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Hemangiosarcoma In Golden Retrievers: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis

Hemangiosarcoma In Golden Retrievers: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis
Hemangiosarcoma In Golden Retrievers

This is the one disease that frightens any Golden Retriever owner. Hemangiosarcoma is an extremely aggressive and deadly form of cancer that kills one in five Golden Retrievers

This is the cancer of the blood vessel walls, which means that it can spread quickly to virtually any organ in a dog’s body. However, hemangiosarcoma in Golden Retrievers, in most cases, affects the liver, heart, and spleen. Hemangiosarcoma usually affects middle to older age Golden Retrievers, those between 9-12 years of age.

Causes Of Hemangiosarcoma In Golden Retrievers

Unfortunately, we still don’t know for sure what causes this type of cancer to occur.

However, there are a couple of known risk factors:

  • Genetics – some breeds like Golden and Labrador Retrievers are particularly susceptible to the development of Hemangiosarcoma
  • Abnormal blood vessels development
  • Exposure to ultraviolet light
  • Abnormal gene expression

What Are The Symptoms Of Hemangiosarcoma?

The one thing that is particularly dangerous about hemangiosarcoma is that it “works” silently and painlessly. Your dog may seem perfectly fine, moments before internal hemorrhaging occurs, which leads to collapse and even death.

There are usually only a few hints that your Golden may have hemangiosarcoma. These are:

  • Anemia
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Lethargy

However, most of the time, these signs go unnoticed, and when the cancer is finally diagnosed, it’s already in its advanced form.

Abnormal growth of tumor cells causes blood clots and mini-hemorrhages, but these heal quickly, and you will not notice mild signs that something is wrong with your pooch. When the tumor tissue finally ruptures and causes catastrophic hemorrhage, it’s already too late.

This will lead to collapse and death if not immediately treated.

Diagnosis Of Hemangiosarcoma In Golden Retrievers

These are the tests your veterinarian can perform to diagnose hemangiosarcoma:

  • Complete blood analysis
  • Urinalysis
  • Coagulation profile
  • Abdominal radiography
  • Chest Radiography
  • Echocardiography
  • Biopsy
  • Abdominal tap

Can We Treat Hemangiosarcoma In Golden Retrievers?

Unfortunately, there is still no cure for this type of cancer. Standard treatment includes surgical removal of the tumor or chemotherapy. These procedures will only extend the dog’s life for a few months. 

This, of course, puts the dog’s owner in a very difficult situation, where he has to decide between surgery, that will only prolong the inevitable, or euthanasia. Even with the surgery or chemotherapy, you can only extend your dog’s life for about three to five months.

There are some promising signs in new research and methods of hemangiosarcoma treatment that can further extend the life of affected dogs, such as:

  • Immunotherapy
  • eBAT
  • Antibody therapy
  • I’m-Yunity – mushroom extracts


Hemangiosarcoma is a particularly vile and deadly type of cancer. You probably won’t even notice that something is wrong with your Golden until it collapses due to massive hemorrhaging. We can only advise you not to skip your dog’s regular check-ups, as well as extensive scans of the abdomen and chest every few years.