You can’t see splenic tumors coming–or can you?
Too often, splenic tumors pass under the radar until the dog collapses as a result of severe internal bleeding.
My brother-in-law had a dog die to hemangiosarcoma a couple of years ago. The prognosis with this cancer is generally poor but on top of that, their vet insisted it was a urinary tract infection. It wasn’t until he got a second opinion when Mandy got properly diagnosed. Surgery gave them a couple of weeks of quality time together.
The first thing to realize about splenic tumors is that only about 50% of them are malignant.
While splenic tumors aren’t exactly rare in dogs, about half of them are non-cancerous. Whether cancerous or not, the biggest imminent danger with splenic masses is a dog bleeding out internally. Massive internal bleeding is often what brings the dog to a vet and leads to a diagnosis.
The second important thing is to be aware of the potential early signs.
Most of the time you’ll hear there are no early signs. But there are.
The symptoms of a bleeding splenic mass can masquerade as signs of an aging, arthritic dog.
After an active day, a dog will become very quiet, painful, reluctant to move, having difficulties to get up … That was exactly what was happening with Mandy. Some days she looked okay and the next day was unable to go out to potty without help. Then she’d feel better and then crash again. And this pattern kept repeating itself.
According to Dr. Spector, almost every dog sh sees for a splenic mass had a history of waxing and waning lethargy and pain.
The reason for that is that as the tumor is growing, it bleeds into the abdomen, particularly with activity or exercise. This results in a lethargic dog who can barely move. Then the blood gets reabsorbed and the dog bounces back.
If your dog is having such symptoms, don’t automatically assume it’s arthritis.
One thing I always check on a dog who is lethargic is gum color.
To treat, the first thing to do is to remove the spleen.
It does sound like a drastic solution. But a dog can live without a spleen. They cannot live without blood.
While it does have a function in the body, a dog can live without one. If your dog does have hemangiosarcoma, it can give you some extra quality time to say goodbye to each other and catch up on their bucket list. If your dog’s splenic mass is benign, it will save your dog’s life.
If my dog was diagnosed with a splenic mass, I would agree to surgery regardless of what the mass may or may not be.
The case study used in a podcast is about a dog whose condition was about something else altogether.
Be watchful of your dog’s symptoms and don’t jump to conclusions.
Do listen to the Spleen tumor may not be malignant, it can save your dog’s life one day.