Skip to main content

Free Shipping Sitewide! 90-Day Hassle Free Returns !

Canine Hemangiosarcoma: Understanding and Managing

Canine Hemangiosarcoma: Understanding and Managing

Posted by yunnan baiyao shop on Jul 2nd 2024

Introduction to Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

Hemangiosarcoma is a particularly aggressive type of cancer that originates from the cells lining blood vessels. This malignancy can develop in various parts of a dog’s body, with the spleen, heart, liver, and skin being the most frequently affected areas.

Identifying Hemangiosarcoma

The symptoms of hemangiosarcoma depend largely on the location of the tumors. These tumors consist of abnormal blood vessels that are prone to rupturing, leading to internal bleeding and various clinical signs. This condition is often detected in middle-aged to older dogs, but it can also occur in younger dogs, including puppies. Certain breeds are more susceptible to hemangiosarcoma, such as:

German Shepherds

Golden Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers


Pit Bulls

Breeds with thin coats like Whippets, Greyhounds, and Beagles

Common Types of Hemangiosarcoma

Splenic Hemangiosarcoma: This is the most prevalent form, affecting the spleen, an organ crucial for immune function and blood storage. About two-thirds of splenic tumors are malignant, and hemangiosarcoma is the most common type among them. This type often spreads to the liver and heart.

Cardiac Hemangiosarcoma: Typically found in the heart’s right atrium, this is the most common heart tumor in dogs and the second most frequent type of hemangiosarcoma.

Cutaneous/Subcutaneous Hemangiosarcoma: This form appears on or under the skin, often as a red or purple mass. Early detection is key to managing this type effectively.

Other affected areas can include the liver, lungs, bones, kidneys, brain, and muscles.

Symptoms of Hemangiosarcoma

Clinical signs vary depending on the tumor's location. The hallmark of hemangiosarcoma is severe internal bleeding due to the fragile nature of the tumors. Symptoms for different types include:

Splenic Hemangiosarcoma: Weakness, pale gums, lethargy, decreased appetite, and abdominal distension due to internal bleeding.

Cardiac Hemangiosarcoma: Collapse, lethargy, weakness, coughing, breathing difficulties, exercise intolerance, and vomiting.

Cutaneous/Subcutaneous Hemangiosarcoma: Red or purple masses on the skin, bruising, bleeding, and general weakness or loss of appetite.

Causes of Hemangiosarcoma

While the exact cause remains unknown, genetic factors are likely involved, especially in predisposed breeds. Skin hemangiosarcoma has been linked to UV exposure in light-coated dogs. Environmental factors such as chemicals, insecticides, toxins, and radiation may also contribute to the development of this cancer.

Diagnosing Hemangiosarcoma

Veterinarians may suspect hemangiosarcoma based on a dog’s clinical signs and medical history. Diagnosing involves a variety of tests, including blood work, x-rays, ultrasounds, and echocardiograms. Advanced imaging techniques like CT scans or MRIs can help determine the extent of the disease.

Splenic Hemangiosarcoma: Often diagnosed after an acute episode of collapse or weakness. Definitive diagnosis requires a spleen biopsy.

Cardiac Hemangiosarcoma: Diagnosed through heart ultrasounds, with biopsy rarely performed due to the tumor's location.

Cutaneous/Subcutaneous Hemangiosarcoma: Diagnosed with fine needle aspiration (FNA) and surgical biopsy.

Treatment Options

Surgery is the primary treatment for most hemangiosarcomas, although it's not always feasible for tumors that have spread or are located on critical organs like the heart. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can significantly extend life expectancy and improve quality of life, even though they do not cure the disease. Other treatments include anti-bleeding medications, fluid removal procedures, mushroom extracts, anti-arrhythmic drugs, and blood transfusions.

Prognosis and Management

The prognosis for hemangiosarcoma varies:

Splenic Hemangiosarcoma: Poor outcome without surgery, with survival times ranging from a few weeks to nine months with treatment.

Cardiac Hemangiosarcoma: Generally incurable, with survival times of up to four months with treatment.

Cutaneous/Subcutaneous Hemangiosarcoma: Better prognosis with early detection, although deeper tumors have shorter survival times.

Regular veterinary check-ups and monitoring are crucial for early detection and management.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can hemangiosarcoma in dogs be prevented?

Unfortunately, prevention is not possible. Early detection through regular veterinary exams is crucial.

  • Is hemangiosarcoma painful for dogs?

It can be painful, especially when it leads to internal bleeding or breathing difficulties.

  • What are the end stages of hemangiosarcoma?

The disease typically spreads to other organs, causing significant internal bleeding and systemic decline.

  • How aggressive is hemangiosarcoma?

Hemangiosarcoma is highly aggressive, rapidly spreading to distant sites and causing severe health issues.