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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22616
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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We have a german shepherd who has today been diagnosed with

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We have a german shepherd who has today been diagnosed with a hemangiosarcoma having collapsed yesterday. we know the prognosis is not good, but the vet has suggested that we can make him more comfortable my removing the pericardial sac by keyhole surgery. The fluid was drained at around 2ish, but when we got home at 4 he was panting again, and is weak. he is pale on the gums. I spoke to the vet again, who said Koda could be stressed as well as ill from all he has been through. I accept this, but want I don't understand is if having the surgery will improve his quality of life, even if it buys him a few weeks. The vet said that he'll get problems in a few weeks anyway. What sort of problems will the fluid collecting in the chest cavity or abdomen cause?

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian & I would like to help you with your wee one today.

I am very sorry to hear about Koda's situation.

If your vet is discussing removing the pericardial sac from around the heart, the first thing to know is that it is blood that is leaking into the sac due to the tumor's effects on the heart (eroding and eating away at the tissue). And as that accumulates in that small sac, it is the pressure from that fluid/blood that presses on the heart and causes the signs we are seeing.

Now if they remove that sac, Koda will leak this blood into his chest (not his abdomen). The problems that would be associated with this is that as blood pours into the chest, it can put pressure on the lungs and affect his breathing. Since the chest is bigger then the sac, this could take time before it became a problem for him. That said, the other problem with him leaking blood out of his heart and out of circulation is that this will lead to anemia (low blood volume in circulation). That can also compromise his breathing and activity because if he doesn't have adequate blood in his circulation (and he won't get it back if we are tapping the chest to remove it), then he won't be able to get oxygen to his cells as readily. So, those would be the main complications that prevent this from being a long term fix.

Overall, this tumor is a terrible one for our dogs. In this case, the surgery would buy us some time but it does have complications associated with it. Therefore, this is just a temporary fix since we cannot replace his heart with one that doesn't have this terrible tumor.

Please take care,

Dr .B.

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