Is It Cancer? Never Assume

Many pets get the wrong treatment because a mass is assumed to be cancerous.

Benign sweat gland cyst in the tail of a 9-year-old Labrador.

Photos Courtesy of Dr. Phil Zeltman

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Many patients never get the surgery they need or are euthanized because veterinarians or owners assume that a mass is cancerous.

It’s not uncommon for a referring veterinarian to call me to perform surgery on a patient with a “splenic tumor.”  I tend to call it a “splenic mass” until proven otherwise by my pathologist. Understandably, clients often don't want to put their pet through surgery if it's likely to be cancer. But that’s obviously a decision based on their family vet’s assumption.

The truth is, it sometimes doesn't really matter if a mass is benign or cancerous. A benign mass can cause some very annoying signs depending on where it is located: a large mass in the rectum preventing a dog from defecating; a large cervical mass pushing on the trachea and causing severe dyspnea; a large axillary mass preventing a dog from using the leg normally.

Benign intestinal mass in a 9-year-old Golden (jejunal leiomyoma).

These masses might have been benign, but they still caused some significant signs that dramatically affected the pet's quality of life.

We recently did surgery on three patients; all the names used here have been changed. "Everybody" just knew they had cancer. But their owners just loved their pet too much and couldn't put them to sleep without at least the benefit of surgery.

Max is a 13-year-old male Sheltie. X-rays revealed a large splenic mass. Based on the way it looked on ultrasound, we believed the mass to be malignant. Taking an ultrasound-guided biopsy of the spleen is possible, but it can be risky; the mass can rupture and the biopsy can cause "seeding."

Despite the odds, John, Max's owner, was interested in surgery, which was performed the next day. The mass was the size of a cantaloupe (in a Sheltie!), and looked really ugly–i.e. vet code for "Man, this oughta be cancer." Max recovered uneventfully.

One week later, the biopsy came back as … benign! The mass was a myelolipoma. Max is now expected to have a normal quality of life and a normal life expectancy.

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Jake is a 12-year-old male cocker who had difficulty urinating. Ultrasound showed a large mass in his bladder. Bladder masses are much more often cancerous than benign. Linda, the owner, elected to have the mass excised anyway.

We took Jake to surgery a few days later and removed about one third of his bladder.  One week later, the biopsy came back as … benign! The mass was a leiomyoma. Jake should have a normal life expectancy and a normal quality of life.

Praline, a 9-year-old Labrador, had a pretty big mass under the tail. She was referred for a tail amputation, because the mass was thought to be cancer. For some reason, call it a gut feeling, I wasn't too thrilled to do that, and of course neither was the owner.  So we decided to remove the mass only. 

Upon section postoperatively, the mass appeared dark, so I was concerned it could be a malignant melanoma. One week later, results came back: the mass was benign!  It was a cyst in a sweat gland.  Again, this mass will not affect the patient's life span, and Praline got to keep her tail.

The list could go on.

The moral of the story: Never assume.

I am perfectly aware that the diagnosis could just as easily be bad. In fact, it was supposed to be, based on experience and statistics. But here are three older dogs, some would say in the last part of their lives.

They all were statistically "supposed" to have cancer. But these loving owners, willing to provide the best possible care for their pet, were not going to give up without a fight. In fact, out of countless patients who did have cancer, I don't remember a pet owner ever regretting choosing surgery over euthanasia, no matter how much extra time we bought.

The goals of tumor removal are to obtain a diagnosis, improve the patient's quality of life (e. g. being able to urinate or defecate or breathe), increase life span, and decrease future risks (e.g. by preventing a hemoabdomen secondary to rupture of a splenic mass).

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Over the years, I have become much more cautious when a pet owner asks me whether I think a tumor is benign or malignant. I simply say, "I don't have microscopic vision," and that I just don't know.

Some clients hate this answer, but I would rather say that than give a client unnecessarily poor odds or false hopes.

In the case of Max*, Jake* and Praline*, three extremely dedicated owners were rewarded with an excellent diagnosis, an outstanding prognosis, and hopefully many more happy years with their dogs.

Dr. Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, Pa. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound.”


56 thoughts on “Is It Cancer? Never Assume

  1. I very much enjoyed these happy ending stories. Our twelve yr young labrador, Roxanne-Love, had two masses on her spleen. We opted for surgery…results came in benign! Our prayers were answered. This all took place in the last month. I was asking the vet at the hospital, where our Roxy had her surgery, what happens when pet owners come in with sick pets and they want to save them, but can’t afford surgery?? Roxy’s surgery cost us $4300. For some that is a drop in the bucket and for others it might as well be $100k. I can only imagine how helpless pet owners must feel if they can’t afford to try and save their pet’s life. 🙁

    I can’t imagine life without puppy dogs!

    1. My dog roxy was diagnosed with a mass on her spleen today! She goes in for surgery tomorrow! I can’t believe our dogs have the same name and both have a splenic mass…can I ask what your roxy’s symptoms were? Was the mass affecting her heart at all? Or causing her to be anemic?

  2. Thank you for this article. Most have told nightmare stories and scared me to death!! My 11 year old springer mix had a cantaloupe-sized mass on her spleen and it was removed yesterday. Now we wait for the results…Wishing for the best, and so thankful there are surgeons who can help. To all who have a dog with a mass…keep up the hope and spirit and give plenty of love!

    1. We are bringing our 8 year old lab in tomorrow morning for spleen removal and this is the first article I’ve read that has had anything leaning towards good news so we are praying for the best. Good luck with your fur baby

  3. My cat is 6 years old and just had a mass removed from her spleen two weeks ago. The results came back and they could not say for sure 100% what it was. I know I don’t want to put her through chemo. She has been back in the hospital for 8 days now due to anemia and the cause is not 100% determined either, even after lots of tests. So far she has had 3 transfusions…1 before the surgery and 2 after. Now that she is on steroids her HCT levels are staying up. It’s all a mystery.

  4. Our labrador Chloe was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago with a HUGE splenic tumor, the size of a watermelon. It was crowding out all of her other organs and the vets only used the word tumor to describe it. Euthanasia was the recommended course of action as Chloe is 16.5. I sought a second and third opinion and all vets said euthanasia should be performed that day. They actually told me that to put her through surgery would be cruel as her prognosis was so poor, the cancer had probably spread and we would only gain a few weeks with her, but at what cost to her with the anesthesia and surgery recovery. We opted to operate anyways as I just couldn’t part with her and I knew she wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Chloe had surgery the next day and all went well, her recovery was swift, and the results of the histopathology came a week later – it was BENIGN!!!!
    We are well aware that she will not live very long anyways as she is already quite old but we are so happy that we followed our hearts and saved her life!!! Just like this article says, don’t ever assume the worst and always keep hope and faith in your animal. Think what they would do for you in the same situation and do that for them. Always give them a chance and do not give up, even against ALL ODDS. You never know!!!

    1. A fantastic note. Many thanks for writing it.
      Our beloved 13 year old black labrador Zorro is on the operating table as I write, having a large mass on his spleen removed. Fingers crossed the growth is benign. Your note has encouraged me to push hard for a biopsy when the vet calls (if they suggest otherwise).

    2. Thank you for this post. My 15 year old poodle just got his spleen removed today. Hoping it’s benign and so glad your dog’s tumor was benign!

    3. Thank you for this!! My soul dog has an enlarged spleen & I am freaking out… I’m trying to keep the hope & faith positive, but i’m an absolute mess.

  5. I know this article is old but the comments are newer and all of it gave me hope.

    My cat just had surgery to remove what turned out to be two large masses in her abdominal area. The vet said her organs look great and her lungs were clear and he thinks it is related to some leftover ovarian tissue that the vet who spayed her left in. She has exhibited signs of heat twice a year since I got here so it makes sense. We’re waiting to get the results of the histopathology to see if it’s benign or malignant.

    I’m so glad I found this article because it gave me encouragement to get this thing taken out of her and not just let it go.

  6. My 13 1/2 year old cocker just had a spleenectomy….removal of spleen and a baseball sized ugly tumor…
    One vet said to euthanize, the other…knew my heart had to know for we opted for
    Like everyone else….all I have read are death sentence stories…and I hold my breath as
    I wait for Buddy’s histopath report!
    He has no other lesions, no bleeding into the abdomen….blood tests are all normal!
    I am praying my gut is right….BENIGN….but if not….I will do everything in my power to make him comfortable…

    thanks all!

  7. Hi …my Chandler …shihtzu…has a spleen mass also. His symptoms were not eating…or eating very little for a doggie who always loved his food for 12 years. We had unltrasound on Friday that showed he has a mass on his spleen. It is the holidays now. So I am waiting on our vet to return and hope to get a call tomorrow to set up probable surgery to remove this mass whether benign or not. The ultrasound said there were 2 masses one was 2 inches the other was smaller. He is mildly anemic. I have been living on pins and needles waiting for xmas and New Years to pass so that we can move forward to make him feel better. He is drinking and eating small portions of (I made him filet minon steak). He really has no interest in the food though unless you hand feed him. Prayers this is benign and removal makes him feel better and eat.

  8. My 13 year old German Shepherd Diesel is booked in tomorrow for splenic mass removal. Fingers and paws crossed it’s benign. He is my best friend….

  9. Our 7 year old toy fox terrier just has her spleen removed. A 5cm tumor in it. We are awaiting biopsy results. Oct 2016, we lost another TFT, 6 year old, hemangioscarcoma in the jaw.
    Just praying we don’t lose our other little girl…

  10. Yesterday at emergency vet our 7 year old Brittany Spaniel was found to have a large, unruptured, splenic mass. We elected to hold off on surgery until we could talk to our family vet today. His recommendation was to not do surgery. I’m torn! I want to give him that chance, but I don’t want to put him through surgery if the outcome is grim 🙁 My mom doesn’t want to do the surgery, I do, but I don’t want to push her into doing something she is not comfortable with…

  11. Our German Shepherd has had trouble going to the toilet and tries several times a day our vet showed us an xray and thinks there is a mass preventing him from going to the toilet he has on occasions passed normal stools he shows none of the symptoms of cancer he has not lost his appetite and runs like a pup he is 5 years old, he is seeing a specialist on monday

  12. My friends’ beautiful dog was diagnosed with a spleen tumour last September, following a major bleed, which he survived. His owners opted not to have surgery. Now it is nearly March and he is still alive and acting like a puppy still, there are days when he is a little slower but overall he is amazing…he has had two minor bleeds, where he is clearly not feeling great, one can see the colour of his gums is pale, but he comes back. I took care of him for four weeks and eliminated the dry food, preparing every day meat with some veggies and quinoa. During that time he had no bleeds. His owners have now changed his diet so he is eating more meat, I do not know about the dry food. As my dear friend had Ovarian cancer and had trouble with digesting food, I reasoned that this dog’s digestive system might be compromised and hence I gave him easily digestible food. The mass is very large, he was a very slender dog and now looks like he is a little overweight, probably the mass is the size of a cantaloupe. He is 10 or 11 years old, a mixed breed of setter and pointer (I think). I wonder how long he can continue, he is much loved, he has outlived the original thoughts by 3 to 4 months. Has anyone had a similar experience? Does anyone think the food might be helping?

    1. Tell your friends to research Yunnan Baiyao. It is a Traditional Chinese Medicine supplement that helps with bleeds. There are several great groups on Facebook – one is the Ketogenic Dog Group (special high fat diet for dogs with cancer) and Hemangiosarcoma Diet & Supplement Protocols for dogs – A holistic Approach.

  13. My dog was diagnosed with a splenic mass today. She is 15 and has a torn acl but gets around well and is generally in very good spirits. I am debating the best course of action and hoping someone whose elderly dog went through surgery can tell how their dog faired in the months following surgery. Thanks!

  14. My 13 year old beagle Kali, the love of my life (I’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old), had a splenectomy today to remove a very large ruptured mass. Without emergency surgery she would definitely have died because of the internal bleeding. It was torturous to be faced with the possibility of my child being fine a day ago and dead today. There was no way that I could just put her to sleep without having the surgery and subsequent biopsy. She did well in surgery and there are no signs of any other masses. It will be about a week before the biopsy results are back. I am hoping beyond hope that the biopsy is benign. I love her so much and I just know that our beloved animals want to fight and need us to fight for them! The bond we develop with our pets really helps in times like I had with Kali today – Everything in my gut said she wanted to risk having the surgery. My gut and my heart also said that I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her today, especially without giving her a chance to recover.

    I’ve been reading about these masses for a few hours and almost all of the information I’ve found left me feeling hopeless about it being benign but then I found this site and it helped me SO much to hear that it could be benign. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and for everyone on here that’s lost their pet, my heart goes out to you! 🧡


    1. Brandy, please give us an update.
      I’m going through the same thing now. My White 10 year old Schnauzer Max is getting ready to have his spleen with a ruptured mass removed soon.

  15. Our 9 year old Golden Doodle Lucee now has the same issue. We are deciding on whether to do the surgery or not. But thanks to this article I believe we have no option but to opt for the surgery. She has a grapefruit sized tumor hopefully on her spleen. Fingers crossed, we can’t wait to talk to the Vet on Monday morning. Thank you for all the positive comments!

  16. My 12 year old Golden has 3 small masses on his spleen initially detected by x-ray and confirmed by ultrasound. A biopsy was performed and it was negative for cancer. Our vet recommended surgery. We consulted with a Board Certified Surgeon today and he recommended against surgery at this time. We have used this surgeon before and he is excellent. He recommended another ultrasound in 3-4 months to monitor the size of the masses. This surgeon (and another surgeon in the room at the time) stated that small non-malignant masses pose very little risk of a bleed. The reason to monitor is that it is always possible that the biopsy was wrong or the masses could get larger. He stated that malignant masses tend to grow faster. In any event, that is good news for now.

  17. I just found out that my dog has a large mass in her cervix,i dont know what to do..any suggestions, please help

    1. I just found out today my 3.2 lb. Yorkie has a cervical mass big as a small brazil nut. It is being sent in to pathology for a diagnosis. She is 16 years old
      Now. Im alml ost afraidbnb of what it will be. Over the last several months shes been in a constant sense of being in heat. Spotting all the time. Is down almost 1 pound since last winter.

      Anyone had this happen?

  18. To all dogs and owners that have been down this unfortunate road of pain and discomfort. I ask god to please give strength and hope to you all. Just last night I found a golf ball mass just above my dog Kodas back right leg. He seems too be 100% healthy still eating and drinking and running around. He is Only 4yrs old and I’m just wondering if it’s common for dogs at his age to get cancerous mass at that age? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. God Bless

  19. My 9.5 year old lab had his enlarged spleen removed 4 days ago. Symptoms were that he was lethargic, panting and refused to eat. After his operation the vet said his intestines were also twisted. I’m waiting for the results and my stomach has been in knots. Fingers crossed for benign. He’s eating well now and looks to be feeling great, well besides the fact that his stomach is all stitched up. He’s my best friend and I just love him!!!

    1. Well received a call from my vet today and results are in….benign!!! I had tears of joy and couldn’t stop hugging my boy for hours. I’m so glad I chose to operate and save his life. I had to give him that chance…that chance should be the one thing you do for your pet. Good luck and have faith.

  20. My 9yr old lab has a large mass we cant tell if its attached to anything. Breaks My heart to not go down fighting. Best bird dog Ive ever had/ seen. Im leaning towards surgery. Really bugs me is these outrageous prices most vets quote. Thank god i found a reasonable one.

  21. My almost 14-year old dog began collapsed on Friday (8/10) and urinated on the floor. She looked as if she were unable to move. However, on Saturday I took her and the other dog for an hour and half walk, and she did fine. Then on Sunday afternoon she collapsed again, and seemed to be paralyzed for a few seconds. Monday night when I was walking her again, she had another episode of collapse, but was able to resume movement after a short time. Nevertheless, I carried her part of the way back home. I stayed up until 2 a.m. watching her. Tuesday morning (8/14) she was up about 5:30 a.m., just lying on the bed in an upright position. She did get up and drank a lot of water. She came back to the bedroom, but she went again to the kitchen to drink some more water. A little later she was walking again towards the kitchen, and she threw up the water and stomach contents (about three times). She fell against the wall, but she recovered. I took her to the vet. She was a little lethargic, but she became very animated when she saw the vet’s office and started barking. She wanted to explore the grounds before I took her into the building. After x-rays and a blood test, the vet told me she was somewhat anemic and the collapses were probably the result of a lack of oxygen in her blood. The x-rays showed she had a tumor either in the spleen or liver. He couldn’t tell. He said if they did surgery and the tumor was in the spleen, they could remove it, but if it were in the liver, there was nothing more to be done. Surgery seemed so “iffy” to me, so I opted for euthanasia. However, I am having so much regret. I was there for the euthanasia procedure. Before that, my dog just wanted to go home; she kept going to the door. I wonder whether I should have just taken her home and given her a few more weeks of life. I have put down two dogs previously, but they were both in the throes of death. This dog was still eating and interacting with life. However, I was concerned about the collapsing problem, and the vet said the tumor could rupture. My dog had surgery a month or so ago after having been bitten by the other dog, and she recovered nicely from that. At that time her blood work was normal. I didn’t want my dog to suffer, but I question whether I could have given a few more weeks of a quality life. The only other symptom I noticed prior to the collapse episodes was an intermittent lameness about a couple of times when we walked, but it seemed to resolve itself because she walked that hour-and-a-half walk very well.
    I really don’t know if I made the right decision. I wouldn’t have wanted her to suffer, but I was unsure about the continued effects that this tumor was having on her system.

  22. I noticed maybe four months ago my coonhound looked a little fuller in the ribs and abdomen. Two weeks ago I noticed the fullness was a hard mass between her sternum and navel. She had no other symptoms. A trip to the vet, and x-ray and some blood work showed a large mass on her spleen. Blood work indicated that the mass had not ruptured but had microscopic bleeds. The vet recommended the veterinary surgical center the next town over. They quoted me over $5000, which was completely undoable. My vet then agreed to do the surgery for $1100. It was more risky because splenic tumors tend to bleed excessively and he could not do a blood transfusion. It was worth the chance and my vet removed a mass the size of a football. It was touch and go for the first 24 hours after surgery but a week later, she’s as good as new. The pathology exam discovered that the tumor was a myelolipoma, a benign tumor made up of blood vessel an d fatty tissue. It will never come back

  23. My 12 year old chihuahua had some blood in her urine. ultra sound revealed a small mass in her bladder but they couldn’t tell for sure if it was cancer. i opted for a urine test that detects cancer she is only 4 pounds 7 ounces so anything invasive was out. the test came back today negative 85 per cent no cancer cells. we are opting for another urine test that will tell 95 percent. she will pass this test too and then some steroids to shrink the small mass in her bladder. we are so happy. there is hope for every dog with a mass and i will pray for all of them to be benign

  24. We have a nine year old Japanese Chin. She has been fairly healthy for most of her life. She stopped eating a couple weeks ago. She has always been a big eater and never seems to get enough, so that was a sign something was wrong. We took her to a Vet the next day. Her blood work showed she was anemic and her white blood count was bottomed out. They did a chest X-ray and thought her spleen might be enlarged, so they did an ultrasound. That showed she had a tumor, but they can’t tell if it’s attached to an organ. The first vet thought it may be attached to her kidney. A second Vet thinks it could be on her adrenal glands. I have to take her to an oncologist on Friday. They are supposed to do more xrays and give me more info – I hope. I don’t think it would be wise to do a biopsy or surgery if her white blood count is low. Is she more susceptible to infection? My gut feeling is – if it’s cancer, we won’t treat it. We just can’t afford it. We are already over $1,000 just trying to get a diagnosis. The last few days, she is back to eating without a problem. She just acts a little weak. Not as active or happy.

  25. My beautiful 10 year old White Schnauzer Max who most people think is 2 or 3 because of his happy jumpy personality suddenly and with no warning got a distended abdomen and was in great pain. A tumor on his spleen partially ruptured and now as I write this on a Saturday evening he is stabilized at an animal hospital preparing to have surgery on Monday morning to have his spleen removed. I’m praying that it’s benign despite the vet saying the odds are stacked against him. Wish us luck!

    1. Update: Max had his surgery last Monday and they kept him until Wednesday when they released him. Honestly I was so scared to possibly see Max in pain and suffering from the surgery that I didn’t visit him and opted to just wait until the day he was released from the hospital. When they walked him out wearing the e-collar he was acting like nothing happened! He was jumping and barking and made a bee line straight out of the front door and towards my car! As soon as we got home he demanded a walk and promptly kicked his dog dish asking for it to be filled! I was so happy and full of hope that his biopsied spleen would come back negative for cancer. Well, I got the call this morning, Max has cancer despite nothing showing up on his lungs, heart and stomach. I’m devastated and drifting into denial. Max is better than ever after surgery to remove his spleen with a baseball sized tumor on it. It’s almost like he’s a puppy again. Now I have to decide on whether to pursue chemo and hope he can live a longer and relatively comfortable life. I can’t breathe right now……….

      1. I was told my Golden h ( and saw xray) had large mass on her spleen, detected while there for an annual check up. My vet had me in tears, more or less told me it could rupture at anytime. Led me to believe more than likely cancer. My girl just had turned 9, gave me no indication nor showed any symptoms of being ill. Took her home & started her the next day on Yunnan Baiyo and 3 days later added CBD oil to her diet as well. 4 weeks later she is still going strong, eating more than ever, still walking 3 1/2 miles a day & playing catch every morning. Went to vet for re- check & found her mass has shrunk (she could not even feel it so did another xray) also moved slightly near her rib cage. Vet is baffled & pleasantly surprised to find the mass is going away, for now anyway. So I intend to keep my Golden (Lucy) on the regimen & see how she continues. Good Luck!

      2. Hello Art, i am sorry you have to go through that. I have a white schnauzer too, He just turned 8 & his name is Benji. I left the vet earlier this morning, and they detected something near his stomach, they are not sure what it is, but they think is a mass, ultrasound hasn’t been scheduled yet, still waiting for them to get back to me. But i am very scared and nervous, i pray max defeats this! pray for him i will also pray for you. Dogs are like kids, and being a pet owner is so rewarding, but yet so painful. Best of luck to you God bless.

        1. Michelle, both me and Max thank you for your prayers.
          The pain is real (for me). Max is running around playful as ever now. His surgical incision is nearly completely healed 10 days later. But I know the cancer is inside him and it just kills me. The surgeon told me in large dogs the odds are 30% that a spleen tumor is benign. In smaller dogs like my Max, the odds improve to approximately 50%. Unfortunately Max did not win the gamble. I’m praying that while Max’s luck ran out, the 50% benign side of the coin will go to another White Schnauzer named Benji. Good luck and please update us on Benji’s progress.

          1. Thank you Art, Benjis Ultrasound yesterday confirmed he has a tumor on his liver, I’m waiting for the biopsy results. My poors baby belly is swollen, vet says that’s fluid in this stomach, he’s urinating a lot and drinking a lot of water. I’m anxious for the results. I hate seeing him like this. I pray for both our dogs to get through this. Please pray for us. With faith God will save our dogs. Through Jesus they will be healed.

  26. Art, sending prayers your way for Max and for you. My Rommel (Dobie) will be 5 years old on the 26th of this month. I took him to vet Monday because he would not eat, and passed blood (I changed vets because there was inconsistency between the two vets and how they were treating his symptoms and Rom got sicker)The new vet did ultrasound and told me his spleen was enlarged and that they do feel it looks like cancer, I was devastated as he is my world. He had surgery yesterday so very quick decision I had to make. They removed enlarged spleen which had some lesions. I am waiting on results which will take a week. The article above along with the many comments has provided me hope. Rommel is home tonight vet felt he would recover faster if home with us. I am wishing you much luck and prayers for Max and for all of us waiting…

      1. Art I am so sorry to hear about Max you both will be in my thoughts and prayers. Rom’s Spleen biopsy came back negative I was so happy but the following week he did not get better, his lymph nodes got huge in his neck, he got horrible bloody nose I rushed him back to vet and they did biopsy of fluid in the lymph nodes and that also came back negative but he continued to get worse. They were stumped, he did come back positive for multiple tick deseases but vets did not feel this was likely they felt that must have been triggered by something else but did put him on doxycycline just in case . They were back to thinking cancer of lymph nodes and did second surgery to do biopsy on tissue, which came back saying vet did not get lymph node tissue but she knew she did, it was full os puss, she felt comfortable to put him on steroids. He is improving now, he is not himself I continue to pray. I truly home for the best for your Max.

  27. This is so hard. My 15 yr old beagle and I are in the same boat. She had controlled Cushings and was doing fine until 4 days ago when she stopped eating and had vomiting episodes. She had an ultrasound today and it’s a large splenic mass pushing on her stomach. Vet thinks we should do the surgery(would be at a different vet for 24 hr care), my husband and brothers think we should euthanize her now when she us pretty happy and comfortable.And I have been up all night going back and forth.

  28. Hello guys, my 8 year old schnauzer was diagnosed with a 4-6 Cm tumor in his liver. We are still waiting for the biopsy results. Is it necessary to wait for surgery until the results come in? I’m very anxious. My dog doesn’t eat only drinks a lot
    Of water. He eats very little by force. Please pray for us. They also found masses in his abdomen, they think is swollen lymph nodes, due to neuplasia? Please pray for my Benji.

  29. I see that spleen masses seem to be a very common thing in our beloved dogs. My 11 year old fox terrier was just fine, he has episodes of not wanting to eat, but always had, and then he recovered, so The last time I thought it was normal on him because we recently moved. But I took him to the vet to get his vaccins ans while there i asked if there was a test we could run as a preventive thing to make sure he is healthy and will have some more quality years with us. So the blood work came back and his white count was really low so he is anemic. His gums are really pale. They did an xray of his chest and stomach and they saw a mass on the spleen. We are waitting for the interpretation today so depending on what they say to us, we will have to decide the next steps. Reading all of your comments make me feel I am not alone in this and that chances have to be on our side. Lucas has been with me since he was 6 weeks old and now is not the time to let him down. Since he is not eating dry food, I am cooking chicken, grounded meat with veggies and I will keep doing this until I am sure that he will pass this over and be the same amazing dog he has been.

    1. Lorena I understand what your going through. Your story just like mine. It’s hard to think best decision when your hearts telling you one thing and your head another. Reading the other testimonies seem happy endings. Hope yours is too.

  30. my Oliver CKCS whose 11 in January had the same eating habits for past few weeks. Lethargy not interested in going out for walks. I noticed around 2 weeks ago his body temperature, pads, ears were intermittently cold. Kissed him close to the mouth on Saturday 1/12/18 and also noticed how cold his mouth was. Closer inspection in his gums were white. That evening he became disorientated and losing balance. Rushed him out of hours vets completed bloods which were really low explaining anemia. He then completed a urgent scan and results showed a mass unsure if spleen but within that area and with abdominal fluid. My vets took blood Monday which were slightly improved. Scan planned for Friday. In absolute turmoil. Facts are quality of life, should surgery to remove be done with risks of anaesthic and bleeding, after care and continual infections if spleen removed due to be immunosuppressive. Finally aftercare whilst you have to work and your beloved pet will be on his own? So much to bear in mind. Family friends work colleagues give good advice but such a difficult decision!!!!!

  31. I am so thankful I found this article and these comments. My heart goes out to all who have been faced with these diagnoses. My German-shepard mix rescue dog, Brandi, is more than 14.5 years old. She has arthritis and a joint disease that is controlled with medication. She limps and gets pretty tired at the end of a walk, but she is a happy and sweet girl. I came home one day to notice she was lying on her bed panting. Then she got up, walked toward her food bowl about 15 steps and collapsed. She didn’t want to get up. She didn’t eat. She was down for quite a while, but I didn’t panic because we’ve seen her do this before, which we presumed was her joint condition and the fact that her back leg muscles are weak. I gave her water thinking she might be dehydrated. She drank, then got up shortly after that and even went upstairs to bed. She didn’t eat, but she appeared better, but not right. I called the vet in the morning and they wanted to see her right away based on the episode I described, and also I mentioned her gums had been pale the night before. I didn’t realize that was a sign of internal bleeding at the time. I was looking for dehydration. The vet did an ultrasound and Brandi was diagnosed with a large splenic mass, about as large as the spleen itself. They said it must have been bleeding, which led to collapse, then clotted over, which is why she was better. But she had this tumor in her and they advised the only solutions were surgery, and commented on her age, or euthanasia. I was shocked and devastated. Of course I knew that at 14.5 years she might leave us soon, but not like this. I took her home, told the family, and we didn’t consider surgery at the time. We thought it would be too much for her at her age. We called a pet hospice organization and considered in-home euthanasia. Her pain got worse, and it seemed she couldn’t get around well. The hospice dr. thought the arthritis and joint condition were causing more pain than the tumor. We gave her pain meds and an anxiety med to keep her comfortable, thinking we would do so until we felt it was her time to go. We got close to making the final appointment, then we noticed she had bad days, but then good days. This went on for two weeks. We camped out in the living room since she couldn’t make it upstairs to bed, and kept a close watch on her to make sure she wasn’t in too much pain or having an emergency episode.

    I prayed for guidance. It was a risk that the tumor could rupture at any time, but otherwise how could I make this decision when she still had good days and an acceptable quality of life? I watched for a “help me out of this” look, one I’ve seen from other pets. The looks would be short lived, then she would feel better. One day she played in the snow with my daughter. After that, I started researching this condition further and came across this article and comments. We decided on the surgery after all. I’ve heard “age is not a disease,” and as the article says, we can’t be sure it’s cancer unless a biopsy says it’s cancer. The second-opinion vet thought the tumor could be causing weakness that looked like the joint disease pain, so removing it and letting her gain strength back after internal bleeding stopped should help. Even if it was cancer, at least we would know when it came time to make the final decision and she might feel a little better with that bleeding tumor out of her. The weight of that end-of-life decision was killing me.

    I’m so happy to report we got the biopsy results yesterday, and it is not cancer! She was in rough shape for a couple of days following surgery, which is understandable since they remove the tumor and the spleen in these cases. She was also on a lot of pain meds. Now, each day she is getting a little better and closer to her old self. Surgery was six days ago, and the vet said she should be feeling quite a bit better a couple of weeks post surgery either way (cancer or no).

    If you’re reading this, my heart goes out to you because you are probably searching for answers. The surgery was expensive, but if you can afford it and are struggling with the decisions I was, I hope this post is helpful. I’m thrilled it’s not cancer, and I feel for all of those who received the opposite news. I lost a six-year-old dog a while back due to cancer, and it is heartbreaking. But, as the article says, a vet can’t tell it’s cancer without surgery, and making the final decision for a pet’s life is especially hard if the pet isn’t telling us what they would want. In Brandi’s case, I’m glad I came across these stories and made the decision I did. Brandi is an elderly dog, yes, but it turns out that she’s meant to be with us a little longer.

  32. I’m so glad I found this article. Annie, my 11 year old Maltese, is scheduled to have surgery this Friday. She went into the vet for a slight tummy ache and the vet felt what she thought were enlarged organs. The ultrasound shows a large mass at/in her left kidney. Her right kidney appears normal. We’ve decided to do the surgery. She has been acting a bit off for a few weeks, maybe a little slower, but nothing more significant than that. I figured just that she was getting older. Overall, her blood work is good. I’ve had a few people telling me not to put her through the pain of this surgery, so I was second guessing my decision even though the our longtime trusted vet feels confident that we need to do this. I’m dreading Friday. Thanks for listening.

    1. Linda, you are following your heart, and it sounds like you have a trusted vet as a partner in Annie’s health, which is such a good thing. I’m sending positive thoughts to you and Annie.

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