The Spleen

I wanted to talk about the Spleen this morning.  Jessie had her spleen removed when she was only 6 years old.  There are still questions about why the spleen was removed but at the time they opened her up to do exploratory surgery they said that it was enlarged.  About a year later I was discussing Jessie with a good Veterinarian friend of mine and she informed me that depending on the anesthetic that was used it could have been the cause of the swelling itself.  When Jessie was operated on they had no idea what they were looking for.  A possible blockage of some sort, tumor, something that didn't look right.  After all the poking and probing it was decided that she had an auto immune disorder.  Disorders of the immune system can tax the spleen but was it the cause for the swelling?  That we will never know.  What I do know is that she did just fine without it as she got older.

The dog spleen function:  Vet Surgery Central

The spleen is a large organ that helps with blood filtration and storage.  Dogs can obviously live without their spleen as Jessie showed but for the best optimal health they need it.  It is like a reservoir, called on when needed.

After Jessie had her spleen removed the only warning I was given was that she might have a more difficult time dealing with infection.   She never did have any infectious issues and lived to be fifteen and a half years.  She was on prednisone for many years but was weaned off for the last couple of years of her life.  We saw no change in her after taking her off of the tiny dose that she had been on.  We did have Jessie tested several times for Addisons which came back negative.

Splenic masses - Veterinary partner

Splenic masses ACVS

It was a splenic mass that took Tilley from us.  She was doing so well for a 14.5 year old dog.  Tilley was able to play with Elsa even though she struggled with her Vestibular disease affliction for two years.   A couple of months before we left California I had taken Tilley to the vet for a full blood panel.  The vet that I went to saw nothing wrong with her results, a bit high in the white cell but nothing to worry about.  (Had this been the beginning of the mass?)   That same vet asked us not to return because I had asked to be in the same room with Tilley.

I then took the results to a different vet who as soon as he saw the results said that she had an infection somewhere.  She was put onto antibiotics and did very well.  She was more back to her old self with a spring in her step.  Once we moved to Connecticut we started to notice a decline in her, I thought the move had taken a lot out of her.  After all she was 14.5, old for a standard.  That fateful morning she was acting odd, not herself.

After had been outside, my son carried her in stating that she just wasn't walking.  She lay on the bed in the kitchen and I cupped her face in my hand, it was cold, really cold.  I knew right away that something was wrong, then she went blank in her eyes and passed out.  She did this several times before we got her into the car and head to the vets.  

After all of the tests it showed a mass on her spleen, Tilley was bleeding internally.  She'd lost a lot of blood and was just hanging on.  

Sadly splenic masses take the lives of many older dogs.  I'm not going to go into more details as the above articles are very informative.


  1. I lost a nine year old greyhound to splenic was horrible. I still feel guilt for not getting him to vet earlier.

  2. Thanks for the info Sherri. Reading those articles makes you think. I noticed one article said they were common in older dogs and another said they happen occasionally. I wonder which it is? I wonder if we should being having our older dogs spleens checked on a regular basis? Can they do that in a non invasive way, maybe ultrasound?


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