Symptoms and Signs of Hemangiosarcoma in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Hemangiosarcoma

How Hemangiosarcoma Affects Dogs

While it is difficult to say with certainty how a dog with hemangiosarcoma is affected by its condition, reports from people with this disease, and observations of dogs, suggest that hemangiosarcoma usually causes a great deal of discomfort and pain, especially in the later stages. The exact symptoms will depend upon the site of the primary tumor (liver, spleen, heart, skin, bone, other), and where the cancer has spread.

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

Dogs at Increased Risk

German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Great Danes, English Setters and some other large breed dogs are particularly predisposed to developing certain forms of hemangiosarcoma. Short-haired dogs, like the Whippet, Dalmatian, Pointer, Greyhound and Pit Bull, are also predisposed. The reasons for these breed associations are not well-understood, but they do suggest a genetic component to this type of cancer. Hemangiosarcoma affects middle-aged and older dogs more commonly than it affects younger dogs.

Disorders Similar to Hemangiosarcoma

Dog Health Center

Health Topic of the Day: Bladder Stones

Bladder Stones in Dogs: Learn about Bladder Stones, including how they can affect your dog, and what options are available to manage this type of renal condition.

Learn more about: Bladder Stones