German Shepherds Forum banner

21 - 40 of 42 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
Well, that's a much happier story. Your husband was lucky you were strong enough to run interference and not defer (unnecessarily) to hospital personnel. I never much cared for kids, but I can see they be handy when we have more yesterdays than tomorrows. It'll be a little darker for me! Better have a good dog.

I think you sound like a great GSD owner. I've had a lot of dogs, lot of pitbulls, the GSDs, random fosters for periods, and the GSDs are the most like living with a person (I've not had the pleasure of other smart dogs, like Weimeraners, poodles, border collies, and the like). Not crazy high energy like a Malinois, either. Energy match between human/do is important.

I'm not ready for a new dog chapter yet, but I'll post it here when I do. I'll look forward to your posts about your new pup, too. I'm always ready to give unasked for advice. Thanks again for sharing.
Happier stories are what I would like to bring to you as well going forward. Grieve your own way, for as long as you need, but keep in mind that the longer you wait to start a new chapter, the harder it becomes at times.

Through this process I have met some very wonderful people, some in this forum. Please let me know if there is anything I can do or offer to help you or your wife. I work from home twice a week and have nights and weekends, so don't hesitate to ask, even if it is just because you wish to vent.

I look forward to your advice! I know I will need it! I don’t offend easily and welcome constructive criticism, so feel free to send a virtual smack over the head if I stray in any way. Since I’ve already asked you for advice, it can no longer ever be “unasked”. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31,873 Posts
I don't like the rain! Make it stop, please. 3 years old and oral cancer - yikes, and the speed! Something else to worry about. You're right about the loss - very painful.

I do want to clarify why I went ahead with the surgery. I did not do the surgery because I thought it would prolong his life beyond a month or so - I recognized that, if the mass was malignant, it was game-over. I did the surgery only in hope R would be in the 25% of dogs (not, necessarily, of GSDs) with benign masses on the spleen. If it was benign, then surgery would have fixed him, and I'd have my dog back. The only way to check whether it's malignant or benign is to do the surgery. If I could know it was malignant without the surgery, then I would have euthanized him.

As for the regular vet maybe finding it earlier via ultrasound, the benefit to that would be the avoidance of an emergency surgery - we could have done it when he wasn't in shock.

Thanks for sharing your story and kind words.
If your vet would have done an ultra sound, the next step would have been to look at the lungs and to see if it masethesized (sp?). No, emergency surgery is not the best scenario. And I do agree that we need to be as up to date on the common problems in our breed, because vets are human. Yes, they have a lot of education, but there's a lot of stuff to know there. A human doctor only deals with mammals, homo sapiens. And generally is only a part of what a vet does. They may all be able to be the office-call type doctor, but then they have specialties, surgeons, anesthesiologists, eye doctors, ears nose and throat doctors, cardiologists, urologists, and so forth.

Your vet does all of that, but not just for your breed, not just for your species, not just for your genus, not just for your family, they have to know dogs, cats, horses, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, parakeets, fish, reptiles. Ok, most of them see dogs and cats for the most part. But you get my drift. There are hundreds of breeds of dogs and quite a few of cats, and each has its health concerns. Maybe with some breeds the vet can keep it all up to date, but if we know what questions to ask, what tests we might want done, we can help our canine-health-partner not miss anything. I'm not blaming you. I'm agreeing with you, but also sticking up for the vets a little bit.

For me, as a breeder, I have saved at least one bitch an unnecessary surgery by listening to the owner and telling her to disregard what the ER vet said and to take her to a 24 hour clinic with a repro vet specialist, ultra sound capabilities, lab on site, x-rays, surgeons. The ER vet, understanding that the adult female still had her parts could not see past pyometra, and nearly demanded that they do an emergency surgery on her. The symptoms did not seem like pyo to me, and a repro-vet could do the proper testing to figure that out -- if they said she needed her parts removed post haste, I would have had them go with that. But the bitch had a blockage, and it passed without surgery. A emergency spay would not have fixed her and probably would have put her system into more distress, and might have killed her.

In these days when most folks spay and neuter vets are not seeing as many whelping scenarios. With fewer litters the average vet sees almost no whelping complications or neo-natal puppies. My vet office of 30 years no longer has an incubator. They have taken 2 day old puppies and raised the temperature to 100 degrees. A 2 day old puppy should be 96-97 degrees. I asked the vet tech, they didn't know. They said 100-102. They tried to give an antibiotic with no probiotic and no fever. Why the antibiotic? They said stress. I felt I would lose the puppies if I kept on that track so I drove them and the bitch over two hours each way to the repro-vet. The puppies survived when following their advice.

Also, shepherds can have vonWilbrand's disease. It's uncommon, a bleeding disorder. If the vet finds out during a spay or neuter, you can lose your dog. Some vets offer a discounted spay/neuter that eliminates bloodwork. Most of the time that is just fine, unless your dog has this condition. Knowing about it, and understanding the risks, will help you make a decision on whether or not you want to go with the discounted surgery. Collies and some shepherds have a gene that can mean ivomectin (heartworm meds) can kill them. My sister in law lost their rough collie to this. Vets can't possibly know everything about every breed. They do their best. And we can really like them. But we also have to be our dog's advocate and learn as much as we can about the breed. I see my vets as my partners for my dogs' health. I make the decisions. Most of the time, I will ask them, for serious things, "if this was your dog..." Most of the time, I will take their advice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #23
If your vet would have done an ultra sound, the next step would have been to look at the lungs and to see if it masethesized (sp?). No, emergency surgery is not the best scenario. And I do agree that we need to be as up to date on the common problems in our breed, because vets are human. Yes, they have a lot of education, but there's a lot of stuff to know there. A human doctor only deals with mammals, homo sapiens. And generally is only a part of what a vet does. They may all be able to be the office-call type doctor, but then they have specialties, surgeons, anesthesiologists, eye doctors, ears nose and throat doctors, cardiologists, urologists, and so forth.

Your vet does all of that, but not just for your breed, not just for your species, not just for your genus, not just for your family, they have to know dogs, cats, horses, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, parakeets, fish, reptiles. Ok, most of them see dogs and cats for the most part. But you get my drift. There are hundreds of breeds of dogs and quite a few of cats, and each has its health concerns. Maybe with some breeds the vet can keep it all up to date, but if we know what questions to ask, what tests we might want done, we can help our canine-health-partner not miss anything. I'm not blaming you. I'm agreeing with you, but also sticking up for the vets a little bit.

For me, as a breeder, I have saved at least one bitch an unnecessary surgery by listening to the owner and telling her to disregard what the ER vet said and to take her to a 24 hour clinic with a repro vet specialist, ultra sound capabilities, lab on site, x-rays, surgeons. The ER vet, understanding that the adult female still had her parts could not see past pyometra, and nearly demanded that they do an emergency surgery on her. The symptoms did not seem like pyo to me, and a repro-vet could do the proper testing to figure that out -- if they said she needed her parts removed post haste, I would have had them go with that. But the bitch had a blockage, and it passed without surgery. A emergency spay would not have fixed her and probably would have put her system into more distress, and might have killed her.

In these days when most folks spay and neuter vets are not seeing as many whelping scenarios. With fewer litters the average vet sees almost no whelping complications or neo-natal puppies. My vet office of 30 years no longer has an incubator. They have taken 2 day old puppies and raised the temperature to 100 degrees. A 2 day old puppy should be 96-97 degrees. I asked the vet tech, they didn't know. They said 100-102. They tried to give an antibiotic with no probiotic and no fever. Why the antibiotic? They said stress. I felt I would lose the puppies if I kept on that track so I drove them and the bitch over two hours each way to the repro-vet. The puppies survived when following their advice.

Also, shepherds can have vonWilbrand's disease. It's uncommon, a bleeding disorder. If the vet finds out during a spay or neuter, you can lose your dog. Some vets offer a discounted spay/neuter that eliminates bloodwork. Most of the time that is just fine, unless your dog has this condition. Knowing about it, and understanding the risks, will help you make a decision on whether or not you want to go with the discounted surgery. Collies and some shepherds have a gene that can mean ivomectin (heartworm meds) can kill them. My sister in law lost their rough collie to this. Vets can't possibly know everything about every breed. They do their best. And we can really like them. But we also have to be our dog's advocate and learn as much as we can about the breed. I see my vets as my partners for my dogs' health. I make the decisions. Most of the time, I will ask them, for serious things, "if this was your dog..." Most of the time, I will take their advice.
Yeah, I didn't want my post to come off as an anti-vet rant - I just wanted people to (1) assume their vet doesn't know anything so readers might undertake to self-educate on GSD illnesses (and not simply take the vet's input as final), and (2) use that observation to become aware of the early stages/symptoms of a relatively common cancer so they could avoid emergent-based decisions/surgeries. I think there's a tendency for laypeople to defer to the professionals and not do their own thinking/research, and I wanted to warn against blind deference. Sounds like you dodged a bullet or two!

In my own vet's case, the clinic is 98% dogs/cats, they don't do exotics, maybe some rodents, the occasional fish and bird. From various vet journals - Hemangiosarcoma (HSC) affects every breed, but GSDs, Golden Retrievers, Labs, Boxers and Schnauzers are over-represented in the affected population. HSC accounts for 5-7% of canine cancer (non-cutaneous forms). A male Golden has a 63-66% chance of dying from some kind of cancer (including, disproportionately, HSC), and this clinic sees a lot Goldens and Labs, fewer GSDs. The most common primary site for cancer is the spleen (28-50%), with the most frequent metastatic sites being the liver, omentum, mesentery, and lungs. Owners' observations vary according to the site of the tumor, but generally manifest as episodic weakness with recovery (my dog's waxing/waning episodes), abdominal distension (from the blood), malaise, depression, anorexia and weight loss. In short, HSC's something the clinic must see quite frequently in middle-aged dogs, including/especially GSDs and Goldens, it's got a common symptom set, and I continue to believe the vet should have recommended an ultrasound of the spleen in the presence my dog's symptom set. Barring the vet's suggestion, I'd ask for one, in any event, given what I now know about HSC, even if the vet poo-pooed the idea.

Thanks for the info re: neonatal issues.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #24
Happier stories are what I would like to bring to you as well going forward. Grieve your own way, for as long as you need, but keep in mind that the longer you wait to start a new chapter, the harder it becomes at times.

Through this process I have met some very wonderful people, some in this forum. Please let me know if there is anything I can do or offer to help you or your wife. I work from home twice a week and have nights and weekends, so don't hesitate to ask, even if it is just because you wish to vent.

I look forward to your advice! I know I will need it! I don’t offend easily and welcome constructive criticism, so feel free to send a virtual smack over the head if I stray in any way. Since I’ve already asked you for advice, it can no longer ever be “unasked”. :)
I lose more of my filter as I age, so forewarned is forearmed.

As for the new chapter, I'm sure it will happen, most likely some time this year, but I can't imagine doing it in the very near future. It's still raw, and, even if I currently felt like undertaking the process (somewhat less refined than your own - I found R as a Craigslist re-home), and starting all over again from scratch with a new dog, it wouldn't be fair to any new dog to expect him/her to immediately live up to my exalted view of R.

He really was a great dog whose energy level (there's that very important thing, mentioned yet again) and temperament matched my own. We moved as one unit via communication from intuition borne of much time spent together. Hand gestures, looks, head nods/shakes (mine), and oral tsks/whistles - hardly any words were needed. I'm no master trainer, by any stretch of imagination, but he made me look good. No, I'll give it some time - I like the memories and don't want to start overwriting them just yet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
I lose more of my filter as I age, so forewarned is forearmed.

As for the new chapter, I'm sure it will happen, most likely some time this year, but I can't imagine doing it in the very near future. It's still raw, and, even if I currently felt like undertaking the process (somewhat less refined than your own - I found R as a Craigslist re-home), and starting all over again from scratch with a new dog, it wouldn't be fair to any new dog to expect him/her to immediately live up to my exalted view of R.

He really was a great dog whose energy level (there's that very important thing, mentioned yet again) and temperament matched my own. We moved as one unit via communication from intuition borne of much time spent together. Hand gestures, looks, head nods/shakes (mine), and oral tsks/whistles - hardly any words were needed. I'm no master trainer, by any stretch of imagination, but he made me look good. No, I'll give it some time - I like the memories and don't want to start overwriting them just yet.
Everything at its proper time, and the proper time is different for each of us. :)

Heck, it took me years!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
107 Posts
Give it some time, I’ve lost my heart dog at the age of 14+ and then her daughter only at the age of 12. I was feeling horrible, did all the right stuff..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
I am so sorry for your loss, truly so sorry, and so so hurt for you... and I know the brave automatic reply would be...thank you life goes on... But I am not sure, I would even like anyone to go through such a loss... I couldn't even imagine myself and my furry friend go through what you both went through... I just would like you to know that I would have loved to just hug you and tell you, we understand... bless you dear... take care always of your remaining furry dogs and the would-be new GSD, but first take care of your self too... the sun still does come out tomorrow... Good luck and thank you for sharing your story with us...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
So sorry for your loss!

We lost our first GSD to the same after going through a very similar experience probably 30 years ago. Our vet had sent us home after bringing him in. It was obvious that something was majorly wrong and we spent the next couple of days/nights at the emergency vet and finally had them do exploratory surgery. They fixed him up and he was doing great for about 2 weeks and then started favoring his front paw. We took him back in and he was diagnosed with bone cancer and gone in another 2 weeks...

We lost another GSD about 2 years ago to the same. Our vet's office was closed at the time, so we took him to the emergency vet. Fortunately, the vet we saw immediately did an ultrasound and pulled a syringe of blood from his abdomen for us to see - and she was very honest with what she thought it was, the likely outcome and what she would do if she were in our shoes. He had other chronic health issues and we decided to let him go. It didn't make it any easier, but we were extremely grateful for her honesty and experience. That same GSD had lupus that took over a year to diagnose after seeing multiple vets - and was only diagnosed because we demanded the vet run the tests (after endless hours of research on our part). Simple blood tests but none of the multiple vets we took him to had experience with lupus...

As frustrating (to be kind) as it is, I've always just tried to rationalize that it has to be very difficult for a vet to diagnose a patient that can't speak and that they don't know as well as us parents. And some try harder than others and/or aren't afraid to ask other vets for advice. That said, we switched vets after the experience with our first GSD and have luckily found a decent group of vets that seem to have a lot of individual experience to draw from.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
I'm so very sorry for your loss. It's absolutely heartbreaking 💔. May God comfort and Bless you and give you peace only he can give.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Before I proceed, let me say that I am very sorry about your loss. I’ve been there too many times but suffice to say that isn’t any easier to lose a trusted 4 legged friend, especially when that loss is unpredictable and shocking in its own right.

Over the course of my seventy plus years, we’ve lost Graeson, Sarek and Kahner to hemangiosarcoma. Graeson his HSA hit one Sunday night. He wasn’t eating his food which was a rarity for him. By we got our heads straight, it was too late.

Sarek had his spleen removed two months earlier but a short time later, it was all over. Sarek was my crutch when my sister passed and then again when I had my stroke. Losing him was the hardest thing that I had to do. Although he passed a little over seven years ago, I’m still not over his loss. And I will probably never be.

Kahner we adopted three years ago from the county shelter. We brought him to the house and got him acclimated with the other dogs that we had here. Two weeks later, Kahner collapsed while out for a walk, then recovered then went down again. So we took Kahner to our vets’ only to get the diagnosis: hemangiosarcoma.

The vet shrugged his shoulders and suggested that we put Kahner down right then and there. We declined. So we took Kahner home and researched hemangiosarcoma on the internet. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

When we were desperately seeking a cure for Kahner, we reached out to the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school. We heard that they were testing a Chinese drug called “I’m Yunity”. We got Kahner on I’m Yunity but it was too late since the tumor had already metastasized into Kahn’s heart.


Every time I think of Kahner, I get mad. Mad because we believe that his owner turned Kahner out rather than try to treat Kahner’s hemangiosarcoma or alternatively have Kahner put to sleep surrounded by his loving family. Less than a month later, we did what Kahner’s original owners failed to do for Kahner.

Now through our Shepherds Run Foundation, Inc. (self-funded attempt to help finance a cure for HSA) we are supporting worthwhile veterinary research clinics as we identify them. It’s ironic since some of the clinics won’t even answer my email inquiries. Notably one in my “backyard”. It must be nice to have all the funds that are needed to work on a cure for HSA.

As it stands right now, the foundation is donating to the University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, Flint Animal Cancer Center, and may be the University of Wisconsin.


We are still trading emails with the University of Wisconsin in order to see if our goals are a match. So the jury’s still out.


Your truly is an electrical engineer by trade so I don’t believe in “hocus locus” cures. But I ran to and embraced the University of Pennsylvania when I thought that they may have a way to keep the HSA demon at bay.

I doubt that I’ll see a cure for HSA during my lifetime. But strides are being made every day.

Once again, I am truly sorry about your loss.

The Final Tribute
(Courtesy of and best said by Mr. Mansfield Schalk)

"Keep your dog as long as he is happy and comfortable. Do everything you can reasonably can to keep him that way. But when the sad time comes that he is sick, always uncomfortable, or in some pain, it is your obligation then to have him put to sleep...But you owe it to your old friend to allow him to go to sleep...And because you loved your old dog as much as you did, you'll pay him the greatest tribute. He proved to you that there's nothing quite so wonderful as a fine German shepherd, so in his honor you'll get another German shepherd as soon as you can. I think he'd like it that way."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
73 Posts
I'm so sorry for your loss. It is most difficult to lose a best friend, especially when the person who is supposed to be there isn't.

2 years ago we changed vets. We'd had enough of pie-in-the- sky estimates and nothing done. When I want the dog's teeth cleaned I do not want an $1100 estimate of what they can possibly do. The straw was getting a blood test in preparation for anesthesia then being told they didn't have an opening for her from early February when they did the test until mid April. $180 for a worthless blood test.

We had also lost 2 dogs with that vet and it stung. Jake she just plain missed something. Lucky I know she did.

I think some vets these days look on practicing as a job, not health care for a living thing. I have learned to avoid 'corporate vets' because it seems they put business ahead of care. When I was young I had a vet who never remembered me but always remembered the dog. That's the way all vets should be.

Again, I"m so sorry for your loss, I realize there just aren't words.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,888 Posts
Hemangio sucks. I'm sorry you had to experience it with your dog.

With diagnosis, surgery & chemo, we bought 6 months for my dog This was about 10 years ago. There were no symptoms I caught before the first bleed. And the vet did an ultra sound at that time. The ultra sound told us that the spleen was the only thing affected at that time, so that's why we did the surgery. Hemangio is carried in the blood but the dog needs the blood so they cannot drain it but need to allow it to be reabsorbed. Likely furthering the opportunity for the disease to spread.

Dogs die on operating tables. So do humans. Medicine is not infallable.

Again, I'm sorry for your experience. You did what you could, you did the best you could. On top of that, you gave your dog a great life.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
81 Posts
I'm so sorry for your loss. If it's any consolation, the anger you feel is pretty normal after losing a dog to hemangio. With this breed, if you own GSDs over a lifetime, you can pretty much break all GSD owners into two groups: those who've already lost one (or more!) to hemangio, and those who yet will. It feels like a breed-specific cancer that stalks these dogs relentlessly.

Even if you caught it two weeks earlier, by the time the dog is experiencing those bleeds, the cancer has nearly always already metastasized. Imaging of the liver and lungs would likely have shown it there too -- or else it would have been seeded there, even if not yet visible.

Many people I know who've opted for spleen surgery had the dog die on the table -- it's shockingly common for that operation, even when done by a boarded specialist surgeon at a vet school. The specialist at the vet school advised me not to do it last time, and to just let her go. They pumped her full of pain meds, fluids and B12 so she felt better and could walk out on her own, and then we took her home...and she died in my DH's arms overnight that same night. Knowing what it was didn't get us more time.

My hemangio dog died within 2 weeks of a perfect annual exam and perfect bloodwork -- her first collapse was the big one. After losing her following the vet school's diagnosis at their emergency clinic, I called the regular vet, certain they'd missed something in the annual exam....and I was very angry at my generalist for not spotting some clue that she was sick. Alas, there was no clue. Hemangio is doesn't usually give itself away that way.

Even if you'd caught it two weeks earlier, and survived the splenectomy, would you or your vet have known to save the tumor to send out to one of the labs capable of producing a custom-tailored cancer immunotherapy drug from that tumor's DNA? Hardly any vets know about this experimental protocol -- which seems to be the best hope for hemangio right now. They send a small piece of tumor out for pathology and throw the rest away. Once the splenic tumor is disposed of, there's no way to manufacture the custom immunotherapy--so most hemangio dogs lose the oppportunity before they're even fully diagnosed. Without that immunotherapy, the regular oncology protocol for hemangio is not good -- you're considered a success story if the dog is alive 6 months after the splenectomy with chemo. Many don't make it that long -- a friend's Golden Retriever made it just three months after splenectomy after getting the full oncology treatment from the vet school.

A vet oncologist told me that they'd like to see older GSDs receive ultra sounds annually. It's expensive and requires sedation and shaving the dog, so it's just not something that gets done annually.

My last GSD had pancreatitis issues so I was ultrasounding him just to manage that. He was ultrasounded on 9/15/19 by a boarded radiologist who had seen him many times. All clear.

10/21/19 late at night, he came to my bedside with a look that said, “Mom, I don’t fell well.” The last time he did that, it was mesenteric torsion. So we loaded him into the car and drove fast an hour to the emergency clinic.

They ultrasounded him with the wand they usually use for cystos (to get urine for labwork). His abdomen was full of blood.

So much for that clear ultrasound a month before.

I took him home, calling the major vet hospital 4 hours in the other direction to see if they had a boarded surgeon to take him the next day. They did, if I got there by 9:30 am.

So I drove even faster. The surgeon accepted what we all suspected and admitted my dog.

Surgery happened. The tumor wasn’t big but it was still bleeding. Spleen removed.

As soon as his wound was reasonably healed, I started chemo. I used various alternative treatments that my specialist thought be promising.

Everything went as perfectly as you might imagine. No veterinarians messed up. Everyone did all they could perfectly. Didn’t matter.

I had my dog for 5 months after surgery, spent thousands of dollars, and he left this world in my lap, far too young and too beautiful at 9 years old.

1 month from a clear ultrasound to a bleeding tumorI asked the surgeon how that could happen. He shrugged and said, “hemangiosarcoma is aggressive.”

We’re all afraid of bloat, but hemangiosarcoma kills more of our young dogs than bloat ever did.

My young beagle is currently in a cancer vaccine study, so that we can put an end to this misery.


They're accepting German shepherds.

A cancer Vaccine, not simply a
Treatment, but a preventative

Please spread the word. Everyone who can, let’s do so.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #35
To those who responded within the past 3 days, I didn't get email notifications of your posts, for some reason. Sorry for the delay.

Give it some time, I’ve lost my heart dog at the age of 14+ and then her daughter only at the age of 12. I was feeling horrible, did all the right stuff..
It's getting better after a week, but still . . . . Wish mine could have gotten close to your numbers!

I am so sorry for your loss, truly so sorry, and so so hurt for you... and I know the brave automatic reply would be...thank you life goes on... But I am not sure, I would even like anyone to go through such a loss... I couldn't even imagine myself and my furry friend go through what you both went through... I just would like you to know that I would have loved to just hug you and tell you, we understand... bless you dear... take care always of your remaining furry dogs and the would-be new GSD, but first take care of your self too... the sun still does come out tomorrow... Good luck and thank you for sharing your story with us...
Life does go on, but I really want to make sure I have a more GSD-informed vet before getting another GSD.

So sorry for your loss!

We lost our first GSD to the same after going through a very similar experience probably 30 years ago. Our vet had sent us home after bringing him in. It was obvious that something was majorly wrong and we spent the next couple of days/nights at the emergency vet and finally had them do exploratory surgery. They fixed him up and he was doing great for about 2 weeks and then started favoring his front paw. We took him back in and he was diagnosed with bone cancer and gone in another 2 weeks...

We lost another GSD about 2 years ago to the same. Our vet's office was closed at the time, so we took him to the emergency vet. Fortunately, the vet we saw immediately did an ultrasound and pulled a syringe of blood from his abdomen for us to see - and she was very honest with what she thought it was, the likely outcome and what she would do if she were in our shoes. He had other chronic health issues and we decided to let him go. It didn't make it any easier, but we were extremely grateful for her honesty and experience. That same GSD had lupus that took over a year to diagnose after seeing multiple vets - and was only diagnosed because we demanded the vet run the tests (after endless hours of research on our part). Simple blood tests but none of the multiple vets we took him to had experience with lupus...

As frustrating (to be kind) as it is, I've always just tried to rationalize that it has to be very difficult for a vet to diagnose a patient that can't speak and that they don't know as well as us parents. And some try harder than others and/or aren't afraid to ask other vets for advice. That said, we switched vets after the experience with our first GSD and have luckily found a decent group of vets that seem to have a lot of individual experience to draw from.
I want your female vet! I've done a ton of HSA research since losing mine, and I remain of the opinion that an adequately informed vet should have done exactly what your female did vet did - ultrasound and check for blood, advise on grave prognosis and poor chance for positive outcome, so that I could evaluate what to do that's best for the dog.

I'm so very sorry for your loss. It's absolutely heartbreaking 💔. May God comfort and Bless you and give you peace only he can give.
Thank you so much.

Before I proceed, let me say that I am very sorry about your loss. I’ve been there too many times but suffice to say that isn’t any easier to lose a trusted 4 legged friend, especially when that loss is unpredictable and shocking in its own right.

Over the course of my seventy plus years, we’ve lost Graeson, Sarek and Kahner to hemangiosarcoma. Graeson his HSA hit one Sunday night. He wasn’t eating his food which was a rarity for him. By we got our heads straight, it was too late.

Sarek had his spleen removed two months earlier but a short time later, it was all over. Sarek was my crutch when my sister passed and then again when I had my stroke. Losing him was the hardest thing that I had to do. Although he passed a little over seven years ago, I’m still not over his loss. And I will probably never be.

Kahner we adopted three years ago from the county shelter. We brought him to the house and got him acclimated with the other dogs that we had here. Two weeks later, Kahner collapsed while out for a walk, then recovered then went down again. So we took Kahner to our vets’ only to get the diagnosis: hemangiosarcoma.

The vet shrugged his shoulders and suggested that we put Kahner down right then and there. We declined. So we took Kahner home and researched hemangiosarcoma on the internet. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

When we were desperately seeking a cure for Kahner, we reached out to the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school. We heard that they were testing a Chinese drug called “I’m Yunity”. We got Kahner on I’m Yunity but it was too late since the tumor had already metastasized into Kahn’s heart.


Every time I think of Kahner, I get mad. Mad because we believe that his owner turned Kahner out rather than try to treat Kahner’s hemangiosarcoma or alternatively have Kahner put to sleep surrounded by his loving family. Less than a month later, we did what Kahner’s original owners failed to do for Kahner.

Now through our Shepherds Run Foundation, Inc. (self-funded attempt to help finance a cure for HSA) we are supporting worthwhile veterinary research clinics as we identify them. It’s ironic since some of the clinics won’t even answer my email inquiries. Notably one in my “backyard”. It must be nice to have all the funds that are needed to work on a cure for HSA.

As it stands right now, the foundation is donating to the University of Minnesota, University of Pennsylvania, Flint Animal Cancer Center, and may be the University of Wisconsin.


We are still trading emails with the University of Wisconsin in order to see if our goals are a match. So the jury’s still out.


Your truly is an electrical engineer by trade so I don’t believe in “hocus locus” cures. But I ran to and embraced the University of Pennsylvania when I thought that they may have a way to keep the HSA demon at bay.

I doubt that I’ll see a cure for HSA during my lifetime. But strides are being made every day.

Once again, I am truly sorry about your loss.

The Final Tribute
(Courtesy of and best said by Mr. Mansfield Schalk)

"Keep your dog as long as he is happy and comfortable. Do everything you can reasonably can to keep him that way. But when the sad time comes that he is sick, always uncomfortable, or in some pain, it is your obligation then to have him put to sleep...But you owe it to your old friend to allow him to go to sleep...And because you loved your old dog as much as you did, you'll pay him the greatest tribute. He proved to you that there's nothing quite so wonderful as a fine German shepherd, so in his honor you'll get another German shepherd as soon as you can. I think he'd like it that way."
Thanks for your story, and the links, which I'll check out. In my research at this early stage, it appears the cancer starts in the epithelial cells that line the bone marrow, and that the spleen is actually the first metastatic site, not the site of origin. The spleen tumor opens/bleeds, the cancer-filled blood is then re-absorbed, effectively spreading the HSA all over the body. Doesn't sound like there's much that will stop the cancer, once it's hit the spleen.

I wonder about the origin - I've seen a couple of studies suggesting chronic inflammation from Bartonella (bacteria transmitted from other animals, including cats, by fleas) as a possible cause. HSA was overrepresented in GSDs with Bartonella. Preventing infection in the first place through flea control, and/or treating the Bartonella as a prophylactic measure, seem like interesting possibilities. Also, I wonder about the efficacy of having the vet do a VEGF blood test - that would at least confirm whether it's an epithelial cancer, and it would possibly catch it early enough to allow sensible decision making, since levels are elevated almost only in the presence of tumors making new blood pathways.

I will get another GSD, if I can an area vet in whom I can have confidence.

I'm so sorry for your loss. It is most difficult to lose a best friend, especially when the person who is supposed to be there isn't.

2 years ago we changed vets. We'd had enough of pie-in-the- sky estimates and nothing done. When I want the dog's teeth cleaned I do not want an $1100 estimate of what they can possibly do. The straw was getting a blood test in preparation for anesthesia then being told they didn't have an opening for her from early February when they did the test until mid April. $180 for a worthless blood test.

We had also lost 2 dogs with that vet and it stung. Jake she just plain missed something. Lucky I know she did.

I think some vets these days look on practicing as a job, not health care for a living thing. I have learned to avoid 'corporate vets' because it seems they put business ahead of care. When I was young I had a vet who never remembered me but always remembered the dog. That's the way all vets should be.

Again, I"m so sorry for your loss, I realize there just aren't words.
Your history with vets is closest to my own. Lots of line items on the bill, but not much investigatory prowess. They're all business, now, with tight scheduling, lots of flex time for the vets (so long waits for the one you want), lots of work done by transient techs who float among the clinics, etc. $400-700+ estimate to get my near-feral cat's teeth scraped. Cat weighs 3 pounds - knock it out, scrape, pull a tooth if you have to, and wake it up, send it home with some antibiotic. My feralish cat can't be your profit center.

I don't mind paying, but I do mind paying for the $3000 all-in cost for the 3 vet visits, tests, surgery, etc. If my vet had known her stuff, she'd have done an ultrasound ($150), maybe a VEGF (if they do those for dogs), maybe stick a needle in the abdomen to see if there's blood ($150), vet visit $75. So, $375 + the VEGF, and if the decision is made to euthanize, then another $250, so $750-800, or about 1/3 of what I paid to have a dog suffer on/off for 21 days, then have an emergency ER run when he's going into shock, prepped for surgery amid frantic strangers wearing masks, before mercifully being knocked out. He and I should have been spared that end, and I should have been spared a tripling of the expense. All because my vet was underinformed.

Hemangio sucks. I'm sorry you had to experience it with your dog.

With diagnosis, surgery & chemo, we bought 6 months for my dog This was about 10 years ago. There were no symptoms I caught before the first bleed. And the vet did an ultra sound at that time. The ultra sound told us that the spleen was the only thing affected at that time, so that's why we did the surgery. Hemangio is carried in the blood but the dog needs the blood so they cannot drain it but need to allow it to be reabsorbed. Likely furthering the opportunity for the disease to spread.

Dogs die on operating tables. So do humans. Medicine is not infallable.

Again, I'm sorry for your experience. You did what you could, you did the best you could. On top of that, you gave your dog a great life.
All true - I'm not moaning about his dying on the table. He was in shock and I knew it was a risk. If he was 12+, I might have opted for euthanasia, but at 8.5, I figured I'd try for the extra 6 months or so (if malignant), or a home-run if it was benign (small possibility, I know). I did what I could, 3 different vets and 2 different clinics in 21 days, at the first sign of any symptom. He did have a great life - just wish it'd been a longer one, but I'll take what I got.

My last GSD had pancreatitis issues so I was ultrasounding him just to manage that. He was ultrasounded on 9/15/19 by a boarded radiologist who had seen him many times. All clear.

10/21/19 late at night, he came to my bedside with a look that said, “Mom, I don’t fell well.” The last time he did that, it was mesenteric torsion. So we loaded him into the car and drove fast an hour to the emergency clinic.

They ultrasounded him with the wand they usually use for cystos (to get urine for labwork). His abdomen was full of blood.

So much for that clear ultrasound a month before.

I took him home, calling the major vet hospital 4 hours in the other direction to see if they had a boarded surgeon to take him the next day. They did, if I got there by 9:30 am.

So I drove even faster. The surgeon accepted what we all suspected and admitted my dog.

Surgery happened. The tumor wasn’t big but it was still bleeding. Spleen removed.

As soon as his wound was reasonably healed, I started chemo. I used various alternative treatments that my specialist thought be promising.

Everything went as perfectly as you might imagine. No veterinarians messed up. Everyone did all they could perfectly. Didn’t matter.

I had my dog for 5 months after surgery, spent thousands of dollars, and he left this world in my lap, far too young and too beautiful at 9 years old.

1 month from a clear ultrasound to a bleeding tumorI asked the surgeon how that could happen. He shrugged and said, “hemangiosarcoma is aggressive.”

We’re all afraid of bloat, but hemangiosarcoma kills more of our young dogs than bloat ever did.

My young beagle is currently in a cancer vaccine study, so that we can put an end to this misery.


They're accepting German shepherds.

A cancer Vaccine, not simply a
Treatment, but a preventative

Please spread the word. Everyone who can, let’s do so.

Thanks for the info and link, which I will add to my research library. I'd not heard of HSA before this event, so I'm behind the learning curve on this one. I will spread the word.

Your dog's outcome was what I'd hoped for mine, had he not died during the surgery - 5-6 months would have been worth it to me (hopefully, for him - I would have eased him out clean, before he had much distress). As I mentioned above, some research points to VEGF testing for diagnosis confirmation, and to Bartonella as a possible cancer inciter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Sorry for your loss. We recently lost our GSD to Addison's Disease. Our long time vet unfortunately didn't catch it and sent us home with anti nausea pills and antibiotics. We tried that for two days but watched her slip further away over the weekend. We called our vet and they explained that they were sorry that there was no more they could do. Told us we should contact the animal hospital the next town over. We did and using the same blood work from our vet was able to deduce it was Addison's Disease within ten minutes. Now knowing what we were battling we had a path forward as Addison's is manageable with the correct medication. We started the process, she got additional blood work and exams to confirm stayed over night at the animal hospital (they are 24 hours). Had her shot for the first month had her pills and for three days it was like we had our old happy dog back. Then she crashed hard and went from doing amazing to quickly slipping away. We took her back in immediately (she went outside to use the bathroom, drank some water, and got into the truck under her own power) by the time we got the vets she was all but gone. There was nothing left to do but help her go easier. We had her cremated. Its hard because looking back its easy to get mad that so much time was lost with our vet not having the knowledge, not seeing the signs. Maybe if we had those days to start treatment sooner, maybe then? We did call our vet to tell them what it was, maybe next time for someone else they may catch it. However, we did switch vets too, to the one who did see it right away. Writing this I realize now that even though they caught this one there could be something else they could easily miss. So I must agree that we cant simple rely on one professional to know all. We should do our own homework, and when there isn't a clear answer don't wait and see, find another set of eyes. She was only six years old, and a lot was spent to try, I regret non of it. I'm glad we did all we could I rest easier knowing that. I wish it could have been found sooner, but here we are.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #37 (Edited)
Sorry for your loss. We recently lost our GSD to Addison's Disease. Our long time vet unfortunately didn't catch it and sent us home with anti nausea pills and antibiotics. We tried that for two days but watched her slip further away over the weekend. We called our vet and they explained that they were sorry that there was no more they could do. Told us we should contact the animal hospital the next town over. We did and using the same blood work from our vet was able to deduce it was Addison's Disease within ten minutes. Now knowing what we were battling we had a path forward as Addison's is manageable with the correct medication. We started the process, she got additional blood work and exams to confirm stayed over night at the animal hospital (they are 24 hours). Had her shot for the first month had her pills and for three days it was like we had our old happy dog back. Then she crashed hard and went from doing amazing to quickly slipping away. We took her back in immediately (she went outside to use the bathroom, drank some water, and got into the truck under her own power) by the time we got the vets she was all but gone. There was nothing left to do but help her go easier. We had her cremated. Its hard because looking back its easy to get mad that so much time was lost with our vet not having the knowledge, not seeing the signs. Maybe if we had those days to start treatment sooner, maybe then? We did call our vet to tell them what it was, maybe next time for someone else they may catch it. However, we did switch vets too, to the one who did see it right away. Writing this I realize now that even though they caught this one there could be something else they could easily miss. So I must agree that we cant simple rely on one professional to know all. We should do our own homework, and when there isn't a clear answer don't wait and see, find another set of eyes. She was only six years old, and a lot was spent to try, I regret non of it. I'm glad we did all we could I rest easier knowing that. I wish it could have been found sooner, but here we are.
Sorry to have your first post be this one, but . . . we play the hand, etc. I don't know much about canine Addison's, but coincidentally, my poor wife who had the cancer episode also has had Addison's Disease for almost 20 years now. Very difficult to diagnose, in humans. After no-goes with specialists, her GP, fresh from a medical in-service training where it was discussed, asked her if she'd just returned from the beach, given her "tan." Ah-Ha moment, that was - skin darkening is a Major Sign of Addison's. Anyway, hard to diagnose in people, no idea in dogs, but I do know it's more common in dogs than people, so a good vet should know what to look for. There are vets, and there are Vets, like there are weekend pickup b'ball players and NBA stars, I suppose.

Addison's in people takes a while to iron out the dosages of the various replaced hormones, and it'd be easy to crash during that process. The wife has to carry an IM syringe full of cortisol to use in case of a physical stressor, like a car accident, though her normal intake is from pills. No idea if it's that prickly a process for dogs.

You did the best you could under these facts, and that's all your dog could ask of you. The goal is "no regrets," and it sounds like neither of us have them. Some will think us/me "angry" (stage of grief) at something external, like the vet, but that's not it, for me. I'm not angry at my vet - I just wish she'd been better at her job. As my dog's caretake, it's my job to find him the best doctor, and I won't get another GSD until I'm sure I can get him adequate medical care in my area.

Anyone have a recommendation for a GSD-oriented vet in the Kitsap County, WA area, let me know.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
81 Posts
I'm scared now. My gsd is turning 9 soon. She was starting to have trouble getting into the car but that was addressed with Adequan. Now I'm all kinds of worried. I guess the best any of us can do is to enjoy the time we have with our pets. Seeing my gsd puppy break her leg let me know just how fast things can go south.

I'm sorry for your lost and all the loses I've read about in this thread.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
116 Posts
Discussion Starter #39 (Edited)
I'm scared now. My gsd is turning 9 soon. She was starting to have trouble getting into the car but that was addressed with Adequan. Now I'm all kinds of worried. I guess the best any of us can do is to enjoy the time we have with our pets. Seeing my gsd puppy break her leg let me know just how fast things can go south.

I'm sorry for your lost and all the loses I've read about in this thread.
You're completely correct - we should enjoy our time with them and not worry about the end, except to make it the best possible end for them. I wrote to share my newly gained opinion that, when trouble comes, don't assume your vet knows anything. Laying awake last night thinking about my dog's final days and what the various players could have done differently, it occurs to me to mention that dog medicine is not like (or as good as) human medicine.

I moaned about no Fast Ultrasound for my dog - I realize after thinking about it that my vet, who works 1 day/wk, is booked solid for that day. Even if she thought it was a good test in my dog's case, she couldn't do an ultrasound on my dog without making the rest of her appointments run very late - bad for business and for her home life. Puppy vaccination and well-dog clinics just aren't set up for specialist work. In the human medicine case, the doctor could send the patient to Radiology for the ultrasound, but not in a stand-alone vet clinic. With what I know now, I would go over to Seattle to a specialist for the ultrasound (given these symptoms and my new knowledge - basically, it's likely cancer, so best to take a look for a mass), or see if the local pet ER (where my dog had his fatal surgery) would do it.

And, with what I know now, I probably would have opted for euthanasia, instead of the surgery, for much the same reason. The otherwise excellent ER vet said he'd done the surgery on his own dog, in hope the spleen mass was benign (25% chance, down to 10% chance, depending on source). My dog died on the operating table about 1.5 hours after I arrived at the ER, and who knows how many hours since he started bleeding. When I got to the ER (20 minutes lost during the ride), the receptionist made me re-answer all of the same questions I'd answered just 20 days before, then she weighed him again - all after I told her this was an emergency and could she have someone take a look at him. 7-8 minutes lost. We go into the treatment room - wait 2 minutes for tech, tech asks questions, senses urgency, checks gums, says dog has to come with her - that's another 2-3 minutes. Dog's gone for 3-4 minutes, ER vet comes in with the Bad News, takes questions, gives answers - 8-9 minutes lost. Surgery OK'd, so back to the receptionist. I kind of assumed they'd start work right away, but no, they have to be sure they get paid, so they take the time to work up a large estimate of potential costs ($4500 in line items, multiple pages, on an iPad) - that's 4-5 minutes, then the tech has to walk me with through the estimate, explain line items, explain risks of surgery, and get me to initial numerous boxes - all while I can think only of "I have to get through this so they'll start on him." Keep in mind he's still bleeding out in some room back there.

Oh, wait, there's also another patient who's waiting to be seen - woman with a small dog that looks Just Fine. She'd gotten there earlier and was in a treatment room. I suspect they took care of this last patient before they started a complicated surgery, so that's more lost time. In fairness, they did give my dog some fluids during this period to get his blood pressure up, but no new blood.

And there's no blood on the itemized bill - they try to reuse the blood found in the abdomen. In human medicine, people sell their blood and hospitals buy it, but not in the vet medicine world. You might find a clinic with a blood cat they drain every now and then, but dogs, not so much. So they didn't start my dog's surgery until probably 2 hours after I noticed the symptoms, he lost a lot of blood, and they didn't replace the blood during surgery - he "arrested" during the closure.

I'd based my decision to do the surgery on the vet's personal history, in combination with what little I knew of the disease and possible/likely course. Also, and significantly, the vet in question is the 20+ year owner of the ER clinic - he's done a million emergency surgeries - I couldn't have asked for a more experienced hand. What I didn't take into account was the reality of pet medicine and the very real possibility that that reality upped the chances of dying during the surgery, compared to human medicine. Contributing to my decision was the fact that the vet personnel weren't acting like this was an emergency, like on people medicine TV. I knew dying on the table was a possibility for my dog, but I also knew it was a possibility for my wife when she had her cancer surgery last year. What I now know is that the chances are Much Greater that your pet will die on the table due to the factors mentioned above.

For these reasons, including the relatively poor prognosis for this type of cancer, I would opt for euthanasia, rather than surgery, under the same facts going forward.

So, don't worry, but know the process so that you can make your dog's end the best end possible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,219 Posts
recently a one year old GSD got into gum with xylitol. Labs showed liver values were compromised. Vet did supportive care, wanted dog back for bloodwork and the vet then decided to give 'vaccines'! OMG...what vet would do this to a dog with liver detox going on from xyliltol poisoning?? This happened in Chicago, not a country farm vet. I would be livid if this were happening to me.
Advocate for your pets, research their issues and don't let vets do because 'they know best'.
 
21 - 40 of 42 Posts
Top