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3 Effective Treatments of Dog Cancer Hemangiosarcoma

Golden retriever at risk for developing hemangiosarcoma
By Dirk Vorderstraße

How Long Can a Dog Live with Hemangiosarcoma

Currently there is no cure for the internal organ form of hemangiosarcoma.  However, dermal hemangiosarcoma may be effectively treated with removal of the tumor and a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

In the instance of hemangiosarcoma of the internal organs, many dogs will only survive a few days following diagnosis, due to hemorrhaging of the tumor.

In instances of operable hemangiosarcoma tumors, dogs live an average of 89 days following surgery, with no other treatments or interventions.

Dogs who receive chemotherapy following surgery, live and average of 180 days following surgery.

Studies performed by University of Pennsylvania demonstrate that dogs receiving the Coriolus Versicolor mushroom extract produced by I’m Yunity, with no other treatment (i.e. no surgery or chemotherapy), lived and average of 199 days, while some participants were still alive one year after the study. The I’m Yunity treatment protocol produced no negative side effects, and can be significantly less expensive than surgery followed by chemotherapy.

Here we discuss three alternative therapies for hemangiosarcoma of internal organs to be used either in conjunction with each other and/or traditional surgery or as an alternative to the traditional western approaches of surgery and chemotherapy. The remedies recommended are presented in order of importance for immediate benefit, maximum long term benefit and overall cost.

How Can Alternative and Holistic Medicine Help Dogs with Hemangiosarcoma

Canine hemangiosarcoma is an insidious disease, in that dogs tend to tolerate the tumors well, with few signs of illness, until the cancer has progressed to a very advanced stage. Often, the diagnosis come with a very grim prognosis – your dog has one or two days left to live.  These words leave many owners stunned and wishing they had more time to spend with their beloved companion.

The early signs of the hemangiosarcoma are vague and may only be detected a week or two at most, prior to collapse.

Early Signs of Hemangiosarcoma May Include:

  • Depression or restlessness
  • Inappetence
  • Pale Gums (a sign of anemia due to blood loss)
  • Easy fatigue and lethargy
  • Abdominal swelling or a sense of heaviness in the dog’s chest
  • Heavy breathing, shallow breathing or rapid breathing
  • Abnormal stools, sometimes pink with a consistency of putty
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Seizures
  • Collapse: a late stage occurrence (this often comes once the tumor has ruptured, and the dogs is hemorrhaging internally)

The hemangiosarcoma tumor is vascular in nature, meaning the tumor develops its own blood vessels.  However, these blood vessels are of inferior quality, and as the tumor grows, the vessels eventually begin to rupture, resulting in internal bleeding. The tumors may be located in the abdomen, frequently attached to the spleen (splenetic), liver or gall bladder, or may be located in the heart muscle (cardiac). Once the tumor ruptures, it bathes the abdominal cavity in cancer cells, allowing the cancer to metastasize quickly. 

Until recently, the prognosis for a dog diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma was very poor.  Traditional treatment includes surgery to remove the tumor and the organ the tumor is attached to. In splenetic hemangiosarcoma a splenectomy is performed. If the tumor is attached to the liver, part of the liver may be able to be removed and the liver resected. Generally in instances of cardiac hemangiosarcoma, the tumor is inoperable. 

However, dogs may be in such poor condition upon diagnosis, that survival of the surgery is questionable. Additionally, many families find it prohibitively expensive, given the poor long-term prognosis of dogs with hemangiosarcoma.

In western approaches to this cancer, surgery is usually followed by chemotherapy, although this cancer typically does not respond well to chemo. Average longevity following surgery and chemo is 180 days.  Additionally, chemo may have a severely negative impact on the quality of the dog’s life.  Many owners express regret in opting for chemotherapy, and some feel that it hastened their dog’s demise.
breeds at risk for hemangiosarcoma
By Boxercab/Flickr

What Should I Do If My Dog Is Diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma

If your dog has been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma, request a referral to a holistic veterinarian. Holistic vets are typically licensed vets trained in western veterinary medicine. These vets have opted to add other arts, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, to their practice. As they are also “real vets”, they are more readily accepted in the veterinary community than are holistic medical practitioners in the human medical community. Integrative care is developing in the mainstream veterinary practices at a faster rate than in the medical community.

The holistic vet may be able to stop the hemorrhage through the use of a Chinese herbal compound called Yunnan Baiyao. This may improve your pet’s ability to tolerate surgery, or if that is not an option, to stop the bleeding and reduce swelling and pain, while you attempt increase the dog’s lifespan with non-surgical treatments, such as turkey tail mushroom extract, acupuncture and ozone therapy.   We recommend that you consult with a holistic vet prior to implementing any of the therapies below, although depending on your geographic location, that may be difficult or impossible. 

Below we discuss the uses of each therapy, dosages, as well as outcome expectancies from anecdotal evidence as well as scientific studies.

What Is Yunnan Baiyao and How Does It Help Dogs with Hemangiosarcoma

Yunnan Baiyao (also spelled Yunnan Paiyao) is a proprietary Chinese herbal formulation that originated in the Yunnan province in China. Developed in the early 1900s, the name translates as bai meaning “white” and yao meaning “medicine” of Yunnan Province.  
This is a compound of various ingredients, whose exact formulation is a closely guarded secret in China.  While its formula is patented by the Chinese government and considered a state secret, it is believed that the main ingredients of Yunnan Baiyao include two types of ginseng, various yam roots, ox gall bladder, pseudoginseng, sweet geranium, borneol, musk and more. In Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) this formula is used to Transform Stasis, Tonify Qi, Resolve Stagnation, Invigorate Blood and Clear Heat.

Blood stasis or stagnation is believed to be the underlying cause of many ailments according to Chinese Traditional Medicine. Acupuncture, for example, is another therapy designed to reduce stasis and clear qi. However it is Yunnan Baiyao’s ability to stop bleeding and heal external wounds, as well as internal hemorrhages, and reduce pain that makes this TCM useful in the treatment of hemangiosarcoma and the hemorrhaging tumors.

Yunnan Baiyao (YB) has been carried by military personal in Vietnam and China to stop bleeding from open wounds and speed the healing process.  Externally, when applied to wounds, YB aids in granulation of the wound. When ingested for internal bleeding, YB aids in coagulation. YB is already used in dentistry to stop bleeding and promote healing for extractions and oral surgery. Now Western medicine is taking a look at how it may be able to help patients with chronic internal bleeding.

Yunnan Baiyao in Human Medicinal Treatments

  • In one human study, 100 participants with chronic upper gastrointestinal bleeding were treated with a Yunnan Baiyao blend of herbals. A remarkable 95% effective rate was reported over a short period of treatment.
  • Research at Peking University confirms its value for surgical applications. By administering Yunnan Baiyao for a few days before surgery, patients experienced a one third reduction in bleeding during and immediately after surgery, and when given for a few days after surgery, patients also experienced significantly reduced swelling.(1)
  • In other studies, Yunnan Baiyao taken orally has been shown to decrease liver bleeding in lab animals.  Similarly, studies have shown that Yunnan Baiyao, when taken orally, decreases bleeding times in ponies and rabbits.  It also works to slow bleed times when the powder is applied to a bleeding wound.
  • Anecdotal evidence by dog owners and holistic vets demonstrates that hemangiosarcoma patients can recover from the collapse phase of the disease with an “emergency” dose of Yunnan Baiyao. (That is the “red” pill in the package, also referred to as the “safety” pill, which we will discuss under Yunnan Baiyao dosage).

How Yunnan Baiyao Works to Stop Bleeding

It has been theorized that the stop-bleeding action of Yunnan Baiyao may be due to the presence of microscopic plant fibers (nanofibers) in the compound that stimulate platelets to aggregate and form clots. This could explain how a low dosage of herbal material, might have such dramatic effect. The supplement is intended to be used for a very short time 2-5 days.

Anecdotally, university surgeons are using YB capsules orally as a pre-med to reduce or prevent adverse bleeding during surgery. In holistic vet practices, YB has been an invaluable aid in stopping leakage from splenic hemangiosarcoma masses, resulting in decreases of the associated anemia, improvement of quality of life, and increased longevity, especially when surgical intervention is not an option or has failed.

dog cancer treatment yunnan paiyao for hemangiosarcoma
Traditional Chinese Medicine with internal stop-bleed properties

Dog Dosage for Yunnan Baiyao

Administration and dosage
Yunnan Baiyao comes as a patch to be applied externally or as a liquid or as a capsule. In treatment of dogs, the capsule method is preferred.

The capsule is available in a package of 16 - 250 mg capsules. The small red tablet (the “safety pill”) in the middle of the blister packet is equal in potency to the rest of the capsules combined and is to be reserved for emergencies (severe hemorrhage).

How Much Yunnan Baiyao Dosage by Weight:

For dogs under 10 lbs, give 1 capsule by mouth one time a day.
For dogs from 10 to 30 lbs, give 1 capsule by mouth two times a day.
For dogs above 30 but less than 60 lbs, give 2 capsules two times a day.
For dogs above 60 lbs, give 2 capsules three times a day.

For dogs with hemangiosarcoma the standard treatment protocol would be five days on and a five day off for a rest period, alternating off and on every five days. This off and on schedule is intended to avoid overdose as it can result in liver damage. However, if your dog noticeably goes downhill during the off phase of the cycle, you can reduce the daily supplement intake and keep him on YB daily. For example, a 75-pound dog can be dosed one capsule twice daily for longer than one year as part of a cancer management protocol, with no adverse effects having been noted.

In instances of collapse due to a rupture of the tumor, the red pill is to be given, and is the only pill that day. If recovery is insignificant the red pill may be given the following day.  There is no point in worrying about liver damage if the patient is going to bleed out from hemorrhaging. 

Side Effects of Yunnan Baiyao

  • Stomach upset
  • Allergic reaction (hives etc) and in rare cases anaphylactic shock
  • Liver problems (resulting from over-use). Serious side effects are not expected, and liver problems are likely to be mild, although dogs with existing liver disease might experience more issues during over-use of the medicine.

Overdoses of Yunnan Baiyao can cause effects similar to aconitine poisoning. This could include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain
  • Temporary paralysis

Turkey Tail Mushroom Extract To Prolong Dogs’ Lives with No Side Effects

In a University of Pennsylvania study, funded by Chinese Medicine Holding LTD., dogs with hemangiosarcoma were treated with a compound derived from the Coriolus Versicolor mushroom, also known as the turkey tail mushroom due to its variegated, brown coloration and distinctive fan shaped growth pattern. Treatment with the mushroom extract branded under I’m-Yunity resulted in the longest survival times ever reported for dogs with the disease.

The Coriolus Versicolor mushroom, known commonly in Traditional Chinese Medicine as the Yunzhi mushroom, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. Two compounds within the mushroom, Polysaccharide Krestin (PSK) and Polysaccharide Peptide (PSP), are believed to have immune-boosting properties. Over the past two decades, studies have indicated that PSP may also have a tumor-fighting effect. According to the Mayo Clinic, clinical trials with a combination of chemotherapy and PSK have been show to benefit patients with stomach and colorectal cancers. (PSK extract is approved for clinical use in Japan, further studies are required in the USA for FDA approval).

The University of Pennsylvania (UP) researchers studied dogs with naturally occurring hemangiosarcoma to see what effects the Yunzhi mushroom extract would have on their patients. Fifteen dogs who had been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma participated in the trial. Divided into three groups of five, each group received a varying dose — 25, 50 or 100 mg/kg/day — of I’m-Yunity, a formulation of PSP which is also readily available over the Internet. The dog owners were instructed to give their dog a capsule of I’m-Yunity, daily. The owners brought their dogs to UP’s Ryan Veterinary Hospital for follow-up visits on a monthly basis for blood sample testings and ultrasounds to determine the extent that tumors had developed or spread in the dogs’ bodies.

According to researcher Cimino Brown, “We were shocked! Prior to this, the longest reported median survival time of dogs with hemangiosarcoma of the spleen that underwent no further treatment was 86 days. We had dogs that lived beyond a year with nothing other than this mushroom as treatment.” (2)

Not only had the dog’s survival times increased with the use of I’m-Yunity, but unlike chemotherapy, there were no reported side effects.  Dogs receiving the highest dosage, 100 mg/day, had the longest average survival time, however the difference in median survival times between dosages was not statistically significant. University of Pennsylvania intends to mount several more experiments with I’m-Yunity and canine hemangiosarcoma.

While I’m-Yunity was the brand used in the experiment, other manufacturers exist that charge one third of the price of I’m-Yunity. Many holistic practitioners use Host Defense Turkey Tail Mushroom 500 mg 120 Caps with good results.

Host Defense Turkey Tail Mushroom Extract Dosage
Dogs under 40 pounds ½ capsule (sprinkled on moist food or yogurt)
Dogs 40 pounds and over one capsule per day
Dogs over 100 pounds two capsules a day.

Side Effects

None have been noted in canines.  Humans have experienced dark stools and darkening of the finger nails.

I’m-Yunity Dosage Recommendation
For dogs under 50 pounds 50 mg per day
For dogs 50 pounds and over 100 MG per day
(Recently I'm Yunity has experienced a shortage in supply, you may have to purchase an alternative brand until this is resolved)

low carbohydrate canine cancer diet recipe

Sample Canine Cancer Diet Recipe

In conjunction with the above TCM treatments, you will want to switch your dog to a grain-free, organic diet high in dark leafy green vegetables in order to help boost the immune system. Cancer cells prefer to feed on calories from carbohydrates, so minimizing the amount of carbs in the diet, may help to starve the cancer cells. 

Conversely, cancer cells do not feed readily on calories from fat. While the canine body, on the other hand, easy makes good use of fat based calories. Adding Omega 3 fatty acids through wild sourced fish oils and sardines, can improve your dog’s appetite and muscle mass.

(If cooking for your dog is too time consuming, you can choose an organic kibble with freeze dried fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants.  Castor and Pollux’s Organix is highly recommended as is the Fromm brand of dog foods.)

When feeding a commercial kibble feel free to add the following proteins to the kibble:
  • Canned Sardines
  • Raw or Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Kefir or Active Yogurt
  • Wild Sourced Fish Oil or Salmon Oil Supplements

If you feel up to cooking for your dog you will want to mix the following ingredients in a food processor:
  • 4 pounds organic (or at least antibiotic/hormone free) chicken (baked or raw)
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 3 raw eggs
  • 1 cup yogurt (active) or kefir
  • 4 cups leafy green vegetables (dark outer leaves of romaine, frozen chopped collards, spinach, kale or a mixture of all of these). The lettuce family of dark lettuces are rich in vitamins A, C and K; eating them will help your dog’s blood to clot normally. Kale, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage and broccoli are cruciferous leafy greens. These vegetables are high in nutrients and contain glucosinolates, which inhibit the growth of certain cancers.
  • Other antioxidants that can be added include blueberries, seeded apples, broccoli,
  • Additionally you can add canned pumpkin to the mixture if your dog is having loose stools.
Once the ingredients have been blended, you can form patties for each meal time and freeze them.


Diagnosis of internal hemangiosarcoma is very serious, as it metastasize quickly and is only very rarely curable. Researchers are working on early detection methods that may improve the prognosis of dogs diagnosed at early stages of the disease. The alternative therapies in this article can help to extend your pet's life and improve the remaining quality of life. 

This article is intended for informational purposes to educate pet owners on alternative treatments available to owners. Pet owners should not to implement any suggestions on animal health treatments without  consultation with a licensed veterinarian. If your pet is experiencing health issues, please contact your licensed veterinarian.


(1) YUNNAN PAIYAO Uses for injury and surgery; gastro-intestinal, respiratory, and urogenital disorders
by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon

(2) Compound Derived From a Mushroom Lengthens Survival Time in Dogs With Cancer, Penn Vet Study Finds

All Image Credits [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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