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We have Dog Shepard mixed with spleen four times normal

Customer Question
We have Dog Shepard...

We have Dog Shepard mixed with spleen four times normal size. She is 16 years old. We are asking for second opinion of surgery or put her to sleep and relief her of her pain. Thank you.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'm sorry to hear that. Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Veterinarian will know how to help the dog. What is the dog's name?

Lacy

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Lacy?

Her age but she is in god health for her age.

Submitted: 1 year ago.Category: Dog Veterinary
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
4/1/2017
Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 1 year ago
Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 18,981
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Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

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Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 1 year ago

I am very sorry to hear that your girl Lacy has a mass on her spleen. I understand how upsetting that news was to hear.

First the spleen is not an essential organ. The functions that it performs can be done by other organs in the body. It is a filter organ, removing damaged red blood cells, and it produces lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) and stores red blood cells. These functions can also be performed by lymph nodes, the liver and the bone marrow. If her spleen needs to be surgically removed don't worry about it not being there creating stress on other organs.

Whether to go through with surgery should be based on her health otherwise, and any evidence of whether this tumor is malignant or benign. About 2/3 of splenic tumors are malignant, and about 75% of malignant tumors are hemangiosarcomas.
I think that an ultrasound of her abdomen is a terrific idea. The most common malignant (spreads to other tissue and is very invasive) mass in the spleen is a tumor called a hemangiosarcoma. This tumor is a tumor of the lining of blood vessels and is easily transferred to other organs via the blood vessels carrying tumor cells to other filter organs. That means by the time we find it, the tumor has most certainly already spread to other tissues, usually the liver, lymph nodes, small blood vessels in the abdomen and lungs.
If we can see evidence of tumor spread on ultrasound then no matter what is done her prognosis is very poor and I wouldn't recommend surgery as her lifespan will be very short, usually less than 2 to 3 months, rarely as long as 6 months. There is no use putting her through major surgery knowing that we cannot change her comfortable life span.
Her veterinarians should look for metastases on an abdominal ultrasound, and chest radiographs, and if none are seen that is good news. Do be prepared though that if you do decide to go through surgery and this is a hemangiosarcoma then it will have spread on a microscopic level and odds and even with chemotherapy her cancer will return soon.
There are other tumors though, such as hemangiomas, very low grade mast cell tumors and lymphosarcoma and surgery can be curative for some of those types of tumors.

If a splenic tumor starts to bleed one of two things can happen. It can clot after a small amount of bleeding and while the dog may feel a little woozy from blood loss, depending upon how much blood is lost they may be OK. If the tumor starts to bleed and cannot stop the dog will become hypotensive (low blood pressure) and faint or have such low oxygenation to the brain they will become unaware and pass away. This is not painful for the dog but it is very difficult for owners to have to experience as the dog may vocalize or thrash a bit as this happens. The pet is unaware of what is happening because of lack of oxygen to the brain but it is upsetting for an owner to observe.

This is what we are trying to avoid by getting your girl to surgery as quickly as possible, or if evidence of metastases then euthanasia may be the easiest thing for you and her.
Here is a link to an article that accurately discusses spleen function and splenic masses: http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_splenic_masses.html

In short odds are more likely that this is a malignant mass, but we cannot say for sure without more diagnostic testing. And in some cases we won't know until surgery.
If you choose surgery I would make sure that the person that does the surgery is very experienced so that you can give her the best chance of doing well after this procedure.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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Dog Veterinarian: Dr. Kara, Veterinarian replied 1 year ago

Hello, I wanted to make sure that you didn't have any further questions for me, and I'd like to know how things turned out for your pup. If you could give me an update that would be great, thank you, ***** *****

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