Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs: A Personal Experience. RIP Mocca

by Melissa R. on January 21, 2013

Mocca, In Our Hearts Forever: 1999-2012

Mocca, In Our Hearts Forever: 1999-2012

Many of our readers are familiar with my Border Collie, Mocca. She’s been featured in probably more blog posts on here than any other pet! Deservedly so though, I’d say…

I am sad to report that our dear Mocca passed away December 22, 2012. She was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma, and we chose to let her go peacefully, to the Rainbow Bridge to play with her friends. I do firmly believe she is up there with other pets who have passed away, with an eternal ball that is thrown! When I woke up that day, I had no clue how the day was going to play out, and surely, coming home without my “roo-ing” girl was the furthest thing from my mind.

A little background for you: Mocca had, in the past several months, a tough time with a third bout of Lyme Disease, and Ehrlichiosis (another tick disease). She also had an episode of Canine Vestibular Syndrome, which left her with a head tilt and a bit less mobility. We had been going to the Chiropractor with great success though, and Mocca seemed to be recovering finally! She was up the stairs and on the bed in the past few weeks – which hadn’t happened in months. There was though, something *off* with her. I couldn’t pinpoint it. I had started researching Canine Cognitive issues, as she seemed to be pacing more, a little more restless. Just *not right*. I was considering a trip to the vet, but as she seemed 100% healthy, I had not yet.

Mocca and her new buddy, Cosmo

Mocca and her new buddy, Cosmo

That fateful morning, I woke up to find Mocca not feeling great. She had vomited up all her food from the night before and was obviously in distress. More so than a normal bout of an upset tummy. I began to worry, and watch her carefully. After a couple hours, and noticing her breathing seemed labored when just sleeping, and concerned with the way she would just stare at the wall, hunched up and uncomfortable, we got into the vet ASAP. I felt rising panic. I knew something wasn’t right, but hoped it was just over-concern for my senior girl.

Mocca doing her favorite thing!

Mocca doing her favorite thing!

Sadly, the vet reported some of her blood levels were off the charts – liver, red blood count, and more. They did an X-Ray, revealing that many of her internal organs were being pushed around by some growths inside her. We aspirated the location of the largest, and got a good deal of blood. Our option then was to come back a couple hours later for an Ultrasound, to better show us what was going on. I knew from talking to the vet, that essentially I was taking her home to say good-bye, as no matter what the Ultrasound showed, she would not be able to recover in her current state.
We went home, and I spent the time pampering her and showering her with love.
The Ultrasound showed a Hemangiosarcoma, attached to her liver (Hemangiosarcoma in dogs is a malignant cancer that arises from the blood vessels). The vet explained that typically these tumors explode, and then the dog bleeds out, painfully. All we could do for Mocca was to end her pain as quickly as possible, so that she didn’t suffer any further.

Mocca's Classic Smile

Mocca's Classic Smile

Needless to say, Christmas was a lot duller without her cheery face around. But we knew we did what we had to do, though making the decision was the most difficult of all. As it turns out, many people have come forward to me explaining that the same thing happened to THEIR dog. I didn’t know… It seems to be more common that I knew – mostly older dogs. If you would like to read a more detailed explanation of Hemangiosarcoma, please see this detailed article on our PetEduction.com website.

I am thankful Mocca lives on not only in the hearts of MANY, but also on this website and I hope our experiences help out some other pet owners. Thank you everybody for your support! You can see posts about Mocca here.

Mocca waiting for the ball

Mocca waiting for the ball

About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the DrsFosterSmith.com and LiveAquaria.com websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

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Mazzey January 21, 2013 at 10:10 pm


I just read your post about losing Mocca… I am so sorry for your loss.
I have a 3 year old Puggle named Mocha and I dread the thought of ever
being without her.

Huggs to you,


Rosemary January 31, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I’m so sorry to hear about Mocca.

Melissa R. February 1, 2013 at 8:49 am

Thank you both very much. We miss her dearly!

Pete Hogan February 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Melissa, I just read your blog and wanted you to know that this is almost the exact same experience my wife and I had with our beagle Bosley who we had to help cross over on Monday. He was 10 and had just had a busy day as we had family over visiting. He jumped and played and had a wonderful time. That same night he woke up and seemed off and in discomfort. We took him to an emergency vet figuring a muscle pull in his back from jumping and playing all day. An Xray showed the mass in his abdomen pushing his stomach and intestines off to different sides. A quick ultrasound revealed internal bleeding. We made the decision to end our babies suffering with heavy hearts but after reading your blog know we made the right decision. Thank you for posting as difficult as I’m sure it was for you. Our condolences on the loss of your baby!

Melissa February 21, 2013 at 8:10 am

Pete, thank you for your message. It seems to help some to know that others have gone through the same thing and we are not alone. My condolences to you as well – it is so hard to lose them. Beagles are just the best little dogs as well! Best wishes and hugs from one pet owner to another.

Christine September 20, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Melissa, I just came across this blog in my search for information regarding hemangiosarcoma. Up until 2 days ago, this was the furthest thing from our minds, as well. Our dear Mr. Fezzywig,a 5 year old Bouvier, just recently started exhibiting signs of just not being quite “right”. His usual bouncy, goofy self had given way to a much calmer, very laid back dog, who seemed to be spending more time in the bedroom sleeping o his bed rather than hanging out with the family. He also seemed to be panting a lot more and for a lot longer after walks, which we attributed to the heat. The discovery of a very large mass on his chest took us to the vet, and upon aspiration, nothing but blood was obtained. In addition, his spleen is enlarged. Our vet suspects hemangiosarcoma, and is consulting with a canine oncologist to set up our next course of action, which will be X-rays and ultrasounds to determine the origin. We are absolutely devastated to be facing this; we lost our beloved 10 year old Golden Retriever, Mr. Beasley, to lymphoma just 3 years ago. Our Mr. Fezzywig has been healthy as a horse and so full of life, that I cannot even imagine him facing such a painful road ahead. Thank you for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you.

Melissa R. September 27, 2013 at 8:47 am

Thank you for your post, Christine. I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Fezzywig. I do hope you can provide him a happy and pain-free life. Perhaps he can make it through and you caught it early! Keep us posted.

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