Canine Companion: HSA Is Extremely Aggressive

Hey, guys. It’s been a beautiful week. Unfortunately (and fortunately), I have spent most of my week in my office writing. Luckily though, when I am writing in my journal I am able to sit on the deck or go to the beach to brainstorm. That’s a whole new level of refreshing.

We haven’t talked about anything too serious lately. But, this week I received an email from a dedicated reader requesting I write an article on hemangiosarcoma. I know that already sounds complicated. But, it’s important. I will break it down for you the best I can. This particular reader requested I write this to save your dogs, though. For awareness. For prevention. For early treatment.

By the time he had found out something was wrong with his loving best friend, it was too late and there wasn’t much time left to spend.

So, let’s get serious and discuss this for a moment. First, I do want to let you know, I am not a veterinarian. I work with dogs with cancer on a regular basis but I focus on the behavioral aspect of cancer to ensure their quality of life is as high as possible. I work side-by-side with the veterinarians.

What is


Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer which occurs within the lining of your dog’s blood vessels. Since blood vessels travel throughout the body, hemangiosarcoma can develop in any part of your dog with it most commonly found in the spleen. The next most common area is the right atrium of the heart.

To make this easier for everyone to read, and easier for me to write for you, we are going to refer to Hemangiosarcoma as HSA (it’s abbreviation).

HSA is extremely aggressive as you can imagine.

The Signs of HSA

Dogs are very good at hiding their pain. It’s instinct. The weakest in the pack was once left behind or may have fallen behind. Generally, the most common symptoms include loss of appetite, decrease in energy level, vomiting, diarrhea.

You can see why it’s usually not detected early. All of those symptoms are common to many different conditions. The best way, if you are concerned with this, is to request your veterinarian conduct an ultrasound or x-ray. Usually, if a dog has HSA, the veterinarian will find an enlarged spleen.

I know x-rays and ultrasounds are expensive, but they are the best method for early detection.

Dogs at Risk

There are some breeds more prone to HSA than others. HSA is generally found in older dogs; it’s fairly uncommon in young dogs (just a tidbit here).

Tumors inside the body are most commonly found in Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Labs. The heart tumors are most commonly found in Golden Retrievers, Labs, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Greyhounds, and other large breeds.

HSA that begins in the skin is generally found in dogs with very short hair including Dalmatians, Pit Bulls, Whippets, and Boxers.

What’s the Treatment

Look Like?

The protocol for treatment looks similar to the other cancer types. An oncologist or veterinarian would most likely recommend surgery to remove the mass (if possible) followed by chemotherapy.

We are continuously conducting research to discover new methods to treat cancer in both dogs and humans. There just so happens to be a new treatment option for dogs who have been diagnosed with HSA. It’s called metronomic chemotherapy.

Metronomic chemotherapy uses higher doses than traditional chemotherapy with longer breaks in between. Your dog is given the maximum dosage of chemotherapy his or her body can handle. This type of chemo isn’t directly aimed at killing cancer cells. Instead, the goal with this treatment is to prevent the cancer from ‘growing’ new blood vessels.

And, yes, that’s scary. cancer cells do have the ability to create blood vessels where they see fit.

‘The Dog Cancer Survival Guide’

Whether your dog has cancer or not, I highly recommend buying a copy of “The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.” It’s full of extremely valuable information, including information that could help your dog even if she doesn’t have cancer. Plus, it’s always good to have on hand in case you are concerned about a lump, bump, or abnormality.

Prevention is the best option. But, early treatment is the next best. I highly encourage this book. And no, I do not receive any type of commission from you purchasing this book so that is not why I am encouraging it. I have simply found it to help thousands of the canine cancer patients I have seen over the years working in this field.

Unfortunately, that’s all the room I have left. I appreciate all of you. And, remember, if you have any comments, questions, or concerns, reach out to me. I am here for you.

Until next time.


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