Should I have my puppy's spleen removed?

My 9 month old Beagle has an enlarged spleen. She became listless and does not act like herself. The vet did an xray and found her spleen to be enlarged. This is consistent with her bloodwork with a high white blood cell count. All other counts are within normal limits for kidney and liver functioning. Now she won't eat. He thinks it's either tick related or possibly a spleen problem.

  • Vetinfo

    By: Shawn Haubenstricker El Segundo, CA

    Replied on 10/14/2011

    There are PCR panels that can be performed to diagnose a tick borne disease.  I would strongly recommend ruling that out before considering a surgical option. 

    You noted that all other tests were normal, I am assuming that the red blood cell counts are normal.  This is important to evaluate again now that your dog is developing more symptoms.  There is a disease process called Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. With this disease, the pets body starts to destroy its own red blood cells.  This can result in an enlarged spleen, lethargy and generalized weakness.  I would recommend repeating the red blood cell count to ensure this isn't happening.

    The high white blood cell count is a concern as well.  Is your dog on antibiotics?  Is there an underlying infection somewhere? Does he have a fever? You can take a dogs temperature rectally with a regular digital thermometer.  The normal temperature for a dog is 101.5 plus or minus a degree.

    I would also recommend an blood smear.  This will allow your veterinarian to see what the white blood cells look like.  If there is an abundance of lymphocytes (a normal white blood cell), than this may indicate a disease process called lymphoma.  This is a malignant cancer that spreads very quickly, and commonly will start in the spleen or intestinal tract in young animals.  A blood smear can also be sent out to an independent lab to be evaluated by a specialist.

    The next thing I would recommend if all of the above are normal, would be to have an abdominal ultrasound.  This can be performed at most veterinary offices, or you may need a referral to a specialty practice.  This is the best non-invasive diagnostic approach.  If you do find something abnormal, only then should you consider having the spleen removed. 

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