Just like any type of canine cancer, dealing with spleen cancer in dogs is extremely stressful and scary. This disease can be so serious that it is often associated with very low survival times as well as sudden death in extreme cases.
Canine splenic cancer is something that every dog parent should be aware of. This is the biggest reason why we've assembled this comprehensive blog post for its clinical signs, possible causes, risk factors, the common breeds affected, as well as other important bits of information you will find useful.
Moreover, we will also share how splenic tumors and cancers get a definitive diagnosis, and the treatment options that you can go for when these health issues get in the picture. We'd just like to emphasize as early as now that splenic masses and cancers can significantly affect a dog's life and need to be treated early.
We are pet parents who are also pet wellness professionals—and we're here to help
Here at Zumalka, we are a group of professionals who have worked with thousands of clients (and their pets) who have faced a large variety of health issues, including various forms of cancer. With over 20 years in the industry, we work together to use our knowledge and passion to help pet parents around the world!
I hope you find this article enlightening, and that the information you find helps give you peace of mind during this stressful ordeal.
Canine Splenic Hemangiosarcoma or Cancers Explained
If you’ve looked into spleen cancers in dogs or received a diagnosis from your vet, you’ve most likely come across the term “splenic hemangiosarcoma.” So what exactly is splenic hemangiosarcoma in dogs?
This serious health issue attacks cells that compose the blood vessels
Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is a type of cancer that attacks cells lining the blood vessels. This type of cancer doesn’t only affect the spleen - it can affect the heart and the skin as well. However, approximately ⅔ of the tumors found in the spleen are HSAs.
Just to emphasize, tumors are classified as either “benign” (non-cancerous) or “malignant” (cancerous). Unfortunately, the majority of tumors found on the spleen in canines are malignant and will harm the blood vessels. This is why any type of splenic mass or anomaly that has the possibility of affecting the entire spleen mustn't be ignored.
Do Splenic Tumours or Cancers Have an Effect on the White Blood Cells?
When a malignant splenic tumour or cancer is concerned, a blood test is one of the examinations administered on an affected dog. Since the spleen plays a key role in the canine overall immune system health, an indicator of the existence of splenic cancers or a malignant tumor is a sudden increase in the levels of white blood cells.
A splenic tumour or cancer can disrupt ideal red blood cell and white blood cell levels
White blood cells help a dog's body fight off viruses, infections, bacteria, as well as other unwanted visitors that can have a detrimental effect on his health. The drastic rise in the same means that there is a big problem.
Additionally, a dog's body will also have difficulty producing new red blood cells when splenic tumours or cancers are present. This often leads to anemia and is typically seen in dogs that have an enlarged spleen or a swollen abdomen (often due to abdominal bleeding) stemming from splenic tumour ruptures. Dogs treated for anemia may also require blood transfusion.
A splenic rupture can cause a lot of problems for pet owners
It is important to keep in mind that there is an increased risk that the problem could spread to a dog's other abdominal organs if not immediately and properly dealt with. In extreme cases, there is even a need for emergency surgery involving the internal organs when unnecessary abdominal fluid is discovered.
What Causes Spleen Cancers in Dogs?
While the specific cause for splenic cancers in dogs is still unknown, studies show that there must be some genetic factors involved as certain breeds and dogs having particular attributes seem to be affected more than others.
Older dogs are diagnosed more frequently with spleen cancers, as well as breeds such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Poodles. This disease is also prevalent among large breed dogs like the St. Bernard, Great Dane, Alaskan Malamute, and Bullmastiff, among others.
However, we'd just like to stress this doesn't mean that older dogs and Golden Retrievers are automatically at risk of a splenic tumor or splenic cancer.
But the thing is that regardless of the age or breed of your canine best friend, having the notion there is a possibility that he may develop hemangiosarcoma (or a malignant tumor affecting the spleen in his lifetime) is a reality you should consider.
This is because having this mindset will help you protect your dog even more.
What Are The Symptoms of Spleen Cancers in Dogs?
Clinical signs of spleen cancer in dogs tend to be subtle. If we're being honest, malignant splenic tumors or cancers can be hard to detect early. Sometimes, it isn’t found until one of the tumors ruptures and causes internal bleeding.
Some of the symptoms that pet parents can be on the lookout for:
Weight Loss/decreased appetite
Some of the serious symptoms indicating a potential ruptured splenic tumor or cancer:
Swelling of the abdomen (your pet is bleeding internally)
Rapid heart rate
Drastic weight loss (often during tumour ruptures)
If you notice any of the above symptoms, make sure to take your pup into the vet right away! While some of the symptoms don’t always point to spleen cancers, they are all signs something isn’t right with your dog and he needs medical attention.
As with any illness, the earlier a splenic tumor or cancers are detected, the better their chances are for successful treatment and hopeful recovery. Always remember that time is of the essence in this situation since a ruptured splenic tumor or cancer can significantly decrease the survival time (commonly post-surgery) of your pet.
Determining the Presence of Spleen Cancers and Splenic Tumors
A routine physical exam won't suffice when it comes to detecting a splenic tumour or cancers. Apart from the use of X-rays, other veterinary medical procedures will also be administered, such as an abdominal ultrasound, as well as blood work (or complete blood count) to check the levels of red blood cells.
In some cases, a surgical biopsy may even be conducted with other procedures like x-rays to determine the presence of splenic tumours or cancers. Again, whether it is a splenic tumour or splenic cancer, it is noteworthy that immediate intervention is needed to avoid making things worse.
How Long Do Dogs Live With Spleen Cancers?
One of the hardest questions to ask (and get an answer to) is: how long does my dog have?
With hemangiosarcoma in dogs, life expectancy is often very short, only running from a few days to a few months. This is also the case when there is a malignant splenic mass or splenic tumour involved.
A lot depends on the severity of the disease and cancer spread. Cancers of the spleen in dogs tend to be very aggressive—they grow fast and also have a high possibility of metastasizing or spreading to other parts of the body like the lymph nodes.
Because of this, many dogs diagnosed with cancer of the spleen end up passing away from the spread of this serious disease to other areas where it deals a lot of damage. Again, we emphasize the need for a splenic tumour or cancers to be treated early. Appropriate post-surgery care is also essential.
Another factor to consider with respect to survival time is whether or not there is a ruptured tumor. If the tumor ruptures and causes internal bleeding, this is a medical emergency and the resulting blood loss might be too much for the dog’s body to handle. Blood loss is a risk that's particularly prevalent among large breed dogs.
What Are The Treatment Options Available?
While we believe in the role of veterinary medicine in helping keep our canine best friend healthy and happy, conventional options like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy, and surgical removal are not your only recourse when spleen cancers are concerned.
Your vet may have offered you different options such as surgery (with the spleen removed completely) or chemotherapy to treat your pup, depending on his specific circumstances like the tumor bleeding unexpectedly.
We understand how difficult it is to make a decision of which treatment plan to pursue! What we do know, though, is that no matter what, you want what’s best for your pet. I’m sure you want to look at all the options so you can make an informed decision.
Here at Zumalka, we are pet lovers and pet advocates, just like you! We have made it our life mission to design and offer natural products that work for your pet. And instead of treating the whole thing like clinical trials, we're recommending a natural way to do it.
A Premium Natural Product You Should Consider
PIPTOPET has been specifically created to boost your pup’s immune system, and to support your dog in his battle with cancer. With its anti-tumor properties, it boosts your dog's health!
Whatever treatment options you decide to explore, you can be confident to know that PIPTOPETcan be used either on its own, or in addition to other treatment options like chemotherapy, even for long-term use.
HOMEOPATH & CO-FOUNDER OF ZUMALKA
Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.
Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.
Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.