Can Dogs Live without a Spleen?

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Introduction

There are a number of major, important organs in the body, and one of these is the spleen. There are many functions that are performed by this organ, although this is generally as part of an overall system. Some of these include blood storage, the production of red blood cells, the filtering of old cells, and fighting infection. 

In the same way as humans, the spleen plays an important part in the immune system of dogs but in some cases, problems can occur that result in your dog having to have its spleen completely removed through a procedure known as a splenectomy. 

Signs of Canine Spleen Problems

The good news is that dogs can live without a spleen and, in fact, if your dog is suffering from certain conditions, the removal of the spleen could be what saves its life. There are a couple of key reasons why your dog may need to have this operation carried out. 

This includes rupturing of the spleen or a splenic tumor. If your dog develops either of these conditions, speedy and efficient diagnosis and treatment is crucial in order to save its life. If an operation needs to be carried out to remove the spleen, it can then be done in the earlier stages to give your pooch the best chance. This is why it is important to be aware of the signs of spleen problems in dogs.

So, what sorts of signs might your dog display if it is suffering from spleen problems? Well, with a tumor, the signs may include a swollen abdominal area, increased fatigue, loss of appetite, and signs of anemia. If your dog has a ruptured spleen, some of the signs to look out for include increased weakness, a tendency to collapse, and shock. In both cases, your dog may show signs of distress and you may find that it loses interest in activities and is extremely subdued and depressed. 

Dogs react differently to these spleen problems depending on the dog and also on the specific condition that the dog is suffering from. Some may hide away because they want to be alone due to the discomfort and pain caused by the problem. 

However, looking out for the signs above may give you an indication. Your dog will probably be tail-tucking a lot because of the pain and depression. The weakness and fatigue that stem from these conditions mean that your dog may spend a lot of time lying down and be reluctant to get up. It may also shy away from food due to lack of appetite. 

Other signs to look for when it comes to spleen problems are reluctance from your dog to get up, get involved, or even move, in some cases. Your dog may even go into shock if it has a ruptured spleen and this could lead to death. 

Body Language

If you think your dog may have a problem with their spleen, watch for:
  • Weakness
  • Tail tucking
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

A few more sypmtoms to watch for include:

  • Hiding away
  • Depression
  • Anemia
  • Shock
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lying down without energy

The History of Spleen Issues in Dogs

Over the years, scientists have carried out huge amounts of research into the function and importance of the spleen. This is not just in humans, but also in animals including our precious pooches. Of course, we now know that the spleen is an organ that plays a big part in our health in many ways, including aiding the immune system, helping with the production of red blood cells, ridding the body of old cells, and fighting against infection. In addition, it acts like a blood bank by storing the blood.

Fortunately, because the spleen works alongside other organs to produce these effects, loss of the spleen is something that your dog is able to live without following a successful operation. The success of the operation will depend on the type of problem, how advanced it is, and in the case of a tumor whether it is an aggressive, malignant one that has spread. 

The faster you are able to get your dog to the vet after noticing symptoms relating to spleen problems, the better its chances of a successful operation.  This is why it is important to ensure you are familiar with the signs of the two major conditions that could lead to your dog requiring removal of the spleen. 

The Science of the Spleen

As we know, the spleen is an important organ both in humans and in pets. However, dogs are able to live without a spleen and this is because the spleen forms part of an overall system that controls certain functions within the body. 

As long as the problem that your pooch is suffering from has not reached very advanced stages, there is a good chance that it can go through a successful operation and then live a good life after recovery. However, time is everything when it comes to spleen problems, with a ruptured spleen causing the risk of toxicity, shock, and death. 

Identifying Spleen Issues

Spleen problems are not uncommon amongst dogs, and this is why it is important to make sure you familiarize yourself with the signs of a ruptured spleen or tumors of the spleen. It can be difficult for dog owners, as some of the symptoms are very generalized and non-specific.

For instance, weakness or extreme tiredness can be common symptoms, making it rather difficult to attach them to a specific condition. However, by looking out for other signs in addition to these, it becomes a little easier to determine whether there is something wrong with your pooch.

Even if a tumor or ruptured spleen does not immediately spring to mind, if your dog is experiencing the symptoms described above, there is clearly a health problem that needs to be looked at. By getting your pooch checked by the vet, tests can be carried out and, if it is a spleen problem, the vet will be able to determine this. 

The root cause of the problem can then be looked at before options are provided in terms of treatment. However, in the case of a tumor, if the tumor is malignant and aggressive, there is a good chance that it may have already spread to other organs. If this is the case, the vet may suggest putting the dog to sleep.

Early intervention is crucial when it comes to spleen problems, and this is something that you have to keep in mind. With tumors, it means that the treatment or surgery can be administered early on - before the cancer has spread. In the event of a ruptured spleen, it could prevent your dog from going into shock and could save its life. The speed at which you get your dog seen will make an enormous difference in terms of how successful the surgery is. 

How to React to Your Dog Having Spleen Problems:

  • Make an appointment as soon as possible to see the vet.
  • Check your dog for additional signs that could indicate spleen issues.
  • Look out for signs of spleen problems.