Splenic tumors in dogs are not always malignant but are always life-threatening.
Buddy is a fierce, brave Jack Russel Terrier; a true representative of his breed. He is in charge of his world.
Buddy’s parents observed no red flags about his health except for his belly.
Buddy’s belly seemed to be growing in front of their eyes. How could that be? Buddy was active, and his diet didn’t change. Could he be gaining weight like that?
An acutely distended abdomen can be a life-threatening emergency.
If you have a large, deep-chested breed dog with a suddenly distended belly, acting restless and distressed, you need to head to a veterinarian immediately. Because you might be looking at a dog suffering from gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). GDV can kill your dog so quickly that hours, even minutes, can be the difference between life and death.
Buddy, however, is a small dog and his belly was expanding over the course of days, not hours.
What else can cause a rapidly growing belly in a dog?
There are three possible explanation to a rapid abdominal distention.
- leaking fluid or blood
- expanding gas
- an enlarging organ or a growing mass
If you think that none of these sound good, you’re correct. In other words, you need to see a vet–right away or as soon as possible.
A physical examination can give your veterinarian some ideas about what is going on. However, to get a solid diagnosis, your dog will need x-rays or abdominal ultrasound.
Buddy’s x-rays revealed an enlarged, lumpy spleen.
Although splenic tumors can be either benign or malignant, either can cause rapid bleeding into the abdomen. At any rate, your dog can suffer and die of internal bleeding. So what can you do?
Regardless of the type of tumor, unless cancer has spread, the spleen ought to go. After that, have the tissue evaluated by a pathologist. If the problem is non-cancerous, you saved your dog’s life. Even though the spleen has its purpose, a dog can live without one. They cannot, however, live with one that is bleeding.
Buddy’s spleen wasn’t bleeding yet.
If it wasn’t for Buddy’s belly growing, nobody would be any wiser. Buddy was still his rambunctious self.
Dogs whose spleen has been bleeding become lethargic–both from the blood loss and pain. They are likely to have pale gums, unable to move or get up. Quite often the signs of bleeding splenic tumors can mimic signs of arthritis that waxes and vanes. One way or another, a dog with internal bleeding looks and acts like a very sick dog.
With benign splenic tumors, surgery is curable.
Even if it turns out your dog does have cancer, removing the spleen can give them extra time. That was the case with my brother-in-law’s dog. She was very ill but splenectomy gave them an additional two weeks even without further treatment. More importantly, she felt so much better without that bleeding monster in her belly.
Buddy’s spleen was of gigantic proportions.
It’s amazing that Buddy was still acting like everything was fine.
The most common presentation of dogs in need of a splenectomy are weak, lethargic, pale, internally bleeding, and teetering on the brink of death.Dr. Krista magnifico, DVM
Buddy’s surgery went without a glitch and by the next day, he was back to being his normal self.
Splenic Masses in Dogs