Sweet Snickers was recently diagnosed with a heart tumor. After the fluid was drained from around his heart, his prognosis was more positive, but given between a few days to a few weeks to live. I captured him and his Mommy at Sunnyside Park in Waldo less than five days ago. I was honored to document their bond, but saddened to hear he crossed the rainbow bridge this morning. Rest in peace, sweet boy. During the short time I spent with you, it was quite clear what a special dog you were. Run free with our other furry friends who also had to say goodbye too soon. We will see you on the other side.
If you are experiencing a similar situation, please read this past blog entry which contains some comforting information and ways to cope with losing your pet.
Heart Cancer (Hemagiosarcoma) in Dogs
Where hemangio refers to the blood vessels and sarcoma a type of aggressive, malignant cancer that arises from the connective tissues of the body, a hemangiosarcoma of the heart is a tumor that originates in the blood vessels that line the heart. This is the most common cardiac tumor seen in dogs. A hemangiosarcoma may originate in the heart, or it may have metastasized to the heart from another location in the body. It is most commonly reported in mid to large size breeds, such as boxers, German shepherds and golden retrievers, and in older dogs – six years and older.
This tumor often will go undetected until complications arise. Because a hemangiosarcoma arises from the blood vessels, when it reaches an unsustainable size it will burst, often resulting in life threatening internal bleeding. Other typical symptoms relate to the size of the tumor interfering with the heart’s ability to function. The pumping of blood into or out of the heart organ may be blocked or slowed, resulting in an irregular heart rhythm; the pericardial sac that surrounds the heart may become filled with blood due to burst vessels, or with fluid that places restrictive pressure on the heart; or there may be a responsive abdominal swelling that puts pressure on the heart and other organs. In addition, the blood loss may lead to a regenerative anemia, with concurrent symptoms that can confound the initial diagnosis.
Most symptoms are seen related to complications affecting heart rather than tumor itself.
•Accumulation of fluid within abdominal cavity – visible abdominal distention
•Accumulation of fluid within thoracic (chest) cavity
•Sudden loss of consciousness/fainting (syncope)
•Inability to perform routine exercises
•Trouble with coordination (ataxia)
•Irregular heart beats/arrhythmia
•Enlargement of the liver
•Loss of appetite (anorexia)