Ruptured Spleen in Dogs

A ruptured spleen can be a life-threatening condition in dogs. It usually occurs as a result of serious trauma or severe illness such as cancer. The spleen is an elongated located in the abdominal cavity on the left side and is responsible for filtering blood and for the quality of red blood cells. It contributes to the well functioning of the immune system as well. German Shepherds are prone to develop spleen tumors which could end in spleen ruptures, but other breeds in old age can also be affected.

Ruptured Spleen in Dogs

A ruptured spleen in dogs can be the result of kicking, car accidents or any other severe injuries to the abdominal area. It can also happen in dogs with spleen tumors.

There are two types of spleen tumors that can occur in dogs: benign tumors and malignant tumors. Benign tumors are called hemangioma and malignant tumors are called hemangiosarcoma. Both types of tumors can provoke hemorrhage in spleen and the hematoma (i.e. the accumulation of blood on the spleen) may result in spleen rupture.

Spleen rupture may cause death so it is extremely important to have it diagnosed and cured as soon as possible. Proper care and a correct treatment plan can save your dog’s life.

Symptoms of Ruptured Spleen in Dogs

Dogs suffering from ruptured spleen exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Sudden collapse
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Paleness in the mucous membranes (gums and lips line)
  • Bloated abdominal cavity
  • Problems breathing

If the bleeding in the spleen has been happening for a period of time, the dog might also lose weight, manifest anorexia, lethargy and weakness. Whenever you notice that your dog exhibits any or all of the signs mentioned above, go for a veterinarian checkup.

Diagnosis of Ruptured Spleen in Dogs

In order to diagnose your dog, the veterinarian will start with a physical examination. Feeling your dog’s abdomen helps the veterinarian determine whether there is any bloating of the abdominal cavity. You veterinarian might also perform an X-ray examination and he will also extract fluid from the dog’s abdomen. This procedure is called aminocentesis.

If the abdominal fluid contains blood, this indicates that you dog is bleeding internally and he might suffer from ruptured spleen.

Ultrasounds, CBC, CT-scan or MRI examinations might be performed if the veterinarian considers them necessary.

Treatment of Ruptured Spleen in Dogs

The treatment plans for dogs suffering from ruptured spleen will depend on the findings of the vet and will usually involve:

  • Blood transfusion
  • Intravenous administration of fluids
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Steroids
  • Administration of painkillers
  • Exploratory surgery, which is actually an investigative method that helps determine more accurately the exact condition of the dog’s spleen. If there is a ruptured spleen, the veterinarian will decide to perform a splenectomy which consists of the partial or complete removal of the spleen. If the dog has also a tumor on the spleen, it will be removed and the dog will have to start chemotherapy.