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Haemangiosarcoma - These are predominantly tumours of the spleen and/or of the liver, the majority of cases involve primarily the spleen in the earlier stages of the disease.
Breeds - While this is probably the most common tumour affecting the German Shepherd dog, , this is also the most common abdominal tumour seen in all breeds of dogs across the board. Seen more commonly in males but can occur in both sexes, usually over the age of 8 years, highest incidence at around 11-12 years.
Symptoms - Often seen as a sudden onset of weakness, pallor in the gums and increased abdominal girth – these symptoms are usually secondary to a bleed from the tumor into the abdomen. While the initial bleed can kill some dogs outright, the majority will survive this, and if only the spleen is involved (over 80% of cases), the spleen can be removed and most dogs will get another 12 months of good quality living. If however the dog has had several bleeds over a period of time, the possibility of secondarys (immunodeficiency diseases) already developing is quite high and the odds for these dogs is often much shorter (3-6 months).
Treatment - It is a good idea when your older dog goes to the vet for their annual check up that the abdomen is palpated as well. Any concerns with this, an ultrasound examination should be done. If these are picked up prior to any bleeding into the abdomen, and the liver or other organs are unaffected, the prognosis is very good.
Skin Haemangiosarcoma - Also called Malignant Haemangio-Endothelioma. Thought to have a genetic predisposition.
Age - Generally seen in the middle to older aged dog average age 9 years, but can be as early as 5 years.
Breeds - Genetic predisposition postulated in the Pitt Bull, Boxer and the GSD.
Symptoms - Single to multiple tumors, frequently invasive.
Treatment - May require aggressive surgical intervention and or chemotherapy.