I can only offer my deepest of sympathies. I presume from your post that your dog is 7 years old? The typical lifespan of a german shepherd is 9-13 years, so your dog still has time left. However, I just did a little bit of research into this type of cancer in german shepherds and to be 100% honest with you, I’d have to side with your vet. No vet recommends euthanasia lightly so I was surprised when I read that was their suggestion at the onset without further investigating on my own. It is common in your breed of dog, and also spreads rapidly into the blood and liver. Removing the spleen and the inpatient care required for this type of thing, removing altogether money from the equation, will be both hard on your dog and you, even if your dog is only 7 years old. The prognosis for spleen removal and chemo care offer up only additional months and not years. Months. If the prognosis offered even a year extra of life, I would be for it, but not 2-3 months because it may take your dog up to a month just to heal and get back to the mobility it had before or what could be called “normal mobility” for your dog. And then there are the chemo drugs. I myself have fought with the idea of going on chemo after seeing what humans have gone through with it. Should I ever get cancer, this decision has to be weighed really heavily, and again, personally, I would lean on forgoing chemo based of course only off what I have seen/read/heard from other people who lived through it and how horrible it is. I would rather have less life lived more freely and happily than a shell of a life lived in vomiting misery. But that’s a personal choice. Again, you have to think of the comfort of your dog.
Of course, your dog’s case we don’t know 100%…the finer points, that is. Maybe the vet is telling you your dog’s case could offer up a year or more of extra life if the cancer hasn’t spread. Anemia is a big problem too…so blood transfusions may be necessary, along with IV fluids…but again that’s inpatient care I believe, but if the vet says maybe there’s a chance for years rather than months, I would try it.
Maybe your vet won’t fully see the cancer until they are already in your dog on the operating table. This happened with my step-father’s dog which died of prostate cancer. The vet opted to do an exploratory surgery just to see, with my step-dad standing by the phone all day for the vet to call. Unfortunately once the vet got in there and saw how bad the tumor was first hand and how it spread, the decision was made on the operating table not to bring him back. This is another reason non-breeding dogs need to be spayed and neutered-they often develop tumors in their reproductive organs. My grandfather never spayed his female dog and at 7 years she developed uterine tumors that almost cost her her life. But 5 grand later in vet bills from emergency hysterectomy surgery and a week of inpatient care and she was just fine. The tumors were not cancerous and she went on to live another 7 years.
Ultimately you have to make the decision yourself, with what you know from what the vet tells you, and research on-line. But if it turns out that you do decide to go for euthanasia, at least plan for a week or two beforehand to spend that extra time with your dog…of course that goes without saying. Try to get a home vet to do it at home. This is a new service that not all vets do, so you may have to ask your vet if they know any vets who do this. I can’t tell you how much better it is on both you and your dog to have it done in-home instead of at the vet. You dog is calm instead of worked up from going to the vet, and it’s far more comfortable on them. Sadly, our pets don’t live as long as e do but I hope to see them again on the other side. It’s the one thing we can do for them to not prolong their suffering. You will know when the time is right because you’ll be fighting the decision in your mind both night and day and you won’t want to have to do it but you’ll know deep down you do. Try to stay with your friend for as long as it’s comfortable for them, and then make a date where you and the family can get enough goodbyes in-between the time waiting for the date to come.
Also note that not everyone is going to respect your decision. Some will be angry with you for it, some won’t understand it, and some will ask why you waited or even why you feel bad. You’re going top find out who some of your friends and family are probably moreso than you wanted, since not everyone treats the death of a pet the way or even will relate to your relationship with your pet the way you’d figure they would.
Keep us posted. I do hope for the best all around. Even though it’s a loose-loose situation you can still approach it the best way you think is possible.