Updated at: 31-05-2023 - By: Jane Brody

Mercy killing is the hardest thing to do, irrespective of whether you are doing it to a fellow human or a pet animal. However, as painful as it is, certain circumstances force you to do it. One such act is euthanizing a dog with hemangiosarcoma, a common type of cancer that affects some dog breeds.

It even gets more complicated because hemangiosarcoma shows its effects when it is too late, giving the dog owners a short time to decide on the right time to euthanize. While some dog owners get lucky and learn about the symptoms early, others are not as lucky and have to make their decisions fast.

The following guide might help those facing the misfortune of having a dog with hemangiosarcoma on the best time to euthanize.

When To Euthanize A Dog With Hemangiosarcoma

What Is Hemangiosarcoma?

Hemangiosarcoma is a type of aggressive malignant cancer that affects the dog’s blood vessels and other body organs, including the heart, liver, spleen, and skin. In its progressive stages, the cancer produces masses and tumors that rupture without much notice causing immense pain to the dog.

Signs of Hemangiosarcoma

In most cases, the cancer does not show any visible symptoms until it is too late. However, the following clues could indicate that your dog has cancer.

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • A distended stomach mass
  • Lethargy
  • Skin bruises
  • Pale gums
  • Heavy panting
  • Collapsing and weakness that comes and goes

When Should You Euthanize A Dog With Hemangiosarcoma?

Unlike many other cancers, hemangiosarcoma often goes undetected until its last advanced and aggressive stages. It is also resistant to typical cancer treatments and surgeries. The decision on when you should euthanize a dog with hemangiosarcoma should come after the overall prognosis by the vet. The type of cancer you are dealing with should also be another issue to consider. Some of the hemangiosarcoma cancers, such as dermal and skin, have better prognoses than others have.

They respond well to treatment, which means your dog has a better chance of a longer life expectancy, thus delaying the decision for euthanasia. On the other hand, hypodermal hemangiosarcoma has a larger percentage of spreading into the body’s internal parts much faster than dermal cancer.  In such a case, you cannot delay the decision to put the dog down before it starts to experience the pain that comes with the cancer side effects that include immense pain.

Another more severe type of hemangiosarcoma cancer is visceral that mainly affects the dog’s internal organs. Some of the symptoms are bleeding and hemorrhaging painful tumors. The advice you will most likely get from a vet if your dog gets to this stage is to put it down immediately after the diagnosis.

When To Euthanize A Dog With Hemangiosarcoma 2

Dog Breeds Most Prone To Hemangiosarcoma

The causes of hemangiosarcoma are not exact, but scientists believe that it all goes back to the genes. The disease is most common with larger dog breeds aged six years and above. The breeds more likely to suffer from hemangiosarcoma include:-

  • Great Danes
  • Basset Hounds
  • Dalmatians
  • Flat-Coated Retrievers
  • Boxers
  • German Shepherds
  • English Setters
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Dobermans
  • Poodles
  • Whippets
  • Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Skye Terries

How Long Can Dogs Live With Hemangiosarcoma?

The average life expectancy of dogs with hemangiosarcoma is six months. However, depending on the type of hemangiosarcoma, some dogs live longer than the average life expectancy. Between 6 and 13 percent of the dogs that go through surgery might live for another 12 months.

12 to 20 percent of dogs with the cancer, but get surgery treatment alongside chemotherapy also live another twelve months and beyond.

Eventually, with or without treatment, dogs with hemangiosarcoma succumb to cancer due to organ metastasis and tumor ruptures. Without any treatment, a dog with hypodermal hemangiosarcoma will most likely die within six months. In contrast, one with visceral hemangiosarcoma might not survive beyond 14 days post prognosis.

Wrapping It Up

Hemangiosarcoma is a devastating canine cancer that does not give dog owners enough time to spend joyful days with their pets. It strikes fast and too hard, leaving a trail of heartaches. The disease is aggressive, and if you do not make a quick decision on when to euthanize your dog after the prognosis, you will be putting the pet through lots of pain.

After the final diagnosis, the chances of getting better are minimal, and the dog will eventually die anyway, which is a quick decision is necessary. However, you will still need professional advice from a vet before you make the decision.

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