What are Hardening and Blockage of the Arteries?
Spontaneous hemoabdomen is the result of a tumor on the spleen. This tumor may have been slowly growing weeks before and eventually starts to hemorrhage internally after it ruptures. The act of hemorrhaging, called hemangiosarcoma, could cause dogs to bleed to death if not properly treated in time. It is not uncommon that they will fall and stop breathing similar to the way humans do when a heart attack occurs, although this is not considered a coronary artery disease. In another form of hardening and blockage to the arteries, the dog could have cancer and fatality will soon follow.
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Symptoms of Hardening and Blockage of the Arteries in Dogs
The signs of hardening and blockage of the arteries are not always clear, especially when it comes to spontaneous hemoabdomen. Most of the time, the bleeding is internal, and there is no bloody stool.
However, symptoms that pet owners can be on the lookout for include:
- Irregular heart rate (arrhythmia)
- Low blood pressure
- Rise in heart rate (tachycardia)
- Trouble breathing (dyspnoea)
- Weakness (ex. unable to stand up)
- White gums
Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are commonly linked to these blockages. However, it's not impossible to happen with other dog breeds, too. Dogs who are leaning toward their senior years (ages 8 and above) may be especially susceptible to blockages.
Two common types of hardening and blockage in arteries are the result of:
- Hemangiosarcoma - malignant cancer that ruptures organs and often results in death although if caught in time can be fixed with emergency surgery
- Hemangioma - tumor that causes slow bleeding but is completely treatable with surgery
While neither is coronary related, both take on the same symptoms of a "heart attack" in humans.
Causes of Hardening and Blockage of the Arteries in Dogs
One of the most common causes of hemangiosarcoma is due to a type of cancer that spreads out and onto blood-forming organs. While destroying chemotherapy drugs, the malignant disease ruptures the spleen. It moves extremely quickly through the body, which is the primary reason why most diagnoses usually result in death.
A very small percentage (25 percent versus 75 percent) may have a hemangioma, which may just break open and start to bleed. It's much slower and treatable by surgery.
Another cause for hardening and blockage of a dog’s arteries is due to atherosclerosis plaque, which affects how blood is able to flow in its vessels. Unlike hemangiosarcoma, it is not related to a disease but can cause similar symptoms of hemangioma.
Diagnosis of Hardening and Blockage of the Arteries in Dogs
With hemangioma tumors, a biopsy is completed to look at an entire mass underneath a microscope via histopathology. The samples will be submitted to a veterinary pathologist to get a closer look at them to make sure that they are indeed benign. Whole lumps, as opposed to small pieces of tissue, are preferable in order to confirm whether the tumor is malignant or not. The length of the tumor spread may also be a good guesstimate of how likely the dog will survive if the tumor is completely removed, assuming the tumor has not attached or destroyed other organs.
During the diagnosis, a veterinarian will also look for blood clots (thrombosis) and try to determine the odds of survival for hemangiosarcoma. The speed in which the cancerous cells have traveled through the arteries into the rest of the body will greatly determine whether euthanasia is an option versus a given.
Treatment of Hardening and Blockage of the Arteries in Dogs
While death is common for either illness, it is not an absolute given. Although a dog's own cells can kill some forms of cancer, in the case of hemangiosarcoma, these cancer cells are too strong and too quick to do so. With a ratio of 75 to 25 survival rate for the cancerous blockage, there is still the possibility that a medical professional can get the dog to emergency surgery and a blood transfusion as soon as possible. If not, and for hemangiosarcoma, continuing with euthanasia is recommended to avoid the dog continuing with any pain.
If the benign tumor has not destroyed any organs and is OK'd to be removed after a histopathology test, it can often be completely removed or pushed back into its usual place. The length of the tumor spread is a significant indicator in the survival rate of the dog and how well the function the tumor has attached itself to after the surgery is complete.
Recovery of Hardening and Blockage of the Arteries in Dogs
There is a guesstimated three-month lifespan for a dog to recover from hemangiosarcoma if the emergency surgery works. With chemotherapy, the lifespan may increase to six months. Treatment is absolutely necessary, though, including adding doxorubicin ( a drug used for cancer chemotherapy) every three weeks after surgery for five treatments. This may expand a dog's life to the absolute maximum of eight months.
For a benign tumor related to hemangioma, a dog may completely recover. Ulcerations must be cleaned as instructed. The dog must be prevented from irritated the area before healing. This includes biting, licking, rubbing or scratching because all of these actions could cause inflammation. And if so, this could result in bacteria infection.