Canine Hemangiosarcoma


Hemangiosarcoma is a common form of cancer in dogs that preys on the blood vessels. The name comes from the Latin hemangio, meaning blood, and sarcoma, meaning malignant cancer of the supporting body structures.  Don’t worry too much about the exact name they put on the dog’s disease, though. The information given here is helpful for all forms of this cancer. The “typical” canine hemangiosarcoma patient is generally an older, larger breed male dog.  It can occur in any dog, but Retrievers, Shepherds, Boxers and Setters seem to be at greater risk.

The outcome for dogs with this disease varies depending on its location. The visible tumors that appear on the skin are dark, perhaps reddish, raised, and have the most positive long-term outcomes, while the deeper internal tumors are harder to defeat.  Many times the dog has not been showing any signs of illness. Often they are active, eating well and playing as usual. The first sign something is wrong may be a weakness that comes and goes, or in severe cases a collapse from heart failure or acute anemia due to internal bleeding. If the dog does show any early symptoms, they may include a decreased appetite, weight loss, weakness, pale gums, nose bleeds, vomiting, and possibly abdominal distention. Sometimes early in the growth of the cancer, the enlarged spleen can be felt and diagnosed before much bleeding has occurred or the internal bleeding may show up as swelling.

The average life expectancy for a dog with advanced hemangiosarcoma may be only about 2 to 8 weeks from the time of diagnosis.  If there was early detection, modern treatment, effective dietary intervention and immune modulation therapy can dramatically increase the odds of a favorable result.

Hemangiosarcoma is first and foremost an immune dysfunction disease. When the body fails to recognize the aberrant cancer cells as invaders, they begin to randomly build their own blood vessel networks that can break and bleed. In order to overcome this cancer, the dog’s normal recognition response has to be triggered, to allow their own system to fight the disease.

Surgery and chemotherapy are essential to get ahead of this cruel cancer, but the dog’s own immune response is really the only thing that can overcome the disease.

That is why it is crucial to address their immune system as well as providing the treatments recommended by the vet. 

We all want predictions… how long will my dog last before the disease wins out? Before you put too much stock in the answer, keep in mind statistics are only useful in a general way, but the only thing that really counts is THIS patient. No matter how much training and schooling a doctor gets, they still are not very good at predicting the future. So don’t give up hope because the statistics don’t look too good. If your dog survives this disease, that is a 100% success rate!                

If the majority of the tumor can be removed and the liver is not affected, dogs with hemangiosarcoma respond well to a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and immune modulation therapy, such as  K-9 Immunity™, and immune proteins, such as K9 Transfer Factor™, or some equivalent immune system support.


Symptoms of Hemangiosarcoma

Owners of dogs with hemangiosarcoma may notice a number of different symptoms, depending upon where the cancer started and the extent to which it has metastasized. Often, the initial signs of hemangiosarcoma are chalked up to old age, changes in weather or alterations in the dog’s living environment. However, once the disease advances, the obvious physical deterioration associated with hemangiosarcoma usually develops very rapidly. This may include:

  • Visible lumps on the legs, head, face, ears, prepuce, muzzle, back, ribs, abdomen, flank area, belly or elsewhere; hemangiosarcoma of the skin (“cutaneous” or dermal tumors) often develop on lightly-haired areas of the belly and inner thighs; they tend to be raised, smooth, firm, solitary and dark red in appearance, although this is not always the case
  • Abdominal distention
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy (progressive)
  • Depression (progressive)
  • Weakness (progressive or intermittent, often with seemingly spontaneous recovery)
  • Exercise intolerance (usually mild)
  • Lack of appetite (inappetance; anorexia; usually starts mildly and progresses as the cancer spreads)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Collapse (usually acute; happens without warning)
  • Shock
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea; respiratory distress; caused by internal bleeding from rupture of tumors that have spread to the lungs or chest cavity)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Elevated heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Weak pulses
  • Muffled heart sounds
  • Jugular distention
  • Enlarged liver (hepatomegaly)
  • Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
  • Pale mucous membranes (pallor; especially of the gums)
  • Excessive formation and excretion of a large amount of urine (polyuria)
  • Excessive thirst and intake of water (polydipsia)
  • Blood clotting abnormalities
  • Lameness, limping
  • Swollen joints
  • Sudden death; usually results from uncontrollable bleeding caused by rupture of a hemangiosarcoma tumor, which causes the dog to bleed to death from internal hemorrhage

Diet is of Vital Importance!

Cancer is the leading cause of death in American dogs. It is thought by many experts that diet is the main reason for this. We feed our dogs a diet that is based mostly around grain, even though none of the dog family feeds on grains in the wild. Not the wolves, or coyotes, or dingoes, or hyenas, none of them. Dogs have not evolved the necessary enzymes to digest or utilize grain in their diet. They are primarily carnivores. When you feed a carnivore a diet based on grain, they will develop various immune dysfunctions, including cancer. If it is the diet that causes cancer in the first place, it seems pretty obvious that diet is an important part in treating a dog with cancer. In fact, diet is one of the most important factors in a successful treatment of mast cell tumors! To give the dog the best possible chance of overcoming this challenge, the proper nutrients must be fed. Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because a dog food is expensive, or because it is recommended by the vet or has a fancy name that it is necessarily the best food for your cancer patient. There are some good recommendations for dog cancer diets found on the Dog Cancer Diet page.



K-9 Immunity™



For complementary treatment of tumour diseases, general strengthening of the immune system and enhancement of fitness.

  • It enhances and strengthens the functioning of the immune system thus contributing – completing the traditional treatment – to the efficient immune reaction of the body to the diagnosed tumour disease.
  • By its favourable biological effects it enhances the efficiency of the traditional tumour treatments and reduces their side effects.
  • It is a general conditioner and immune booster with all advantages of the healthy immune system.
  • By strengthening the immune system it helps the regeneration of the body after chemotherapy and reduces the risk of recurrence.

An immune-modulator is something that helps regulate the immune system. K-9 Immunity™  was first developed for guide dogs for the blind being treated for cancer, and is now available to clinics, veterinarians and direct to the public. K-9 Immunity™ has been used in over 10,000 dogs with cancer, with outstanding success. Talk to your vet to see if immune supplementation may help your pet, or you can order direct and get started today! K-9 Immunity™  contains a class of immune-modulator compounds called hetero-polysaccharides, including PSK, PSP and Lentinan, which are the three most widely used anticancer compounds in the world today. This formula also contains nearly 200 other closely related polysaccharide which trigger other aspects of immune function. These compounds are sometimes referred to as glyconutrients, and are required for correct immune function in all mammals. K-9 Immunity™ is an all-natural, non-toxic daily supplement made from 100% USDA Certified Organic materials.