The Truth About Hemangiosarcoma In Dogs

Hemangiosarcoma in dogs
Post At A Glance

Hemangiosarcoma is a scary diagnosis for any dog owner to hear. Read on to learn more about the disease and your treatment options. Most importantly, find out what you can do to try to give your dog more time with you.

What Is Hemangiosarcoma?

Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer of the blood vessel lining … technically called the vascular endothelium. Hemangiosarcoma can spread fast … because your dog has blood vessels everywhere in his body.. It’s also called angiosarcoma or malignant hemangioendothelioma. Hemangiosarcoma is abbreviated as HSA. It’s more common in largre breeds as they age, accounting for 5-7% of all tumors in dogs. 

Hemangiosarcoma is a dogs-only cancer.  Humans sometimes get similar tumors called angiosarcomas. Those are usually from work exposure to vinyl chloride and polychlorinated PCBs … often in rubber or tire plants. Women who get high dose radiation for breast cancer can get angiosarcoma of the skin. 

There are three types of HSA:

  • Visceral – in the internal organs, especially spleen, heart (right atrium), liver
  • Dermal or cutaneous – appears on the skin, often where fur is sparse 
  • Hypodermal – the layer of tissue under the skin (subcutis)

As this list suggests. the disease can appear anywhere in the body. It often starts somewhere there’s a lot of blood supply … like the spleen or heart. In fact, 66% of spleen cancers and 40% of heart cancers are HSA. The spleen’s job is to filter red blood cells … which is why it’s one of the most likely places for an HSA tumor. 

Hemangiosarcoma starts out slow. It doesn’t usually cause pain, and dogs may not show symptoms. But eventually it’s a very aggressive cancer. It’s also difficult to detect. This means that in more than half the cases, by the time HSA is diagnosed, it’s already spread.  It can metastasize widely … to the lungs, abdominal lymph nodes, brain, bone and muscle, as well as into the omentum (part of the abdomen). 

The hypodermal and visceral forms are the most aggressive and invasive types of HSA.  Dermal HSA is sometimes treatable if it hasn’t already spread. But like the other types of HSA, it can metastasize internally. As the disease progresses, tumors often grow and rupture. The result is severe bleeding, leading to collapse, shock and death. 

The cause of HSA is unknown, though because of breed disposition, genetics likely play a role. 

Dermal HSA may be due to sun exposure. 

Breeds At Risk For Hemangiosarcoma

HSA accounts for 0.2 to 3% of all canine tumors. As mentioned earlier, HSA is more common in larger dogs, usually when they’re middle aged or older (9 to 12 years). 

These breeds are most affected by subcutaneous and visceral tumors …

  • Golden Retrievers (lifetime risk is 1 in 5)
  • German Shepherds
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Boxers
  • Rottweilers
  • Dobermans
  • English Setters
  • Flat-Coated Retrievers
  • Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Skye Terriers
  • Whippets

HSA of the skin (dermal) is more common in some breeds because they have light skin and sparse coats. White parts of the coat are more likely affected.  Sun exposure may be a factor in dermal HSA. 

  • Dalmatians
  • Basset Hounds
  • Whippets
  • Pit bulls
  • Boxers

Other Risk Factors

Breed is one major risk factor. But there are a couple of other things that make a difference too. 


The Swiss Cancer Registry looked at records for more than 121,000 dog cancer cases from 1955 to 2008. Among 1,904 dogs with hemangioma or hemangiosarcoma, the risk was lower for female dogs


The Swiss study also found a higher risk of tumors outside the genital organs in neutered vs intact dogs. Other studies have also examined the effect of spay/neuter on HSA risk. 

Among 2,505 Vizslas born between 1992 and 2008 … females spayed at 12 months or under had 9 times greater odds of developing HSA than intact dogs.  Males and females neutered after 12 months of age also had higher risk. 

One study found more than 5 times higher risk of cardiac HSA among spayed female dogs. For neutered males, the risk was slightly higher.  Another study found spayed females had 2.2 times greater risk for spleen HSA than intact females. 

A study to be released in November 2020 reviewed 5,736 dogs with hemangiosarcoma from 1964 to 2003. After adjusting for historical time period and age … the study concluded that neutering increases the risk of …

  • Splenic HSA
  • HSA in general
  • But not cardiac HSA

Since hemangiosarcoma is so difficult to spot, how might you suspect your dog has it?

Symptoms of Hemangiosarcoma

First, this is a good time to quote Dr Marty Goldstein.  When we asked him what signs of cancer people should look for in their dogs, here’s what he said …

I don’t like giving people things to look for … because then they start looking for them. Don’t look for negative things … look for how great your dog is doing! That’s very, very important.”

This is good advice. So … don’t go looking for cancer in your dog.  But be aware of some signs your dog may not be feeling his best. Many dogs with HSA don’t show any symptoms for a long time. HSA isn’t painful and if your dog has no anemia, he can seem quite normal. 

Early Signs

At first you might see some subtle symptoms like …

  • Low energy
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced appetite
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Lameness

Every dog can have an off day or two … but if these types of symptoms continue, talk to your vet.  Symptoms of hypodermal and visceral HSA may include the above signs … as well as other more severe signs.

Severe Signs Of HSA

Charles Loops DVM is a homeopathic vet who specializes in cancer cases. He’s seen a lot of hemangiosarcoma in his practice. The most common symptoms he sees are due to anemia from bleeding in the abdominal cavity … 

  • Weakness or fainting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pale mucous membranes (like the gums)
  • Distended belly

Sometimes the anemia can be episodic. The tumor bleeds and then the body reabsorbs the blood. So you may see your dog having some days of weakness. But then it passes and you assume whatever was wrong with your dog is gone. But if it’s due to hemangiosarcoma, it’s still there … and the episodes will likely reoccur. 

So don’t ignore the above signs of possible anemia. Other serious signs may be …

  • Lack of coordination
  • Partial paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Nosebleeds
  • Coughing
  • Collapse

Again, get to your vet if you see some of these signs. 

Dermal HSA usually appears in areas with little or no fur. You may see black or reddish growths on the skin, especially around the abdomen, back legs and prepuce

Diagnosis Of Hemangiosarcoma

If you have any reason to suspect hemangiosarcoma in your dog, go to the vet immediately. Don’t waste time wondering about it. The best chance for beating HSA is to find it before the bleeding has started. Sometimes HSA is discovered inadvertently during an exam for some other condition.  But even with early diagnosis, these blood tumors can metastasize quickly. 

If your vet suspects HSA, the first thing she’ll do is a hands-on exam. She’ll palpate your dog’s abdomen, feeling for an enlarged spleen.  If your dog has internal bleeding, your vet may find a fluid “wave” that moves across the belly when she touches it. 

She’ll do blood work, including, at a minimum …

  • Complete blood count
  • Chemistry panel
  • Urinalysis
  • Clotting profile 

Other tests to rule out different diagnoses include:

  • Blood parasite screening for tick-borne or other infectious disease
  • Fecal test for intestinal parasites
  • Electrolyte test for dehydration and electrolyte levels
  • Urine test for urinary tract infection and to evaluate the kidney
  • Thyroid test to determine if gland is producing enough hormone

The next steps will vary depending on what she finds. 

Suspected Spleen HSA

If your vet suspects splenic HSA, she’ll do abdominal x-rays and an ultrasound.  Ultrasounds provide a better view of internal organs. They can show masses, metastatic lesions and abdominal fluid. 

If there’s abdominal fluid, your vet may aspirate a sample to see if it’s blood. Aspiration won’t usually show cancer cells, but it can confirm that there’s internal bleeding. The best way to confirm splenic HSA is to remove the entire spleen and then biopsy it. 

Dr Demien Dressler (known as The Dog Cancer Vet) says that if a suspicious lesion doesn’t appear to have many blood vessels … then aspiration can confirm a diagnosis of superficial masses. These might be on skin or regional lymph nodes. 

New Diagnostic Tool For Splenic Tumors

In July 2021, there’s a brand new tool to help vets identify malignant vs benign masses that look like hemangiosarcoma. Unfortunately, there’s quite a lot of guesswork involved in diagnosing spleen HSA. And in a few cases, a mass on the spleen is benign and can be successfully removed with surgery. But because the odds of malignancy are much higher in dogs who present with HSA symptoms, probabilities may lead your vet to diagnose a malignant tumor. And that can have tragic consequences, because owners may decide to euthanize their dog because they think he has hemangiosarcoma … when in fact he had a curable (via splenectomy) benign mass.

Researchers at Tufts University have developed an online calculator vets can use to improve the accuracy of diagnoses. It’s called Tufts Splenic Tumor Assessment Tool (TSTAT). The calculator uses various parameters commonly seen in dogs with malignant tumors.

The calculator doesn’t give a definitive diagnosis, but it will offer better accuracy. It’s so new that so far there isn’t any data about how well it’s performing.

RELATED: Find out how you can support your dog with herbs after a splenectomy ...

Suspected Heart HSA

The best approach in diagnosing heart HSA is an echocardiogram. That’s an ultrasound of the heart. You should get a referral to a cardiologist … who’ll be experienced in performing and interpreting echocardiograms. 

If this test shows fluid around the heart, your vet may recommend aspiration in this case. Dr Dressler gives several reasons:

  • Removing the fluid from the pericardial sac will relieve symptoms. It will also stabilize your dog.
  • The aspirate may help diagnose lymphoma, a much more treatable cancer. 
  • Some oncologists also believe the pH of the sample can help assess the presence of cancer.
  • It may show elevated levels of cardiac troponin I. The CardiacTropin I test is a marker for HSA. It’s done through a specialized lab. 

Assessing The Spread of HSA

The next step is to take x-rays and ultrasounds of other organs …

  • Liver
  • Lungs
  • Abdominal organs
  • Heart
  • Kidney
  • Brain
  • Muscles
  • Lymph nodes 

These images will show whether an HSA tumor has spread elsewhere in the body. Most cases of HSA have already spread at diagnosis.  

Some vets may also recommend a whole body CT (computed tomographic) scan … especially if your dog is lame. 

Carloni et al studied 61 dogs with visceral or muscular HSA diagnoses. The study identified skeletal muscular metastases (SMMs) in almost 25% of the cases. These SMMs weren’t seen in other testing. All of these dogs had lameness or were reluctant to move. The SMM findings were significantly higher in males. There was no correlation with size of primary tumor, age or breed of dogs. 

Another way to assess how much HSA has spread is a VEGF test. This stands for vascular endothelial growth factor. VEFG levels in the blood can show …

  • How advanced the disease is
  • How it may progress
  • Whether it’s likely to respond to therapy 

Assessing the spread allows clinical staging of the cancer. This knowledge can help with treatment decisions.

Staging Hemangiosarcoma

This is the WHO’s staging system for HSA. 

Visceral HSA

  • Stage I: Tumor smaller than 5 cms. Primary tumor only with no regional or distant metastasis. 
  • Stage II: Tumor greater than 5 cms. Ruptured tumor; confined regional metastasis, no distant metastasis.
  • Stage III: Tumor larger than 5 cm. Rupture tumor; tumor that’s invaded adjacent structures … with or without lymph node metastasis or distant metastasis.

Skin HSA

  • Stage I: Primary tumor confined to the skin.
  • Stage II: Tumor involving the hypodermis or subcutis layers.
  • Stage III: Tumor with muscle involvement.

Prognosis of HSA

Unfortunately, the outlook for HSA is very bleak in nearly every case. Only 10% of dogs survive as long as a year – even with treatment. The prognoses below assume conventional treatment options. Later, we’ll tell you about some natural options that may extend your dog’s survival time. 

Visceral HSA

  • Dogs who are not treated have a life expectancy of days to weeks. 
  • Dogs who get surgery for splenic HSA survive 1 to 3 months
  • Dogs who have surgery (splenic or heart HSA) … plus post-op chemotherapy have median survival times of 6 months.

Survival times may be a few months longer with chemotherapy for a dog with a stage I spleen tumor. 

Skin HSA

Skin tumors are not quite as deadly.

  • Dogs with Stage I have median survival times of 26 months.
  • Stage II and III can survive 6 to 10 months.

There was also a study of dogs with median survival times of 4 years when given aggressive surgery, and chemotherapy with doxorubicin … with or without radiation.

Conventional Treatment Options

While many people won’t opt for conventional treatments … you never really know until you’re faced with life-threatening disease. So these are some treatments your vet or oncologist may suggest. The options depend on your dog’s individual situation. 

For all types of HSA, just about any practitioner will recommend surgery. Even Dr Charles Loops (again, a homeopathic vet) says that splenectomy can sometimes allow dogs to return to their normal routine. Homeopathy can improve and prolong quality of life in these cases.

Conventional oncologists will likely recommend surgery followed by chemotherapy. 

Spleen HSA

If the tumor is on the spleen, the surgeon will likely remove the whole spleen (a splenectomy). Your dog can live without a spleen. If there’s a lot of bleeding, your dog may need a blood transfusion before surgery. Your dog may also need plasma for clotting. 

Heart HSA

The first step for a tumor on the heart may be pericardiocentesis. This is to remove fluid that’s placing pressure on the heart. It can relieve a lot of discomfort … though sometimes the fluid comes back in a few days. After that procedure to stabilize your dog, he may a candidate for surgery. There are two ways to do this:

  • Removing part of the pericardium. That’s the sac around the heart. It’ll make more space for fluid, which gives the heart more room to work, 
  • Removing the tumor on the heart. This increases median survival times to 1 to 4 months. It’s a high-risk surgery, requiring 24 hours in the ICU after the operation. About 15% of dogs don’t survive.

If your dog is a good candidate for these surgeries … conventional practitioners will recommend chemo afterwards. Doxorubicin is the usual chemotherapy drug for HSA. 

If you choose chemotherapy, you must take your dog to an oncologist for treatment. The drugs are very potent and van cause severe damage if not handled expertly. Chemotherapy treatments may continue for the rest of your dog’s life … though some protocols recommend only 5 or 6 treatments.

If the spleen has ruptured, your oncologist may recommend extra chemotherapy … with a different drug. Intracavity chemo can help show the spread of HSA through the abdomen. It may not extend your dog’s survival time though. 

Skin HSA

The prognosis for skin HSA is much better than visceral HSA. In conventional treatments, surgery is, again, the first step. The aim is to get wide margins.  Aggressive surgery with clean margins, plus chemo, can offer much longer survival times … as long as 4 years in some cases.  If narrow or dirty margins are necessary … your surgeon may recommend radiation to follow surgery.

The prognosis is much better for Stage I HSA. Fewer than 30% of these cases metastasize. This means skin HSA can sometimes be cured … with successful surgery and radiation or chemo. Stage II or III skin HSAs metastasize easily … so your oncologist will almost certainly recommend chemo.

Despite the better prognosis of skin HSA compared to visceral HSAs … always do thorough research before you decide. Talk to holistic as well as conventional practitioners.

Cancer is a systemic disease, so surgically removing a tumor isn’t always the best solution. You can read more about the drawbacks of surgery in this post about all types of canine skin cancers

Whatever type of HSA your dog has, always ask about all the options. Always consider getting a second opinion. HSA is heavily researched and many new treatments are being studied. One newer technique already used is metronomic chemotherapy.  

One thing you’ll find as a major drawback of conventional treatments is the cost. Treatments that involve surgery plus chemo or radiation can cost $5,000 to $10,000. 

But that’s not the only reason to look at other options.

Reasons To Avoid Chemo or Radiation

This is a tough decision that only you can make … often based on recommendations and predictions from your veterinary oncologist. They’ll likely tell you that chemo will buy your dog some time, based on studies and statistics. And it might.

Many dog owners assume that conventional treatment is the only way to address cancer. It’s easy to think “life threatening disease needs conventional medicine.” But with cancer, it isn’t always true. And the treatments themselves can make your dog ill.

Dr Ian Billinghurst gave a talk about cancer at DNM’s Natural Canine Health Symposium in 2016.

Conventional Treatments Don’t Cure Cancer

Dr Billinghurst reminded us that cancer treatments … for humans as well as companion animals … have progressed very little. If you’re old enough to remember Nixon’s War On Cancer announced in the 1970s … they thought they could conquer cancer within a decade. But the truth is far from it. 

Yes, they’ve made a few improvements. They’ve developed some new immunotherapies … but most remissions last only a few months. And statistics show that the death rate is unchanged since the ‘70s. That’s 50 years!  Not one drug has been developed to treat metastatic cancer. 

Remember, this is what HSA is. The primary tumor may be in the spleen or heart. But HSA rapidly and aggressively spreads to other parts of the body.  So you can remove the spleen or a mass on the heart. But if the cancer metastasizes, you can’t just cut it out. 

So that’s why they usually follow up surgeries with chemotherapy or radiation. 

Toxic Treatments

And here’s what chemo and radiation do to your dog’s body.

  • Radiation (used after surgery for dermal HSA) burns your dog’s skin. And it uses radioactive material that itself is carcinogenic.
  • Chemotherapy poisons the body with chemicals that damage other body cells (as well as the cancer cells). And chemotherapy drugs are carcinogenic too.

Dr Billinghurst says these treatments may shrink tumors. They usually don’t get rid of them completely. When treatment stops, they’ll come back. And when they come back, they’re often more aggressive, more malignant and more deadly than before. 

His approach is different:

“Instead of weakening the body … the far more rational (and scientific) approach is to strengthen the body. To give it the nutritional tools that allow it to fight the cancer. At the same time I use nutritional means that weaken and take the power away from the cancer.

“In most instances, this not only allows longer survival times … but does so with a vastly improved quality of life.

RELATED: Read Dr Billinghurst’s opinion of chemo and radiation treatments …

If you decide on these treatments, be aware of some of the likely side effects your dog may experience. 

Chemo Side Effects

Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy drug that’s often used in HSA cases. It’s a powerful drug that works by generating free radicals. Free radicals are usually something you don’t want in your dog’s body. They’re damaged cells that are missing a molecule … which they steal from other cells. So they damage those too. Giving antioxidant foods is the usual way to combat free radical damage. This helps prevent the aging process and avoid disease. But if you give your dog antioxidants, they can interfere with the effects of this chemo. 

They give Doxorubicin by IV right into the vein. It’s a “vesicant“. This means it can cause severe damage to skin and other tissues if it leaks into subcutaneous tissue. Sometimes you need surgery to repair the damage. Other doxorubicin side effects are similar to other chemo drugs, including:

  • Hair loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bone marrow suppression 

Additional side effects include abnormal heart rhythms when the drug is given. Chronic conditions like dilated cardiomyopathy can also occur. Sometimes the oncologist may prescribe an iron chelator … to minimize the risk of heart problems. 

And sometimes it can provoke an anaphylactic response. If that happens … they’ll give your dog antihistamines like Benadryl, or corticosteroid drugs. Your dog may get other drugs to counteract doxorubicin side effects … like antibiotics and anti-nausea drugs.

That’s just one chemo drug your oncologist may recommend.  But it’s one that often used for HSA. 

RELATED: Learn why Benadryl isn’t as safe as you might think …

Radiation Side Effects

Radiation can also cause some unpleasant side effects:

  • Skin redness or blistering (like a sunburn)
  • Hair loss
  • Change in hair color

Depending on where the radiation is given, mouth sores or eye problems can also occur.  More severe side effects that may appear later in your dog’s life are:

  • Bone or ligament damage
  • Nerve injuries
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Brain infarction
  • Blindness
  • Kidney problems

And, ironically, radiation can cause other cancers

Chemo and radiation will likely mean your dog needs other drugs to help ease some of the side effects. But there are natural remedies to help with effects like nauseavomiting, or diarrhea.

Cancer treatments involve some very big decisions. Understand that the treatment itself can be harmful. So if you choose conventional medicine … make sure your oncologist fully explains what you should expect from the treatment. 

Buying More Time With Your Dog

If you decide to avoid chemo or radiation for your dog … this section will guide you with some natural approaches. Some of these choices may help prolong your dog’s life … or at least, your dog’s quality of life.  Even if you opt for conventional treatment … it’s a good idea to support your dog with some alternative therapies.

Finding The Right Practitioner

First, find a really skilled homeopath, herbalist or other holistic vet. And make sure it’s one who’s experienced with cancer patients. Look for a practitioner who’s already achieved results with other dogs. Don’t just ask your conventional vet or oncologist … (though they may have some recommendations).

Ask your friends and neighbors. Ask your breeder, trainer, groomer, specialty retailer, rescue group. Ask anyone who’s involved with dog care.  Join online dog cancer forums. There will be people with direct experience of managing hemangiosarcoma in their dogs. 

Of course, you’ll do your own research too. But you’ll want to find a professional who can help guide your choices of the best food and supplements … plus herbal or homeopathic therapies that may be helpful.

RELATED: Learn why this vet takes a holistic approach to cancer …

Steps You Can Take

Helping your dog with HSA is definitely a time to work with an expert … but here are some things that may support your dog.

No Vaccinations

If you vaccinate your dog, stop! Apart from the long-term damage vaccines do, no dog owner (or vet!) should even think of vaccinating a dog with cancer. Even the vaccine labeling says vaccines are only to be given to healthy animals. And it’s pretty obvious that a dog with cancer is not healthy.


We all know the expression “food is medicine” and it’s true. Give your dog the very best diet you can afford to help support his body and immune system.  

The number one food rule is: don’t feed kibble or any starchy foods!  Dr Ian Billinghurst explains that sugar feeds cancer. 

  • Any starches in the diet convert to sugar. 
  • High blood sugar produces high insulin. This hormone turns on cell reproduction and cell growth. yes, this includes cancer cells.
  • Sugar increases inflammation.
  • Sugar creates excess calories.

This all means that high levels of blood sugar drive cancer. If you remove the sugar from the diet, you starve the cancer cells. 

Your holistic vet will likely have some diet advice for you. Everyone takes a slightly different approach. Many recommend ketogenic diets for cancer patients. If you choose a ketogenic diet, don’t design it on your own. The nutrients have to be carefully balanced for the best results … so you’ll need expert help. 

But here are some general guidelines to a healthy diet for your hemangiosarcoma dog.

  • No kibble or starchy foods! 
  • Feed fresh, whole foods, preferably raw meat based
  • If you can afford it, use grass fed meats
  • Include organ meats for nutrient density
  • Buy organic to avoid toxins
  • Add plenty of colorful low glycemic vegetables (steamed or pureed for digestibility)
  • Give antioxidants (berries are a great source) 
  • Feed greens including broccoli sprouts which have anti-cancer properties
  • Give omega-3 fatty acids 
  • Include other whole food supplements to boost nutrition and your dog’s immune system 

RELATED: The best home remedies for dogs with cancer …

Supplements That Can Help With Hemangiosarcoma

The number one supplement ro consider for a dog with hemangiosarcoma is … medicinal mushrooms. 

Medicinal Mushrooms

A good organic medicinal mushroom blend can really boost your dog’s immune system.  Mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, the main medicinal property in mushrooms. Beta-glucans have many benefits … and supporting immunity is a key one.

To make sure you get the highest level of beta-glucans in your mushrooms … be sure to buy a product made from whole mushrooms.  Many mushroom supplements are made from mycelium, which is only the root part of the mushroom. Mycelium is grown on grains. Mushroom supplements grown on grains are higher in starch and lower in beta glucans.  So do your dog a favor and buy the best whole mushroom supplement you can. 

If you buy a mushroom blend made for dogs, follow the dosing directions on the label. If it’s made for humans, assume the dose is for 150 lbs and adjust for your dog’s weight. 

A mushroom blend can do a lot to support your dog’s immune system.  But there’s one special mushroom that’s a star when it comes to helping dogs with hemangiosarcoma.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms (Coriolus versicolor or Trametes versicolor)

Even if your mushroom supplement blend already includes turkey tail … you need to give your dog extra turkey tail mushrooms. Because they’re one thing research has proven can extend … even double your dog’s survival time with hemangiosarcoma.

A 2012 study at University of Pennsylvania treated hemangiosarcoma dogs with I’M-Yunity … an extract of polysaccharopeptide (PSP) from turkey tail mushrooms.There were 15 dogs in the trial. Each group pf 5 dogs got different doses – 25, 50 0r 100 mg per kilo per day. 

The researchers were stunned at the results. The longest median survival time they’d seen before for spleen HSA with no further treatment was 86 days. But with just the PSP treatment, there was dogs that lived longer than a year. Again, the dogs got no other treatments. The median survival time in the 100 mg group was the highest … at 199 days.  That’s more than double the previous report of 86 days!  

The researchers also noted that it was longer than the median survival time for dogs getting doxorubicin chemotherapy … which is 141 to 179 days. And that’s without the side effects (or the huge expense)! 

RELATED: Read more about research into turkey tail mushrooms and hemangiosarcoma …

Yunnan Baiyao

Yunnan Baiyo is a popular herbal formula in Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) … and TCM for humans too. The formula is proprietary (patented by the Chinese government) … so there’s no information available about what’s in it. Some say it may contain ingredients like ginseng, ox gall bladder, and more.

Many TCVM practitioners use Yunnan Baiyao as a constitutional remedy. It balances Qi blood statis or stagnation. And it’s also a very popular remedy to stop bleeding. Yunnan Baiyao helps improve platelets and clotting. So it can stop bleeding from external wounds as well as internal hemorrhaging. And this is what makes it effective in helping dogs with hemangiosarcoma. 

Yunnan Baiyao may also help slow the growth of an HSA tumor. In fact, there’s research taking place to study its potential in killing HSA cells. Yunnan baiyao may also have anti-inflammatory properties. 

If you’d like to use this formula, it’s best to consult a TCVM vet who understands the proper dosing for Yunnan Baiyao. You can find dosing formulas online, but these sites may not be trustworthy. Yunnan Baiyao dosing needs to be tailored to your dog.  


Homeopathy from a good veterinary homeopath can really help your dog with HSA.  Dr Charles Loops, mentioned earlier, has treated many dogs with HSA. He finds that homeopathy treatment can equal or exceed chemotherapy survival times. And it’s a gentle treatment that does more to maintain your dog’s quality of life, without side effects. 

About 12 to 15% of Dr Loops’ HSA cases survive longer than a year. Others have never had relapses. Homeopaths like Dr Loops will tailor the individual treatment to your dog. He may alternate a number of different remedies, including:

  • Constitutional remedy (prescribed for the individual patient)
  • Carcinosin (a homeopathic remedy prepared from cancerous tissues, known as a nosode)
  • Specific cancer or organ remedies
  • Cell salt combinations
  • Yunnan Baiyao or homeopathic Phosphorus and Arnica to control bleeding

Prescribing and dosing remedies is an art in homeopathy. Every homeopath will have different approaches. Dr Loops is a great example of a homeopathic vet who’s had a lot of experience and success. Homeopathy helps prolong dogs’ quality of life and avoid harmful treatments like chemotherapy. 

RELATED:  Cancer treatment recommendations from other holistic vets …

Preventing Hemangiosarcoma

“How do you prevent hemangiosarcoma” is a tough question. Because they don’t know what causes it, there are really no good answers.  

Light skinned or thin coated dogs susceptible to skin HSA should avoid a lot of sun exposure. Otherwise, the best thing you can do is be meticulous in managing your dog’s healthy lifestyle. 

  • Feed the best diet you can, with no starchy carbohydrates
  • Give immune supporting supplements
  • Give your dog chemical-free water (filtered or spring water)
  • Avoid or minimize vaccinations
  • Use natural remedies instead of antibiotics or other drugs
  • Don’t use chemicals in your home or yard
  • Don’t spay or neuter your dog

Those are just a few of the things within your control.

RELATED: Read Dr Demian Dressler’s detailed recommendations on lowering cancer risk for your dog …

Hemangiosarcoma is a horrible disease with very few treatments that offer hope. The only good news is that it’s not normally painful. But some of the natural solutions above may help keep your dog with you longer … while still allowing him to enjoy his quality of life. 


Grüntzig K,  et al. Swiss Canine Cancer Registry 1955-2008: Occurrence of the Most Common Tumour Diagnoses and Influence of Age, Breed, Body Size, Sex and Neutering Status on Tumour DevelopmentJ Comp Pathol. 2016 Aug-Oct;155(2-3):156-170. 

Dr Joanne Intile DVM MS, DACVIM (Oncology), CVJ (Certified Veterinary Journalist). The Role Of Neutering In Cancer Development.

Zink MC et al. Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized VizslasJ Am Vet Med Assoc. 2014 Feb 1;244(3):309-19.

Ware WA, Hopper DL. Cardiac tumors in dogs: 1982-1995J Vet Intern Med. 1999 Mar-Apr;13(2):95-103.

Prymak C, McKee LJ, Goldschmidt MH, Glickman LT. Epidemiologic, clinical, pathologic, and prognostic characteristics of splenic hemangiosarcoma and splenic hematoma in dogs: 217 cases (1985)J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1988 Sep 15;193(6):706-12. 

Robinson KL et al. Neutering is associated with developing hemangiosarcoma in dogs in the Veterinary Medical Database: An age and time-period matched case-control study (1964-2003)Can Vet J. 2020 May;61(5):499-504. 

Carloni, A,  Terragni, R,  Morselli-Labate, AM, et al.  Prevalence, distribution, and clinical characteristics of hemangiosarcoma-associated skeletal muscle metastases in 61 dogs: A whole body computed tomographic studyJ Vet Intern Med.  2019; 33: 812– 819.

Chaikin P, Welihozkiy A. Hemangiosarcoma in a Dog: Unusual Presentation and Increased Survival Using a Complementary/Holistic Approach Combined with Metronomic ChemotherapyCase Rep Vet Med. 2018 Feb 5;2018:6160980.

Dorothy Cimino Brown, Jennifer Reetz. Single Agent Polysaccharopeptide Delays Metastases and Improves Survival in Naturally Occurring HemangiosarcomaEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 384301.

KA Wirth et al. In vitro effects of Yunnan Baiyao on canine hemangiosarcoma cell linesVeterinary and Comparative Oncology, Vol 14, Issue 3, Sept 2016 (First published 29 June 2014).


Get instant access to easy-to-make and affordable recipes. Plus get new recipes delivered right to your inbox.

Recipe Cards for Making Raw Dog Food

Related Posts