We lost our Maggie to Hemangiosarcoma - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Washington State
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We lost our Maggie to Hemangiosarcoma

Maggie was ill in early February. She was having diarrhea and up several times during the night and just feeling puny. (Never off her food, but Maggie would never miss a meal). We took her to our vet who was concerned as she was very dehydrated (took two units!) and her gums were pale and tacky. He did a fecal and a blood panel. Her blood results were really good. The fecal showed a bacteria...l infection. His opinion was that since she was an older girl, that just as the flu can hit seniors so hard, so this did with her. We deduced that the bacterial infection came from her new disgusting hobby of eating poo. I did wonder at the time about her eating feces, thinking she may be lacking something in her diet. She was put on antibiotics and was back to normal a couple of days later.

Between early February and early March, Maggie was her normal, happy self, playing with Kenzie and Joey, her Jolly Ball, etc. She would have stiff moments when she first got up with her rear, but she'd walk it off after a few steps and then be fine. We only gave her pain medication and Rimadyl as she needed it and she rarely did. She continued her new "hobby", but we stayed diligent in keeping the yard free of "snacks".

Maggie at her usual breakfast and went out with everyone else the morning of March 5th. She was totally normal until around 2pm. She vomited and my husband had let all of the dogs out while he cleaned it up. When he went to call them in, she was laying in the yard and wouldn't get up. He went out and helped her and she got into the house and laid by the back door. She was shaking and again, wouldn't move. He called me to let me know what was going on and I prepared to head home to pick her up and take her in. He said when he grabbed her collar and leash, she immediately jumped up for a car ride. As I was getting closer, he called to tell me things were dire and he would meet me there. I ended up getting to the vet first and told them that she was crashing and they prepared the back for her. When he arrived at our vet's with Maggie, he said she jumped up to see where she was and fell over. He carried her into the clinic (her nose was pointing to the ground as he carried her -- she HATED to be carried and would never have allowed that if she could have helped it) and we immediately went to the back. The vet put Maggie up on the table and they put her on oxygen. She was breathing heavily and her heart was working very hard as her circulatory system was shutting down. She was in shock and laid on the table on her side without moving. For anyone who knows Mags, this is not a position she would ever choose to be in. They took her back for x-rays so we could decide what our next step would be. The x-rays showed her heart was smaller than it should have been. (not sure if that is important, but am mentioning it now because it was evident on the x-ray) It also showed a large amount of fluid in her abdomen. They tapped her abdomen (which was quite distended) and there was a large amount of blood. It was also felt that she'd had a stroke as her pupils had developed nystagmus. (We believe this is why she fell over when she arrived at the clinic) The vet conferred with our regular vet and felt that her condition was very grave. We would have to take her to a specialist for a transfusion and surgery and he felt that there was a good chance that the specialist would not elect to do surgery. We made the decision to let our sweet girl go.

Hindsight I guess is always 20/20 and what I want to share are the things I've since read enough about to question further.

1. Poo eating can be a sign of anemia
2. Hemangiosarcoma can have smaller bleeding episodes, which we think now that early February was.
3. Loss of blood = Anemia. Would this have shown on the blood panel
4. Dehydration related to smaller bleeds?
5. She was drinking a lot (one of the reasons we'd done the blood panel) and shouldn't have been that dehydrated?
5. Pale gums early February

Maggie was never off her food and the antibiotics worked. With the blood panel looking so good, we were excited to have more years with our girl. I do not believe she would not have survived a surgery in the condition she was in post-rupture... but what about in February? From what I've read, there is no cure for hemangiosarcoma. It is very aggressive and by the time dogs show any signs, it's almost always spread to other organs. It is known as the silent killer because most dogs do not show signs until the end. Regardless, I will forever wonder what if? What if I'd read more a month ago instead of after the fact? What if she'd had the surgery in February? What if I failed my beautiful girl? Unfortunately, I don't believe I'll ever get to hear the answers to those questions. The only thing I can do is mention them here in hopes that it sticks in someone else's mind. I don't wish this to ever happen to anyone else, but with the latest article I read stating that between 1 in 2 and 1 in 3 dogs developing cancer in their lifetime, I think we need all of the knowledge that we can get.

Ussi Von Stevenhaus (Maggie's page)

Rest in peace my Guardian Angel Maggie.
Ussi Von Stevenhaus January 11th, 2001 - March 5th 2013
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Maggie, Ussi Von Stevenhaus, GSD, 1/17/02
Joey, Intl. Ch. Cowtowns Big Skye Country, Mini Aussie, 4/11/05
Gracie, Tagalongs Amazing Gracie, Mini Aussie, 1/03/06
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 03:25 PM
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I am sorry for your loss of Maggie Rest in Peace, and be young again at the bridge....

"A House Is Not A Home Without A German Shepherd"
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 03:30 PM
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I'm so sorry for the loss of Maggie. These GSD will shatter us into a million pieces. She was a beautiful girl. Thank you for sharing her story with us. This is such an awful, awful cancer.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 04:03 PM
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I am so very sorry for your loss. She is beautiful. R.I.P. Maggie.


Lexie (Rotti-x), Max (GSD/Husky), Sophie (WGSD)
R.I.P. Ozzy, Sabrie, Kaiser (GSDs), Peaches (Cat)

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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 05:07 PM
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I'm very sorry to hear of Mags passing. Big hugs to you and yours.

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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 05:47 PM
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I'm so sorry. I've lost a dog to the same thing and I really feel for you right now. Hang in there.

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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 05:56 PM
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I am so very sorry for your loss. Many here have lost their dogs to hemangiosarcoma. It often kills quickly with little or no warning. Please don't blame yourself. Had you done anything differently, it is doubtful the outcome would have been different.

Big hugs to you and your family.

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Natty Boh 6-27-12
Annie 1998 - 8-2-12 RIP
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 06:48 PM
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I'm so sorry for your loss. RIP sweet Maggie.

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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 07:12 PM
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From my experience, I think I have an inkling how devastating this is. Hamangio comes out of seeming no-where, you probably haven't heard of it until your dog tanks with it. I'm sorry your girl left you so early with this.

Hemangio is a death sentence. If they have a fairly early bleed & you catch it, remove the infected organ before it is detectable as having spread, opt for chemo (which they tolerate very well) on top of the surgery, you get another three months of a relatively happy dog.
So whatever it is worth from my point of view, you can quit beating yourself up on this one.

From the reading I have done, hemangio & acl issues are both decidedly more (like 5+ times more) likely in spayed dogs compared to intact dogs. Right now, the youngster is intact. I figure that I have 1/2 a chance of detecting & successfully treating mammary cancer - none with hemangio.

You have my sympathy. I still feel my dog was cheated by this crappy disease. She deserved another two years.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-08-2013, 08:14 PM
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I am very sorry for your loss, she was beautiful.

I lost two of mine to hemangiosarcoma. The female was spayed (8), the male was intact (9.5). The female had metastases on the liver when I discovered it, and was too sick for surgery, with poor prognosis. She was put to sleep. My boy was very healthy and the other organs were clean, no visible metastases. I did surgery with him and chemo, we had 4 wonderful months.

This is his story

Hemangiosarcoma is a death sentence, if you are lucky, you can buy yourself a few months with treatment. It is a silent killer, no signs until it is too late. It is a very aggressive cancer without effective treatment. Even if you discovered it earlier, you could not have had saved her. Please don't beat yourself up, you gave her a great life and she was very happy.
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