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When To Euthanize A Dog With Hemangiosarcoma

It becomes quite difficult to make a decision on what to do when we have to ask ourselves whether we should euthanize our dog or not when hemangiosarcoma is present.

This condition is cancerous, but may not show symptoms in its early stages.

The symptoms may not be specific and so may not be noticeable to the vet unless there is a rupture of the tumor; resulting in hemorrhaging.

Because the diagnosis occurred in the latter stage of the cancer, it does not give the pet owner enough time to decide what to do and to say goodbye.

The euthanasia of dogs is a complicated issue, since in addition to the emotional challenge; we may have rational doubts as to whether or not we should euthanize our pet.

What is it to euthanize a pet? When is the right time?

What Is Canine Hemangiosarcoma? What Causes It?

The hemangiosarcoma is a malignant tumor from the cells of the vascular endothelium represents about 1-5% of the total of tumors in the dog, but within neoplasms heart, hemangiosarcoma in dogs is ten times more frequent than the rest of neoplasms.

It originates in any organ that has vascular endothelium and invades the dog’s blood vessel, spleen, and skin. It is a neoplasm with a high metastasis capacity, being the most frequent metastases at the liver and lung level.

Clinically the symptoms vary depending on the location. There is general symptomatology (anorexia, loss of appetite …) and given the vascular nature of the tumor, hemorrhages can be mild due to a true hemorrhagic shock.

At the cardiac level, it presents special considerations, since it can cause syncope due to vascular obstruction and/or pericardial effusion that ultimately leads to tamponade.

When the liver or spleen has this type of tumor, the diagnosis is made when the tumor ruptures and cause abdominal bleeding. The dog may suffer from weakness and anemia.

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If the dog collapses, this may give a sign to the owner that something is terribly wrong. In this case, the vet may be able to provide a diagnosis prior to the tumor rupturing.

What Can You Do When A Dog Is Diagnosed With Hemangiosarcoma?

Basically, euthanizing an animal with hemangiosarcoma, you should consider helping the dog to pass away calmly and without pain or suffering.

The advantage of this method is that the dog does not suffer pain at any time, since this will make it appear as if he were just sleeping peacefully.

The whole process of euthanizing an animal has different details including costs, depending on how it is done.

  • You can have the vet come to your house.
  • You can take the animal to the clinic.

If the vet goes to your home, you will be charged separately for travel expenses that are additional to the euthanizing itself.

You may be charged a higher rate if it happens at night, emergency or on the weekend. It is also possible to leave the dog at the vet after euthanizing it.

Cases in which a veterinarian may recommend the euthanizing of a dog:

  1. Dogs with a chronic and/or degenerative disease such as hemangiosarcoma – When your dog has a chronic or degenerative disease like this, which in addition to not having a cure is painful, sacrifice can be a way to end its suffering. Some common cases involve dogs with this type of cancer or tumor, which is usually in a metastatic state by the time it is diagnosed or any other type of irreversible disease that prevents him from living a normal life and that also forces him to go through constant treatments, pain or surgeries that end up completely sapping his vitality.
  2. Dogs of advanced age suffering – It is normal for dogs to get old. If you had your dog as a pup and he has gotten older, it means that you have been able to enjoy your pet for a long time, providing the necessary care, nutrition and affection. So, you don’t have to feel bad about the impending decision that you have to make. You did your part. Now, your dog is experiencing a diminished quality of its life due to the deterioration of its health. If he is suffering, the vet may find euthanasia the best solution.
  3. Dogs that have suffered an accident from which they will not recover – If the dog suffers some type of accident by which, in an irreversible way, its physical or mental health is affected, without being able to have a minimum quality of life, perhaps the veterinarian considers that it is best to euthanize the animal.
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Treatment Options & Outlook

The symptoms which occur when a dog is diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma will usually depend on where the tumor is located as mentioned before.

However, you will see basic signs as a warning such as loss of appetite, chronic fatigue, anorexia and abnormal movement.

Surgery is the treatment of choice, being especially important given the urgency of possible complications. The surgery consisted of pericardiectomy associated with the removal of the tumor.

Survival would be significantly higher in dogs that underwent adjuvant chemotherapy than dogs that underwent surgical treatment alone.

According to the principles of cancer surgery, the best chance for complete resection is on the first attempt. With this premise, all oncological surgery must be planned and preceded by an identification and determination of the stage of the tumor.

The tumor must always be completely removed.

Depending on the type, location of the tumor and the objective of the surgery, the surgery can be marginal, wide or radical. In the case that the tumor affects organs or encapsulated structures, the most important thing is to preserve the capsule intact, without the need to resect extracapsular margins when the tumor does not pass through the capsule.

It is important to ensure good control of hemostasis, change instruments and gloves between excision and closure, limit tumor manipulation and not compromise the integrity of the tumor in order to reduce the risk of cell spread.

During surgery, removing the spleen is usually the preferred choice of biopsy, if that is the location of the dog’s tumor. Why? Well, it is able to provide a better diagnosis and helps to choose the right therapeutic process.

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Before the surgery, the dog is stabilized; possibly requiring blood transfusion or fluid therapy. The dog will need close supervision and intensive care.

The vet will make the final diagnosis after examining the tumor microscopically subsequent to removing the spleen during surgery.

It is at this time that it will be revealed whether the tumor is benign as in hematomas. This would rule out hemangiosarcoma.

Chemotherapy is additional form of treatment for this kind of tumor, but surgery is usually the first option.

The most widely used adjuvant chemotherapy drug used is doxorubicin, which is considered the drug of choice in hemangiosarcoma.

Is Euthanizing A Good Thing?

First of all, it is important to keep in mind that euthanizing your dog can be a good thing, since, although it is a sad moment for you and your family, in the long run, it is a way to avoid the unnecessary and prolonged suffering the animal has to endure.

So, although it is difficult, it may be the least selfish solution.

When Is It Time To Say Goodbye?

Now, how do I know when is the right time to euthanize my dog?

The most important thing is that before making any decision, you consider all possible options including treatment and of course, it is essential that you have the opinion of a professional veterinarian.

A veterinarian is the only one who can make an adequate assessment of your dog’s health to know if the sacrifice is worth it.

Under no circumstances should a healthy dog be sacrificed just because you cannot take care of him or because he requires some type of treatment for which you cannot afford the costs.

In these cases, it is best that you choose to give the dog up for adoption; surely someone can take care of your beloved pet.

image: Pexels

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