There are several important organs in the body and the spleen is one of them. The spleen performs many functions including blood storage, filtering old cells, fighting infection, and production of red blood cells. Even with all these crucial functions, dogs are able to live a normal life without a spleen.
In some cases, problems may occur resulting in the complete removal of the spleen through a procedure called splenectomy. The spleen is mainly removed if it has ruptured, for instance, after an accident or it develops a tumor. Both of these cases can result in very sudden illness that requires quick diagnosis and treatment to help save the dog’s life.
The Significance of the Spleen in the Body
The spleen is found on the left side of the abdomen just close to the stomach. The spleen is smaller than the liver, but it is bigger than the kidney. It looks just like s slipper since it is long and narrow with a narrower part in the center and curved borders. The spleen is a vascular organ that is full of blood storage areas and blood vessels.
The main task of the spleen is a blood storage reservoir, synthesis of red blood cells, filtering out and removing old blood cells and fighting infection. The best thing is that all these functions can be performed elsewhere if the spleen must be removed and this is why your dog is able to survive and live normally without a spleen.
Splenic Masses And Why Are They Bad?
Most spleens in dogs are removed because they have developed a tumor. Tumors of the spleen are quite common in most dog breeds and many vets treat them every year. Tumors can be malignant such as the red pulp hemangiosarcoma, benign, for instance, the red pulp hemangiona.
Most tumors are haemagiosarcoma’s, which is the worst form and even if it doesn’t show, these tumors almost always spread by the time the dog is diagnosed. However, dogs are not killed by the tumor spread, but by the bleeding from the tumor developing in the spleen. By just removing the spleen, most of these dogs can live normally for about six months and without the need for any follow-up treatment.
The success of the surgery will largely depend on the type of problem, how advanced the issue is, and if it is a tumor, whether it is malignant or benign. The faster you get your pooch to the vet after noticing any symptoms associated with spleen problems, the higher the chances of having a successful operation. This is why every dog owner should be familiar with the signs of spleen issues that may warrant removal.
Signs of Spleen Problems in Canines
Every dog owner needs to know the signs of spleen problems in dogs. This way, if surgery must be performed to remove the spleen, it can be done during the earlier phases giving your dog the best chance of survival. If the spleen has a tumor, some of the signs your dog will exhibit include:
- Swollen abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Signs of anemia
- Increased fatigue
If your pooch has a ruptured spleen, some signs you should look out for are:
- Increased weakness
- a tendency to collapse
The dog may also show signs of distress and may lose interest in daily activities and may be extremely depressed and subdued. Always remember that dogs react differently to spleen problems based on the dog itself and the specific condition the dog has. Because of the fatigue and weakness caused by spleen problems or rupturing, your dog will spend most of his time lying down and will be reluctant to get up.
What Happens if The Spleen is Not Removed?
If your dog has a splenic tumor and you do not want the spleen removed, the tumor growth should be closely monitored by ultrasound. However, if the tumor continues growing, it will eventually cause internal bleeding and your pet will not survive it. This is because the spleen has lots of blood veins and blood storage areas.
Splenectomy is a safe procedure that is performed regularly by most veterinary clinics. The overall prognosis for non-complex splenectomy is good. However, just like any other surgery, splenectomy has potential risks of complications such as:
- Blood clots
- Cardiac Arrhythmias
- Anesthetic death
In a Wrap
As you can see, dogs can easily survive without a spleen for about six months or even more. However, their survival will largely depend on the spleen problem. Most veterinary clinics can safely carry out splenectomy and they perform these procedures regularly As a result, they can provide your pooch with the best care possible before, during, and even after the surgery.
Based on the condition of your pet after the surgery, he or she may go home on the same day or may be hospitalized for a few days. When discharged, the dog should have full recovery after two weeks. You must ensure that your dog is restricted to short leash walks for weeks after the surgery. The pet should also wear a t-shirt, E-collar, and some kind of protection to help prevent self-trauma on the surgical site.