and let out a scream that still sends chills. I put him on the floor and he screamed again and then couldn’t move snd looked like he was drugged.  We called the animal Emergency center to make sure they were open and got him there in 15 minutes.  I held him in a towel and he didn’t move. I knew something bad was wrong.  We had a major thunderstorm and severe weather the day before and I was up holding him most of the night and early in the morning about 24 hours before.  He has experienced storms a lot in his life but I had never seen him as nervous and shaking like he had been that day.  As I was walking into the ER with him, he let out that same cry again.  If you’ve ever heard a dog cry that has been hit by a car- that is the best way I can describe it. I knew he was in pain and probably in shock.  A few minutes later we were told by the vet he had a mass on his spleen that had ruptured and was in shock.  After all of the options were explained, we made the most difficult decision to let him go to heaven right away because we did not want him to suffer.  We were allowed time to comfort and hold him and tell him how much we loved him- something we did every day- and an hour and a half after it first started, he was gone.  Everything happened so fast and unexpectedly that it seemed like a bad dream.   He was truly the love of my life and the child I never had.    After he was gone, the vet said the decision was hard but if he had been her dog she would have done the same thing. I kept thinking about the “letter from a dog to his owner” that has been around for a long time that says in part “when my time comes, please help me and don’t let me suffer”.   I miss him dearly. 


John D. Nelson
April 19, 2021

We lost our 10 year old chocolate lab to this horrible disease today, 4/19/2021.  She was fine as far as we could tell a week ago.  On 4/12/2021 she did vomit after getting a big drink, didn't think much of it.  The next day she puked up some bile and grass, but again dogs puke every now and again. The next day she was fine and then on 4/15/20021 she didn't want her breakfast, this was a huge red flag since she loved eating more than breathing:-).  We also noticed her abdomen was looking fat. We took her to the vet and he did an x-ray and some blood work and said he could see a mass on her spleen and told us to get to the ER Vet. We took her there and she spent the night.  The next morning we got the news it was most likely HSA and the outcome was not going to be good.  We elected not to have the surgery due to the odds of it being HSA and worried about her quality of life.  We picked her up on 4/16/2021 and brought her home for the weekend and loved her as much as she would let us and then put her down today.  This was definitely a surprise and happened very very fast. This article is spot on.


Valery P
April 12, 2021

My dog (pit bull mix, male) was more than 10 yrsold when he died last year. Few weeks before he was diagnosed with spleen cancer. The day he died, he had a seizure in the morning. He was fine the rest of the day...until he got another seizure that last very long. I couldn’t get to the emergency vet 45 minutes drive and I was alone. I would like to know if these seizures were a direct cause of his cancer? At one point his eyes became blurred (white-cloudy).  I still feel so bad I couldn’t help him except putting pillows around and holding him.


Nancy Martin
April 6, 2021

My Oscar passed 7 weeks ago age 9. I only had him 1 1/2 years as he was a rescue .  He had had testicle cancer and did have a grade 4 heart murmur which became grade 5. He collapsed on a Monday and was gone 3 days later. We did blood work and chest x ray but nothing was confirmed in terms of spleen. However given his symptoms and the cbc vet thinks it was splenic rupture and bleed. He became anemic lethargic was not eating or drinking and dehydrated. After a second collapse  on day 3 i took him to emergency It was so fast. We are not sure what it was as I  declined ultrasound since he could mot have surgery with his heart. This post has helped. Did anyone else here not have conclusive diagnosis but vet presuming it was splenic tumour rupture ?


Nolan Bogue
April 2, 2021

We lost our dog Lula on March 4th she was behaving perfectly fine before but then she died suddenly. According to what you said and what the vet said it is very likely that she had hemangiosarcoma. The only difference was there was a little drop of blood from her genitals. We still don’t know what caused her death. Over a year ago she did have surgery because she had skin cancer. A few months ago she did have some bladder problems.


Matt Hafezi
March 31, 2021

I had posted about our beloved 8 1/2 YO German Shepherd Livvie which we tragically lost to HSA on 12/31. The original post was published shortly after and I occasionally check in to read up as a part of my own healing and finding processes. I am writing this comment on the 3 month date of losing our beloved GSD with the hope that it gets published: As I am dealing with my own tragic loss, having dealt with all the classical 5 stages of grief plus the survivors' guilt, I find reading others' stories informative and comforting. Some of you have been luckier than others spending more time with your beloved companion but this alone does not dull the pain of a sudden and shocking loss due to HSA. We fell in the group which decided on immediate euthanization based on the ER veterinarian's recommendations as opposed to surgery or therapeutics/pain killers to "load up" our beloved companion to take home and then let her pass away at home. Every days since, I have struggled and will continue struggling not having chosen that third option; it is really tearing me apart. Our Livvie was going to die and her days were numbered, this is a fact which I have since accepted. To recap, I agreed with the vet based on the exams performed at the time that the advance distended stomach due to severe hematoma had gripped our baby and she was almost at the very end. I did not wish to have her euthanized after she was cut open during surgery; I just wish that I had brought her back home to have her pass away in a much more comfortable environment. I know that this can be considered as selfish and perhaps if I had gone in this direction, I would have now been expressing a different wish but this is the exact struggle, i.e, having total power over a beloved companion's final act.


Anita
March 22, 2021

Jbear had his spleen taken out due to hemangiosarcoma. He still had a lesion on his liver they couldnt remove. When he came back after he had it removed he had a uti...I only discovered it as there was dots of blood in his urine. Luckily he hadnt gone in the garden as he was too ill after the surgery to get out there otherwise I wouldnt have known. After a course of antibiotics it is now march 21 he had his spleen out un sep20 he is still going 7 months later. We didnt do chemo for him. Sadly as I write this he is still the powerhouse he always has been however the vet found a lump in his anal gland and his side feels hard. We are lucky he is still here and he has done so well after the surgery. He has steak or liver for his tea and will be spoilt like the 10 year old king he is. It does seem to be the luck of the draw as to how long they live for once they have their spleen removed but I think it's worth doing. We also have had people sending him healing all along who knows maybe it works!


Meaghan Sicilian
March 18, 2021

I just lost my ginger March 17th to what the vet believed the same thing. I have been truly scared on my birthday March 10 my ginger was not well felt cold and seemed pale. I called 50 vets and had a house visit march 11th planned 2 weeks prior for routine checkup and shots for all my pets. I found one that said she looked to be ok and to get the bloodwork done March 11th as planned he saw no major concern but said they can remain hidden my ginger hated the vet too. My regular vet came tried to take blood and none came out in several tries barley a few drops. I was concerned but not the vet so much. She called a few hours later to give me the news there was nothing to cause concern. Ginger was back to normal self eating jumping barking playing then March 13th she had a few bad hours but they told me she was just dehydrated so I made sure to get her fluids. March 17th took her out at 630am no issues took her out around 1230 no problems but moving slow. 20 minutes later I find her on he couch in shock bleeding internally from what I could guess. Her regular vet that said she was fine was closed for Saint Patrick's day so I rushed her to the emergency vet 25 min away. She was alive on arrival but faint heart beat I said please stabilize her and try to save her. Due to covid I was not allowed inside. 10 min later I get a call she passed without me then I was allowed in how that makes any sense. I wish I just bared the pain and held her but I knew something was wrong and I needed to try to get help a 3rd time. Vets told me wrong 2x Nothing will get my baby back and they don't even care to return my call at her regular vet. I'm devasted my 12 year old baby is now gone because a vet would not listen


Shirley
March 9, 2021

I lost my cutie pie Ginger yesterday, 3/8/2021- a chihuahua mix,16 pounds,  to hemangiosarcoma. She was fine and doing well until Feb 2021. We adopted her from a shelter almost 4 years ago, and were told she was either 3 or 4 years old. Early Feb she started to not eat much and didn't want her treats so i thought she was tired of her food so i changed brands. That helped for a couple weeks,then i went back to her usual food. She did have some shivering and her skin seemed dry. Then Feb 19 she was vomiting and had diarrhea and low energy, and was shaking and shivering so i gave her more blankets to snuggle under. She didn't want to drink much water or go outside much to do her business. I called and got a vet appt for Feb 24. She didn't like going to the vet.  She had blood tests and ultrasound and i was told she had hemangiosarcoma and her spleen showed a 2 inch mass. The vet said she was probably in liver failure from what he saw on the blood tests, and tumors appeared on the ultrasound and had some anemia.The vet stated he would like to do exploratory surgery and if she was full of cancer he wanted to euthanize her, and i said NO, and then he said he could remove the spleen and send off for biopsy. I wanted to wait and see if it was cancer or benign first and have  the time to make a decision as this was so sudden. She had surgery and came home Feb 26. She seemed ok for a couple days and was eating and drinking water but had to stay quiet since she had staples in her abdomen which restricted her activity and she didn't know or understand she had surgery and why she couldn't be herself.Then 5 days after surgery she seemed to have a seizure as she was shaking and shivering and couldn't stand. I carried her downstairs and she wanted to stay in her crate with it open. She did get up when she could to nibble on some food and drink and i had to give her the meds and she hated the meds. I had to crush them up and mix with a little gatorade or water in a medicine syringe (no needle). She basically then stopped eating and drinking unless i kept taking it to her and trying to have her eat some and drink by hand. I did this all day and stayed up late to check on her. I had to carry her outside to pee as she was weak. I thought it was just due to the surgery and i called my vet's office but couldn't get her in right away. She was also weak and couldn't stand and her rear legs seemed to collapse. I did get her in on Mar 8 and was told she was anemic, jaundiced, pale and some dehydration, and the vet wanted to give her an iv with fluids and blood and some meds and i could get her back in 3-4 hours. She has also lost 3 pounds. About 90 mins after i left i received a call that she had passed away. And the biopsy results had confirmed sarcoma. Ginger was severely anemic and with the cancer- her heart gave out during the procedure. There wasn't time to notify me to come to the vet clinic to hold her before she passed away. I was so upset. I was able to go and see her at the vet clinic after ward  and say goodbye and tell her what a great dog she was during the short time we had her. I have been crying ever since and asking why? I am not sure if her having the splenectomy when she was so ill was a good choice. But the vet felt removing the spleen would possibly help and maybe give her a few weeks.  He had stated that without surgery she probably would have passed away in less than a week with this illness. Hemangiosarcoma is a terrible, insidious disease that seems to make dogs sick with not much warning. I felt she was basically normal until almost 2 weeks ago and now she is gone. We are grieving and so sad and keep asking ourselves if we could have saved her if we had known she was ill, but with this illness there is no cure. Ginger did keep up a brave front and did her best as she knew she was loved. She was my little furbaby and i miss her terribly. She loved to snuggle on my lap under a blanket and she had her favorite blankets that she would cover herself up with at home when she was laying on the couch. This disease is horrible and i didn't know that dogs get this. I have wanted to find out info online about this illness and i saw this website and other pet parents posts. I wish there had been more warning or a tests a few months ago to find out that my furbaby had this illness and if there had been a way to have treated it sooner to possibly give her a few more months to live- if she could have been her normal self and not sick and have no quality of life. My vet told me I did all i could to help her but i keep thinking about the "if only's." She did have a good life with us during the few years i had her in my life and i appreciated her so much.


Ken
March 3, 2021

This article really hit home.  I was looking for answers to find out more about hemangiosarcoma and trying to determine if we are making the right decision for Murphy, our beloved 11 year old Golden Retriever, who just got diagnosed with this disease.  Like many others who have commented, I had never heard of it.  Our vet explained it very well, was very patient as I asked tons of questions, but at the end of it all, its just so confusing and doesn't make sense how he could suddenly be so affected.  Our vet  did not recommend surgery to remove his spleen, but instead, recommended euthanasia - the sooner the better.  It was very shocking.  We took Murphy home to spend a few more days with him to make sure we say our proper good byes and to love on him like he deserves.  He has been getting cuddled, petted, and continues to get the rub downs he's loved all his life.  We're all spending time with him  talking to him eye to eye about how we love him, how good he is, what he has meant to our family, and that we will always love him forever.  He looks at us with love in his tired eyes, wagging his tail and smiling at us with that infectious smile that only Goldens can give you.  We now only have 2 days left with him.


Leo
March 2, 2021

We lost our ridgeback/Shepard mix a few days ago. It all happened so fast. We had just celebrated his 8th birthday, and a week later he was looking lethargic. When he was laying in spots he never laid in before and wouldn’t pick up his head. I knew something was wrong, my wife and I dropped everything and took him to the vet. Vets found blood in his abdomen and a mass on his spleen. Was told there was no evidence of cancer spread , so we opted for surgery. This in itself was a difficult decision as we were warned repeatedly he could die during surgery. He got the procedure and was sent home in two days. At first he seemed to be no better, but slowly gained strength and was eating. Then on the fourth day, he wasn’t moving and his front paws swelled up like balloons. We again rushed him to the vet, and before they could start to treat him, his heart stopped. My wife and I were devastated. He only lasted 4 days after the surgery. But we got to spend those last 4 days with him. I do not regret the surgery, I only pray that he did not suffer because of our decision.


Heather
February 27, 2021

We lost Maggie our 9 year old Shepard Beagle mix on 2/22/2021. The week before I had noticed she was starting to look a little on the chubby side but thought it was due to less exercise in the cold winter months. On that Monday morning she was not acting like herself. She looked more bloated than just her being a little over weight. She acted like it hurt when she tried to sit down and couldn’t jump up on my bed as she loved to do. I called our vet at noon and begged them to get her into be seen immediately. They said they could squeeze her in at 2 pm. I got down on her dog bed and cuddled with her until it was time to leave for the vet. Every time I talked to her she would wag her tale. When it was time to go to the vet she got so excited because she loved car rides. She got herself in the car and laid down in the seat. Normally she would sit and look out the window but she had no interest. She had this look of fear in her eyes that I will never forget. We got to the vets and I had to hand her off to the vet technician as I couldn’t go with her due to COVID restrictions. I had to pull her on a blanket from the car to get her out. She kept trying to get back in. I watched them struggle getting her to go inside as she hates going to the vets. I told her to go and be a good girl and I would see her in a little bit. When she got inside they immediately did blood work and ex rays and discovered that she had a large mass in her tummy that they believed to be a hematoma on her spleen. Because it was such a large mass they believed it was not cancer. They said her blood work looked really good and recommended they do an emergency surgery to remove her spleen and the mass ASAP as they were afraid it could rupture. We ended the call with them saying they would call me when the surgery was over. My phone rang within 5 minutes and they told me Maggie had died when she was being prepared for surgery. I was in shock as I never considered this being a possibility. I have been struggling with the what if’s and whys. She had just had her annual check up and vaccinations in December and everything was fine. If I had taken her the week before when I thought she was looking like she was gaining weight would she be alive? I am really struggling with what happened to her and feeling like I failed her as a pet owner. I am surprised to see how many people have been through this same thing. Until Maggie I had never heard of a hematoma on the spleen. I just miss our Maggie so much.


Lindsey
February 22, 2021

I am thankful I found this article. My goofy quirky 14yo Basset Hound went from his normal loud, tail wagging self to lethargic, then unable to walk within hours. My vets office was closed but they called me back when I left a message, he thought it may be a compressed disc but if he got worse to take him to emergency. He had been rejecting breakfast but eating it eventually and always up for dinner the past few weeks. Perhaps that was the beginning signs but there was no way to prepare for this it is too sudden. The vet found blood in his abdomen and they knew right away. I got an ultrasound to know if it was on the spleen or spread elsewhere. Unfortunately it was all over and I had to make the hardest but humane decision to euthanize. The emergency doctor and techs were very compassionate. They gave us as much time with him as we wanted in a nice peaceful room. I am so sorry to everyone in these comments who went or are going through this. Knowing I am not alone in my shock and grief is comforting. Home does not feel the same without him in it but he will forever be in my heart.


Scott
February 17, 2021

Thank you for the information. I have been struggling to make sense of the loss of my beautiful 8 year old Golden Retriever, Cozmo of 2.11.21. He was struck down by this horrible  disease. Other than starting to show some white hairs and a bit of arthritis in his joints, Cozmo  had no health problems. In fact, had his annual checkup in December and was given a clean bill of health. On the evening of February 11th he grew lethargic and struggled to breath. We took him to the veterinary emergency hospital (I thought he would die in the car) and a cat-scan revealed fluid (likely blood) surrounding his heart and belly. The Vet immediately diagnosed it as HSA and said that surgery would only give him a few days. We chose to end his suffering. It happened so suddenly.


Alex
February 16, 2021

Our American bulldog Dutch passed away yesterday aged 13. We rescued him 2 years ago from the dog shelter, it feels like he has been with us all his life but yet seems so short. We found out a few months he had multiple tumors surrounding the spleen and the adrenal gland, the samples they took brought back inconclusive results so we never knew for certain he had cancer. Although the vets predicted this was the case due to his rapid weight loss and also him being anaemic. We opted not to go for surgery due to the low life expectancy and his age, yesterday we noticed his stomach was very bloated and he was out of breath on his walk, we took him to the vets and scans showed lots of fluid in the abdomen which they thought to be blood, they think his spleen had ruptured. We decided yesterday not to have him in anymore pain and put him to sleep. We know it was the right thing to do for him and we think he was ready but cannot get the image out of our heads that we left him behind when he should be at home with his family. The house and our life feels so empty without him. Although he is no longer in pain, I feel like he is out there alone.


Carly
February 10, 2021

My fiance and I had to put our Labradoodle down yesterday because of this. So many of your stories match ours to a T and it makes me feel better about our decision. I'm still so torn up over not going through with the surgery. She had been lethargic for a few days and not eating but suddenly, had some of her energy back yesterday. It felt like she knew that this was the end and gave us a little bit of her back. We're devastated but I know that this was the right decision for her to not have to suffer. We miss her so much.


Vera
February 9, 2021

Hi Tony, Thank you for this great article and for the empathy towards the dogs and their owners. Unfortunately we lived through this anguish in the summer of 2019, when our 6 year old Akita suddenly stopped eating, walking, drinking. Of course we didn't know what was going on - sometimes she just had bad days in the past because of stomach bug. This time something told me she was dying and we rushed her to Emergency. We chose to do the surgery for the tumour in her liver on a slim chance that may be it wasn't a hemangiosarcoma. She was in ICU for 3 days but did not survive the surgery and had a cardiac arrest at 4 am. The vet always said the night was the most dangerous time. The biopsy, that came later, confirmed the worst. She was given every medicine, every kind of care possible, every protein where a bag of IV runs at $1000. We had insurance (Trupanion) who were incredible - when we called them, they just said - don't worry about the costs, do what's needed for your dog. It was a huge relief not to base our decisions based on the costs. Our total bill was CAD $23,000, we paid about $4,000 and the rest was covered. I am so sorry to see so many posts on the matter, knowing what everyone's been through!


Elizabeth Peters
February 2, 2021

My dog passed on 1/16/21, he started acting sick on 12/23 he couldn't walk, wouldn't eat. It was holiday time by time we got him to vet they thought he had a bacterial infection he was put on an antibiotic we were told to give it 3 days by that Saturday he was not better he was put in hospital for 4 days fluids and iv antibiotics, they said he could come home, he did seem like he was getting better then his gums turned white the vet had me pick up prednisone we did that for four days. The last day he really seemed to be getting better. He could almost walk on his own he started to seem like himself finally. Then after he got up from his nap he started panting really really fast, he felt cold, he looked bloated gums still about white, his temp was 98, his lung sounds reminded me of a baby's heartbeat that whooshing fast sound. I knew he wasnt going to make it. We carried him to car he wouldn't lie down all the way, the sat up put his head in the air and let out a terrible scream that I've never heard before and collapsed. I believe right then he had died in my backseat and know one claimed to know why, after research I think he bled out internally maybe from a unnoticeable tumor somewhere. This conclusion gives me comfort because I kept thinking maybe if my bf had believed me that my dog wasnt going to live through the night he would of got him in car sooner instead of 2-3 hours later, this all happened very late at night ending at 2:35am.


Jen
February 1, 2021

Just lost a pup this way. 13 yr old rescue Boston terrier-- she was the best. Laid around all day, then couldn't walk. Died in our arms. I've struggled thinking I failed her but I know she would have had to be put to sleep if she had made it to the vet. I think that would have been harder on us. She wasn't showing us or acting like she was in pain. Once the struggle to breathe started she went fast. Im so thankful you guys shared-- it really really has helped with the guilt that we are going through-- surviors guilt I guess.


Crystal
January 28, 2021

Our beloved rescue boy Dutch died this month from this awful disease.  He was a mutt mix of lab, rottweiler and who knows what else. He was around 9 years old and very healthy and energetic.  Suddenly he stood up with his head and tail hanging down and was walking very slowly, as if it hurt to move, or just had no energy.  Not at all like his normal energetic self.  We knew something was wrong immediately and rushed him to emergency vet.  He was given a transfusion and other medication to stabilize him for surgery.  He coded on the table when the vet rolled him over to his back to begin surgery.  They rolled him back to his side and were able to bring him back.  He coded again before they started surgery and they were unable to bring him back.  The vet believes the tumor may have rested on his aortic artery when they rolled him over onto his back and cut off his blood supply. They did everything they could.  We had never heard of this horrible disease and hope to never hear of it again.  We are devastated!


Chris
January 26, 2021

My American pit bull named Q had suddenly fell ill on 12/28/2020 and was rushed to the emergency vet that evening. Vet did X-ray and confirmed that a tumor had ruptured on his spleen. Paid almost 5k to have his spleen removed and everything was looking great. I knew my time with him would be limited but I wanted to give him the best last days of his life. 2 days after the surgery(the day I was supposed to bring him home) he fell ill and started having seizures. Vet suspected a blood clot went to his brain and he had passed while I was on my way to say goodbye. He had hemangiosarcoma and the surgery had taken a toll on his body. My heart goes out to all the other owners dealing with the loss of their dogs from this terrible disease.


Morgan Carlson
January 26, 2021

My sweet vizsla, Charley, is 2 and was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma 6 months ago. Obviously, after the initial splenectomy, I opted for chemo as she is so young. She did well on chemo and there were no masses seen at the end of treatment. Only 1.5 months after ending chemo, scans showed multiple masses on her liver and I decided to not go through chemo again. I’m devestated as she is so young and it’s just me and her in my home, but we have made the most of this last month. Hiking beautiful mountains, chasing all the ducks at the local greenway, eating all the peanut butter our tummies can handle and cuddling for hours on end. Charley is my best friend, my first “kid” (I’m 24) and she has helped me survive these first two years of medical school. I’m going to miss her so much but I know we were meant to have each other and I wouldn’t trade the short time I have gotten to spend with her for anything.


Carol
January 13, 2021

My Jack Russell cross whippet was literally felled by this silent killer 4 days ago on 9/1/21. She went on her usual walk, ate her breakfast which she vomited up about 10 minutes later. She was standing with her head bowed and tail between her legs. I mistook it for an upset tummy and carried her back to bed with me. She appeared to be relaxed and comfortable next to me. When she awoke her tail was wagging and she seemed herself, she refused her treat, drank some water and then went back into the bowed head pose started staggering. My husband picked her up and she let out an awful cry. We wrapped her in a blanket and rushed her to the vet 2 minutes away. On the way she was snuggling against me but I just knew we were losing her. As her gums were white and her abdomen swollen the vet suspected this dreadful disease and I chose to end her suffering. I am struggling to get over the shock at how quickly it took her. My heart is broken and I miss her so much. May all our forever pets RIP


Cory Davidson
January 7, 2021

My beloved Keesha is 13.  A brindle husky/lab/pit who has been an overweight 80 lbs most of her life.  For over 5 years I have been asking vets why her stomach always looks distended,  lumpy after eating.  And what about the little pee spots on the floor when she gets up from a nap. I have been asking them about that weird lump on her shoulder, and has been limping since age 7. 3 years ago she suddenly got weak in the back end, vets diagnosed hypothyroidism, and thyroid tabs. Along with chiropractic/acupuncture, she is on meloxicam and gabapentin for arthritic pain, thyroid, and incontinence meds (which did help) for the past 2+ years. Always the lump after eating ("oh, that'sjust how her stomach sits"), so I started feeding her smaller meals, and treating her with dehydrated raw food thoughout the day. She has been weaker in the back end for years, some days better than others.  Mostly happy, my little trooper, she lets me know how far we can walk each time, sometimes upset if I leave her to walk my little guy.  Throws toys at me, demanding more game-treats all day! This has been our life until this October, when she started licking herself a lot, and leaving big floods of pee when sound asleep. Took her in for a possible UTI, and was given antibiotics before the results were in. 5 days later, no infection showed on culture, and an increase of her Proin (incontinence med) seemed to help,  so I stopped the antibiotic, attributed it to older age.  One month later, she asks to go out at night, which she never does, and squats immediately, gushing, then bright red dripples in the snow.  I take her to ER, where they urinalysis AND FINALLY x-ray her abdominal area looking for stones.  What they find is a severly enlarged spleen.  Go figure. 7 days antibiotics,  recheck 3-5 days later. (7 days due to Christmas,  but she seemed fine and spunky, no leaking or bed wetting at all) Urinalysis Recheck, still bacteria found, culture taken, another 7 days of antibiotics (guessed at pending results, which turned out to be a good enough guess). Appt made for TODAY, for ultrasound with her primary vet. Except, on Sunday, she doesn't want ANY food that might have meds, is weak, tired, panting, uncomfortable all day.  Peeing dark yellow, and/or red wine.  Drinking tons. I take her to the ER, they do a fastscan, no apparent bleeding, no temp, seems well enough.  Wait for appt with primary.  3 days of a listless dog, eating some, drinking tons, peeing dark, a few perky moments, licking again this morning produces a house accident. I am on this site, been doing research now for days, wondering if there is hope for my girl, or if she won't be coming home today. I wanted to share my story, since so many of you lost your friends suddenly, with no warning.  That is awful, for sure.  It's no fun thinking there were warnings, either, when a little more attention could have been taken when we express concerns.  Thinking you and the vets are doing what you can, and realizing it's been brewing for YEARS. I don't know what I will be able to choose at our appt today.  Wish me luck!


Toni
January 5, 2021

My heart goes out to all of the pets and their owners who have commented here, I hope that with time we can all move past the pain of loss and remember just the good times. My beautiful German Shepherd took ill and started vomiting on Christmas Eve and after a rush visit to the emergency vets and blood tests, was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease which I understood to be uncurable, but we could expect many more months ahead with a change to a kidney diet. I took her home with some anti-nausea meds and changed her to a kidney friendly diet and she seemed to improve over the coming days, backed up by improved blood tests on New Years Eve. On the 2nd Jan she was a bit off her food, and on the evening of the 3rd was a bit wobbly and took to her bed and wouldn't move, so I hand fed her water and some food and spent the night by her side. In the morning her tummy looked swollen and I guessed she needed to go for a pee as she hadn't been since the afternoon before. She was a big dog and I couldn't lift her by myself, so once my husband came in we tried to get her standing but her back legs just collapsed and her breathing was very laboured. We took her straight back to the emergency vets and after further blood tests, it showed that her whole system was crashing and due to the swollen tummy they suspected internal haemmorrhage from a ruptured spleen or tumour. I agree with Elisa - when the vet was talking it was difficult to take it all in, especially being upset and having your beautiful friend laying ill in front of you. Luka would have been 13 at the end of this month and I couldn't bring myself to put her through scans and surgery when the chance of saving her was so slim, so I made that terrible decision to let her go. I stayed with her up to the end as I know she would have wanted me by her side. Even though I know it was 100% the right decision, it still broke my heart. I can't believe how quickly this all happened, but have to be thankful that I got to spend all of those precious years with her and to say goodbye at the end. Many thanks for this article as it really helps to understand what happened and to come to terms with it as part of the grieving process.


Mat Hafezi
January 3, 2021

I am so glad that I found this article after the sudden, shocking and totally unanticipated loss of our beloved 8 1/2 year old beautiful German Shepherd Livvie. We had to euthanize her after consulting with the ER vet on this New Years' eve of 12/31/2020. She was lethargic the day before, had lost some appetite for an ever voracious eater since she was a pup and then vomited 3 times, completely emptying her stomach with all the undigested food during that fateful 12/30 walk in the eve. On her last day, she was extra lethargic although as an ever trooper, we did go for a short walk and she did all her jobs! As the day progressed, she could not stop drinking and then urinating it all out almost as fast as she drank ultimately culminating wetting her bed (had never ever done this even when a pup!). The bed wetting in addition to a very enlarged stomach from the past eve made me to rush her to ER where we received the devastating news. In the past 2-3 days, we have been going through all the stages of grief that only us humans are capable of, but we are still resolute that we did make the courageous yet very difficult decision to let her go without more and further suffering. I have been through the suffering of past companions and I could not have been able to bear that process with our little Princess. Her name was Livvie and to us, she was the most perfect GSD that anyone could've ever dreamt of. Thank you for reading our sad tale and may you all be able to accept that you had also made the correct decision when you also finally get to this very sad juncture.


Elisa
December 27, 2020

Thank you for this article. We had to put our beautiful German Shep X down on the 24th of Dec. It was the most difficult decision of my life. When the vet was talking it was difficult to take in and I am continually asking myself if I did the right thing, was i hearing him correctly. Thank you for this article.


Debbie
December 1, 2020

Its definitely genetic as is pretty much everything in life. I have lost a fair few boxer dogs that i have bred over the years to hemangiosarcoma. My last girl died in my arms after collapsing. I knew exactly what she had as she had a breif collapse at thwe river about a year earlier and tested as low in iron but nothing else. A sinister disease it hides itself from general testing but any dog that suddenly collapses then tests with low iron when predominantly a meat eater is cause for suspicion of hemangio. Loved and lost so many Boxers but thats life.


Mary Anne Kochut
November 17, 2020

This happened to my beloved Wolfie on November 3rd. I had no idea what was going on and rushed him to the hospital. Wolfie was a certified therapy dog and brought job and comfort to people in the hospital and cancer center. I'm heartbroken beyond words. I came across this article searching for answers to see if there was anything I could have done. It's a little comforting to know that I made the 'right' choice, no matter how painful it was for me.


Stephen
November 17, 2020

My family just lost our 6 year old border collie to this. It happened so suddenly.


Danielle
November 8, 2020

Our Romeo is an 11 y/o standard poodle, who was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma a week ago.  Romeo also has addison and heart murmur; his doctor did not recommend a splenectomy. After the vet visit, we came home with some pain medication and was advised to call whenever we are ready to put Romeo to sleep. Today is the 7th day Romeo has been taken I'm-Yunity + Yunnan Baiyao. He is still very weak but starts showing signs of progress. Most importantly, his breath doesn't smell as bad as it used to the past few months. We're keeping our fingers crossed.


Dilys
November 7, 2020

Lost out beautiful girl Ruby just yesterday. She was a lab and celebrated her 14th birthday two weeks ago. I have never heard of this condition in a dog and I had no idea that it is so common. Pleased to find this site as now I know we made the right decision for her. RIP my lovely Rubes


Chris
October 22, 2020

Oct 4th I lost my Bella dog. We adopted her and sobwe think she was 12 or 13 now we fist thought she was 10 or 11years and had her for 9years. She always had grade 2 mast cells removed had a lymphoma and melonima removed. The morning of October 2nd she peed two big piles in my bed and didn't want to get up so I moved her off and then downed a whole water bowl. At first I thought she maybe had a bladder infection or something. I went out for an hour came back and she was not moving laying in clear liquid pile. I coaxed her to at least walk out the front door, she's 70lbs) and I picked her up in the car. Her body felt cold, pale gums and her mouth felt like sticking your hands in a bunch of ice cubes. The vet tech picked her up put of the car bc Bella could not move. I told them what was going on so 3mins later the vet comes in and right away draws blood out of her abdomen and said with her history of tumors she more then likely has one in her abdomen. He performed the surgery to remove her spleen due to that being the ruptured tumor. All her blood work and images looked great. He calls us Saturday night tells us he's confident she will recover shes eating and walking using the bathroom. Sunday oct4th 830am he tells us she didn't make it which he then strongly suspected it being cancer and the rupture resulted in overwhelming her bodys ability to fight it. She was on good pain meds and the vet stayed with her all weekend so she wasn't alone. We got the biopsy back confirming hemogroscorma. Two days before this her body felt a little cool and I thought it was from the windows bring open or cool inside and I will never forget by the time we got to the vets office her brown eyes turned so so dark almost black. Cancer is no joke no matter how many tunors you remove and survive. She was a special soul and a beating rottie shepherd mix. I hope everyone here can find the good and love they remember giving their furbabies.


Carol
October 20, 2020

This happened to my sweet yellow lab a year ago today. That morning started like every morning-she went outside, chased deer, came inside. I put her breakfast out and when she didn't come to get it, I found her lying on her side in the next room, already in shock, barely breathing, eyes wide, immobile. I knew there wasn't time to take her anywhere so I just knelt beside her and stroked her head and told her it was ok to go. She died in less than five minutes. Later when I moved her, it was obvious what had happened--that she had bled out internally. She was nine. In retrospect, the only signs in the weeks beforehand were slightly pale gums and some odd dry coughing,  The good news is she didn't suffer and she had a full life right up to the very end. I share this because before it happened I didn't know anything about Hemangiosarcoma and it helped me to talk to other people--vets and owners--who had experienced this devastating disease.


Anna
October 18, 2020

Less than 24 hours ago we had our beautiful 10.5 year old lab euthanized. It all went down in less than a couple hours from beginning to end. This dog is tough as nails and was doing zoomies in the backyard and finding pheasants just the day before. I kenneled him for about 45 minutes bc he was barking and being rambunctious out the window as usual. Came back to let him out and offered him a treat. He wouldn’t take it. This dog has never turned down food ever. He laid down in front of his treat and closed his eyes. It broke my heart right there I felt he was gone... his breathing was shallow and he was very unresponsive. That walk to get his treat was the last time he walked. We rushed him to the vet, upon X-ray they found the splenic tumor. His gums were white and he was freezing. We were presented with the option of driving over an hour for emergency surgery without assurance he’d make it or euthanize him. He did not look like he would survive the drive so we opted to euthanize him. Plus it would be 4K min to so the transfusion and surgery and still might die. I am still trying to make sense of it all and my mind is whirling with how quickly we had to make the decision. We called as many local clinics as quickly as we could and no one was willing to perform the surgery. My heart aches wondering if he would’ve made it or if we did the humane thing.


Mark Novak
October 17, 2020

Thank you for this most helpful article. Our 13 ur old cairn terrier, Thomas, died yesterday of spontaneous hemoabdomen. One minute he was happily running through the woods on his walk, and the next minute he was knocked to the ground by spontaneous hemoabdomen. We rushed him to the vet, but it was too late. He died within 45 minutes. He didn’t appear to suffer.


Tony
October 12, 2020

We lost our 10 year old Maltese this past week.He grew a tumor on his Spleen this summer and we had it removed in late July, we was doing chemo and taking the herbal supplements. Was doing great, 2-3 walks a day, eating a lot and his vet appointment was great a week before two hours after we went on a walk his he lost both his back legs and had internal bleeding we put him down the next day.We were in shock and it's still extremely sad. When you read its extremely sudden and unpredictable they're 100% right. I don't wish this upon any dog


Elizabeth
October 1, 2020

Just lost my ten year old GSD to this. Words cannot convey....


Nellie
September 7, 2020

I just experienced this 2 days ago. I'm 'step'mum to our Newfoundland Indi. She was fine one minute and the next her legs gave out. I called her Dad told him she wasn't able to walk. I just recently broke my neck and back So I couldn't drive and she was 55kg more than 10kg heavier than myself. She started to deteriorate but her gums were still fairly pink. A few hours later I called the emergency pet ambulance and they arrived about 2hrs later and took her straight to emergency. They tested for everything - shaved her looking for bites or ticks. Nothing. Snake bite test. Rodenticide. Nothing. Then by 3 that afternoon she presented with irreversible haemorrhaging (bruises came up on her stomach) and I got a call to say she wouldn't make it. This killed me. I ubered to the emergency vet and they euthanized her in my arms. This broke me. I'm crying now. There we no other signs - she went to the toilet normally. Ate normally and was reacting fine. They thought it was ITP at first but the blood pooling bruising indicated cancer and rupture. $10000 for a blood transfusion but no guarantee after such trauma. I'm devastated and trying to find a reason and questioning everything. Asking questions about her food, what I could have done differently, whether she'd accidently eaten medication or anything thrown over the fence. I scoured that garden, and the house. I'd taken her to the vet at the beginning of the week and given antibiotics for a possible infection. Could they have spotted it then before this? Could I have? I can't be alone in the House without her.


Marion Boudreau
August 23, 2020

Hemangiosarcoma is an evil disease. I lost my sweet girl Vegas on Oct 9, 2018. One day she was fine, the next she was bleeding to death in her abdomen. She was only 10 years old but acted much younger. She was supposed to be a pit bull/lab mix but looked more like a Lab. She was so beautiful. Her only fault was she could not stand other dogs, so it was a really difficult production to get her to the vet. But otherwise she was just a big cuddle bug. She woke me up early in the morning of the 8th, shaking uncontrollably. I called the vet but they were closed but the vm gave me the number of another emergency vet. I was told to bring her in at 8 am. In the meantime I took her outside where she had a big poop and she seemed to feel better. We went back to bed for a while and got up about 7 am to get ready for the vet. She had to go out again and had another big bm. She seemed to feel fine then so I called the vet to let them know she was feeling better. They said to bring her in if anything changed. I wish I hadn't waited. She laid on the couch most of the day. That evening she started whimpering and crying. She got up and laid on the floor a while then went into the bedroom and laid down beside the bed. It was then I realized that something was very wrong because she was too weak to get onto the bed. I called the vet and was told to bring her right in. When we got there they noticed right off that her abdomen was distended and her gums were pale. They weighed her and she was only 70 lbs. She was previously about 90 lbs! They did an ultrasound and found an ugly grapefruit-sized mass on her spleen and the vet said her heart didn't sound right either and on the ultrasound it looked like there was fluid around her heart. They tested her blood and her clotting factor was extremely low. They told me that they could give her blood transfusions and possibly do a splenectomy but her chances of surviving the operation were very low and if she did survive she might not live for very long because this kind of tumor can spread to her other organs. The vet suspected that it already may have spread to her heart. The operation,drugs, transfusions, etc would cost over $6000. All the while Vegas was lying on a blanket, barely conscious. I was told that the kindest thing to do for her was to let her go. The vet left me with her for a while and I held her on my lap told her how much I loved her. I don't know if she could hear me or not. Then the vet came back and gave her the 2 needles, one to make her sleep and the second to stop her heart. It was the hardest thing I have ever done to leave her lifeless body there. It still seems like yesterday. All I have left are her ashes and memories. But the house is so empty now and I can't stop missing her. So much.


Jennas mom
August 7, 2020

My 10 yr old golden suddenly collapsed in June, we rushed her to the hospital and we are told it is a hemangiossrcoma on her heart. They did not biopsy it bc they say it is too risky to do on a heart tumor. We have done radiation and chemo and it is early August and she seems ok for now. Also giving her I’mYunity, which reportedly has good results and anti-tumor properties. She loves her daily walks and her appetite is really good. Doing everything we can. Love her so much!


Lia
July 14, 2020

I lost my Mimi on July 5th. It helps to frame it like a heart attack because it came out of nowhere. Luckily, due to the pandemic, I spent so much beautiful time with my girl. She lived life to the fullest until her last hours., I’m heartbroken.


Elizabeth Falloon
June 4, 2020

Somewhat comforting to know they’re others who experienced similar with my maxi


Steve C.
March 10, 2020

My 11.5 year old yellow lab, Daisy, was dx, via ultrasound, with an small spenic mass in November 2019 and the FNA on the mass was inconclusive for malignancy.  Nonetheless, we were going to schedule her for a splenectomy and biopsy after the Holidays were over, but she passed away unexpectedly on February 17, 2020- a two weeks before her surgery.  The mass must have ruptured during the night and she bled out within hours- we had absolutely no warning, since she was eating, drinking and playing all day with no issues to speak of.  Her passing was very, very sudden and my only advice is not to wait on the surgery, in order to avoid the sudden loss of a dear friend and family member.  My only hope was that she did not suffer at all, but I'm sure that she did, since she passed at home without any medical intervention to ease her pain.  Get the surgery and the piece of mind of knowing that you did all you could for your best friend.


Donna Brazill
January 10, 2020

Our little guy, Joey, age 14 had a splenectomy several months ago. Of course we were just sick that he might not make it through the surgery. He did! I cried all the way home and held my breath when the vet called and not the tech. He made it just fine and was letting them know he was ready to go home. He was running and carrying on like a puppy within a couple of days.  He is still doing wonderfully well. Eats like a little pig and back to being a cranky, older Lhasa. Much more appetite than he ever had before. It was a very difficult decision to make, but the thought of him possibly dying alone while we were at work due to a painful rupture was also an awful thought. The tumor was benign, but it was using 25% of his blood flow each day. Amazing how he had any energy at all prior to the surgery. We have an amazing vet who explained every detail of the procedure and that helped a lot. Now if we could just cure his congestive heart failure....


Hazel Sonnier
December 23, 2019

I took my Corgi to the vet due to her having some type of an episode the day before on the weekend. She seemed to have some type of seizure or slight stroke, couldn't stand, walk or hold head up for about 10 minutes and labored panting. She will be 13 on May3rd/2020. She's the queen at our home and has always been an inside furbaby. No summer heat or winter cold for her! Anyway, I had her there at opening and x-rays were taken of her belly, since the Dr could feel a large mass. She has Hemangiosarcoma. My life stood still for the next few minutes. She was given a week at the most and as few as days at best. My world came crashing down today. She was put on 4 medicines, 1 for swelling and 3 for pain. The mass is large and pushing her other organs upward and outward. We talked of the only 2 options and she thought taking her home was good maintaining her level of pain till mass ruptures and she dies. OMG... this is our baby and I can't believe she is dying. She has always been so healthy, no surgeries nothing! I took her afterward to her favorite place (Sonic) and got her a large double cheeseburger and she ate all! She loves riding on the golf-cart so we rode for 2 hours and visited the park and just hung out on a beautiful day. Tonight hubby and I are going on the cart to look at Christmas lights through our golfing community. Tomorrow rerun of today and every day afterward. Zoey's younger brother and sister won't leave her alone sniffy and loving on her. They sense or smell this dreaded disease or death. All 3 sleep next to one another and all 3 are inside furbabies....Boo/Golden & Ella/Australian Shephard, but Zoey/Corgi is the alpha. A 110 pound and 75 pound knows she's the boss and was here 1st! lol  Prayers Appreciated!


Molly Jari
January 9, 2017

Thank you for this article and all the information you share.  Also to everyone who writes in with their experience.  I am constantly looking for any new information on hemangiomasarcoma. My dog was dx with a 10 cm splenic mass 16 months ago - assumed HSA. She was almost 12 at the time and like Sara (April 2016 post) chose not to try the surgery for splenectomy.  My dog is doing amazingly well. below is a link to our blog if you're interested in how we are working with diet, herbals, exercise and homeopathy to support her health.  I realize every case is different and do not want to imply that we have found a cure, we have not, but there may be some support here if your dog is still living with hemangioma - sarcoma or any other cancer. https://nurturingtheessenceoflife.wordpress.com/


Nmltec
November 20, 2016

I came across this article when doing a search for why a dog with hemoabdomen would code under anesthesia. I am a certified vet tech, having graduated from Tech school in 2007. I've run anesthesia thousands of times and have never had one code during. Until this weekend. It was an 11y, MN, Golden. Everything was going good until it wasn't. He presented recumbent, and dx with hemoabdomen. Fluids were bolused, pre-med given, intubated, scrubbed, then he went agonal. The cause of hemorrhage could not be found, but mets were everywhere. I understand that he was level 5 surgical risk, but it stills troubles me that this happened.


Sara
April 17, 2016

My dog was diagnosed with a splenic mass in November 2014. I looked into the options and decided to take him home with no medical interventions.  He is still here. Now I wish I had done the surgery as it must be benign, but a year and a half later I just can put Him through this surgery at 12. A very difficult situation.


NancyKersey 
April 22, 2015

What a great spot on article- so well written. I've come to expect nothing less of Dr Tony Johnson. Incredibly intelligent educator- I "stalk" him on  VIN. His sense of humor goes a long way too. Thanks for a fantastic article on a horrid disease.


Renee M 
April 21, 2015

I've dealt with a hemangiosarcoma of the heart. . only reason we caught it was he had pneumonia. . .a horrid horrid freaking disease


Linda Baitz 
April 21, 2015

I lost 3 furry daughters within 14 months, Jan 2014-March 2015, all over 15 yrs old, the last, a Siberian huskie on her 16th b-day.  When it was our shitzu's time we took her to her dr. and he told us he thought that we would have been back within a month of her tumor removal,7 months prior,  because it was such a nasty looking cancer. I am glad he didn't tell us because we wouldn't have not let her live like nothing was wrong.  She went about her day being the boss of all of us and being her loveable bratty self.


Mike Fuller 
April 21, 2015

We just had to put down Kalie a 13 yr old love of our lives. My better-half Marti is a vet and retired, she gave me the bad news just as the vet who was treating her came in with the same news. We had 13 yrs with a wonderful friend. RIP my love


Connie Moore 
April 21, 2015

My dog Wiggles a 12-year-old male Pekingese was unfortunate to have a splenic mass that weighed 1.3 pounds taken from his body that turned out to be his histiosarcoma.  He is now on chemotherapy taking lomustine and has been doing well although lately we've had about swear he doesn't like to eat and he got a little sick a week ago but is slowly recovering I'm fortunate enough to work in a veterinary emergency clinic where I can provide chemotherapy for my dog at a discounted rate but I totally understand where that doctors coming from he is our baby and we will keep him here with us until he tells us it's time for him to go and at that point I hope to bring him home and do the same thing make him leave his final days like there's no tomorrow we love him so much.


 


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