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A Ruptured, Bleeding Spleen in Dogs, Hemangiosarcoma, the Silent Killer

Updated on September 12, 2016
alexadry profile image

Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of dog books.

Golden Retrievers are prone to ruptured spleen from hemangiosarcoma.
Golden Retrievers are prone to ruptured spleen from hemangiosarcoma. | Source

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 the sudden his 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.

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 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, 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.

Dog Hemangiosarcoma of the spleen
Dog Hemangiosarcoma of the spleen | Source

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 in our clinic with a dead dog, it can happen that owners do not 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, panting, weakness, 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 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 toMarvista 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. 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".

Prevention

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 veterinarianAmy 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.

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.

Disclaimer: this article is fruit of my research on the topic and not be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog has any suspicious symptoms please consult with your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Alexadry© All rights reserved, do not copy

Dog cancer veterinarians Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger discuss about Hemangiosarcoma

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    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      I have a good friend whose Golden suddenly died. Now, I am wondering if perhaps her dog had this problem. No necropsy was done on her dog. Her dog was only five years old; what a heartbreaker that was.

      As always, you have written a very interesting and informative Hub. Voted UP, and shared. I'll also Pin on my Dog board.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

      I had never heard of this until quite recently, when my sister's Golden had a ruptured tumor on his spleen. Luckily, they were able to get him to an animal hospital in time to do surgery. Her dog, Harley, is a really trooper and made a great recovery. Within a couple of weeks, he was up and around and back to his old self (minus his spleen). You hub has filled in a lot of the details for me and I didn't realize how serious the situation was and how lucky my family is. Thanks for posting and sharing!!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Mary615, hemangiosarcoma is quite a scary condition that sadly seems to be affecting many breeds. So sorry to hear about your friend losing a dog suddenly and at such a young age. Thanks for the votes and shares.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Purl3agony, good to hear about your sister's dogs speedy recovery. I hope it turned out to be something benign. It's so sad to read how many dogs are being affected.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Goldens have so many of these devastating issues! Luckily, we haven't had this happen before with ours. Most of our have had one cancer or another. But glad to know what to look for. Voted up, useful and sharing!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 2 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      My dog of ten years just died on Tuesday. Your article is very timely, as we believe this is what he died from. We were distracted from any possible tumors, as my dog's issues started with a herniated disc. He couldn't use his back legs. After a few weeks of meds and rest, he made great improvement! Then last week, he started throwing up, not eating, and an ultrasound revealed tumors in his spleen and his liver. He went downhill fast, so I took him to the vet to say goodbye the next evening after spending a last day together. He was so weak. The vet hadn't even been able to feel the tumors the week before, and now she could. It's fast-growing and aggressive, and basically not curable. Everything you wrote here corresponds to the research I have done. Gizmo also had slightly elevated liver enzymes that kept climbing (we thought due to meds he was taking for his back) and was slightly anemic later on. He acted like he felt well most of the time until the last week when we discovered all the tumors. I was devastated.

      Gizmo is a little white dog (was) part Shih Tzu, Pekingnese, and Terrier. I've never known what kind of terrier, but that is one of the breeds predisposed, huh?

      This is a very useful hub.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Oh Lynn, I am so sorry to hear this. I remember little Gizmo featured in some of your articles. After writing this hub I hugged my dogs thinking how things can go downhill fast with little notice. In my article, I listed some breeds predisposed to this disease, but there seem to be so many more. Skye terriers are quite rare, but a Google search brings up many other terrier types if you type " hemangiosarcoma terriers" as your search query. Again, so sorry for your loss.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Vicki, I am so sorry to hear about Gizmo which I remember from some of your hubs! I hope your happy memories will bring you comfort and peace!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks for this information. Years ago we lost our beloved collie to this condition that we learned about only after he died. We were plagued with doubts about whether we could have done more to prevent this loss. It happened within a period of 24 hours.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Sorry to hear about your loss Kathleen. This is a mean condition that unfortunately gives little time, if any, to intervene.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Very important article for any dog owner to read. I hadn't heard of this condition before. Great job.

    • Asalexander profile image

      Amanda Alexander 2 years ago from The South

      Thank you for sharing valuable information that is helpful to others. I was not aware of this condition before reading your hub. Well-written.

    • moonfairy profile image

      moonfairy 2 years ago

      This hub is filled with valuable information. We have a golden and back in December we almost lost him. At first they thought it was his spleen but after tests it was discovered that he has a growth in his liver which caused it to enlarge and become brittle. He tried to jump into my husband's truck and slipped, was fine for a few minutes and then collapsed. He was bleeding internally and went into toxic shock. We were lucky that we didn't lose him but he still needs another ultra sound and a biopsy to see whether or not the mass in his liver is cancerous. So scary and so heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing this hub!

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Moonfairy. It's not fair that such conditions happen so quickly leaving little time to intervene. Good to hear he was able to bounce back from the toxic shock. I hope that growth turns out to be benign. My fingers and my dogs' paws are crossed for a good outcome.

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      Shirley 17 months ago

      On Christmas day 2015 my 8 yr old Staff started throwing up grass, which was pretty normal for her. As we were sitting down to eat she walked across the room and I noticed that her back end wasn't quite following the front end. She then lay down on the rug and just looked at me with sad eyes. We rushed her to the emergency dog hospital, where they noticed that her gums were pale, and did an ultra sound. She had a tumor on her spleen that filled most of her abdominal area. The prognosis was maybe 2 - 3 months with surgery. Not the happy running around life she was used to, so sadly we stayed with her while 'she went to sleep' Your article was very very helpful in understanding this silent killer. Thank you.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 17 months ago from USA

      I am so sorry for your loss Shirley, these tumors on dog spleens are terrible. I wished there was a better way to treat these so dogs can enjoy many more years ahead.

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      Tammy 15 months ago

      Almost 4 weeks ago, my dog Jasmin, a 10 year old rat terrier was diagnosed with this terrible cancer of the spleen. My vet said a month at best. Not what I was hoping for when I took her in to find out why she would vomit almost clear liquid most mornings and refused to eat most meals. Since we are quickly approaching the 1 month mark I think about her end and how will I know that it's time? She is taking 1 prednisone daily and anti-naseaua med twice a day. I'm feeding her almost whatever she will eat. Difficult because one day it's only green beans she'll eat, another chicken liver or cooked carrots. She must be near me at all times, if I'm more than 2 feet away, she will follow me all over. Sometimes she still plays and wants me to throw the toy and she will run after it. I must work through the week and I worry about her when I'm gone and if she'll still be alive when I get home.

      What does this horrible condition look like at the very end stage? If I see or feel she is suffering or in pain I would rather have her put to sleep. Can you give me any information on what I will see?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 15 months ago from USA

      Tammy, I can't really help you out with this as I never experienced it first hand. You will have to look at blogs from dog owners dealing with the same disease. Here is one:

      http://doghemangiosarcoma.blogspot.com/

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      Stephanie 15 months ago

      This happened to our 9 year old black lab last week. We noticed a higher water intake and irregular eating with Coot. He would bounce back after a day or so, so we couldn't see that it was actually a progressing illness until his belly bloated from the ruptured spleen causing severe discomfort.

      We had to put him to rest last week, opting not to put him through the surgery and chemotherapy. So unbelievable that it happens with no warning.

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      Tammy 15 months ago

      At 5 weeks after diagnosis we had Jasmin put to rest. The weeks went way too fast and I could see her getting worse. She had lost 3 pounds going from 12 to around 9 pounds. She was nothing but bones except for the bloated looking abdomen that was so swollen from the spleen and fluid. She would eat very little and as if she knew we both came to the decision at the same time, on the day we decided to help her end this suffering she would eat nothing. Looking back at the many pictures we have of our dogs, I can see when this started, 6 months was it. Had I known what it was at the onset of her upset stomach and "finicky" eating pattern it is difficult to say if I would have had any surgery. It doesn't sound like it gives them much more time than without it. Once the shock of the diagnosis eased we made the most of the time she had left. Yes I have guilt not knowing if she had another few days to a week left, but I chose to let her leave us without further suffering from the spleen rupturing. I don't know that I could bear her to go that way any more that the pain of making that final decision. She went home in her family's arms with all telling her what a good girl she was and how much we loved her.

      I can say no more as I can no longer see the keyboard through my tears.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 15 months ago from USA

      I am so sorry Tammy, this condition is terrible and gives subtle signs. I know many people who lost their beloved dogs to this. Jasmin was very fortunate to have had you.

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      claudia 13 months ago

      we just lost our dog Sunday due to intestinal bleeding in his abdomen and the vet said it was because of his spleen so they did emergency surgery and we had no idea how long he had been bleeding ,I blame myself for not getting him in earlier maybe they could have saved his life. I fel so bad for not getting him in earlier.

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      Jeremiah 13 months ago

      Today, we had to bury our best friend. Her name was Janie. She was somewhere between 8-10 years old; we had adopted her so we had only had an estimate of her age from a vet. She collapsed on us this evening and was almost unresponsive. We brought her to the animal hospital and came to find that she had a ruptured tumor (either spleen or liver); her abdomen was filling with blood. We decided that it was best to put her to rest. I'm not someone who cries very often, but I couldn't hold back the tears. It was all so sudden, one minute she was her normal self and then the next she was on the ground; two hours later, she was gone. RIP Janie, you will be forever in our hearts.

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      deepti 13 months ago

      why God ? why is it we find ur informative msgs after we loose our beloved buddy. after reading the entire article and comments, i ws sailing in the same boat. in india ,capital and here facilities are not that great like in western countries for animals. i had beautiful healthy labrador age 8.5 yrs , name: Angel ..

      her stomach was bloating and her diet n excercise wr normal , we thought its just weight gain which usually labradors gain after certain age. until 1 week before her death i noticed her eyes, skin, nails turn yellow and we rushed to vet. her blood reports show bilirubin 23 (0-3 is normal) and we treated on liver considering it was jaundice. after 5 days we changed dr. and that (idiot) dr. diagnosed her belly bare hand with pressure and after few injections sent back. the moment we returned home, uncomfortable thru out & she sat in bathroom floor bleeding all nite. we all wr sleeping, she didnt even howled in pain. it was silent killer. black red thick blood evrywhr. she collapsed so quick we cudnt do anything to save her. we wr not even aware of her spleen tumor.

      i miss u angel ... i m sorry

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 13 months ago from USA

      I am so sorry for your loss, Claudia. As you can see from reading through comments and several other places, this condition gives very little warning before extensive damage is done, please don't blame yourself. Countless owners don't even make it on time to even try surgery. I can't recall how mean DOA (dead on arrival we had due to this horrible condition. ) For this reason it's called the "silent killer."

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 13 months ago from USA

      Jermiah, so sorry for your loss and it's fine to cry. Our dogs are so close to us all the time, they become like family. This terrible condition comes so fast, and is so devastating.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 13 months ago from USA

      So sorry deepti, I have no words for this terrible condition and its terrible consequences other than your dog was fortunate to have had you for these 8.5 years. I hope one day they find something to prevent this from happening.

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      sarsydiak 12 months ago

      I'm in the throws of HSA. My 13 year old yellow lab, Kodiak, is a virtual ticking time bomb. We noticed that he wasn't well in Sept. 2015 (yes, almost a year ago). He ended up having a UTI, but that wasn't discovered until after several tests were run including an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed a large circumferential mass in his abdomen. Since then, we have been waiting. Because of his age, the vet thought it would be best if we didn't put him through the pain of surgery. We were also told he would live much longer past the surgery if we did go that route. My husband and I agreed to let him live out his happy life at home. We didn't think he would make it through the winter. Here we are in summer and he's still alive, but definitely NOT well. I noticed his pale gums about 2 weeks ago and brought him to the vet. He palpated his abdomen and said he had a lumpy mass and it was most likely attached to his spleen. My heart sank. A full panel revealed that he is losing blood...somewhere. I don't see it in his urine, stool, or his occasional vomit. I have no idea how long he will survive this way. He has become very finicky with his food and eating only table scraps, which I readily give him at this stage of the game. Again, I feel like he is a ticking time bomb and we are all just waiting for the final sign. He is currently still going up and down stairs, wagging his tail, and seems generally happy...although very lethargic. I'm truly hoping and praying that he goes quietly in his sleep although I know that if it comes down to it, I will make the most difficult decision of my life for my best friend and first furchild. 13 years is a good long time. I'm blessed to have had this boy in my life. I wish all of you grieving your loss the absolute best. It's NEVER easy.

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      Vickyd5 12 months ago

      I am so sorry to hear of your 13 year old fur baby. I will have you all in my prayers. I have an 11 yr old Australian Cattle Dog. Last week Friday, he was not acting normal. I kind of played it off that he had a bad stomach that day. Came back late in the day and I felt I needed to check his gums, which I did and found them to be white. I was able to get an appt at the vet for 45 minutes later. Upon an examination by the vet, she found his stomach enlarged and did xrays and blood work. The xrays showed tumors on the spleen, one of which had ruptured, and the blood work showed several abnormatilities. She also tested the fluid in the abdomen. We made the decision to do surgery to remove the spleen. He acts like he is feeling better and slowly getting the color back in his gums. We now have to wait to fund out if the tumors that were on the spleen are cancerous. I am praying like I have never prayed before for my boy.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      Sending prayers your way Vickyd.

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      David Humphrey 12 months ago

      Are there any environmental factors that may increase the chances of a dog getting this ? E.G. Drinking Water ?

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      Beth 12 months ago

      We have a 10&1/2 year old Rottie that we just had to the vet's yesterday they did a slew of tests on him, not sure they were all necessary and I am not sure how familiar the vet is with this as he has one large mass in his spleen that is presenting a little differently than anything they have previously seen. Initially they said it was useless to do a needle biopsy as it would only tell them if it was a lymphoma in which case not much could be done, and then after consulting with a more senior vet they decided it would be of value to do the biopsy, so after spending $1,000 we still don't have an definitive answer and that is before surgery. It was just by chance that I came across this site and I am learning more than I did all day at the vet's. It seems highly likely that this is what is going on with our boy, he doesn't have any tumors elsewhere that they can see, he has mild anemia but they don't feel he is bleeding out anywhere, his lungs and other organs seem ok, but he is presenting all of the other symptoms that are mentioned, vomiting, week legs, lethargic, so I feel pretty bad that we are being told that without surgery they really won't know unless his spleen actually ruptures.. until the results of the biopsy come back they have put him on prednisone he is feeling a bit better but still is vomiting etc. and I am pretty sure these will be his last days, we can't stand to see him suffer and he doesn't like being fussed over or having things done to him, we just needed a few days to digest what is happening. I just wanted you to know that I feel better knowing that others have been through this same thing and that this darkness has a name..

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      Unfortunately, the causes of spleen tumors in dogs are not entirely known.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      I am so sorry your Rottie is going through health problems at the moment. This is a horrible condition I hope your vet can get at the bottom of what your dog is suffering from. My thoughts are with you in this difficult time.

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      Beth from BC 12 months ago

      Unfortunately the vet has not gotten to the bottom of this, I have been very unhappy with our dog's care and now it is too late and he is suffering and I can't let it go on so we will be saying our good byes too my best friend this afternoon, but thank you for your kind words and your web site..

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 12 months ago from USA

      I am so sorry Beth. My thoughts are with you in this difficult time.

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      Yvonne and Jim McLeod 11 months ago

      On Monday the 8th August, we lost our Jack Russell, named Jack to this. it all happened so quickly. Four weeks ago we thought he had taken a stroke. It turned out to be a bleed, his red blood cells were low, his gums were turning white. Our 14 year old Jack was exhausted. Why! had we not noticed anything going on with him. He had been at the vet October 2015 and May 2016, vaccinations, physical, nothing was noticed. Was this looming inside and going undetected. Should we have given him an x-ray or ultra sound once a year! Now here we are, without our brilliant boy Jack! He was Euthanized in our yard, he loved the yard, we buried him next to his Lilac Tree. He’s looking at the sun room and we’re looking at him, drinking a cup of tea sitting with him. Heartbreaking to lose a family member this way.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 11 months ago from USA

      Yvonne and Jim, I am so sorry for your loss, this is a devastating condition as you can see from all the comments. The symptoms are easy to miss as they're often confused with something else. If only dogs could talk! Until then, we can just try our best and trust our vets. Hopefully one day there will be a cure.

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      Ben 11 months ago

      I recently lost my German Shepherd cross kelpie to this cancer. She was running around after the ball the night before, ate her dinner and went to bed. In the morning my other German Sheperd was barking, I came down to the laundry, where she slept, and she couldn't move, I carried her to the car. She passed away at the vets about 30 mins later. She was incredibly strong and I think she waited to see me before she went. I was a landscaper and she used to come out on the tools with me and keep my family safe when I had to work away from home. Its been about 2 months now, we had her cremated, and I cant bring myself to pick up her ashes from the vet. I beat myself up every day that I wasn't able to save her, she was my best friend and my world is a little darker without her in it. I have lost several family members thru cancer and it is devastating. I am man enough to admit that I haven't cried so much in my entire life. She had only had a check up and her vaccinations 6 months prior. To be here and then to bleed out over night, what I really need to know is did she suffer, was she in a lot of pain, she didn't complain, never did. For my own sanity I need to know if she suffered.

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      Antonina 11 months ago

      We lost our 7 years old Great Dane, Bella, today. She became unwell yesterday morning, wouldn't eat anything and was very cold. We rung the emergency vet and were advised to give her some painkillers and bring her in next morning, if she wasn't better. The next morning she wasn't better, we took her to the vet's. The ultrasound revealed the fluid in the abdomen. We decided to go ahead with the operation, even though the life expectancy isn't great. But when they opened her up, they discovered that the disease has spread, there were lots of tumors on the liver as well. We decided to let her go. Gosh, I am feeling so guilty now. Our poor girl.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 11 months ago from USA

      I am so sorry for you loss Antonina, this is such a devastating condition. Please don't feel guilty as you can from the many comments above many have lost their dogs this way..

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 11 months ago from USA

      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.

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      Anita 11 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 10 months ago from USA

      I am so sorry Anita. Goldens are unfortunately prone to this type of cancer I wish you many more good times together.

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      Lori 10 months ago

      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

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      Lori 10 months ago

      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❤️

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      Teresa tolley 10 months ago

      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

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      jebster 10 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 10 months ago from USA

      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!

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      Vickey 9 months ago

      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.

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      Cheryl 9 months ago

      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. :(

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      Vickey 9 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 9 months ago from USA

      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.

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      bobbydigital86 8 months ago

      I choose to euthanise my dog with this condition. She already has had cancer

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      bobbydigital86 8 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 months ago from USA

      Please don't feel sorry, this is a horrible condition and you gave her the ultimate gift of a peaceful passing.

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      Kelly 8 months ago

      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....

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      Tammy 8 months ago

      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.

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      Audrey 8 months ago

      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.

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      Jenna 8 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 months ago from USA

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 months ago from USA

      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.

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      Danielle 8 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 months ago from USA

      This disease is terrible, quick acting and painful. So sorry your sweet Sammy is going through this. Keeping you in my thoughts.

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      Fran.. 7 months ago

      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.

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      Margaret 7 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 7 months ago from USA

      So sorry Fran. Sounds like your beloved companion is looking over you.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 7 months ago from USA

      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.

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      Michael Spencer 7 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 7 months ago from USA

      Michael, here are best wishes that Daisy pulls through all of this and gets to enjoy many happy months ahead.

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      K. Nelson 4 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 months ago from USA

      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.

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      MC 4 months ago

      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?

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      Helen Ward 4 months ago

      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

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 months ago from USA

      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.

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      Judy Flack 3 months ago

      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

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 months ago from USA

      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.

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      Laurie kieckhefer 2 months ago

      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

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      Iris Human 2 months ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 months ago from USA

      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.

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      Stephanie Barr 4 weeks ago

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 weeks ago from USA

      So sorry for your loss Stephanie, this condition is terrible.

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      Amy Kim 3 weeks ago

      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.

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      W E Keys 2 weeks ago

      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

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 weeks ago from USA

      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.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 weeks ago from USA

      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.

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