Splenic Hemorrhage in Dogs

Splenic Hemorrhage in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Collapse / Disorientation / Lethargy / Vomiting / Weight Loss

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Rated as serious conditon

3 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Collapse / Disorientation / Lethargy / Vomiting / Weight Loss

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Splenic Hemorrhage in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Splenic Hemorrhage?

A splenic hemorrhage is an extremely dangerous situation that can become fatal quickly. The blood from the spleen leaks into the abdomen, causing anemia and shock from loss of blood. If the cause is from an injury, you will most likely know that your dog has internal injuries right away due to the swollen abdomen and sudden weakness or vomiting. However, if your dog has a spontaneous splenic hemorrhage, the most common cause is splenic tumors, which may be either cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). Both types can cause splenic hemorrhage, hematoma (accumulation of blood in the spleen), and death without treatment.

Splenic hemorrhage (hemoabdomen) is a life-threatening condition not uncommon in large breed dogs such as the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, and Great Dane. A splenic hemorrhage may be spontaneous or traumatic. The most common cause of a spontaneous hemorrhage is neoplasia (80% of the time), which is a tumor in the spleen and the most common cause of traumatic splenic hemorrhage is being hit by a car. That is one of the main reasons why it is so important to keep your dog on a leash when he is outside and not restricted by a fence. Splenic hemorrhage can be fatal in less than an hour if not treated, so if your dog collapses, weak, and has a bloated abdomen, you need to take him to a veterinary emergency hospital.

Symptoms of Splenic Hemorrhage in Dogs

There are two types of splenic hemorrhage but if your dog has either type of splenic hemorrhage, you will likely notice signs such as:

  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing, may be labored or your dog may be gasping for air
  • Pale gums or lips
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Sudden unexpected collapse for no obvious reason
  • Weight loss (if the condition is chronic from slower blood loss)
  • Low blood pressure (extreme lethargy, confusion, dizziness, fainting)
  • Shock (nausea, anxiety, cold limbs, restlessness, collapse)

Types

  • Spontaneous splenic hemorrhage is caused by an underlying condition.
  • Traumatic splenic hemorrhage is caused by an injury to the chest or abdominal area

Causes of Splenic Hemorrhage in Dogs

Traumatic

  • Hit by car

Spontaneous

  • Tumor
  • Blood clots
  • Toxic chemical such as rodenticides

Hereditary

  • Golden Retrievers
  • German Shepherds
  • Skye Terriers
  • Portuguese Water Dogs
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Flat Coated Retrievers
  • English setters
  • Great Danes
  • Boxers
  • Pointers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Large mixed breeds

Diagnosis of Splenic Hemorrhage in Dogs

The veterinarian will do a fast examination while you explain the symptoms you have seen and if your dog has had any injuries or illnesses recently. In addition, the veterinarian will need to perform an abdominocentesis. This procedure is done by inserting a needle into the abdomen to extract a sample for microscopic evaluation. An echocardiogram (ECHO) and electrocardiogram (EKG) should also be done due to the possibility of shock and cardiac arrhythmias.

Additionally, abdominal x-rays, CT scans, an MRI, and an ultrasound are good for determining the amount of free fluid in the abdomen. Abnormal biochemistry results include a decrease in albumin and increased blood glucose, alkaline phosphatase, and alanine aminotransferase. Your dog will also be anemic (low iron) due to blood loss. Also, a coagulation profile will be done, but is normal in many cases. A packed cell volume (PCV) analysis will show a decreased PCV.

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Treatment of Splenic Hemorrhage in Dogs

For a serious condition such as splenic hemorrhage, treatment may have already been started during diagnosis. The veterinarian may have started intravenous (IV) fluids, oxygen therapy, and blood transfusions. Other treatments include medication, abdominal wrapping, and possibly surgery.

Intravenous (IV) Fluids

Due to blood loss, intravenous (IV) fluids are essential to recovery. The standard treatment for splenic hemorrhage is isotonic crystalloids until vital signs improve followed by colloid boluses if needed.

Blood Transfusions

The veterinarian will most likely transfuse your dog with fresh whole blood or packed red blood cells to increase the PCV. If coagulopathy is the cause, fresh frozen plasma may be used instead.

Abdominal Wrap

The veterinarian will wrap your dog’s abdomen tightly with a compression bandage, which slows the blood loss while getting further diagnosis if needed.

Oxygen Therapy

If your dog is having a difficult time breathing, oxygen will be provided with a nasal cannula or muzzle mask.

Medication

Pain relief is important to reduce stress on your dog, which helps any treatment succeed. Narcotics or NSAIDs may be given until your dog is stable. Steroids may be given to decrease inflammation and also help with pain.

Surgery

Surgery to remove the spleen is only done if absolutely necessary. If the bleeding cannot be controlled with any of the above treatments, the veterinarian will perform a splenectomy (removal of the spleen). This surgery usually completely solves the problem. However, if the veterinarian finds a malignant tumor, radiation or chemotherapy will have to be done as well.

Recovery of Splenic Hemorrhage in Dogs

Your dog will most likely be kept in the hospital for several days so they can keep him under 24 hour observation while he recovers from surgery. Once you go home, your dog may be on cage rest for a few days and you will need to keep him under close observation as well.

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Splenic Hemorrhage Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Rembrandt

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Standard Poodle

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10 Years

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Critical condition

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0 found helpful

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Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Spladed Out

"Our 10 year old standard poodle, Rembrandt, was admitted to DeLand Animal Hospital on Saturday, 03-31-18, at approximately 3 p.m. He was diagnosed with a ruptured spleen and immediate surgery was recommended. We paid the $1800 expecting the immediate surgery that they had promised. They lied to us. They promised to save him, but they did not give him any treatment, tests yes, treatment no.... DeLand Hospital, their staff, their technicians and their veterinarians let him suffer SIX HOURS WITHOUT TREATMENT. After wasting six (6) hours, they called and requested that we pick Rembrandt up because they could not find a surgeon Deland Animal Hospital denied Rembrandt an opportunity to live."

Sept. 3, 2018

Rembrandt's Owner

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Baylee Stringer

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English Springer Spaniel

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10 Years

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Moderate condition

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2 found helpful

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Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Pain
Swollen Abdomen
Eye Redness
Weakness
Vomiting
Lethargic
Panting
Tumor
Pain When Lifted
Weak Pulse
Lost Weight
Enlarged Abdomen
Bleeding From Nose
Neurological Imbalance

My 11 yr old Springer Spaniel just passed on from an enlarged spleen yesterday. She had an enlarged spleen and tumor on right kidney. Her heart was overworking to compensate. The X-rays showed it was 4X the size of a normal spleen a month ago. She wanted to eat grass a bit and there it up. The past month it grew double the size and she became lethargic, hard to climb stairs and jump onto couch. She started panting when going out to urinate and then this week she started pacing outside and became compulsive to eating dirt despite commands. She vomited up the dirt an hour later and we took her to the vet. He said she only had a few days left as her spleen was so large it was about to rupture. She displayed all the signs listed above by “wag walking”. She was very lethargic, pale, bloodshot eyes, labored breathing and panting. A month ago when this started she had some neurological signs of possible seizure or dementia. He put her on the prescription strength Purina NC and it was very helpful and she loved it. No more brain issues after that. She also bled out her nose for a few days and lots of sneezing. She stopped eating and drinking a day ago.

Aug. 29, 2018

Baylee Stringer's Owner

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Jensen

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Miniature shnauzer

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4 Years

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, Slight Pain

My dog was possibly ran over. He is now showing signs of lethargy but little pain. He is still eating and drinking and no blood in the urine. His vet said he could possibly have a damaged spleen but sent him home with some pain medication and informed me to keep an eye on him until we can bring him back in for further testing. My question is, is it likely he can recover without surgery if his spleen has been damaged?

July 24, 2018

Jensen's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It all depends on the severity of the injury, without examining Jensen I cannot determine the severity of the injury or whether he requires surgery or not; you should think about having further testing done to determine whether there is any injury to the spleen or not. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 25, 2018

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Pearle

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pitbull

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9 Years

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Critical condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargy

I'm investigating a suspicious spleen death. I want to know what questions to ask to find out if it was caused by spontaneous or tramatic. I've been researching. Is it true that a swollen stomach is only visible from a traumatic spleen injury? If so, that would be a good question to ask! She is with a drunk violent alcoholic. and I think he kicked the dog in the spleen causing near instant injury and death.

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Zach

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Chihuahua

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4 Years

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Critical condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargic

My 4 year old chihuahua got ill all of a sudden and died within 2 days of showing symptoms. I took him to the vet after monitoring him for 12 hours. The only symptoms he had in the beginning is that he was arching his back then he just wasn’t his usual self. For example lying down somewhere he hasn’t before. Otherwise he was eating, drinking, playing and this made it very hard for me as I didn’t realise how serious it was. He never even cried out loud not even once. I took him to the vet the same day and the next. I have no idea what they were doing but when they gave him to me and told me to rush to the emergency vet. I knew something was seriously wrong. His body went into shock after we left the that vet and were on our way to the emergency vet. 2 and a half hours later his health declined and he passed away. The vet that had him for 2 days didn’t realise the seriousness of his condition and it was too late by the time I got to the emergency. Alcombe vet in osterly really let me down as I had told them symptoms that you can put into Google’s search engine and it will tell you the seriousness of them. 4 years isn’t a long life compared to what they can live up to and he was taken from me too early. My chihuahua was my little baby, he was so needy, fussy and spoilt and he needed me just that much more. So it makes it even harder now that he’s not here. My advice to all pet owners that absolutely adore their pets. 1. Never underestimate a symptom. 2. Have a trusted vet that doesn’t waste time.

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Zacharia

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Chihuahua

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4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical condition

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargic Swollen Belly Pale Gums

My 4 year old chihuahua got ill all of a sudden and died within 2 days of showing symptoms. I took him to the vet after monitoring him for 12 hours. The only symptoms he had in the beginning is that he was arching his back then he just wasn’t his usual self. For example lying down somewhere he hasn’t before. Otherwise he was eating, drinking, playing and this made it very hard for me as I didn’t realise how serious it was. He never even cried out loud not even once. I took him to the vet the same day and the next. I have no idea what they were doing but when they gave him to me and told me to rush to the emergency vet. I knew something was seriously wrong. His body went into shock after we left the that vet and were on our way to the emergency vet. 2 and a half hours later his health declined and he passed away. The vet that had him for 2 days didn’t realise the seriousness of his condition and it was too late by the time I got to the emergency. Alcombe vet in osterly really let me down as I had told them symptoms that you can put into Google’s search engine and it will tell you the seriousness of them. 4 years isn’t a long life compared to what they can live up to and he was taken from me too early. My chihuahua was my little baby, he was so needy, fussy and spoilt and he needed me just that much more. So it makes it even harder now that he’s not here. My advice to all pet owners that absolutely adore their pets. 1. Never underestimate a symptom. 2. Have a trusted vet that doesn’t waste time.

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Toki

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Mixed breed

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9 Years

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Critical condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Weakness, Labored Breathing
Weakness, Labored Breathing, Anemi
Weakness, Labored Breathing, Anemia

My 9 year old, 100 lbs lab mix was doing just fine until he wasn’t. I was at work Monday morning when I got a text from my brother-in-law who lives with my husband and me. He said Toki was acting strange, laying outside his bathroom door while he was getting ready and then came into the bathroom where my brother-in-law was and wouldn’t leave. This is odd behavior but he didn’t seem to be in immediate danger. He gets sick sometimes and I panic and it’s nothing. So instead of rushing home like I should have, I asked my friend Martha to please let him out for a bathroom break and let me know how he’s doing. She texted me around 1:00 pm and said I needed to come home. This was 4 hours after I was first told he wasn’t doing well. At this point he was critical. Martha found him whimpering in the bathtub. He couldn’t move anything except for his head. I need you to understand the cry for help. He doesn’t hang out in the bathroom, so going to the one person in the house and refusing to leave them is a clear sign your animal is in distress. I’m saying this now in hindsight because it won’t always be obvious. But when their behavior changes in a weird way for no good reason pay attention! Martha and I had to use every ounce of strength to lift Toki’s 100 lbs of dead weight. I took him straight to an animal hospital where he was diagnosed with splenic hemorrhages. Surgery was the only option. He’s had multiple blood transfusions including 2 whole blood transfusions and 2 packed blood transfusions. He’s on so many IV’s and pain meds I don’t even know what tube does what. He’s been out of surgery over 24 hours and while his vital signs are improving, he is not showing much improvement. I’m with him now, he whines from time to time but no one seems too concerned about that. The nurses are checking his vitals every hour. He’s on blood pressure medication. I am going to be 100% honest this is very expensive. All told it could cost me $10,000. I’m already up to $7,500 and we’re not done here. I’m not saying this to discourage anyone from seeking treatment. That’s your baby and you have full responsibility to take care of them. I’m saying this so that you have a realistic expectation. I am lucky to live in an urban area with excellent medical universities and therefore excellent health care for animals and people. Toki also needed a crazy invasive surgery that is expensive. Surgery isn’t always the outcome so again don’t ever hesitate to seek treatment for your fur baby. I delayed action and now my baby suffers. 4 liters of blood leaked into his abdomen before I took him to the doctor. That could have been avoided if I had gone to Toki at the first warning sign. I’m trying not to beat myself up. Toki’s holding on by a thread, but he’s holding on. He’s the strongest baby and I hope everyone who reads this takes this as a cautionary tale. If you suspect anything is wrong with your pet, take them for care and have no regrets.

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Banchee

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German Shepherd

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12 Years

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Critical condition

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargic
Pants
Drinking
Eating
High White Blood Cell Count
Mild Anemia
Whines Occasionally
Normal Stools
Urinates Normally

My dog Banchee has been having issues with arthritis in her rear legs and we thought we were doing well. On October 19th we took her in for being lethargic and they did some blood test. They said her white blood cell count was high and that she was fighting some kind of infection, no anemia. They took X-rays and said she looked good except for arthritis and pinched nerves in her spine. They gave her medication and IVs on two days, we would not leave her there overnight unattended, did that with another dog and they died alone in a cage, we will never do that again. This was on October 19th. On November 12th she had bad diarrhea, I thought it was because my husband fed her a decent amount of popcorn, still could have been I don't know. November 21st Banchee would not eat anything, not even treats. I told my husband to take her for a short walk. When they returned she ate her food. Then November 24 she did not want to eat again and she was taken for a walk but she did not want to walk they took her anyway. Since that day she has been laying and unable to get up on her own. Took her to the vet and they did another blood test this time she is mildly anemic. The vet gave her a steroid injection and told me to find somewhere to get an ultrasound of her spleen. Trying to find one that I can afford all of this other stuff that they did eat up what money we had. She is eating and drinking. We make her homemade dog food but when she had diarrhea we fed her boiled chicken and rice but I did not know that my son who makes her food did not go back to her usual recipe so she was only eating boiled chicken and rice since November 14th. I’m wondering if the lack of nutrients and vitamins could have caused this change in her and the anemia. We give her supplements for her arthritis, Trader Joe's Glucosamine/chondroitin for dogs and Veterinary Naturals Hemp & Hips which has CBD oil in it.

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