Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
Among the many medical maladies affecting dogs, a ruptured, bleeding tumor on the spleen is sure quite devastating. This article is not to scare pet owners but rather to spread awareness of a malignant form of cancer known as "hemangiosarcoma."
The first time I was made aware of this condition was when an owner dropped off a dead dog at the veterinary hospital I worked for. As I filed the chart with the acronym DOA, "dead on arrival," the owner told me as she sobbed that one moment her dog was in the yard, the next she called him back inside to no reply. As she went outside to see whether he was busy chasing squirrels again, she found his body on the ground.
To gain closure with a possible explanation, the owner had brought in the body and requested a necropsy. The vets performed it, and the missing piece of the puzzle was found: the dog had a ruptured, bleeding spleen, the result of a silent form of cancer that went by the name of hemangiosarcoma.
On another occasion, with a less devastating outcome, an owner brought in a dog, who, minutes earlier (at home), got an itch, scratched his ears, and all of a sudden he's back legs splayed, and he appeared frightened and started shaking. This was an emergency appointment because the owner thought the dog had a seizure.
The dog had chest x-rays, which revealed a suspicious enlargement, and then later, the dog was sent to get an ultrasound which revealed a ruptured spleen, and a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) was performed. The spleen was then sent off to IDEXX for evaluation by a pathologist. In this fortunate case, the histopathology report revealed it was a non-cancerous case of tissue overgrowth (hyperplasia). Not all masses of the spleen are necessarily cancerous, hemangiomas, hematomas, and hyperplasias are the benign versions of spleen masses.
What Does the Spleen Do?
The spleen is one of those organs that you hardly hear about until there is some sort of trouble going on there. This vascular organ, which sits in the left forward part of the abdomen, just under the stomach to which it's attached by the gastrosplenic ligament, acts as a blood filter, removing old blood cells and working along with the immune system in defending the dog's body from disease.
The spleen also acts as a reservoir for red blood cells. Humans and dogs can virtually live without this dark-red organ that is supplied with numerous blood vessels, and their lives wouldn't be jeopardized by its absence.
If you think this is a rare type of cancer, think again. The Golden Retriever Club of America National Health Survey found that among golden retrievers, the chances for developing hemangiosarcoma in a lifetime was 1 in 5. This is the most common cancer affecting this breed, but it also affects many other breeds such as the German shepherd, Rottweiler, Portuguese Water Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Dane, Flat-Coated Retriever, English Setter, Pointer, Boxer, Doberman and Skye Terrier.
It's estimated that this cancer accounts for 5 to 7% of all tumors seen in dogs. It preferably affects mostly dogs in their senior years, generally between the ages of 6 and 13, but can also be seen occasionally in younger dogs. Being aware of this cancer is important, as there are steps to reduce its incidence, and in some cases, there may be slight warning signs that may raise a flag. In the next paragraphs, we will get a closer look at this type of cancer affecting canines.
Knowledge Is Power: Introducing Canine Hemangiosarcoma
First of all, let's get to know this type of cancer better. We are talking about a very invasive form of cancer, known to affect almost exclusively dogs, and to a much smaller extent, cats. It's a cancer involving the cells that line the blood vessels (endothelial cells) and can be found under the form of a tumor on the spleen, right heart base, or liver or even the skin. In this article, we will be mostly tackling hemangiosarcoma of the spleen which is the most common, and also the most common cause for bleeding within the abdomen.
Because hemangiosarcomas are fed by blood vessels and thus very vascular, they tend to fill up with blood and eventually rupture, causing life-threatening hemorrhages. This cancer is highly invasive, meaning that it spreads rapidly to other organs. From the spleen, the cancer may therefore spread to the liver or the lungs or even to the brain and the heart.
As mentioned, this condition doesn't typically cause pain, and there may be no particularly evident clinical signs. As it happened to the owner who stepped into our clinic with a dead dog, it can happen that owners do not realize their dog is affected until the dog collapses and drops dead.
Symptoms Suggesting Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs
Dogs affected by this condition may, therefore, never show signs of being affected by a devastating, life-threatening disease that causes blood vessel abnormalities. Initially, though, the dog may have slight bleeding within the abdomen that may go unobserved, even by the most attentive owners.
Tumors of the spleen tend to bleed chronically, slowly and generally in small amounts before rupturing and causing a large bleed with obvious symptoms. Some dogs may therefore appear slightly lethargic and weak but this symptom is rather transient and the dog may soon recover (even within 14 hours) as new blood cells are made.
Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, enlarged abdomen (also known as ascites, which occurs when a large amount of blood is lost and the abdominal wall stretches to accommodate it), weakness in the back legs, mild anemia and a slight increase in liver enzymes.
However, despite these symptoms, as mentioned, eventually, the large growing tumor will rupture, causing:
- severe bleeding,
- distended abdomen,
- pale-colored tongue and gums,
- rapid heart rate,
- weak pulse,
- followed by collapse, shock and death.
Treatment for Canine Hemangiosarcoma
When discovered at its early stages, treatment can be initiated, but this condition has an overall poor prognosis. Blood transfusions are often necessary for canine patients with severe anemia. Depending on the stage of the cancer, parts of the spleen or the entire spleen may be removed (splenectomy). According to PetMD, this could prolong the dog's life for just about 3 months, but more time can be bought if surgery is accompanied by chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, survival times, despite surgical and chemo treatment remain rather short, generally no more than 6 months. Dogs who have a tumor of the spleen without rupture generally have a better prognosis compared to a splenic tumor that has ruptured, according to the Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America, Inc. In cases that are inoperable, it was found that chemo alone still yielded a decent response in about 40% of patients, with the median survival time being 13–190 days, according to Marvista Vet.
Veterinarian Wendy C Brooks explains that at the time of the splenectomy, it may not be known yet whether the tumor is benign or malignant. According to the GRCA Health & Genetics Committee, it's estimated that approximately one-half of splenic tumors are benign. However, even if the mass is benign, it can still be quite dangerous. The spleen, being very vascular, can still easily rupture and dump a massive amount of blood that can be life threatening.
Owners should therefore discuss in advance with their vet what to do during the surgery. If, upon opening your dog up, the vet finds that the cancer has spread to other organs, would you elect euthanasia? Would you want the spleen removed and try chemotherapy? Would you want your dog closed up, and the spleen left alone and your dog awakened? These are important decisions to make beforehand.
Despite the surgical removal of the spleen, with a splenectomy, even though the dog is probably spared from bleeding to death once the spleen is surgically removed, the dog will still have to deal with the cancer in the first place that most likely has now spread. The prognosis, therefore, remains poor.
What happens if nothing is done? Failure to remove the spleen leads to the inevitable life-threatening hemorrhage. Owners would therefore have to keep an eye on those gums and behavior as it's a matter of when rather than if it will happen.
What can owners do if symptoms suggest an ongoing hemorrhage? According to veterinarian Wendy C. Brooks, applying an ace bandage snugly around the belly and applying pressure to the bleed can be surprisingly effective—at least until you get to the vet's office. Ask your vet on how to do this for details.
Surgery may seem like the best approach, but removal of this organ can still lead to complications. While dogs can live without a spleen, owners of deep-chested dogs must keep in mind that once the spleen is removed, the stomach has more room and may be prone to bloat and torsion in a predisposed dog. For this reason, owners under the vet's advice often elect to get stomach tacking (preventative gastroplexy) to prevent torsion at the same the splenectomy is done.
Non-Traditional Treatment Options
And what about non-traditional options? Some studies by Penn Vet have revealed interesting results using from the Coriolus versicolor mushroom, commonly known as the "Yunzhi mushroom." Another promising product known to help boost the immune system is turkey tail.
A role in preventing this devastating disease is played by breeders since it affects more some breeds and bloodlines than others, suggesting a heritable factor. For instance, 1998 studies found that 61.8 percent of American goldens die from cancers such as hemangiosarcomas, lymphosarcomas, mast-cell tumors and osteosarcoma; whereas, only 38.8 percent of goldens from English bloodlines are affected by cancer, according to a British Kennel Club (KC) study.
This seems to suggest that certain bloodlines have heritable factors that risk being passed on to future generations. Yet, we cannot ignore the fact that good health is often a combination of nature and nurture, in other words, good genes and optimal care by responsible owners through a healthy diet, good exercise regimen and protection from chemical exposure also play a role.
Breeds predisposed to hemangiosarcoma of the spleen may benefit from yearly ultrasounds of the spleen starting at age 5. Ultrasounds can show in what state the spleen is and if there are any blood-filled cavities. If a tumor is found on the spleen, it's worthy to also do an ultrasound of the heart since there are chances it may be affected as well, which seems to occur in about 25 percent of cases. If there's proof of spread to the heart, the patient will likely not be a good candidate for surgery and the prognosis is poor because of metastasis.
On top of that, the vet may palpate the abdomen for a firm mass in the area of the spleen every 6 months to check for any abnormalities, suggests veterinarian Amy Haase. Routine blood work also done every 6 months in predisposed breeds over the age of 10 may help as well. Mild anemia may be one important clue that grants further diagnostics.
Hemangiosarcoma Remains a Significant Veterinary Challenge
Sadly, still, as of today, hemangiosarcoma remains one of the most challenging, mysterious conditions encountered in modern veterinary practice. It's unfortunate that in the last 20 to 30 years, no particular advances were made in the treatment of this condition. Most likely, this is due to the fact that humans don't typically get hemangiosarcoma, so there's limited funding for research.
However, there are opportunities for dogs to participate in research to help better understand this condition, and several organizations like the AKC Canine Health Foundation are actively working to support research studies revolving around several kinds of cancer. Hopefully, things will look brighter in the next coming years.
Dog Cancer Veterinarians Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger Discuss About Hemangiosarcoma
- Signs of Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer) in Dogs
Learn more about the signs of osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, in dogs' legs. Please see your vet if you notice any limping suspicious swelling in your dog's legs.
- Are Dog Lipomas Cancerous?
If your suspect your dog has a lipoma or your vet diagnosed a lipoma in your dog, you may wonder if it is cancerous. While for the most part lipomas are benign, you should learn to recognize potential risks.
- Can Previous Injuries Cause Bone Cancer in Dogs?
Are previous injuries risk factors for bone cancer in dogs? When we think of bone cancer in dogs, we must consider risk factors. Let's take a look at what the experts have to say.
- What Happens During a Pet's Euthanasia Appointment
Learn what to expect at your pet's euthanasia appointment. Understand the origin of the term ''to put to sleep'' and how the procedure is carried out.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: If an X-ray is done and shows an enlarged spleen what should be done for my dog?
Answer: If your vet found an enlarged spleen then more investigation is needed. An ultrasound can detect signs of spread to neighboring abdominal organs. A CT scan may reveal if there are any other distant organs affected which may be suggestive of metastatic cancer. Blood work may reveal if there is any anemia, suggesting bleeding from the spleen. Based on these findings, the vet may then suggest removal of the spleen and biopsy and/or a consult with an oncologist.
© 2015 Adrienne Farricelli
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 29, 2020:
Colleen, many owners of dogs with hemangiosarcoma keep on hand Yunnan Baiyou in case of a bleed. It can help smaller splenic bleeds, but won't typically work much on larger, catastrophic ones. The packet has a red emergency pill in the middle of the blister that is meant to give for emergencies. The orange pills instead some dog owners give as a preventive. Ask your vet if your dog may benefit from this.
My Rottie had a spleen tumor and there were days were she was very weak and we thought that was it. I used to give her the emergency pill, and she got better for some time, then she got weak again, much more significantly this time, so gave it again, this time 3 pills. She survived that, then finally must have gotten a major bleed and nothing helped. She had stopped eating and passed away at home.
Every situation of course is different. We were at home with her 24/7 and were able to help her out on days she wasn't able to get up on her own.
Colleen on August 28, 2020:
My 14 yo Buddy was recently diagnosed with a splenic mass and I am really at a loss of what to do. If any of you who have posted and had an emergency situation with a collapse of your pup, do you wish you would have known in advance and had your pup put to sleep before the mass had a chance to rupture?
I just can't swallow the idea of saying goodbye too soon. What if it isn't going to rupture for 6 months, or what if it never does? I do know he is already having small bleeds because of bloodwork and the heavy panting. But otherwise, he is just his goofy, loving self.
Any advice is so greatly appreciated!
Sherry Dickerson on July 21, 2020:
Wendy, so sorry about your Rudy, That sounds so devastating, especially happening so suddenly. I lost my Jack, a husky, about 4 weeks ago to a ruptured mass on his spleen too. It was similar in that he seemed to be swaying then all of a sudden his legs splayed out from under him. After trying to lift him without success, he laid there for about 5 minutes seeming to slowly come out of it and eventually sat up, so I thought it was must have been a seizure too. We were getting ready to take him to the vet when he started to stand and walk, but the whole thing happened again. We laid him on a blanket and got him in the car. I luckily was able to hold his sweet upper body in my arms and he held his head up on my chest looking up at me all the way there, seeming now more peaceful and secure. So precious and so sweet. I was thinking it was likely something manageable and we would likely get something like seizure meds and be able to take him home. However, they did an ultrasound and found the rupture with a lot of blood in his abdomen and they believed the blood loss was causing his weakness and the shakiness when standing that seemed like a seizure and made him collapse. The devastating news was that even with surgery he would probably only live at most 3 months. I got him from a rescue too, and they did not know if he was 11 or 7 when we got him, and that was 4 and a half years ago, So I knew the surgery would be hard on him and it would be hard for him to be left there without me while he was going through this, if he did have a surgery and the idea of recovery at his age sounded difficult and prolonged. there was also a 66% chance they said that it was malignant. It was awful but there really did not seem to be another option but to have him peacefully put to sleep, The doctor said the whole thing would just continue from losing blood, until he passed, so there was no sending him home to pass as that woud be emotionally difficult for him to keep going through that. I miss him so terribly. He was absolutely the sweetest dog to everyone. He never barked at anyone, and loved everyone, So sweet and actually was thoughtful, for example to an elderly shepherd I took care of for someone for two weeks a few years ago, He would keep stopping and looking back at her to wait for her whenever we went for a walk. The more days that go by the more I realize he is gone forever and it is horrible. I miss him terribly. But I need to focus on what a gift he was, while I did have him in my life. He truly taught me so much just by his presence. I imagine you are going through this similarly as it was not long ago for either of us, so my hope for both of us is that we will know they are in our hearts and can take comfort in that,
Melanie Bosch-Reitz on July 07, 2020:
I lost my beautiful 15 year old golden retriever Sasha last November to a mass in the abdomin. I still cry for her. My heart is broken.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 16, 2020:
Hi Wendy, losing a dog is so hard. They are our babies, the give us so much unconditional love and they fill our home with joy. May all the good memories help you during this challenging time. RuRu was loved until the end and was blessed for having you.
wendy on June 15, 2020:
We lost our beloved yellow lab Rudy yesterday from this also. He was the light of our lives, our fur child and my first dog. I came home and he didn't greet me at the door - called RuRu where are you? He came from the bedroom into the livingroom zigzagging with his head down and eyes out of focus and collapsed on the floor. Oh noooooo! I was gone only 5 hours and he was completely fine when I left, playing with a ball and wagging as he always did. I thought he may have had a stroke? We got him in the car with towels as he couldn't walk. They got him in the same way into the ER. Ruptured spleen, internal bleeding, labored breathing, his paws were very cold. We decided to have him euthanized after we heard the prognosis. Hardest thing I think I have ever done. I held him while he passed. It was a rough night and has been a rough day today. He used to wag his tail in his sleep, I'm sure dreaming about his ball. Happy, kind, loving boy who never met a person who didn't love him instantly and we will miss him forever. Our hearts are broken, but reading the article and all of the posts make it at least make some sort of sense. I'm so sorry for all of your losses. Our sweet boy was a rescue who we think was at least 13. Hope they will find a cure someday. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 10, 2020:
Andy, so sorry about your golden being diagnosed with this horrible cancer. I lost a dog to spleen cancer last year and it's very saddening. It breaks your heart.
Andy on March 09, 2020:
So this just happened to us. Our beautiful Golden, Sophie, was doing great at 7 years and 3 months. Today, she vomited yesterday's food. We thought she finally swallowed a sock, because she was always teasing us with them from the laundry room. We took her in and the diagnosis indicated a ruptured spleen. During surgery they found an aggressive metastases of this horrible cancer and no safe surgical solutions. We are lost without our beautiful girl. We love you, Sophie!!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 20, 2019:
Betsy, so sorry your Pry was diagnosed with this horrible cancer. It is so sad when dogs get cancer. God speed.
Betsy Sharp on October 06, 2019:
My beautiful Great Pyrenees has just been diagnosed with cancer of the spleen and his heart is involved as well. I had taken him in for an ear infection and this was found. He is 11 years old and Wed evening our vet will come out and help him cross the Rainbow Bridge. We elected to do this because it has progressed and i didnt want him to suffer. My husband and I will be with him as well as his sister Greta and our yellow Lab Riley. We are devasted our big lovable handome boy is so sick. The vet also said his lungs are filling, so he is on steroids, antibiotics and lasix until she can get to the ranch. Its so hard to let them go and i want to keep him but we will let him go in dignity.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 27, 2019:
So sorry for your loss. Milo was fortunate to have had such a loving owner. May all the good memories prevail in this time of sadness. My deepest condolences. This cancer is horrible.
wayne cameron on September 19, 2019:
I just lost my best friend of 12 + years love little jack russell named milo,
she was a lovely dog she was full of energy then a few months ago stared slowing dow i just put it to getting older ,
then 2 weeks ago she was very slow not her usual self to to vets she had animia and the vet gave her a blood transfusion i took her home a coulpe of days later gave her the meds vet had given her ,
she seemed to be dioing ok then she just got very weak again , took her to a different vet he gave her ultra sound and saw a tumor in her spleen and we agreed on surgury to remove the tumor , i got a call later that day from the vet he said when he opendhe up the liver had cancer and he wont remove the sleen and suggested ethenasia as she would only live a few more days so i agreed as she was suffering enough and the initial surgury to remove the spleen she would have been in a lot of pain ,
she was my best mate we lived alone just her and i ,now i am fully devastaed cant stop crying she was always one step behind or in front of me , we grew together and now she has gone i feel lost , sorry if the spelling is not quiet right but i am in tears typing this ,
Wayne and Milo .
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 18, 2019:
Darlene, so sorry for your loss. You tried your best. This disease is horrible.
darlene p on June 09, 2019:
we just lost our Beautiful GSD Buddy yesterday. He had weak legs and spinal surgery 2 years ago so when he began laying down more and not eating as much we thought it was his legs again since he had trouble getting up. He was also on Galliprant for his arthritis and cytopoint shots for his allergies. I took him to the vet every2/3 weeks. I even went this past monday. I felt like something wasn't right. They did a full blood work and check up. All came back fine. We started him on prednisone for his legs. That was mon. By friday he was heavily panting and did not want to get up at all. His stomach was very distended. We rushed him to hospital- his abdomen was full of blood. They did ultrasound and found very large tumor on spleen and nodules on lungs. We opted for surgery but when they went in they said more tumors were in his belly and liver. We had to make that terrible decision- I held him in my arms while he was still under anesthesia and told him how loved he is. We are heartbroken. I did everything I can to keep him healthy and this happens. I can't imagine how nothing showed on blood work but I'm told that is normal.
Monika on April 16, 2019:
My boxer has the same diagnosis. But started to cough a blood, so we took him to vet, couple of x ray, they said its pneumonia. So antibiotics, but after week it wasnt better. So again xray, and they didnt like it. So test bloods, ultrasounds.. and they found out he has mass next to aorta. Had to start heart therapy (because of arytmery), so we can CT screen. And CT screen discovered tumor on spleen 10 cm big, small on liver, one at heart and one on lungs:( Vet said that taking the spleen out would give him 2-3 months live prognosis max. So honestly dont know. Currently has diarrhea. Difficult to decide when to make him sleep....
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 10, 2019:
Hi Mary, so sorry for your loss. I think vets assume GI issues because they are more common. They go by the popular saying "when you hear hooves think horses and not zebras" but sadly in older dogs, cancer is very high and should be screened for in my opinion more often. My dog had a different kind of spleen cancer and was treated for many months as having IBD (irritable bowel disease) when in reality those were the first signs of cancer. In hindsight, I wished I pushed for an ultrasound earlier, but like your dog, she had ups and downs and I always attributed them to her IBD. But at the end, the cancer would have progressed nonetheless. It's so tough to lose them! Keep all the good memories tight at this difficult time.
Mary G on April 08, 2019:
We had to put our big brown lab baby to sleep last week less than a year ago he vomiting and had diarrhea we took him to the vet they didn’t do ultrasound only blood work they diagnosed him with pancreatitis gave him meds and he got better we put him on sensitive stomach food he was doing great he would of been 12 this month he had his days of wanting to lay around and was getting hard for him to get up but if you brought out a gun he turned into a teenager. Last week my husband woke up around four in morning and heard him throwing up so he put him outside and he didn’t come back my husband found him laying under a trailer and had to go to work so told me where he was I went to check on him and he tried to stand but couldn’t get out friends came and helped me get him to the vet. Ultrasound showed alot of blood in abdominal and his gums white they gave us no hope so we decided not to have pain. He laid in my arms and went to sleep. Why didn’t they look for it the first time I don’t understand and totally lost without him just emptiness I wonder if I did the right thing thanks for listening
LaineG on April 04, 2019:
Reading everyone’s story about their beloved pet has been truly wonderful. I am happy to see outpouring and unconditional love for our special companions. Saying goodbye to our family members is devastating and creates a void in our hearts. Allowing our pets to die with the dignity they deserve is the ultimate gift we can give to them as they have imprinted a lifetime of memories upon us. I hope you can open your heart to allow another special friend into it and provide a wonderful life for in your pets memory. It’ll help mend the void.
My girl, Addison, was recently diagnosed with this. I originally thought I was going to have to euthanize her due to her symptoms. I began noticing distention in her abdomen that seemed to increase in size by the hour. Next thing she lost interest in her food. This carried on for two days. Then the night of the second day without food was when she began heavily panting and lifting her chin to the ceiling with a wide eyed stare. She would stand immobile for a couple of minutes with this look. I called my mother who lives an hour away and said she was actively dying not knowing what was going on with her. I called an in home hospice Vet to come and check on her. She notified me she had a mass on her spleen that has either ruptured or broken a piece off and is causing internal bleeding. She said dogs get into that stance with head to the ceiling and wide eyed look when the tumor is bleeding. They then will become hypovolemic and either loss consciousness or have difficultly breathing. They also will have a bounding heart and almost double the respiration. The vet wasn’t avaible to come out for two days after this began, so I spoke with a Vet friend regarding symptoms and was instructed to give lasix to reduce the load of fluid. It seemed like Addison’s lungs had filled with fluid too along with the abdominal distention from blood. By the time the vet arrived for a possible in home euthanasia visit Addison’s condition had improved. She was eating again, greeting visitors at the door, barking, and trying to play with toys but would still have episodes of shortness of breath. The vet said her body must have absorbed some of the blood along with the lasix removing the fluid. I was told this slcould be a curative condition if the tumor is benign. The spleen can be removed along with any spots that could be on the liver and the dog recovers. However, you do not notice symptoms until it’s already enlarged and bleeding with the possibility of spreading to other organs mainly the liver, lungs, and possibly the lymphatic system. You can also elect chemo if your pet is able to withstand. She gave Addison 3-6 months left to live and said that her death should be quick and painless. Our vet said it would be an ideal natural death, but if she does happen to go into distress then it would be best to euthanize, but sometimes it’s too late when they are at that state. She reassured me that she’s not in any pain, but being unable to breathe does make them scared and cause distress just as you would see in human’s who suffer from pulmonary disease. Addison is on CBDs (Highly recommended) prednisone, lasix,tramadol (if needed) and an appetite stimulant, but that is unnecessary. I’m providing her with liver to assist with red blood cell growth and I’m looking into the turkey tail. I just want my baby to be comfortable and to not suffer with a happy quality of life for her remainder time on this earth. She’s still full of life and wants to play, but has trouble at night when she wants to lay on her side but can’t because the tumor pushes on her respiratory tract. The vet said that steroids could also reduce the size of the tumors and cause the bleeding to stop which is whatbwe are hoping for as she can not withstand surgery due to her current respiratory and increased heart rate. I hope this provides answers for those seeking and know that you are not alone when experiencing death with your pet. It’s the unfortunate side of being a pet owner, but we do what we can for our babies while they are here with us even if that means laying them to eternal rest when we want to be selfish and keep them here with us. Many blessings.
firstname.lastname@example.org on January 03, 2019:
Our beautiful red collie was 4 days short of 14.She was fit and healthy but collapsed and became unconscious but still breathing on New years eve. We thought she had a stroke and rushed her to the emergency vet. On examination the vet said the she had a ruptured tumour possibly on her spleen or liver. The options were surgery or help her to pass away. As she didn't recover well from her previous anaesthetic and an old dog the outcome wasn't good. The decision to help her pass away was the hardest thing we have ever done.
Before she went I was uncontrollable in my sobbing but told her how much I loved her , that I will AWAYS be with her and for her to wait for me at the Rainbow bridge where we will play again. Berry was a very special girl she loved everyone and everyone loved her. Her special love touched many people and she was our world. We are totally broken and finding it very difficult coming to terms with what happened, it was so sudden. Because she filled our lives with unconditional love there is now and huge empty space that will never be replaced.
Darren (UK) on December 28, 2018:
Dear Karan and all on this site
I am so sorry for your loss, I lost my girl, Tess 7 months ago to a ruptured spleen ( 11 1/2 YO female Lab ) , Still finding it hard to come to terms with and still feel very guilty that we didn't notice something earlier, it is a very cruel way to lose a beloved friend. She was still very active and had good energy for a dog of her age and still enjoyed a good swim, thought I had a couple of years at the least with her. My last Lab, a boy LEO was 15 , so feel a bit cheated of a few years with Tess
I know I gave my girl a great life and had lots of wonderful times with her and will never forget her and will always love her, but it is very hard to accept she has gone.
We love our dogs so much and they give us so much love in return, they leave a huge gap in our life's , something only dog lovers would understand.
I hope we can all find peace and comfort and remember our dogs for the wonderful friends they were and are, and for the precious time we get with them.
Darren (uk) For Tess
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 27, 2018:
Karan, so sorry for your loss. This is so tough to endure. Your words will be helpful to many other dog owners in the same situation.Thank you for posting this.
Karan Dhesi on December 23, 2018:
I lost my beautiful boy three days ago. He was the most handsome German Shepherd you'll ever see who was just two months shy of his 8th birthday. His name was Tequila! And just like the drink he was wild and fun his entire existence.
I am on this site looking for closure and acceptance. I had no idea that a tumor on spleene would take him away, it just happened so fast. In fact, i am constantly having doubts that the Vet was accurate in diagnosing him, but that's just me not wanting to accept the truth, something all of us who lost a dog go through, the wrost part of grieving is the guiltiness you feel... why couldn't i just saved him!??!
He showed no signs of having this cancer. He was feeling down for a day or two but the next day he would be back to his normal crazy self. But on one day he was feeling really down, he could move but didn't want to, I tried to take him for a walk and for the first time in his life he was walking incredibly slow, he didn't seem interested in walking and if you knew tequila you would know that walking in the park is the best part of his day, he was being unusual.
He came back from the walk and just wanted to sleep, later on during dinner, he didn't even get up for food, which is another thing he never usually refuses.
We took him to the an emergency vet, they did a blood test and said they are pretty sure he has a tumor on his spleen because his stomach is full of blood and he's bleeding internally. They did the surgery and found it had spread to his liver... We had to put him down, and it was the saddest night of our lives.
He was my best-est friend for eight long years and he went in a matter of 4 hours. Completely unexpectedly. There is no one that can prepare you for the pain of losing your baby so quicky. It all hit me like a freight train.
I still can't come to terms with how quickly his spleen tumor caused him pain. It was only that one day he couldn't really move, and didn't want to eat. The day before he was fine. The vet explained it ruptures almost instantly and once it starts to bleed internally there's nothing you can do, and it's common in GSD dog breeds between the ages of 6-12.
To anyone going through this right now, I understand what it feels like. the deep sorrow you feel, the irreplaceable bond you had with your special special baby. But please try to understand that you could not have done anything about it... This is a killer, and it was in gods hands. Just remember you gave your dog the best possible life it could live, you showered him with love and he knows that with all his/her heart as well as you do. That love your departed best friend showed you will stay with you forever. Dogs are truly liberated creatures. Just pure joy, pure innocence and they bring those very things out of you.
Stay strong, It was completely out of your control. Your dog is in a better place now and will never suffer another day. Find your comfort in that.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 04, 2018:
So sorry for your recent loss Jeanne and all the past losses. Hemangio is such a cruel disease. Statistics of dog cancer look very dire lately, and it just seems like as they age they will just get cancer or organ failure at some point. Just lost my dog to spleen cancer 3 months ago.
Jeanne McMillan on December 04, 2018:
Just This sunday evening my 9.5 yr old female bullmastiff did this same scenario. Was playing and running along side the fence with her doggie brother and then couple of hours later I found her lethargic and that she had vomited with distended abdomen and was having labored breathing. As she is a barrel chested dog and bullmastiffs are prone to bloat especially with age I thought this was what had happened and immediately rushed her to the vet. When he got her on the table the white gums and temp of 97 degrees revealed that she was in shock. He tried to save her giving her a IV fluid bolus of warmed fluids steroids, vitamin k, and the blood work showed low platelets as well as her abdomen was tender so I felt like she had a splenic tumor that had ruptured from what I knew at that time. my vet offered a blood transfusion to try to stop the shock to then be able to operate but we talked about how dire the prognosis was even with the surgery that she might not survive it and I could tell she was in pain and did not to prolong her pain to make me feel better. So we put her on down and she quietly passed on. While bullmastiffs are very likely to develop lymphoma and I diligently checked her for enlarged lymph nodes. I fed her very high quality food and fresh fruits and veggies only. the treats I gave her were the same. this is the 4th dog over several years that I have had die of some probable cancer process. Just last July I had a chessie/lab cross die from a ruptured aortic tumor probably hemangio as well. In 2016 I had a mixed breed seemingly healthy 10 yr old develop sudden neurological symptoms indicative of a brain tumor and was put down.
JennKamel on October 11, 2018:
3 years ago I brought my dog to the emergency vet because she was so lethargic. They did a mini-ultrasound (I live in a rural area) and said that there was a tumor that ruptured and that I should put her down. Instead, I drove her to the city where a large clinic was able to do a full ultrasound and saw a bleeding ruptured tumor. They said it would be cancer, about 95% chance and a short lifespan after. They did the surgery and removed the spleen, had a blood transfusion and spent a few days in their ICU. About a week later, the vet called and said that the lab found no signs of cancer! I prayed for her every day, now it's been years and she is doing so well. Just a positive story about my experience as I know its devastating to hear this diagnosis.
Darren (uk) on August 01, 2018:
Found this site after losing my 11 1/2 year old yellow lab female (Tess )to a ruptured spleen.
It all happened so quick and by the time we got her to the vet it was all too late and we had to make the painful decision to let her go
My wife and I were, and still are absolutely devastated.
This was 3 months ago on the 4th of this month ( august ) and we are still trying to get our heads round it and are struggling to come to terms with it.
Never heard of ruptured spleens in dogs before, now i now from research it seems quite common. I have spent so much time wondering what i missed to be able to deal with this earlier, it seems hard for even vets to diagnose it.
Tess was a beautiful, loving and gentle girl, fun and so loyal, we miss terribly and will love her forever.
Darren ( UK )
EvaMarie GIEHL on July 29, 2018:
My heart is broken we just losted our beloved bog bear to a
Repurted spleen. It happened so fast....we didnt think he was
As sick as he was...our hearts are
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 27, 2018:
Penny so sorry for your Rottie, it's so unfair when this cancer shows up in dogs so young. Please don't feel bad. My Rottie (which is now almost 11) was diagnosed 2 months ago with another form of spleen cancer known as histiocytic sarcoma. She had vague symptoms for quite some time but it was thought to be inflammatory bowel disease and we lost precious time trying to treat with that. The ultrasound sadly revealed instead cancer.
Penny on July 21, 2018:
Our beautiful 3-1/4 year old Rottweiler Fritz died having had a ruptured spleen. The vet said it was six times normal size. He had been unwell for months beforehand and had been treated with antibiotics as it was thought, I guess because he was so young, that he just had an infection. Finally a sample was taken from his distended abdomen. It was full of blood which did not clot and I knew from the looks exchanged between vet and his nurse that our puppy was in trouble. He had spleen cancer that had spread. They operated at our request and hoped to buy him 6 months max but after two more weeks of suffering (him and us) we just had to let I’m go. My advice, if your Rottweiler no longer wants to be with you 24/7 and sits out in the cold, even if he is just 3, have him/her checked out. After nearly 3 months without him, we feel guilty and sad and lonely. I wrote this for him:
FRITZ 12.12.2014 - 30.4.2018
With all the warmth your memory brings,
I gather up some special things,
like pretty shells to write your name
and know this beach won’t feel the same.
I find no driftwood for your cross
but Heaven knows our depth of loss.
He buried you up in the dunes.
We hope you’ll sense a million moons
and sunrises, or us walk by.
I saw a star fall from the sky,
lovely as the full moon rose
and hope you’ll fetch a few of those.
But with your racket there, and ball,
perhaps there’ll be no need at all.
We loved each other all to bits,
but peace from pain, meant farewell Fritz.
You hadn’t even reached your prime,
but you blessed us ... with all but time.
Melony Baker on July 19, 2018:
My dog Buddy Lab Mix, he was fine when I left for work at 8:00am and my son left at 10:00am when I got home from work at 4pm he usually meets me at the door but didn't so I thought they left him outside in the heat but I heard a thumping on the kitchen floor and it was my dog laying on the kitchen floor waging his tail he didn't look like him self and wouldn't move and I felt his gums and they were very cold so I rushed him to the vet and they found blood in his stomach, so they did a sonogram and said he had a rupture spleen and found a spot on his lungs (maybe cancer) they said they could do surgery but only give him 20% chance to pull threw. I said that was fine but when I went in to see him something came across me saying just let him go. So we did. Now I miss him soo much. But they said he was in shock and wouldn't come out for at least 3-4 hrs and they couldn't do surgery until he came out of shock. My Buddy.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 24, 2018:
Stv0 So sorry about the diagnosis. My dog was recently diagnosed with spleen cancer too. It is an aggressive form (hemphagocytic histiocytic sarcoma) and it is quite advanced (CT scan showed spread to the liver). Surgery and chemo were not really an option, they would have given us only a month. My dog started getting weak and not wanting to eat and we were feeling helpless. We decided to do palliative care. Oncologist prescribed prednisone, and I am giving turkey tail too with the vet's consent. So far, we are almost 2 months post diagnosis and we have been treating her like a queen. She is enjoying the good food and attention. We feel blessed about these extra days, every day is a gift. No, you are not being selfish as long as your dog isn't in pain or uncomfortable. There are medications that can help provide comfort and increase appetite, but they will work up to a certain point. If your dog has hemangiosarcoma, there are good Facebook groups with others in a similar situation where you can get lots of support.
Stv0 on June 24, 2018:
I can across this because my 13 yr old German shorthair pointer was diagnosed with spleen cancer 3 weeks ago. Bet suggests just take him home and spoil him. Sad thing is I’m not ready for him to go. He is my buddy. So reading this helps me. Sad thing is my 16 yr old daughter has grown up with him and they do a lot together. I am watching him everyday slowly dying. I am trying to figure out when the right time to take him in so he doesn’t suffer. So guess my question is am I being selfish so I can have more time with him and my daughter can have more time?
Teresa West on April 25, 2018:
Found this website after a visit with vet today. Our 10 yr old vibrant golden retriever had intermittent cough recently and 5 days ago lethargy and not eating. Over weekend almost took to emergency animal hospital but then she became more active and eating again. Kept appt today to make sure she was okay. She lost 6 lbs, Had some X-rays and hemangioma of spleen with lung metastasis was diagnosis. So likely 2 days of lethargy anorexia could have been some bleeding that stopped. Looking back I blamed her gradual less active behavior related to probable arthritis. So so sad. Not able to come to terms with our options , I realize outcome is inevitable and want quality of her life ...... devastated
flerma on March 23, 2018:
yesterday I lost my soon to be 9 year pug (april 22) , I am so heartbroken, he was fine before I left to work, when I came home around 4:pm he didn't greet me as usual, I found him pooped laying in the kitchen, I inmediately rushed him to the vet, first the vet told me that he needed to be hospitalized because he had severe diarrhea, I went home to change my work clothes and to get my debit card to pay the bill, about 30 min later i was in the vet again and they rushed me in, now my sparky looks in bad shape, the vet shows me a sonogram and tells me that he has a ruptured tumor and is losing a lot of blood, he asks me what do I want to do, to put him down or to try to save him via surgery, I choosed the surgery and let him know that the bill is no problem, unfortunately he didn't made it through surgery, it was too much for his heart, now I regret to have him go trough surgery, I didnt get to say good bye to him, poor baby, dont know if he was suffering trough the illness , he was just fine days before, we did go to the vet check more than twice a year ( december was last time) and they didnt diagnosed this desease.
Fernando on March 22, 2018:
I just lost my 9 year pug due to this condition, I came from work about 4pm and my beloved sparky didn't greet me as usual, I found him pooped laying on the floor hardly bleeding , I rushed to the vet and 30 min later he was in surgery, unfortunately he didn't made it, my poor boy, i hope he didin't suffer the past few months
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 07, 2018:
Chan, so sorry for your loss. Seventeen is an amazing and remarkable age for a Rottie! I have two Rotties who are now 10 and are slowing down, so sad to watch. Some days it feels depressing. Your words will help many grieving dog owners. Thank you.
Chan on March 07, 2018:
I just experienced this journey of a tumor with our Rottweiler, Grace. She was approximately 17 years old and so smart and lovable. The past 72 hours have been so difficult for my family. I knew the kids would take it hard as Grace appeared to be very ill--unable to walk, refused food, but took in lots of water, which she could not keep down, either. However, I had no idea I would struggle with her loss to the family. I thought I was stronger and could make the right decisions, but I found myself so confused. Yesterday, when she was unable to walk and appeared weak, I refused to just have her put down. I am glad that I got closure today by having an awesome second opinion, who also informed me of the possibilities of a tumor or possibly pyometra. I opted for surgery and it ended up being a tumor that was bleeding out. I had the same 3 options presented to me that I read in this article and I chose to finally let go. While our kids and myself are grieving, crying, and cursing death, we also understand being selfish and having her sewn back up for us to loathe over her was pointless. Death is inevitable in a situation like this. That has been a hard lesson that one would think you already learned about life and death in general. However, it really hurts deeply to lose a pet because they are family members. In fact, Grace had more sense than some people I've come across in life. It's amazing how much joy and love a pet can bring someone. Today, I learned how and why some people go all the way out for their pets. I realized how much I loved Grace and her illness showed me that quickly.
I regret reading every loss on this page this evening. I appreciate reading each person's story because I realize there is nothing we could have done and the guilt trip can go to hell. I hate death, but there is nothing I can do about it except realize that sometimes it serves as a way out of pain. May everyone who has experienced such loss find happiness in every memory that can capture your mind and heart. Lavish in the joy God allowed your pet to give while living. That is the most special thought to help mend our hearts. God bless you with peace and much understanding because death is an ugly, but pretty exit out of pain.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 06, 2018:
Carole, so sorry for your loss. Unfortunately, this type of cancer gives little warning, hence why it's called the silent killer. Your dog was very special and you were lucky to have each other for 12 1/2 years.
Carole on March 03, 2018:
Thank you for this article. Our dog just passed and it was hard to understand how fast this had happened. Reading your article, i now understand that there was not much we could have done to save our dogs life. We were lucky to have over 12 1/2 years of love from him. Even up to his last breath he only wanted to please. I now understand that putting under any other procedure would not have worked. He made little children, and adults smile and feel loved. We will miss him dearly and know that he is resting in peace. Thank you again for this article.
Dana on February 26, 2018:
My sweet greyhound, Stevie, was diagnosed with this, on the spleen, after one of the tumors ruptured. Her body has reabsorbed much of the blood but they say another is bleeding slowly into her abdomen. Because its also in her liver we just brought her home to pass. I'm assuming she will basically just continue to get weaker and weaker from the blood loss. I think what gets me the worst is that she just turned 3 in November. thanks for writing this.
JohnD on February 26, 2018:
Rick ... My heart goes out to you. We had a very similar situation with our soon to be 8 year old GSD. We too made the same decision. I have no regrets as this was done with the best interest of the dog. To make the situation even worse, our friend suffered the same fate with her dog last week. Cancer sucks!
Rick54 on February 04, 2018:
We just lost our 7 1/2 year old German Shepherd to this last week (unconfirmed, but most likely cause). He was fine in the morning before I went to work at 6:30, and appeared fine to my wife in the afternoon around 3pm. At 4:15 pm he was sluggish, by 11:30pm he was in trouble. We had to put him down at 1am - he was bleeding out internally. Loosing him is crushing to us, but was the best thing to do for him. He didn't suffer at the end. Never saw it coming. Never heard of it before.
gina on January 24, 2018:
My lab just passed due to this. He was old with other health issues that he was being treated for. However, the tumor on his spleen was first noticed about 2 weeks ago during a visit that was for a different reason. Because of his of age of 12 and existing health problems, they said he wouldn't survive the surgery. They did say he will eventually bleed from it. They did say that it is in fact "silent" and they will just one day, pass. Sure enough, it did happen. He refused to move from his bed and we just stayed with him all night until he peacefully passed in his sleep. Poor guy. My only true love. I miss him already.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 31, 2017:
So sorry for your loss JL. This condition is terrible, he was lucky to have had a long life with you. Hugs.
JL on December 29, 2017:
I just lost my beloved Einstein (golden retriever) to a bleeding tumor on his spleen. Awful although he was 15 3/4 it was the horrible Miss him
JJ on December 10, 2017:
My 11 year old Bichon who is the love of my life is going through rupture bleeding, spleen and or liver tumors. I never heard of this, I took him to emergency room because he was not himself. I thought maybe he ate something, not tumors and internal bleeding. I was devastated when I heard cancer and the only option is surgery or putting him down. I am like no way, are you sure, everything felt like a blur in that moment. All I could think is that no way. I’m taking him home where he can relax and be comfortable instead leaving him in the emergency room. But the next day I decided to seek surgery and ask my vet what to do? He said surgery, but they did another ultrasound and there were many tumors in his liver and they said they can not operate. I am heartbroken and it’s so sudden. He is my angel, the most beautiful soul. I am grateful for his loving spirit and I want to make every attempt to make him comfortable and spend the remaining time just loving him and appreciate the time we have left. I wish there was a cure and education about this to all Dog parents. I’m going through a difficult decision to either euthanize or to keep him comfortable at home. I do not want him to suffer, he seems fine right now, but it sounds like it’s a matter of time.
Laura on November 29, 2017:
My 12 year old husky has a tumor on the spleen. The ultrasound showed it hasn’t spread. Today I woke up when he had a seizure. I brought him to the vet and they could feel it’s swollen. They did blood work and sent him home.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 23, 2017:
Marie, it sounds like something that you will have to have a vet take a look at. Pyometra is a concern if she is not spayed, but so are several cancers. Please see your vet.
Marie on November 12, 2017:
I have a bordercollie cross female dog that is 13 years old. She has recently started breathing really heavy at times and has a foul odor. I have seen a pinkish red thickened discharge from her butt area. She has never had puppies, has had her period with bright red blood, but this is different. She was hit by a semi truck at 6 months of age and had her ball and socket ground out, a plate put in her leg and broke her back. She had done remarkably well and runs on all 4 legs at times. I am wondering if she may have some kind of cancer any suggestions would be helpful.
Karen on September 26, 2017:
April Free. I'm sry of the loss of your sweet pal.. My Cheyenne had the same symptoms but I didn't know for sure what happened to her.. She was so Rambunctious at 11 she didn't seem as if she ever had any problems. I thought she hurt her back, I don't want to ever go thru putting my Best friend down again, it's the most horrifying thing to do.I Miss her a great deal.. she was part Lab and ? But, she was very Smart , I trained her since she was itty bitty...God bless you for helping others...
APRIL FREE on September 14, 2017:
ON NOV 20TH 2016 MY BLACK LAB LUCKY WAS PERFECTLEY FINE, NOT SICK ACTED NORMAL. CAME HOME AND WITHIN MINUTES HE WENT OUTSIDE STOOD THERE AND DEFICATED AND I KNEW RIGHT THEN SOMETHING WAS WRONG, HURRIED GOT MY OTHER SENIOR FURBABIES INSIDE. HE THEN WALKED A FEW STEPS AND COLLASPED WITH LABORED BREATHING .I LOST IT :( . I CALLED MY SISTER MY VET FREIND AND OTHER FRIEDN WHO CAME OVER ASAP AND MY VET FRIEND STATED SHE THINKS A MASS RUPTURED IN HIS STOMACH. IT TOOK ALL 4 OF US TO LOAD HIIM IN MY SISTERS CAR AND WE RUSHED HIM TO ER VET. HE WAS GIVEN XRAYS AND ULTRASOUND AND BLOODWORK FOUND PROBLEM WITH KIDNEYS AND CONFIRMED RUPTURE OF SPLEEN, AND ALSO TI SHOWED IT HAD SPREAD TO LUNGS AND HIS HEART WAS ENGLARGED. IT HIT US LIKE A LIGHTING BOLT. THAT WAS MY SON. AND 5 HRS LATER ON MORPHINE HE PASSED ON HIS OWN. WE DID NOT GET CONF ON HEMANGIOSARCOMA UNTIL NEXT MORNING WHEN THEY CALLED ME WHEN THE SPECIALIST CAME IN TO VIEW IT TO CONFIRM IT. I HAVE NEVER BEEN THE SAME SINCE THEN. I DO TOY DRIVE IN HIM MEMORY EVERY YEAR FOR HOMELESS DOGS. HELPING ANIMALS IN NEED OF NORTH ALABAMA. GO CHECK OUT OUR FACEBOOK PAGE. HE WAS THE REASON I STARTED HAINNA AND THE REASON I WILL NEVER GIVE UP. HIS SPIRIT IS IN ME. AND I MISS HIM SO MUCH IT KILLS ME SOMETIMES. HE WAS THE BEST SON EVER. HE WAS APPROX 7YRS OLD WHEN I RESCUED HIM AS A SENIOR ON THE STREETS OF ALABAMA. AND HE WAS APPROX 11 1/2 WHEN THIS AWFUL CANCER TOOK MY BABY . EVERYTHING I DO IS FOR HIM NOW. IT HIT SO FAST. SO UNEXPECTED WITH NO WARNING SIGNS AT ALL.
Barbara Andrews on August 26, 2017:
my daughter had a yellow male lab who was the love of her life. As she lived alone, he became a part of her. I took care of him when she worked, so too I became especially fond of him, Leo.
He became very quiet and seemed to be in discomfort, so I called my daughter and she came and immediately took him to her vet.
Upon X-ray they found a problem and ordered a test where they could see more. Found a ruptured spleen and his stomach was full of blood.
Needless to say the outlook was very grim. Leo had just turned 10.
The hard decision to put him down came with great grief.
Sure wish there were more studies on this to see if it could be
a better outcome.
Mel on August 20, 2017:
I lost my staffy a week ago with the same thing same way I feel your pain it's reallyhard to believe how quickly it all happened struggling to deal with it all such a loss can't be described
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 06, 2017:
Damo, thank you so much for sharing your story. It will sure come helpful to many dog owners out there dealing with this horrible condition. He was happy and mobile, but this was prior to the event of the tumor rupturing. As most stories can attest, this condition is a silent killer that creeps up and out of nowhere pops up with an abrupt wake-up call, leading to weakness, and trouble breathing. Sort of like a heart attack if you will, but it can sometimes be bitter sweet and may give just enough time for dog owners to love on their dogs and say good bye. Your dog had a wonderful life, and I am sure as a good staffy your beloved companion was, he now wants you to cherish all the wonderful memories rather than torment yourself with so many "what ifs".
Damo on August 01, 2017:
It added some comfort finding this article. We had a little staffy. Scared of everything and loved everybody. He was my little mate and was there through some of the hardest times in our life. It was the hardest thing i've had to do, hold him in my arms as he went to sleep for the last time. I'm a 35 year old guy and sobbed like a baby for 2 days. The house feels so empty when their gone. They leave such a great hole in your life. If only we had known, we could have gave him one last day of fun and showed him just how important he was to us, how much we loved him. It wasn't until after that I realised I had taken his presence around me for granted. I loved him, only last week he was laying across me trying to lick my face and whining.
We we're getting ready to sleep for the night. he was laying in his bed. Given a little nervous shake as he normally did when he heard my missus move about upstairs. As I came down stairs, I said 'calm down mate, it's ok'. With that, he let out a huff of comfort as he sunk into his bed. 10 minutes later I heard him move from behind the couch. It smelt like he had defecated. I got up to see if that's what it was and he was laid on the floor, had voided his bowels and just looked at me. I hadn't realise it at the time but looking back, he look scared. I knew instantly something was wrong. He had never done that. I put him in his bed and got some bits to clean up. As I came back in, his eyes followed me so thought it might not be so serious. Maybe he wasn't feeling well, and he is old. I said 'what's this bullet?' pointing at the mess but in a calm voice. he didn't react and in his bed, again, he deficated. That's when panic set in and I managed to find a local out of hours vet. I just knew something was wrong. He was taking in deep breathes. My missus came down the stairs and he saw her while I was on the phone describing symptoms. he got excited but didn't move, his breath just got quicker, like it was a huge effort. I carried him to the car. He looked as though he started to perk up on the journey. when he was in the car, it normally meant he was going some where fun. So maybe I was panicking for nothing. I kept reassuring him and he just looked about but not really moving much. carried him in the vet and he decided he wanted to walk about when the vet came out. I was relieved. But then he started to urinate uncontrollably. Then he defecated again. The vet felt around his abdomen. he said he would like to do a scan to have a good look at him. As I held him in my arms, I noticed his mouth felt really cold so I lifted his lips. His gums and mouth we're white. that gut wrenching feeling deepened. I had learnt years previously that if they ever fall or get hit hard, white gums could be a sign of internal bleeding. As the vet came back from prepping the scanner, he asked me if he had been in an accident, been hit by something large of heavy or fallen which he hadn't. he had been his usual playful, noisy self all day and was ready to sleep only 30 minutes ago.
the vet came back after what felt life a lifetime itself. He preceded to tell me it's not good news and I will have to make a decision. he had hemangiosarcoma and it had ruptured. they could see pockets of dark fluid all around the abdomen. he put a syringe into his stomach and it just filled with blood. he said the growth was as big as his fist if not bigger. He said it looks like it could have been there a while and we would never of known. He said most are found by accident when looking for something else. He would have continued to eat, drink, play and sleep as normal, until, the inevitable. I couldn't believe it.
We chose to put him to sleep. I spent an hour with him before finally agreeing. It was the hardest thing I had to decide. He started to perk up a bit, his colour was coming back, he was whining because he realised he was in the vets. The vet said his bodies adjusting to the blood loss but it was unlikely he would make it through the night. As you mentioned above, recovery from operating wasn't high, especially at his age and could give him a bad quality of life for any remainder it gave him. Part of me wanted to try but it would have been for my own selfish reasons, that much I realised. He loved playing, I couldn't take that away from him with the possibility of buying a day, a week, a few months with him, just to ease our pain.
The vet said his happy now, he doesn't feel any pain, his comfortable because your here with him, his relaxed. It's far easier to agree to euthanasia when their suffering. It's easier to make that choice. It's harder when they look fine and happy. But surely it's better for them to fall asleep like that. Feeling safe, not scared or in pain. At that point bullet got up to say hello to the vet and give him a kiss. he was struggling to breath and standing up took all his energy. I knew I had to let him go. I spent an hour with him after, just stroking him and saying goodbye.
You'll have to excuse the war and peace response. It only happened recently and still accepting what's happened. It was all so sudden and we only knew about this when it was too late. the what if's start to come to mind and as mentioned, again, what If i had him scanned every other month or something, could we have found it, would he still be here? He was happy, healthy, mobile, what if? hindsight eh?
thank you for the article and thank you every one else who shared.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 09, 2017:
So sorry about your loss Amy Kim. It does sound like a ruptured spleen, it happens just so suddenly. Yes, it's good he was with you in his final minutes. Sending my deepest condolences.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 09, 2017:
So sorry about your loss. Did they actually suffer from a ruptured spleen? With exposure to pesticides would expect more seizures or something like acute kidney failure.
W E Keys on July 08, 2017:
It was too late for my 3 dogs as the orchard was up for sale and they sprayed it with glyphosate/round up and I am sure this is what killed my dogs Kent County Council said it isn't a Carcinogenic
Amy Kim on July 05, 2017:
We just lost our beloved dog of 13 years four days ago. It was horrible. He was perfectly fine. But when I called him in from outside he wouldnt come but turned to look at me with the saddest face before slowly laying himself down. I went to go pick him up and he was just limp and breathing slowly. We were confused because as far as we knew he was healthy I thought maybe he got bit by a snake or something . I believe he passed before we even left the house but we still took him to the ER. They did an ulttasound and found large tumor with surrounding fluid. Sounds similar to this article. He was a Bischon mix. My first dog. My first fury death. Just researching articles looking for comfort. It happened so fast and unexpected we wonder if we could have done something differently or why we didnt catch it sooner. I am greatful we were with him and he wasnt alone. But we still have so many questions. This article was very helpful.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 03, 2017:
So sorry for your loss Stephanie, this condition is terrible.
Stephanie Barr on June 28, 2017:
We sadly lost our 11 year old Boxer Max due to this condition . He was walking slowly towards me with his head down and he couldn't make it in the house . He laid down and was struggling to breath . We took him to the ER vet and he was gone within the hour . He was bleeding internally due to the rupture.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 27, 2017:
Iris Human, So sorry for your loss. No words can really help with such a great loss. He had a wonderful life with you and all that's left is to cherish all the great memories and the fortune of having each other.
Iris Human on May 25, 2017:
It is terrible to read about the death of all these beloved dogs.
My beautiful Great Dane Max, aged seven and a half, just died so suddenly. The one moment he was playing about and the next he wouldn't get up or eat anything. Not even his favorite treat. We took him to the vet and at first they could not see what was wrong, except that he was quite anemic and weak. After testing for tick fever and other possible causes they decided to do a ultra sound scan. This showed a huge growth in his abdomen, which we could not even see. Max was then diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. Unfortunately there was nothing the vet go do for him as he was already to far gone. This all happened in a matter of 24 hours. We had time to say goodbye, but it was heart rendering to see him like that. It was as if he new what was going on. I sat next to him with his head on my lap as the vet put him to sleep. Needles to say that it felt like my child that died and I am still morning him.
Laurie kieckhefer on April 30, 2017:
My 8yr old germansheperd Dj my best friend has hemasarcoma it also spread to his liver. His spleen ruptured. He had surgery. He survived thank god. His prognosis isn't good he has 1 round of chemo. I've decided to go to holistic approach I belI've he will win the battle. I love him please any positive thoughts
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 09, 2017:
Judy, so sorry to hear your dog is suffering from a mass in the spleen. I hope you get to enjoy quality time with her during these difficult times. Sending positive thoughts your way.
Judy Flack on April 09, 2017:
We have Bella a 11 yo beagle mix, she started with all the before mentioned symptoms last night. ER visit reveals mass in her spleen, blood in her abdomen.... we are preparing for the worse. She's comfortable today and eating, sleeping from relaxer med. Your comments have brought me comfort for our future . We opted to have her home. Thanks
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 22, 2017:
So sorry for your loss Patricia, this is such a devastating condition. if if has spread to the lungs and there is bleeding, most likely there wasn't anything else to do.
Helen Ward on March 10, 2017:
Thank you for this post and explaining the terrible silent condition. I feel i am living this live right now my wonderful black lab Jasper not been right last couple of weeks had a staggering incident on his back legs for about one minute then ok, vets utlrasound scanned his abdomen and found issues with spleen and liver and referred for specialist CT Scan to see more detail and if spread which this Monday. Its been such a shock and he seems to be deteriorating each day and now only eating very little. Just waiting to talk to vets again today. I dont want him to suffer as my last lab had liver problems and the end of her was very traumatic. Thank you again for explaining this all so clearly
MC on March 03, 2017:
I'm going through this same horrible experience. Just found out my 10 y/o choc. lab has a mass on his spleen. Radiologist believes it's cancerous and has spread to his lymph nodes. Removing the mass on the spleen sounds like it will only buy him a couple extra months, but I feel like he'll be recovering for most of that time. Torn on what to do, feel like I should let him live out the rest of his life happy rather than put him through a surgery that could likely kill him anyways. Any thoughts?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 02, 2017:
I would suggest consulting with your vet about your options and possibly a veterinarian specializing in internal medicine. Only your vet or even better a specialist can answer those questions for you based on your dog's condition.
K. Nelson on February 28, 2017:
My goldendoodle is 10 years old and 6 mos ago was diagnosed with diabetes. He has had many tests while working to get his glucose levels stable. An ultrasound showed an enlarged spleen with a tumor. A tissue test of the tumor came back irregular; x-rays showed there was no cancer in his lungs and the ultrasound didn't show any additional tumors. My vet is recommending a splenectomy. I'm hesitant to go through with it as he is almost 11, is going blind from the diabetes and there is still no guarantee how much longer he will live with the surgery. I'm torn on what to do. I certainly don't want him to suffer and die from internally bleeding, but he has aged significantly since being diagnosed with diabetes. If he does have cancer will removing the spleen at this stage prevent it from spreading or is that optimistic? Any recommendations would be welcome. Thank you.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 29, 2016:
Michael, here are best wishes that Daisy pulls through all of this and gets to enjoy many happy months ahead.
Michael Spencer on December 28, 2016:
My lab Daisy had splenectomy and two tumors removed three weeks ago. One of the tumors had ruptured. I should have had her in for exam at least two before I did, maybe the one tumor would not have ruptured. The biggest tell was that one morning she stopped eating her regular dry food. She is 10 years, 7 months. But she was still playing some in morning so thought maybe just slowing down. But over Thanksgiving noticed stomach was distended and brought her in for diagnosis and then surgery a week later.
She improved lots in first two weeks, had some of her old mannerisms back. Last few days though really low energy. She likes to see people and get treats but too tired to walk much. Gums have decent color and her appetite is good. She did have tranfusions. I decided not to get the mass tested for cancer. I know I will never put her through another procedure like this. I would love nothing more than for her to live out a quality 3 to 6 months.
I know every dog is different but hope she bounces back some soon.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 15, 2016:
Thanks Margaret, yunnan baiyao for dog ruptured spleen indeed has good reviews, we had one boarding client who was using that, as always best to consult with vet as you say.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 15, 2016:
So sorry Fran. Sounds like your beloved companion is looking over you.
Margaret on December 14, 2016:
For those with dogs suffering from this horrible condition, please ask your holistic vet about using Yunnan Baiyao for dog hemangiosarcoma. I t has helped my dog.
Fran.. on December 14, 2016:
My love just passed over on Saturday the 10/12/2016 .
From a ruptured spleen also ..
One moment running around playing the next moment i found his lifeless body..
I see and feel him all the time.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 29, 2016:
This disease is terrible, quick acting and painful. So sorry your sweet Sammy is going through this. Keeping you in my thoughts.
Danielle on November 29, 2016:
My Sammy a golden retriever was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen that metastasized to her liver. She was given about a month to live and as of now we're at the 3-week Mark. With the use of prednisone to hopefully shrink the tumors she's still at week 3 is unable now to stand on her own do I think to the prednisone. This is definitely a silent killer one week my dog was fine with no problems 12 and a half years old but I still act like she was a child then out of nowhere she was unwilling to eat and very tired and depressed and lethargic. It originally was misdiagnosed due to signs of early kidney disease that she was anemic and hypothyroidism. This is definitely a cancer that's unfair Sammy definitely had many more years and within weeks was taken to her knees.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 22, 2016:
Audrey, this is the million dollar question as dogs cannot talk to us and all we can do is make the best choice for them. Usually, for chronic conditions it's generally when dogs have worse days than good, but in a condition like this, it's often a matter of when that spleen ruptures and the dog weakens and there is nothing else the vet can do other than provide a peaceful passing. I am sorry you are going through these tough times. I hope you get to enjoy many goods times together. Cherish the moment.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 22, 2016:
Jeanna, so sorry for your loss. It's very tough, this is a horrible disease. You gave him the ultimate gift of love by having him pass on to better life humanely.
Jenna on November 20, 2016:
My 12 year old dog was just euthanized for this. No issues, he was still active, still eating and drinking normally then all of the sudden I woke up in the morning to hear labored breathing as he lay next to me. I jumped up and he was unresponsive to me but had his eyes open and breathing strangely. I waved my hands in front of his face, he didn't flinch, his eyes stayed fixed. He was 80 lbs and as I tried to heave him up off the floor his back legs crossed and his toes curled under. Finally I got him to stand and he stumbled down the hall to the kitchen where he urinated and deficated on himself before collapsing in a corner. I rushed him to the vet and when an abdominal ultrasound was done after the vet noticed how tight his stomach was he noted the splenic tumor and fluid in the abdominal cavity. At his age surgery was not an option for me so I made the decision to have him humanely pass over with me and my oldest son by his side. It's always tough when you are not expecting it.
Audrey on November 19, 2016:
I am heartbroken. My little Pepi has cancer of the spleen. There was no obvious lunp four weeks ago. He had x-rays scan & Blood tests. I just felt he was not well . The tumour is now very large. I live alone , there is just Pepi and I . He is a therapy dog and I take him in to a Hospice. He loves to see the patients. i am so worried the tumour will rupture, but at the moment he is happy and very excited when our dog walkers come.
My vet said, it can explode. Horrible words to use.maybe making sure I know the serious situation. Pepi is a miniature Poodle. I pray the lord will take him , but this doesn't happen often. He is ten year old. I bought him of people who were neglecting him nine years ago. He has paid me back from day one. Coping with endings is terrible, but I don't want him to suffer. But when is the right time ? ? He is on Tramadol & heart tablets.
Tammy on November 19, 2016:
Thanks . My beautiful Pepi has cancer of the spleen growing rapidly.
It is difficult to know the right time. He is quite happy and playful at times.but afraid i wait till it rupture's. He is a therapy dog and gives such love. Your words help me I am so worried he is suffering. He is on Tramadol and heart tablets.
Kelly on November 10, 2016:
My 10 year old daughter's dog just had to be put to sleep two days ago because he's spleen ruptured....He was a lab \ cur mix and was only nine....
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 07, 2016:
Please don't feel sorry, this is a horrible condition and you gave her the ultimate gift of a peaceful passing.
bobbydigital86 on November 06, 2016:
It was a tough choice for me but I agreed for my beautiful staffy girl to be euthanised due to this condition, she could have had the surgery and lived a few extra months but I felt she already had been though enough with previous cancer, arthritis, many skin issues, she was 13 years old which is average for her breed but I still doubt my choice. She had very low albumen levels and the vet said the chances of her surviving surgery were slim, we only found out of about the spleen tumor because her belly had become enlarged, I took her to the vet on the 4th of this month (nov 2016) and she was put to sleep on the 5th, it's a huge shock to me and the family. The vet said we could take her and monitor her progress and bring her back in when we felt she had reached her limit, on the outside she seemed extremely happy and healthy, playing tug of war, running around and enjoy the fact the family had come to see her but on the inside was this ticking timebomb that the vet expressed would probably rupture anytime soon due to the size, it's beyond cruel.
Part of me feels like I gave up on her and part of me feels like I did the right thing, I didn't want to keep pushing her but also didn't want it to rupture and cause her to die in such a way. I think because it was so sudden I feel like I've let her down, just a night to decide isn't much time but I honestly think the odds were stacked against her. At 13 years old it still feels like she was a baby and she's gone too soon.
She was pure white, born deaf, she's had nothing be healthy issues since birth but she was the perfect companion, soft, affectionate and had an amazing personality. It was peaceful how she went, heartbreaking but she just laid on her blanket and slowly went to sleep.
bobbydigital86 on November 06, 2016:
I choose to euthanise my dog with this condition. She already has had cancer
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on October 30, 2016:
Vickey, thanks for the update. There's a nice lymphoma group on Facebook for help and support. Good to hear he's doing fine for now.
Vickey on October 26, 2016:
Results are in on buddy, my 12 1/2 yr old golden. He has lymphoma. Can't afford chemo, etc.... He hasn't had a bloody nose in 5 days so far and is doing fine for now.
Cheryl on October 23, 2016:
Our dog has been diagnosed with a hemangiosarcoma. They found it before it ruptured when doing an ultrasound because he had cystitis and a bladder infection. He's nearly 15, and a Tibetan Mastiff mix, and so he's quite old for his age, but had been healthy and well until his kidney problems started. After a month of battling an antibiotic-resistant infection, his kidney and bladder are healing, but the tumor on his spleen they discovered seems to have spread to one kidney. We live in Thailand and they do not suggest euthanasia except in cases of extreme suffering, and he actually seems improved, in that he's in less pain without his kidney/bladder infection and has regained his appetite and brightness in his face. They believe with his low albumen and blood numbers he is too weak for surgery, and that it wouldn't prolong his life, and are suggesting we take him home for him to enjoy what short time he has left. Our worries are that it may be very painful for him when his spleen ruptures and that we may be being selfish to want a bit more time with him, rather than put him to sleep now. He cannot really walk anymore because of being in the hospital the last month has left him stiff, and weak. But it's still hard to consider putting him to sleep when his face looks so much more happy and interested this week, and he's finally close to pain free for the first time in weeks. We are really confused and with the language barrier and probably some cultural differences as well, it's really hard to know what to do. We want to do what is best for our boy - he's been such a good, good dog. :(
Vickey on October 22, 2016:
my golden, 12 1/2 yrs old all of a sudden started having nose bleeds. Dr felt around, lots of enlarged hard lymph nodes, we took biopsies, now waiting. Also abdominal enlargement, possibly mass on spleen. Could be this hemangiosarcoma. He has had episodes of extreme pain where he won't move for hours, jaw clenched, gums and tongue white. Patiently waiting results, might have to put him down when results come in, so he won't be in pain.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 27, 2016:
Jebster, nobody can force you to put your dog to sleep. I would have another opinion from another vet and not mention anything about the diagnosis of the other vet and see what he or she says and if this vet comes to the same conclusion. Diagnostic tests should be run. No vet should make a diagnosis without proper diagnostic tests and, no, "gut feeling" isn't a sufficient reason to tell a person to put a dog to sleep!
jebster on September 20, 2016:
my rottie is 11 and has lost alot of weight in the past 3 weeks. the vet said he had a growth on his liver OR kidney that had burst and was bleeding and wanted to put him to sleep right there and then! that wasnt happening i said,so the vet suggested go home pamper him for a week,bring him back and we will put him to sleep.no tests were done to confirm this . it was the vets gut instinct!
he is still here a week later but this morning i think he has had a stroke cos when he stood up he wobbled and walked sideways like he was drunk and fell over.hes still very wobbly a few hours later.
Are these linked? what will happen next ? im scared to take him back incase i dont bring him home. i dont know what to do for the best. . he doesnt seem to be in any pain. im also worried am i going to sit and sit till it gets worse and he collapses and dies in pain. i dont want him to suffer.
theres lots of what ifs spinning round in my head, like what if i let him go and neednt have. am i beig selfish? any advice would be appreciated , thanks.
Teresa tolley on September 10, 2016:
My golden lab had his spleen removed 5 weeks ago due to cancer and a bleed , last night he came to me put his head on me and gave me his paw I knew there was something wrong with him , I was told by my vet he could live months or years , if I had known that it would only be weeks I would have not let him suffer again as he had another bleed last night , if it had been fluid the vet would have drained it and he might have been ok, I wish I hadn't put him through this again
Lori on September 03, 2016:
I am beyond heart broken but I had an amazing 13 yrs with her and wouldn't change a thing rt till her last breath...
After reading this I'm pretty sure this is what happen I keep saying I think it's her sleep but never really looked it up till now,I feel I made the right choices and I'm glad I read this it kinda gives me some peace thank you❤️
Lori on September 02, 2016:
On July 26 my baby girl kasha left me
I wasn't sure why she was 13 but holding her own eating walking drinking etc.She Never suffered thank god!!!!
It all started in November with a disc problem that seem to heal by February with lots of rest...
I cut her gum while brushing her teeth and it wouldn't stop bleeding then finally clotted but she stop eating for 2 days but drank like crazy so I took her to her vet cause I was afraid of infection he looked at me and said I want you to get in the car and take her to The 24hr hospital near us and he just kept saying it so I think he knew it wasn't good Her gums were pale white and she had become anemic.... Plus he loved her he knew how I was and I think he wanted them to tell me exactly what was wrong my gut feeling said not to take her believe you me I took her if she sneezed the wrong way so I think I subconsciously knew but I tried for a week with all kinds of stuff to build her iron up and I did build it up syringe feeding but something inside of her was drawing it back like maybe a tumer her disc spleen ect.... I couldn't put her through anything not at that age an she was not running around but holding her own at 13 eating her treats waking ect so I followed my gut.on her last day one week later she woke me up at 5am had to go out had diarrhea never vomited I gave her a bath an she was still holding her own she then by 9 became limp and just wanted me to hold her she looked at me an passed away at 11 that morning...in my arms
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 01, 2016:
I am so sorry Anita. Goldens are unfortunately prone to this type of cancer I wish you many more good times together.
Anita on August 31, 2016:
My last Golden died of Hemangiosarcoma. His mass was in his heart. He was outside and when I opened the door he came in very slow and was panting profusely. He laid down and with labored breathing. We thought he had a seizure and my vet said to watch him as it could take a few hours to come out of it. He didn't improve and was not able to stand on his own after. After a couple days at my vet with no improvement we took him to MedVet. That is where we found what it was. We took him home one last night and let him go the next day.
I found a hard mass on my current golden and my local vet took xrays and there is a mass near his heart. I'm thinking he has the same thing and I don't want to do surgery. Right now he seems fine and I just plan to enjoy him as long as I can. Surgery only prolongs the inevitable. I plan to try the holistic approach and love for as long as I have him.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 22, 2016:
Ben, I am so sorry for your loss. I don't know how painful it is for a dog to die from this condition, but I know there is much, much worse. I would think there would be an initial discomfort, and then the dog would become progressively weaker from the blood loss as internal bleeding is know for causing weakness and then sleepiness. Please focus on the great times together rather than the last day. She was very loved and you have many great memories to cherish. Picking up the ashes is very upsetting and many people cry (vet staff are very used to this and nothing to be ashamed of), yet it can give a sense of closure and many feel comforted knowing that their best friend is back "home." But everybody grieves differently, and it's OK to not feel ready. A family member, relative or friend can sometimes also stop by to pick up the ashes. My vet's office I worked at used to coordinate that if we were told in advance who and when was to pick them up.