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Hemangiosarcoma is one word in the English language I absolutely detest. Like many of you who read these boards, I've lost several of the Hooligans to this aggressive, often silent, deadly cancer.

So I figured I'd start this thread in hopes that others will share their experiences with hemangiosarcoma. Maybe information one of us will note could help another member recognize a symptom and perhaps be able to extend the life of their beloved dog for an extra few months.

I never knew any of the Hooligans were ill with hemangiosarcoma until hours before their deaths.

ECHO - WGSD - hemangiosarcoma of the heart. He was 9 years 10 months old when he died. I didn't know anything was wrong until the night before he died. That night he was panting (it was cold), and not breathing properly. I was very ignorant so never thought of checking his gums - I didn't realize I was looking at an emergency, that my soul mate would be dead in less than 12 hours, but I planned on taking him to the vet the next morning. That morning he collapsed in the kitchen so I rushed him to the vet on the way to work. Even then I didn't realize it was life/death and I'd never see him alive again. I kissed him good-bye and left. The vet called me a couple hours later and told me the diagnosis, that it was inoperable, nothing could be done, and that Echo would not live. I was rushing to leave the office so I could be with him when he was put down and the vet called back that Echo died while we were on the phone.

BO - Mutt - hemangiosarcoma of the spleen. He was between 10 and 13 years old. Again, I didn't realize he was ill until the day he died. He was exhibiting one bizarre habit that I've never been able to figure out if it was related to the cancer or not - a few months before he died he started eating large amounts of dirt/sand. The day he died he was gobbling down his breakfast when he stopped in mid-bite and walked away - unheard of for a Hooligan. I decided to take him to the vet the next morning (this was a Sunday). He didn't act sick except for not eating. Late that afternoon I put the Hooligans out to go potty and Bo collapsed. His gums were pale. I rushed him to the ER where the vet diagnosed hemangiosarcoma of the spleen based on x-rays - his stomach was also filled with blood. We agreed she'd perform a spleenectomy and if the cancer had spread he'd be put down on the table. When she opened him up all his organs were riddled with cancer so he was put down.

RINGER - GSD - hemangiosarcoma of the heart. He was 12 years 11 months old when he died. He had a lot of old age problems and didn't have a lot of time left. He had his six months physical a few days before he died - he was anemic and I was waiting for his shipment of dried liver to arrive. Then one evening he was panting hard, his gums were white, he was refusing to eat so off to the ER we went. He was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma of the heart, they drained the blood, and sent him home. I was told he didn't have much time left. On the way home he felt better and ate a couple hamburgers from McDonald's. The next day he couldn't move so my neighbor came over and helped me get him in the van and I took him back to the ER to be put down.

KELLY - WGSD - hemangiosarcoma of the heart. He was 12 years 6 months old when he died. He had been very sick, had numerous physical problems, and had been very sick and in the hospital for a few days - tests showed nothing new - nothing we didn't already know. My vet and I agreed I'd take him up to Gainesville for an ultrasound and depending on the outcome I'd either get him treated if it was something simple or have him put down - because of his multiple health problems nothing heroic would be done. He was diagnosed with a gall bladder that was about to rupture and hemangiosarcoma of the heart. I drove him back to the vet's office and had him put down.

HONEY - GSD - 13 years 9 months old. She was in the hospital for two days and died from an unknown problem (only symptom was a fever). All tests were negative. The vet suspected she may have also had hemangiosarcoma but she died when her fever spiked before we could do any x-rays or ultrasounds (I had her put down when they called me to say she would not live thru the night - when I got there she was unconciencous - her temperature was 107something, very close to 108).

http://www.gsdhelp.info/cancer/hermangeosarcoma.html
http://www.gsdhelp.info/articleindex.html
 

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Bravo - Just under 8 years old, died April 2009. Came back from a lovely walk and laid down by my feet as usual. Couple of hours later called him for dinner and he was very lethargic but ate something and just curled up and went to sleep. Next morning couldn't get him to move so took him to the vet who waited 6 hours before telling me he didn't really know what was wrong. Took Bravo to Texas A&M who diagnosed it in 5 minutes - operated immediately removing his spleen and much of his liver. We had him back home for 2 weeks before he suffered a heart attack, brought on by a tumour on his heart.
 

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Basu: Just under 11 years old. Hemangiosarcoma of the spleen. One evening he was really slow on his walk and wouldn't eat dinner. I had a mandatory work obligation and had to go out. I worried the entire time about him. I came home and he was starving and back to himself. He was fine all of the next day and then crashed again the following day. Took him to the e-vet and had to put him down there that night.
 

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3 here.

Buffy, 14 years old in on August 28 of 2002. Very sudden onset, I was planning to take her and the other out for a walk. I had tied her out on her leash, while I ran to the corner store for some gatorade. When I got back, she had collapsed and could not get back up. I rushed her to the vet, and they confirmed that a tumor in her had ruptured, and she was bleeding out. She was gone before we could even make any kind of decision.

Maxie Lee, 7.8 years, Febuary 10th 2007. Maxie had some other health issues that had come up earlier in the fall. We had been treating her for blindness in one eye with prednisone, which had covered up the symptoms of the growing cancer inside her until it was too late. As with Buffy, it was quite sudden, and by the time we found out, she was already dying. She was unconcious, and barely breathing when we made the decision to let her go.

Jazzabell, 9 or 10 years old, September 9th, 2008.We found a growth in Jazzy belly, in her pancreas in mid June. Cancer was suspected, which we were treating, and in Spetember, it seemed the cancer had slowed or stopped growing, however, in early September, I noticed she was getting winded easily, which let up to a catastrophic event and died the night of the 9th, and we later found a huge tumor in her heart that had strangled her from within.
 

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Hemangiosarcoma....to this day whenever I read the word or say it causes me emotional termoil, grief and tears still.

CHLOE-Mixed Breed-12 years 4 months
(Her mother was a purebred German Shorthair Pointer, Father unknown. Vet's guess was Newfi/German Shepherd, our guess German Shepherd/Chow. Big, black and fluffy. Our Heart Dog.....

No noticeable symptoms except for one. Two days before we took her in to the Vet, late at night, she had whimpered and ran across the living room, laid down behind my chair and was breathing and panting heavily. Half and hour later, she appeared to be ok. We thought it odd.

We dropped her off at the Vet the night before Thanksgiving 2007. Our vet called and said, "your girl has Hemangiosarcoma of the Spleen". She was very Anemic, it was in-operable. He told me she didn't have much time left as multiple organs were affected. He suggested we come and get her, bring her home and give her steriods and pain drugs. We knew nothing about what she had at the time. She should of never come home. The Vet had done this because my DH had just lost his father during the night, he died in his arms and it was Thanksgiving the next day.

Thanksgiving Day she did not want to eat any turkey (Chloe lived to eat) and was very restless, could not get comfortable. Vomited quite a bit throughout the day.

That evening she was having difficulty breathing and was very uncomfortable, never slept. She and I sat in the hallway all night long...........

In the morning DH took her back to the Vet's and held her while they ended her suffering.

Hemangiosarcoma is insideous.
 

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Klaus - GSD - 7 years old - HS of spleen & liver - died November, 2008. We saw no symptoms except for lethargy one day and he collapsed that evening on the way out to the barn with me - gums gray - rushed to ER where we were given the diagnosis. We elected against surgery and did U/S instead, where the U/S doc said the lesions we saw covering his spleen and liver (like freckles) were classic HS presentation. We elected not to do chemo and had a few more weeks with him before a major bleed (there had been smaller ones during those weeks interspersed with great times) sent us to the vet for euthanization.

It is a devastating, shocking diagnosis - especially if, like us, you had never heard of it before. Although we were assured that Klaus was not in pain - just feeling very, very tired - if we had to do this again, we would euthanize sooner. Those last weeks were very hard on all of us - would today be the day? - life was definitely not normal and while enjoying all the attention, our proud and beautiful Klaus knew things weren't the same.

to all who have gone through this.
 

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Hemangiosarcoma (spleen) victim: LADY 8yo shepherd/chow mix

One evening she got tired and we had to go home early from a walk. Next morning she did not eat. Took her to the emergency vet, she was extremely anemic. They said hit by the car, but she never left the yard. Had large bumps similar to bruises (just not dark) all over her body. Got two blood transfusions and steroids with slight improvement only. Diagnosed with HSA two days later, vet offered surgery. She did not look like she would survive the surgery to me and I let her go three days after I took her to the hospital. I blamed myself for this, for feeding her crappy food initially - I did not know any better.

Hemangiosarcoma (spleen) victim: my sweet BoBo, 9yo GSD, German showlines

Bleeding 3 days before his nineth birthday. Emegency surgery that night, qiuck recovery from surgery. He fully bounced back. Started chemotherapy 2 weeks after surgery. Did great with chemo. Had him for 4 wonderful months after the first bleed and every moment was precious. Had one smaller bleed after 3 months and three weeks, bounced back within hours with fluids and steroids. Lost him to a second large bleed a week later, I let him go as he did not have the chance of meaningful recovery from that point.
Our journey was documented in this thread

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1011175&page=1#Post1011175
 

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This took my GSD girl at 9 years old. I miss that dog and am still grieving her horribly. She had a tumor on her heart. It is insidious and sneaks up on you.

When she got in obvious cardiac distress, I put her in the car and drove frantically to the university cardiologist. She was diagnosed there and died on the table as they removed fluid from around her heart. Devastating.

Both of Gala's "friends" from obedience competition ( two other lovely Shepherd girls) died this year with hemangio.

I hate this disease.

Mo anam cara... U-CDX Gala von Fenwald CDX RE BH HIC TDI

The dog had more heart than you can imagine. Ironic that was the organ affected.

 

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This is what Panzer had. You can read his story here: http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubb...&gonew=1#UNREAD

The only symptoms leading up to it were a decreased appetite although I am still not sure that wasn't related to all the meds he was getting in his food as he was still eager to eat a treat until hours before he died. In the last few hours he also was breathing weird (big, full breaths but with his mouth closed, not panting), seemed uncomfortable, and vomited three times. He was 7 years old and we had a full blood panel and x-rays done in July, and another blood panel and full exam(s) by multiple vets in the week leading up to his death, including the morning he died. There was no indication this was going on.
 

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I had an older male Onyx who had x-rays and an ultrasound in June of 2003 - all organs were "normal" and he died September 29th of that year to a rupture of a tumor in his spleen. Occasionally in the weeks before his death he would skip a meal or seem tired, but it passed. I was told he was probably having mini bleeds where the tumor sealed itself up so he would feel ok again. The day he died he seemed fine in the morning and when I got home from work he was going into shock (same with my girl this summer) He had multiple large tumors in his spleen and liver. This all came on in less than 3 months.

This is a sneaky silent killer! Like all cancer it is horrible to deal with.
 

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CODY - age 13 - hemangiosarcoma of the liver. No symptoms. Couldn't get up one morning. PTS the same day.

SASHA - age 13 - suspected hemangiosarcoma. She died overnight at the vet - all by herself. I will never forgive myself for that.

NIKO - age 14 - hemangiosarcoma of the liver. Off and on hind end weakness (probably caused by small bleeds). Dx by ultrasound in May. Treated with Baytril, Prednisone, and fluids. We had 4 good months which was 4 more months than the vet had projected. I still cry when I think about Niko.
 

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Deja Vu, my beloved girl - 8 years and 2 weeks old. Absolutely no symptoms except a lump on her chest. Had needle aspirate done and they told me it was nothing to worry about. Went to the beach for two weeks and saw the lump getting bigger. Punch biopsy revealed devastatingnews.

They opened her up to try and remove the mass and they declared it inoperable because it was so entrenched in her system.

One thing I did notice - about six months prior, her eating habits changed. She seemed to want to live on Milkbones and did not want to eat her regular food. Deja had always been a chow hound prior to the last six months of her life.
 

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Beau, my heart dog-he was a rescue so his age was a guess maybe 12. There were no symptoms at all until one day he was just off and not himself. Mopey is the best way to explain it. Off to the vet we go for an exam which led to xray, ultrasound and then splenectomy. Beau had been bleeding internally and probably would have bled out if I had waited any longer. Dx -hemangiosarcoma of the spleen.

Beau made a great recovery from the surgery and I was lucky to have him an additional 3 months. During that time, he still enjoyed his walks, his food, his kong and sneaking up on our bed. But one day, he exhibited the same mopey behavior and did not want to leave our bedroom. It was time to let him go-which I did on 6/25/07 , three months to the day of his diagnosis.
 

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Gala never lost her appetite. She did start to show cardiac compromise with labored breathing and rapid heart rate. The vet thought she might have an enlarged heart. Of course, we were near the end by then. It is often really hard to see this disease coming until late stages or sudden death.
 

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Cotton died at 10 years and 8 months in the year 2005 on August 10, 2005. The day was like any other except he appeared to be a little more tired than usual. I came out of the office and in the hallway is where I found him laying, breathing heavy, some salivation and I lift his gums and saw pale white gums. I wasn't sure if this is what bloat was since his stomach appeared larger, so I searched for pale white gums and bloat. The first result I got was on bloat, stage 3 - I remember the words "seek emergency medical care immediately, death is imminent." I was able to get him to stand and walk halfway up our drive - it was up a hill, but then he collapsed. How I was able to pick up my 125 lb or so White Shep/Malamute was beyond me (I have a bad back). We rushed to the 911 vet in Greensboro, NC. I came in screaming for help and they brought a bed to roll him in on. After waiting for what seemed like forever for the doctor and staff to see what was wrong, she finally came into see me in a room. I will NEVER Forget her words. She said we have taken x-rays and the good news is it isn't bloat. So I was relieved. But then she said "BUT that is also the bad news." By that time I was in tears. She said it was cancer connected to the liver and it had spread throughout his body. He was losing blood and they could start a blood transfusion. I asked before they do any of that "will he live?" and she said we need the radiologist to come in and she can let us know for sure what we are dealing with by doing an ultrasound. So I asked for them to do that. This is one of those times where I was strapped for cash and knew nothing about care credit - which they had applications sitting there in the waiting room that I never saw! They gave him some fluids which helped him out some and some blood. They let me sit back with him in the cage and I just knew...in my heart I knew. He did too. The radiologist came in and she said she looked at the x-rays, read his chart and said we can do this, but I want to be honest with you. Everything I see points to a type of cancer that even if treated he will die w/in 6 months. She said I don't mind doing the unltrasound, but I just want you to be aware that we can't really save him, just prolong his life some and the chemo isn't very pleasant for dogs. I asked her what she would do and she said - it did happen to her and she said her goodbyes and had her dog put to sleep. Another tech came by and same story but did do the treatments but he said his dog died w/in the 3 months. I asked for a private room so I can spend some time with him to think. It was more saying goodbye. It was 3 hours that I wish I never had to go through - all the emotions of "we can save him! I know we can" to the reality of the situation realizing that even if I had the cash he would die anyway. I said my goodbyes and got the doctor. As she came into the room, Cotton starting having a seizure so I just told her "now...just do it now" He died on the table in front of me.

So what were the signs? Looking back now I had ignored a fatty growth on his stomach because one of my vets told me not to worry. Was it somehow connected to this? I don't know. I did see him gain weight and his weight loss food wasn't really helping him slim down. Should have registered that something wasn't quite right. But I thought he is older, slow metabolism and it will just take time. Truth is I never ever knew something was growing inside of him. And after reading about this disease maybe it was best I didn't know until that day. I know there is research going on to try and determine a protein that would show up in the blood to help diagnose this cancer. Unfortunately, from what I have read, it just doesn't show where in the body it is - so the test isn't much help right now.

I really hate hemangiosarcoma. No one would say they like it so it is kind of an understatement to say I hate it. For a long time I thought the BHA/BHT in his dog food may have caused it...but it seems the research shows it is more genetic in nature (at least at this early stage). I still still clear of those ingredients except on occasional training treats - although I have found better ones, Zukes, Wellness, to use now.

For anyone that has gone through this, my heart goes out to you. I still tear up when I think about it or look at his urn.

RIP Cotton - I love and miss you:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rjvamp/349743182/
 

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I think that Barker the Younger's symptoms were hidden by her cruciate surgery for quite a while. I noticed that she was "fatter" in a location where she didn't gain weight. I mentioned it when I dropped her off for boarding but the staff didn't pick up on it. After I got back from my trip, she got incredibly lethargic the night before she was to see the surgeon for an update on her knee. Off we went to the evet. Then after the surgeon to my vet where they diagnosed the condition & removed her spleen. At that stage her liver looked good but the kicker with hs is that it is, as the name indicates, carried in the blood. They reabsorb the blood from the bleed which may spread the disease. She lived three months from her first symptoms. She was bleeding out again and an ultra sound revealed that her liver was riddled with the disease. She would have died overnight and been in pain so we euthanized her.

The disease is seldom detected before the dog has a bleed (gets lethargic etc.). The bleed itself tends to spread the disease but if they don't have a bleed they die undetected. BTE was almost 12 when she died.
 
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