This blog post will start with symptoms of enlarged spleen in dogs, explore causes of enlarged spleen in dogs, diagnosis of dog enlarged spleen, dog enlarged spleen treatment, diet for dog with enlarged spleen and enlarged spleen in dogs’ life expectancy.
What is an enlarged spleen in dogs
Dog enlarged spleen, also known as splenomegaly in dogs, are frequently affected not only by pathological changes in the spleen, but also by lymphoid diseases and other illnesses.
It is possible for both young and old dogs to develop canine enlarged spleen caused by contagion. If cancer is the cause of the swelling, the risk is much higher in older and larger dogs.
According to clinical records, certain breeds, such as the German Shepherd, Labrador, Golden Retriever, and Great Dane, have a higher incidence of old dog with enlarged spleen than others, the majority of which cause splenomegaly due to splenic angiosarcoma. The Wheaton Terrier is more likely than other breeds to develop a malignant tumor in dogs with splenomegaly.
How serious is an enlarged spleen in a dog?
Let’s figure out what happens when a dog has an enlarged spleen.
First, splenomegaly may reduce the number of healthy red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells in the bloodstream, making infections and serious complications more common.
Worse, the severely enlarged spleen may rupture at any time, resulting in intra-abdominal bleeding and endangering the dog’s life. If the splenomegaly is caused by a cancerous tumor, it is essentially a death sentence for the dog in the coming months.
Symptoms of spleen problems in dogs
If you suspect spleen issues in dogs, please refer to the following symptoms of enlarged spleen in dogs for further information:
What causes enlarged spleen in dogs
In dogs, the spleen is a major source of immune cells. These immune cells fight against various pathogens in the blood, such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Spleen enlargement is also linked to the immune system’s blood and lymph.
What would cause an enlarged spleen in an older dog? A 2021 retrospective study found that splenic lymphoid hyperplasia was the most common disease causing splenomegaly (15/44, 34%), and hemangiosarcoma (HSA, malignant hemangioendothelioma or angiosarcoma) was the most common malignant tumor that caused splenomegaly (5/44, 11%).
Here is a list of reasons for enlarged spleen in dogs:
Diagnosis of dog enlarged spleen
The spleen is located in the upper quarter of the dog’s left abdomen. A normal spleen is a flat structure that can be felt. When the spleen is significantly enlarged, it is usually easy to detect and feels swollen or bumpy. It should be noted that palpation alone cannot determine whether a dog has an enlarged spleen. According to veterinary experts’ clinical experience, not all enlarged spleens can be palpated, and not all palpable spleens are abnormal.
2. Dog enlarged spleen blood test
CBC (Complete Blood Count)
A typical splenomegaly may show the following features on CBC:
- White blood cell (WBC) +
- Red blood cell (RBC) –
- Hemoglobin (HGB) –
- Hematocrit (HCT) –
- Nucleated red blood cells (NRBC) +
- Platelet –
3. Serum biochemistry profile
- Hypercalcemia: indicating risk of lymphoma and multiple myeloma.
- Hyperglobulinemia: Significant signal in cancer dogs.
- Alkaline phosphatase +: most commonly reported in cancer dogs.
- ALP (alkaline phosphatase), ALT (alanine transaminase), AST (aspartate aminotransferase) ,and Total Bilirubin +: hepatobiliary disorders and liver dysfunction.
- Urea and Creatinine +: ongoing renal failure.
A typical splenomegaly may show the following features on urinalysis:
- High specific gravity: A high specific gravity indicates that the urine is very concentrated, which can be caused by not drinking enough fluid, excessive fluid loss (excessive vomiting, sweating, or diarrhea), or substances (such as sugar or protein) in the urine.
- Hematuria: the presence of blood in the dog’s urine
- Proteinuria: An increase in protein levels in the urine. This condition may indicate kidney damage.
- Bilirubinuria: the presence of bilirubin in the urine. It is the first clinical sign of a serious underlying hepatobiliary disorder.
X-ray, CT or Ultrasound
Imaging diagnosis, which is a very effective diagnostic method, can directly observe whether the spleen appears the symptoms of enlargement and mass.
6. Bone marrow aspirates or core biopsy specimens
The cause of the enlarged spleen can be more accurately diagnosed when the results of the biopsy and blood analysis are combined and analyzed.
Spleen pain in dogs
Is an enlarged spleen painful for dogs? An enlarged spleen can be painful for dogs because it puts pressure on the abdomen, and some dogs develop ascites, which can cause pressure pain as well.
In general, pain relievers will be considered for the dog after a veterinarian’s evaluation. Because an enlarged spleen is a very dangerous condition, dog owners are advised not to give their dogs any pain relievers without the permission of the vet.
Dog enlarged spleen treatment
1. Typical treatment
Although enlarged spleen is dangerous, fortunately, in most cases, a dog can survive without a spleen, so after splenomegaly is diagnosed, veterinarians usually choose to surgically remove the spleen, usually preferred to remove only cancerous, ruptured or twisted spleen.
2. Enlarged spleen in dogs natural treatment
this is a topic that many people are looking for answers to, unfortunately, based on my review of a lot of data, so far, I have not found any clinical evidence other than surgical resection. Implement effective natural treatment. However, there is still some hope:
There is no denying that some brave trailblazers have been hard at work researching and exploring new treatments for hemangiosarcoma, the most common malignancy that causes splenomegaly.
The results of an extract of polysaccharopeptide from Coriolus versicolor mushroom (commonly known as the Yunzhi mushroom) used to treat hemangiosarcoma at the University of Pennsylvania show some promise, though the study is small and not fully representative.
Yunnan Baiyao, a Chinese herbal medicine supplement, is prescribed by many oncology veterinarians.
There is some evidence that it can reduce or stop bleeding and promote healing in some cancer lesions, but current research is limited and needs to be expanded, as well as more extensive clinical studies to demonstrate its specific therapeutic efficacy.
What to feed dog with enlarged spleen
In the previous chapter, we discussed the causes of splenomegaly, one of which is persistent bacterial or viral infection. Based on my own and other dog owners’ experiences, I have the following rules of diet for dog with enlarged spleen:
Enlarged spleen in dogs’ life expectancy
Dog owners are very concerned about how long can a dog live with an enlarged spleen.
Typically, dogs with non-neoplastic splenomegaly usually continues to survive for 10-14 months after surgical treatment
In the case of neoplastic splenomegaly, the dog’s life expectancy after surgery and chemotherapy is not ideal.
Especially for angiosarcoma, a very serious and debilitating cancer causing enlarged spleen in dogs. The average life expectancy of patients diagnosed with angiosarcoma is only about 3 months.
Chemotherapy may prolong survival in angiosarcoma, and it is recommended that an oncologist be consulted after a diagnosis of angiosarcoma to evaluate whether further treatment is appropriate for your dog. Some dog patients tolerate chemotherapy well, while others experience nausea, vomiting, or compromised immune function.
Spleen issues in dogs do not cause symptoms until the spleen enlarges or even ruptured in some dogs, particularly senior large dogs.
The dog may eat normally, without vomiting or diarrhea, and appear as healthy as a dog with a normal spleen for a long time until symptoms.
If the enlargement of the spleen is caused by cancer, the cancer cells have been growing in his body for a long time when the symptoms of splenomegaly appear.
We recommend annual physicals for dogs beginning at age 5 to detect spleen problems early with X-rays or ultrasound before complications and spread, as most splenic cancers have a poor prognosis because they have spread by the time they are diagnosed.