What Causes Spleen Problems In Dogs – Enlarged Spleen In Dogs

It’s actually quite common this condition of the enlarged spleen in dogs. But then what causes spleen problems in dogs? What leads to the spleen getting bigger in size and sometimes also twisting on itself or cause bleeding?

One thing is for certain, a condition like this demands professional medical attention. That means you should, first and foremost, go to the vet and get your dog checked/examined by him or her.

Because a spleen that’s rupturing requires immediate care to prevent the condition from getting worse and leading to seizures, pain, bleeding, or difficulty in breathing.

So how about you and I go through the entire guide of understanding the spleen, the problems and symptoms that can be associated with it when something goes wrong, and even how to go about further evaluating an enlarged spleen.

What Is A Spleen In Dogs?

It’s an organ that takes the form or shape of a tongue in the abdomen region. The spleen is like a reservoir that stores blood and also filters circulating blood. Meaning it performs the function of recycling old RBCs (red blood cells). Along with removing those that carry pathogens such as parasites and bacteria associated with giving rise to tick-related diseases.

But the spleen organ in both dogs and cats is likely to bulge and shrink in order to increase the amount of circulating blood, which can be affected via anesthetic medications. Some doctors may also recommend surgically removing the spleen without it having any significant or negative impact on the long-term health of the pet.

What Is Splenomegaly In Dogs?

When the spleen enlarges, the medical term for this condition is splenomegaly. And it can happen with any gender (male or female dog) or breed. But in most cases, splenomegaly is more prevalent among middle-aged, larger dogs.

And not always is this particular medical condition related to the spleen. It could also be a symptom associated with some other disease.

But anyway, here are the most common symptoms of an enlarged spleen in dogs – vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, reduced activity, and sometimes they can also collapse.

Now, What Causes Spleen Problems In Dogs?

The distending or enlargement of the spleen is often due to bacterial infections, immune-related or infectious disorders, canine hepatitis, abdominal injuries, cell tumors, or inflammatory bowel diseases.

But then, once again, an enlarged spleen is not always caused by the spleen, rather it could be a symptom or result of some other medical condition or disease.

So, at such times, only a professional, certified veterinarian is well-equipped to diagnose the problem and recommend the most effective treatment. Speaking of which…

Enlarged Spleen In Dogs – When and How to Further Evaluate?

How to treat a dog with enlarged spleen? But then, to begin with, how to diagnose the condition? Both answers require you to visit a vet clinic. And the veterinarian may be presented with a wide range of signs or symptoms of an enlarged spleen that are non-specific.

As for the specific ones, these include lack of energy, unpredictable or sudden weight loss, vomiting, or just the swelling of the spleen.

Sometimes just accidentally finding a mass in the abdomen during yearly or regular health check-ups is also common. And these splenic masses can be caused by a host of other diseases such as infections, tumors, etc.

In a few cases, when the spleen’s normal positioning changes or if there’s some systemic disease, that could also increase the overall size of the organ.

As for the various diagnostic tools that vets use…

1. Blood Tests

CBC (complete blood count) is a basic blood test to find out if your little pooch is anemic. Because if he/she is, that could be because of a bleeding tumor. CBC also determines the presence of any red blood cells that are abnormal, which might be indicative of cancer.

2. X-Rays or Radiographs

An X-ray of the abdomen is surely the best way to check the overall shape and size of the internal organs.

Radiographs, in general, provide an excellent overview of the internal organs of the body. With the help of these, you can tell if any one organ of a particular region is shaped or sized unusually in comparison to the others.

3. Ultrasound

An ultrasound of the abdomen offers a superior approach to finding out the structure of the organs. So in case the spleen is enlarged or there’s some splenic mass, an abdominal ultrasound can help determine the different characteristics of the condition. And that, in turn, guides the vet to come up with the most effective treatment options.

With an ultrasound, you can find out just where the mass is located or whether it has anything to do with the spleen or not. It even detects if there’s any abdominal bleeding.

4. Biopsy

Sometimes when an ultrasound proves to be less helpful in terms of identifying the mass, doctors recommend a biopsy. However, if you’re dealing with a splenic tumor (which is blood-filled), a biopsy might not be the most useful approach as far as determining whether this mass is malignant or benign is concerned.

Hence, the need for the entire removal of the dog’s spleen. So a pathologist can analyze the type of splenic mass.

Treatment of Spleen Problems In Dogs

It all depends on the causes, obviously. With enlarged spleens, it’s only common for the condition to arise as a result of a whole other underlying medical issue. So for the most effective treatment method, it’s first important to determine the causes of the condition.

Whether or not the spleen should be removed (a procedure known as splenectomy) is something a vet ought to decide after a thorough examination.

The Spleen Is An Important Organ Indeed!

The spleen, located on the left of the abdomen (close to the stomach), is a small-sized organ. It’s smaller in comparison to the liver and larger in comparison to the kidney. The shape is narrow and long with a curved perimeter and narrow center. And the organ is very vascular i.e. filled with blood storage and blood vessels.

As for what a spleen does? It’s like a reservoir of blood, which filters out old red blood cells and makes new ones. The elimination of old blood cells is a part of the animal’s immune system protecting the body against infections.

And that’s the reason why it’s so important to know the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of spleen problems in canines.

Lisa Thompson

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