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What is Splenectomy?

A splenectomy is the total removal of the spleen from the dog's body. The spleen is responsible for storing blood vessels and cleaning toxins from the blood. If damaged, it can bleed profusely into the abdominal cavity, causing edema and even infection from the substances it usually filters out of the bloodstream. Removal of the spleen is generally only performed if methods of repair are not sufficient.

Splenectomy Procedure in Dogs

The vet will begin by placing the dog under general anesthesia and shaving a large area along the abdomen. This is because a ruptured spleen will typically require an 'open splenectomy' in order to fully remove it. Next, they will make an incision along the abdomen and move aside any intervening tissues. Next, they will cut out and remove the spleen along with any associated fragments before sealing off the connecting ducts. The final step is to clean up any possibly infected fluid and suture the incision shut. At this point, the dog can be allowed to recover from anesthesia.

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Efficacy of Splenectomy in Dogs

Damage to the spleen is typically accompanied by other injuries (often serious), so it can be difficult to judge the effectiveness of the treatment by observing changes in the dog's behavior. However, the immediate danger posed by the ruptured, cancerous, or infected spleen will have been eliminated as soon as the surgeon extracts it from the body. While the effects of a splenectomy are permanent, owners should know that removal of the spleen will not have a major impact on their dog's quality of life, as its functions are shared by several other parts of the body. 

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Splenectomy Recovery in Dogs

Following surgery, it can take over a month for the incision to fully heal. Because of this, the vet will provide owners with painkillers that can be administered to the dog at home. It will also be necessary for the dog to be fitted with an E-collar to prevent them from pulling out the stitches holding their abdomen closed. Additionally, due to the size of an open splenectomy incision, owners will have to dramatically reduce the amount of exercise their dog undertakes, as well as keeping a careful eye on them throughout the day. Additionally, antibiotic medication may be prescribed in order to prevent the dog from picking up an infection following the surgery (especially if the spleen itself was suffering from an infection).

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Cost of Splenectomy in Dogs

The price of a splenectomy can be quite high. This is because of the diagnostic tests required in order to identify the problem in the first place, as well as the surgical knowledge required in order to perform the procedure. In all, most owners can expect to pay around $2,500 for a splenectomy. For older dogs or ones suffering from more complex conditions, the prices for the procedure can go even higher.

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Dog Splenectomy Considerations

While the splenectomy can be a lifesaving procedure for many dogs, there are some attendant risks that may cause some owners to think twice. As with all major surgeries, the dog must be placed under general anesthetic, which can cause cardiovascular failure in some dogs. Additionally, without a spleen, there is an increased susceptibility to infection and longer recovery times from illnesses can be expected. For elderly dogs, these problems may be even greater, giving their owners pause for thought.

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Splenectomy Prevention in Dogs

Although many cancers and infections are unpredictable and somewhat hard to guard against, owners can do a lot to mitigate the risk of direct injury to their dog's spleen. Due to the spleen's location high on the left flank of the dog, most injuries occur not through accidents in play caused by objects on the ground (unlike, for example, stomach injuries), but by being hit by cars and direct confrontations with other animals. By properly training their pet on how to act around roads and when encountering strange dogs, owners can reduce much of the risk of injury to the spleen.

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Splenectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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German Shepherd

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Has Symptoms

Spleen Removal And Tumor In Stomach Removal

Lexie was fine and came home with lack of appetite and appearing to have a UTI. Drinking more water and in and out of normalcy, she ended up having internal bleeding and a large tumor. Spleen was taken out and blood transfusions given. Has small red tumors on Liver but liver functions are normal. Everything I read says 1-3 months to live. I am okay with that. She’s gona live her best life whatever time she has left. My question is this, anyone else do this did your dog become somewhat his or herself before the liver cancer took them away? Any normalcy again?

July 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that you and Lexie are having to go through this, that is very sad. I do think that if they are feeling good, they get back to their normal selves and there is some normalcy again, yes. I recently lost my own dog to kidney cancer, and she had some very good days before her days became bad, if that makes sense. I enjoyed the time that I had left with her, and I would recommend that you do the same. I hope that both of you enjoy the time that she has left.

July 20, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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Mass In Abdomen

My vet wants to remove my dogs spleen bc there is a large mass, but said he can't see if it is also in his liver. But after doing research people are saying that might only keep them alive for 6 more months. I want another option

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There probably aren't any other options for a tumor on the spleen. Those are in danger of rupturing at all times, and that is fatal. If you decide to have the spleen removed, if it is cancerous, it may give him another 6 to 12 months. If it is not cancerous, he may live a lot longer. It is impossible to say without having histopathology and removing the spleen. If you have questions about the surgery or treatment, it would be best to follow up with your veterinarian, and discuss your concerns. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

July 16, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Mass In Abdomen

My vet wants to remove my dogs spleen bc there is a large mass, but said he can't see if it is also in his liver. But after doing research people are saying that might only keep them alive for 6 more months. I want another option

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There probably aren't any other options for a tumor on the spleen. Those are in danger of rupturing at all times, and that is fatal. If you decide to have the spleen removed, if it is cancerous, it may give him another 6 to 12 months. If it is not cancerous, he may live a lot longer. It is impossible to say without having histopathology and removing the spleen. If you have questions about the surgery or treatment, it would be best to follow up with your veterinarian, and discuss your concerns. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

July 16, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Twelve Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Mass In Abdomen

My vet wants to remove my dogs spleen bc there is a large mass, but said he can't see if it is also in his liver. But after doing research people are saying that might only keep them alive for 6 more months. I want another option

July 16, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- I’m so sorry you’re going through this. With splenic tumors 2/3 are malignant and 1/3 are benign. Unfortunately the only way to know is to remove the spleen and have histopathology performed. If malignant (hemangosarcoma) the prognosis is unfortunately very poor with only a few months as the average survival time. If it’s a benign tumor your dog may have a few more years of a normal life. Good luck with your decision! I know it’s super difficult and there is no wrong choice in this situation.

July 16, 2020

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Ellie

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Schnoodle

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss

My schnoodle has a cyst on her spleen. She is slightly anemic and has lost 3 pounds. She is almost 15 years old. She still eats and drinks normally,We had an ultrasound done and the vet said we should wait and do another ultrasound in a few weeks. I have read about the risks of the surgery in a dog of her age. I am not sure if we should operate. The surgeon said that sometimes he operates on the spleen and the problem ends up being something else. So he can't say for sure if removing her spleen will solve her problem

Sept. 15, 2018

Ellie's Owner

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Hotchnee

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Australian Shepherd

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8 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Anemia
Splenectomy

My 8 year old Aussie/border collie mix had to have an emergency splenectomy last Wednesday (2/12/20) after basically collapsing after going potty in the morning. X-rays showed mass on spleen and we opted right then to have the surgery as he was anemic. He has been home since Friday evening and seems to be doing well, but I'd course all I do is worry and cry about him. Still waiting on the biopsy results, but I know that many splenic masses are hemangiosarcoma. I say to myself that if it is this cancer, we will just take it as it comes, as I'm trying to be strong. I just don't want to lose my boy. It isn't fair and waiting for the results is worse than not knowing at all. During surgery doc also found 2 nodules in his liver which added to my stress, but she said that his liver numbers were just fine. My husband and I discussed what we would do next if it is cancer, and we both said that putting him through chemo wouldn't be fair to his quality of life. I don't want to make him any sicker than he is or was, and I want his last moments on Earth to be happy. In 2017, he had a growth/tumor removed on his trunk that ended up being I think an angiolipoma. It was a fatty tumor that was in his blood vessels which is why it bled when aspirated (and was worrisome to our vet) could this at all be linked?? I guess I'm just looking for some solace in all of this. Maybe even some glimmering hope in this dark tunnel. I know we just have to wait for the results. How many of you have had the mass be benign VS hemangiosarcoma? Those that unfortunately had it be hemangiosarcoma, what did you do to lengthen pets life the best way possible. Thanks!

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Shotzel

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Pit bull

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12 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Mass In Abdomen

My 12 year old pitbull is looking fat and yesterday when he rolled into his back I noticed a mass in his abdomen. It’s about the size of a grapefruit.. he is healthy, bad arthritis and walks very slow and has mild hypothyroidism... but otherwise healthy... I did some research and figured he had a splenic mass, and today we went to the vet and confirmed by exam and Sono that it is a splenic mass with no signs of bleed or liver mets.. lab work is pending, my vet actually is leaning toward no surgery given his age which I understand in perfect health he is already passed his expectancy, but he said he would do it if I wanted it it done... should his age really be the determining factor??? I don’t want this to rupture and him to bleed internally and I know even if it’s cancer I may only have 1-3 months, but I don’t feel like his age should be the issue here... thoughts???

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Hope

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Yorkie-havanese

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5 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

I have a 5.5 year old yorkie/havaneese mix baby girl. She was having reflux and got an ultrasound they found a small mass on her spleen. They said she was too young for cancer and to do another scan in 6 months. It is 6 months and I asked my vet what to do. He said to remove the spleen but to contact the specialist that did the ultrasound and ask their advice. I am waiting for the call back. After reading these comments I am going to get her spleen removed asap. She is not having any symptoms and her reflux even got better with cbd oil in her food. It was a blessing they found it. I hope it is not too late for it to become cancer. In reading stats it sounds like non cancer lesions and having the spleen removed still only gives you about 15 months with the pet before they die. I just do not understand why. If it is removed before it gets big and is non cancer I do not understand why the pet does not get to live longer. I guess I am looking for others thoughts. If not cancer, do they have life expectancy post surgery? Or is a mass regardless of cancer a quick death sentence?

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Brady Rodriguez

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Rottweiler

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4 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargic
Not Eating
Sleeping All Day
Not Drinking Fluids

My Rottie was 4yrs 10 months old when he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Last week I took him to the Osceola Animal Emergency because he was not eating, sleeping all day and very weak. They ran tests and Xrays to discover that his spleen was enlarged. The vet thought he had a bad infection so he started him on antibiotics. Needless to say, Brady's health started to decline. I took him back to the ER on Saturday and they did a Cytology specimen which they said I was going to receive the result in a couple of days. Monday approached and no result. I finally took was able to get an appointment with his Vet. He was scheduled for immediate surgery on Tuesday afternoon. The removal of the spleen was successful (it was huge, 4x the normal size. I was supposed to pick him up on Wednesday but instead, I received a call that our Brady did not make it through the night. I am not sure what happened to him. I'm broken-hearted... maybe I should've not allowed him to go through the surgery or my biggest mistake was taking him to Osceola Animal Emergency.

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Bently

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Maltipoo

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11 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Enlarged Spleen

BENTLY 11 Years Old Took my Little Bently Maltipoo to the Vet in July blood work showed high calcium, the Vet said it could be cancer but there are a lot of false positives and he would re test him in two weeks. Went back in two weeks and all blood work was normal the Vet said he is very healthy and would be around for a long time. About 3 weeks later he started to lose his appetite and a week later there was blood in his urine and he he would not ant and was weezing. We took him back and they took a blood test and x-rays told us all his blood levels were off the charts and he a large mass on his spleen and that he would only survive 24/48 hours and suggested the best thing was to put him down it was heartbreaking to say the least which we did. What we can't understand that how in a month's time did he get such a large mass? We are very up set since Bently was the best pet that we have ever had the sadness is terrible. Please if anyone has had this happen so fast please comment. Thank You for reading our story on Bently and we would appreciate any comments or simular incidents. Sam & Linda

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