Families of hemangiosarcoma dogs share shock and heartbreak. Hemangiosarcoma is a fairly common cancer, especially in some breeds, and it often comes to a sudden, quick end. How good one minute, critical the next. The tumors begin with cells lining blood vessels and often attach to the dog’s heart or spleen. In many cases, symptoms begin with pale gums/tongue and collapse due to internal bleeding. It. Is. Destructive. We lost our yellow labrador mix dog Cody to him many years ago. New research uncovered a possible link between chronic but undetected bacterial infections and this aggressive cancer in hemangiosarcoma dogs.
Some of you may know our dear friend Carol Bryant and her site Fidose of Reality. We all shared their devastation over the loss of her amazing dog Dexter, on Hemangiosarcoma in 2021. She has excellent information on this cancer when you need it.
Because hemangiosarcoma often goes undetected until an advanced stage, only 12-20% of dogs survive a year after diagnosis. Personally, I know of only one dog—another friend’s black lab—that has survived this long.
Our boy Cody
Below is a photo of our sweet boy Cody. From what I recall we said goodbye for about 10 days between his diagnosis and his funeral. That’s more than many get. Difficult? Yes, but also lucky enough to have taken the time to make peace with the news as best we could.
I once asked a veterinary oncologist what would qualify as one Game changer in canine cancer. She said: “I think if you ask anyone who treats cancer with dogs, hemangiosarcoma is the most difficult disease for everyone to manage and care for. If there were a way to overcome this disease on our own, we would jump.” Joy.”
New research bacteria and hemangiosarcoma dogs
Apparently, most of the research on possible links between chronic infections + the inflammation they cause and later cancer is focused on viruses. However, Researchers at North Carolina State University tested 110 hemangiosarcoma dogs for three bacteria. They found a high prevalence of Bartonella bacteria in tissue samples from the dogs – but NOT in their blood samples. This adds to the evidence that Bartonella can live undetected in the tissues of dogs.
Some call it cat scratch disease if that helps you understand the infection in question.
The research team tested 3 samples from hemangiosarcoma dogs in the study:
- tumor tissue
- non-tumor tissue
- blood samples
Researchers “amplified and sequenced” Bartonella DNA from 80 of the 110 dogs and found it in:
- 34% of tumor tissue
- 63% non-tumor tissue
- 0% of blood samples
This tells us that — at least for now — whole blood samples alone do not “rule out” the presence of Bartonella.
So far, this research provides an area of investigation. Not cause and effect. Future studies will likely investigate *if the bacteria* may be a cause of hemangiosarcoma in dogs.
Bonus photo of me with Cody, from WIEBACK. Hoooo, I feel old looking back on this. (haha)