Hemangiosarcoma In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


Has your pet been recently diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma? While this might not be the best news, there are lots of things that you can do to help your dog live an extended and happy life.

Your vet can also discuss the advantages and disadvantages and help you weigh all of the different options that you have.

What is Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs?

Hemangiosarcoma is a malignant cancer of your dog's arteries that may be between the skin to internal organs.

The most common internal sites would be the spleen, heart, and liver. Hemangiosarcoma is easily the most common splenic tumor in dogs and it is locally aggressive and highly metastatic, meaning it will spread to other organs very quickly and simply.

What Causes Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs?

The reason for hemangiosarcoma is unknown. It is thought to be caused by sunlight exposure if the mass occurs on the skin.

There know breeds which are more predisposed to this type of cancer. These are:

  • German Shepherds
  • Boxers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Pointers
  • Labs

This type of cancer is most often observed in older large breed dogs. Most dogs who get hemangiosarcoma are at least eight years old. This kind of cancer can be seen in smaller dogs, too but is much more common in large breed dogs.

Signs of Hemangiosarcoma

There are lots of signs that your vet would be taking a look at to point that the dog might have hemangiosarcoma. The most popular signs of hemangiosarcoma are:

  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Pale gums
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lower energy
  • Lethargy
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Panting
  • Collapse

If your dog has hemangiosarcoma of the skin, you will see a little red bump. These is going to be less than 1/2 an inch in size and could bleed effortlessly when touched.

If you see any of these signs in your dog, it is best to bring them to the vet right away. A veterinarian can examine your dog and find out when they think that your pet might have hemangiosarcoma or any other condition.

How Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs is Diagnosed

There are lots of different things that the vet may do to enable them to diagnose your dog with hemangiosarcoma. The only way to tell without a doubt if your dog comes with hemangiosarcoma is to take a sample from the mass and send it to a veterinary pathologist for review. They will have a thin slice from the mass and look at it under the microscope.

There are other tests that would also lead your vet to summarize that your dog may have hemangiosarcoma. These tests are:

CBC and Blood Chemistry Panel

this would show that your pet includes a low red blood cell count. This could indicate that the dog may have a mass within that is bleeding.


Your vet might take x rays of your dog's abdomen or chest and see full of on the liver or spleen.

Abdominal Ultrasound

Your vet can ultrasound your canine's abdomen to ascertain if there is a mass around the liver or spleen. This can also help them determine if this mass is bleeding into your dog's abdomen.

FNA and cytology

If your vet can get a good view of the mass with the ultrasound, they are able to stick a little needle into the mass and take a few cells. A veterinarian can look at these cells under the microscope to see if they see cells which have cancerous properties.


The the easy way know if your dog has hemangiosarcoma is to do surgery to remove the mass and send it to some veterinary pathologist. While this is the most invasive and many expensive way to tell which kind of tumor your dog has, it's the most accurate.

Stages of Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

There are different stages of hemangiosarcoma in dogs. This depends on how aggressive the tumor is and where it has spread to inside your dog's body.

These are the three stages of hemangiosarcoma in dogs:

  • Stage 1: The mass is only in the spleen
  • Stage 2: The splenic mass is ruptured with local lymph node involvement
  • Stage 3: The mass has spread to distant lymph nodes

The more aggressive the mass is, the larger the grade-also, the higher the grade, the more severe the prognosis and life span for the dog.

Pain Caused by Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

Usually, this type of tumor may cause your dog to become lethargic and also have to endure very invasive surgery. This kind of surgery may be painful. Your vet will make sure that your dog has pain medication to keep them comfortable while they are recovering from surgery.

Dogs who have an interior mass might be painful in the bloated and distended abdomen. These masses will take up space in your dog's abdomen and can lead them to be uncomfortable when they're walking or lying down. If you notice that your dog is experiencing pain, it’s perfect for your vet to look at your dog to figure out what’s causing it.

Treatment for Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

There are many different treating hemangiosarcoma. You will find surgery and/or chemotherapy combinations which are usually utilized in treating hemangiosarcoma.


A splenectomy may be the management of option for hemangiosarcoma within the spleen, the primary organ impacted by this type of cancer. For the way involved the mass is, other organs could be partially removed. Your pet can do without part of their liver, and when a certain part works well may be easily removed.


Chemotherapy is generally used following a splenectomy to assist prevent or treat any kind of a tumor which has spread to other organs in the body. With the use of chemotherapy and surgery, you can help increase the survival time in dogs with hemangiosarcoma. The majority of dogs will tolerate chemotherapy perfectly and will maintain a good to the excellent standard of living even during chemotherapy treatment.

A drug called doxorubicin is easily the most widely used chemotherapy drug to treat dogs with hemangiosarcoma. Your pet will get a chemotherapy injection every 3 weeks for 5 to 6 dosages. Normally, this is started a few weeks after surgery. This is a medication that has to use your dog's vein, so that they probably will have to spend the day at the vet clinic.

Some chemotherapy is just made by a veterinary oncologist. So that your vet may refer your dog to a veterinary oncologist for their chemotherapy treatment. A veterinary oncologist has had specialized training beyond veterinary school to assist them to treat and manage cancers.

There are also chemotherapy drugs you can use to deal with your pet with hemangiosarcoma. A veterinarian can determine the best route of treatment. Many people consider chemotherapy within the dog as the same as in people, but it’s actually very different. Most dogs do not have the same negative effects that people consider with individuals because the dosages aren't as high.

Discuss the pros and cons of the different chemotherapy options with your vet.

Supplements that May Help with Hemangiosarcoma

There are some supplements that you can share with your dog to help them with hemangiosarcoma. Many supplements are being studied at many veterinary schools in america into their effectiveness for conditions like hemangiosarcoma in dogs. These are some common supplements that your veterinarian may prescribe for your dog to take.

Yunity Polysaccharopeptide (PSP) Mushrooms

These are Asian mushrooms that are mixtures of mushroom-derived polysaccharides. The bioactive representative is from mushroom Coriolus Versicolor, however the brands are often proprietary blends.

Some studies show these mushrooms could cause cancer cells to die and also have other anti-cancer properties. Research done in the University of Pennsylvania has shown that giving dogs these mushrooms after splenic removal can help increase the survival time. Dog's survival rate increase from 86 days to 199 days.

Yunnan Baiyao

This is really a Chinese herbal root mixture. Yunnan Baiyao states decrease bleeding and has hemostatic properties, activates platelets, and reduces bleeding and clotting times.

Yunnan Baiyao is one of the most popular Chinese herbs utilized in veterinary medicine for hemorrhage. It is known to prevent bleeding anywhere in the human body. It's even been shown to decrease clotting times and initiate the release of platelets. Platelets are responsible for clot formations inside your dog's body.

The recommended dose for hemangiosarcoma is 60-75 mg/kg daily or 1/4 tsp. per 10 -15 pounds divided twice daily.

There are many other supplements which are currently being studied, and hopefully, in the future, there will be many other treatment choices that will boost the survival some time and standard of living for dogs with hemangiosarcoma.

What may be the prognosis and life expectancy for hemangiosarcoma?

Unfortunately, the prognosis for hemangiosarcoma in dogs with surgery alone is poor. The median survival time in dogs treated with only surgical treatment is One to three months, and less than 10% of dogs can survive one year. Chemotherapy improves the survival time for you to Six months, using a doxorubicin-based protocol. Low-grade tumors could have a better prognosis, particularly when chemotherapy is given after surgery.

Final Thoughts

If your dog is diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, you will find options that you have to help extend their quality and quantity of life. There are surgical and chemotherapy options along with supplements and other daily medications that you can give to your dog to assist.

If you suspect that the dog may have this type of tumor, it might be best to see your vet as quickly as possible. With hemangiosarcoma, it is best to start treatment as quickly as possible to help prevent the spread to other organs and aid in increasing your canine's life. Frequent vet visits might help catch this type of tumor before they become more serious.