The spleen is an important organ that filters the red blood cells and holds a reserve of white blood cells. It plays an important role in the immune system. The spleen is also responsible for producing and storing red blood cells. In dogs, this condition tends to occur mostly in larger breeds and as the dog gets older. Enlarged spleen, which is medically referred to as splenomegaly, is usually a symptom of some other underlying health problem.
Symptoms of an enlarged spleen in a dog include pain accompanied by bloating. An upset stomach is also one of the symptoms. Moreover, it might lead to the dog being unable to lie down comfortably, or even perform any activity without discomfort. The following are some more symptoms.
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of appetite
- Lethargy and reduced activity
An abdominal injury, canine hepatitis, infectious disorders, bacterial infection, cell tumors of the spleen, inflammatory bowel disease, and other immune disorders are some of the causes. These conditions can lead to an enlargement of the spleen over a period of time, leading to the symptoms mentioned earlier. Cancer is known to be one of the common causes of splenomegaly. Hemangiosarcoma is a type of cancer that affects dogs and is known to be extremely malignant and dangerous. It is often fatal as it affects the blood vessels, hence spreading quickly throughout the body. However, remember that a benign tumor can also be a cause.
If the veterinarian notices a prominent spleen or a protruding abdomen, he might use a fine needle aspiration to diagnose the spleen disorder. Also, he might recommend ultrasounds and X-rays to view the spleen and surrounding areas for abnormalities. In addition to this, a blood test will help in ascertaining the possible underlying medical issues in the dog's health.
There has to be a lot of promptness in the diagnosis and treatment of an enlarged spleen in a dog. The treatment completely depends upon the diagnosis. In case of a tumor, malignant or benign, and several other cases, removal of the spleen, which is known as a splenectomy, is recommended by the veterinarian. In case the tumor is cancerous, the splenectomy might be followed up by chemotherapy. As an enlarged spleen is mostly a sign of some other underlying dog illness, it is very essential to know the cause before starting a treatment for the same.
Most of the common underlying medical causes of splenomegaly can be treated with medications prescribed by the veterinarian. In case the spleen is removed by performing a splenectomy, your dog needs proper rehabilitation to heal completely. This includes complete dog care as recommended by the vet, and restricting its activities. Remember that as soon as you notice the above mentioned symptoms or any health problem in your dog, you must visit a veterinarian.