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Hi there,

About three weeks ago my beloved eleven year old Labrador, Simba, died. The week before that, he was perfectly fine until one day, where he seemed very lethargic and squinty eyed. He wasn’t eating, he was very “not himself” considering even at the age of eleven, he acted like a puppy. My family and I immediately took him to our clinic, where a mass was located on him. At the time, they said the mass looked like a softball and surgery was the only action besides keeping him comfortable. We mulled it over and decided he would have surgery about 12 days later. In that time he was very normal. Still playful and full of energy and our sweet boy. We fed him less (he was a little chunky) and we made sure not to let him strain himself on too long of walks or jumping too high. We picked him up so he didn’t hit his abdomen anywhere. We were beyond careful. On the day of his surgery, the Doctor kept me updated all day with phone calls. His bloodwork was normal. His radiographs were normal. His temperament was normal. So her and a team of specialists felt comfortable to put him under anesthesia. I’m told she used the most mild form possible yet his heart rate immediately became tachycardia and they aborted all plans of operating. The new plan was to wake him up, but it became difficult. He didn’t wake after an hour and once he did I got the joyous call that he did and I stupidly thought the bad news of the day was I would be going home with a very groggy, lethargic and spleen possessing dog. When i got there, he was on a stretcher, barely responsive, barely able to pick his head up, and the doctor clearly had no idea what was going on. long story short- we took him to an emergency clinic, where we were told his abdomen had been filled with blood and it’s due to the most likely cancerous tumor on his spleen. he said it was the size of a grapefruit. We sat with him as long as possible, we allowed his own blood to be filtered and transfused into him to buy him time until my whole family could get there, and we could put him down. but even now, after three weeks, I can barely sleep wondering if we could have saved him. Did the anesthesia make him go into shock? I was explained that his hemo status was changed when he was under anesthesia, and that led him to go into shock? I just need someone to explain how my dog can go from fine, completely asymptomatic of his splenic mass, regular behavior, to immediately succumbing to this in a matter of 7 hours. How his tumor was so massive and shocking to the emergency vet when the vets at the clinic were confident in its size and effects. Or especially how his radiographs and bloodwork were all fine and normal that morning.

I realize this was incredibly long and if i get answers back on this I’d really appreciate it. I’m looking for closure to the best of my abilities, but I miss my dog more than I can say.

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First of all, I’m very sorry for the loss of Simba.  Unfortunately, there is nothing I can say that will help the loss of your companion.  If you would like to talk to anyone, I  encourage you to call pet loss hotline, hosted by Tufts Veterinary School:  https://vet.tufts.edu/petloss/

I cannot comment on all the protocols that were followed or how the case progressed specifically.  However, there are many well-documented cases similar to yours.  When a patient degrades so quickly, it means that the disease had progressed to the point of where it was only a matter of time before a similar situation would have occurred at home.

I really hope this helps, that the painful memories evaporate and the better memories of Simba remain.

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