The chart said the dog was vomiting. When I got in the room I found a very large German Shepard who was laying on the floor panting at me. Turns out he hadn't been quite right ever since they got back from their winter place in Arizona. Immediately all those odd things that occur only in the Southwest flash through my mind. Plague. Coccidiomycosis. (I think). Others I can't quite remember.
So I do my physical exam. Her mucus membranes were pale pink. She was hydrated, and her heart and lungs sounded ok. When I palpated her abdomen something didn't feel quite right and I start to sweat. A radiograph of her abdomen confirmed it. She had a large honkin' spleen tumor.
Tumors of the spleen are not a good thing. Sometimes they can be benign but are mostly very nasty. And when you have a German Shepard, one pops to the front of your list: hemangiosarcoma. This tumor has multiple bleeding episodes where the patient feels puny than gets better until they don't stop bleeding. Usually then you are presented with a very pale dog in a lot of pain. Surgery can take out a spleen tumor, but prognosis is still poor. Most of the time once you diagnosis it and take it out it's already seeded metastasis to the liver. Usually even with aggressive chemo the survival time is four months or less.
It's hard to see elderly people cry. When you're telling somebody that their friend is going to die a horrible and painful death unless they have the courage to euthanize her it's hard. I started crying (as usual) while talking to them in the room. I'm not tough enough for this job most of the time. In the end she slipped away peacefully while her people talked to her. Faithful to the end.
6 days ago