When to Euthanize a Dog With Hemangiosarcoma

Pet ownership is filled with difficult decisions. One of the most heartbreaking choices you can make as a pet owner is when to euthanize your dog. It is important to understand your dog’s ailment so that you can make the right choice when to euthanize a dog with hemangiosarcoma.

Hemangiosarcoma in dogs

Hemangiosarcoma can be present in both humans and dogs and is considered a challenging disease. This disease is a collection of incurable tumor cells that are found within the blood vessels.

Unfortunately, Hemangiosarcoma is fairly common in dogs and is responsible for up to 7% of all canine cancers. Dogs can succumb to this disease at any time in their life but it is much more common in older age. Certain breeds are more susceptible such as Golden retrievers, German shepherds, boxers, and Skye terriers.

Hemangiosarcoma can be found in any major organ in your dog but are far more common in the spleen, the heart, and under the skin. These tumors are dangerous because they help form mangled blood vessels that make it far more common for your dog to experience blood clots.

No one is quite sure how dogs get hemangiosarcoma, but most professionals are sure that the risk factors are genetic. They’re not specific things that cause this disease so there is no way to really prevent it. If your dog seems out of the ordinary it may be best to visit a vet so that they can do the scans needed to diagnose an illness.

Canine hemangiosarcoma stages

The stages of hemangiosarcoma differ depending on the type of HSA your dog has.

For Visceral HSA the stages are as follows:

  • STAGE 1: The tumor is less than 5cm. No secondary tumors present.
  • STAGE 2: The tumor is larger than 5cm. It may rupture and there may be secondary tumors present.
  • STAGE 3: Secondary tumors have spread further, possibly including the lymph nodes.

For Skin HSA the stages are as follows:

  • STAGE 1: The initial tumor is only in the skin.
  • STAGE 2: The tumor spreads to the subcutaneous layers.
  • STAGE 3: Tumors spread from the skin to the muscle.

The prognosis for hemangiosarcoma in the internal organs is poor, typically one year or less. This is due to the fact that the tumors are aggressive and spread quickly to other areas of the body. Without treatment, death can occur within weeks.

The prognosis for Skin HSA is slighter better. Diagnosis at stage 1 can offer a life expectancy of up to 2 years. Later stages maybe just less than a year.

When to put a dog down with hemangiosarcoma
When to put a dog down with hemangiosarcoma

When is it time to euthanize a dog with hemangiosarcoma?

When your dog is diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma he may not have much longer to live. The symptoms may cause pain and discomfort. It is important to frequently monitor your dog and assess their discomfort level so that you can make an informed decision and when is the right time to euthanize your dog.

If your dog seems to be in pain, it may be best to show them mercy and euthanize them so they will not have to continue to suffer. If your dog shows an extreme lack of energy and seems sluggish and sleepy all day, they may be ready to be put down.

As a pet owner, you will have to decide if treatment is right for your dog. Consultation, surgery, and chemotherapy could be very expensive and you may not have access to good treatment in your area.

These treatments have a very low success rate and even when successful the dogs do not survive long. If extending your dog’s life is important to you, it may be best to seek treatment to hopefully extend their life. However, most dogs who undergo treatment still die within seven months and only 10% survive for a year.

You don’t want your dog to suffer. You want the last year of their life to be filled with love and comfort. Deciding to euthanize your dog with hemangiosarcoma can limit their suffering and save your family from experience the trauma of a painful death.

How can I help my dog with hemangiosarcoma?

Hemangiosarcoma is treated much like other forms of cancer in dogs. Your veterinarian may suggest surgery to remove your dog’s tumor. However, surgery can be expensive and most dogs who receive surgery will also need chemotherapy soon after. Chemotherapy treatment will help fight the hemangiosarcoma if it has spread throughout your dog’s body through their blood.

Your dog may be on chemotherapy for up to three months. Most dogs respond positively to standard chemotherapy but will need regular checkups to ensure that their cancer has not continued to grow. Other medications may be prescribed to slow the growth of the tumor and keep your dog feeling comfortable.

If your dog’s hemangiosarcoma is under the skin, the chance of success in removing the tumor is much higher. Tumors that develop in this way tend to grow slower and if immediately removed will completely cure the dog of the disease.

However, these tumors still have the opportunity to grow and spread throughout your dog. Even if surgery seems successful and your dog’s tumor has been successfully removed your vet may still insist on chemotherapy. The chemotherapy will help destroy every piece of the tumor that may have grown or spread throughout your dog.

Surgery and chemotherapy can help prolong your dog’s life for a short time. However, the majority of dogs with hemangiosarcoma die within a year of diagnosis whether they’ve had surgery and chemotherapy or not. Treatment can help your dog live longer, but cancer most often grows back and will cause them pain and discomfort near the end of their lives.

Yunnan Baiyao for canine hemangiosarcoma

Yunnan Baiyao is a herbal product used in traditional Chinese medicine for both humans and animals.

Since the product is patented by the Chinese government, the ingredients are unknown. Licensed holistic veterinarians support the use of Yunnan Baiyao for dogs with hemangiosarcoma as it improves clotting and blood platelets. This is especially useful for dogs with hemangiosarcoma of the heart or spleen.

There is also research being conducted into the effect Yunnan Baiyao may have on the growth rate of HSA tumors. In addition, Yunnan Baiyao also has anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help to reduce swelling and associated pain.

When considering home remedies, always consult your veterinarian and only accept the products from a licensed physician. Join online pet forums and speak to dog breeders to find reputable holistic vets.

Cancer diet for dogs with hemangiosarcoma

The golden rule for dogs with cancer is not to feed starchy or sugary foods. Sugar acts as a good source for cancer, allowing it to grow and spread at a faster rate. Removing sugar from your dog’s diet will essentially starve the cancer cells, slowing the growth rate.

Ideally, you should speak to a homeopathic or holistic vet who can design a diet for your dog. It is important to include fresh, healthy ingredients to ensure your dog gets the maximum possible nutrients from his food.

Raw meat is best, but you can lightly bool or dry fry it if your dog is fussy. Organ meat is essential as it has high protein, low starch content.

Include berries for antioxidants, low glycaemic vegetables such as zucchini, green veggies, carrots and chickpeas, plus eggs (without the shell) for amino acids.

References:

  • https://www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted/2012/july/hemangiosarcoma_in_dogs-26511
  • https://emergencyvetsusa.com/euthanize-dog-with-hemangiosarcoma/
  • https://cloud9vets.co.uk/when-to-euthanise-a-dog-with-hemangiosarcoma/
  • https://ncraoa.com/when-euthanize-dog-hemangiosarcoma/
  • https://www.quora.com/Veterinary-Medicine-Hemangiosarcoma-and-euthanasia-when-should-I-take-my-dog-to-the-vet-for-a-one-way-trip
  • https://lajollamom.com/dog-hemangiosarcoma/
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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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