We have a 8-1/2 year old female German Shepherd (Susie) that started coughing. The cough sounded more like a gag and we thought she might have swallowed something or had a treat stuck in her throat. After rulling that out, we made an appt with our long time vet for evaluation. Susie had just gone through her yearly check up, all shots current, in super health for her age. She goes for walks daily and is very fit and young acting. The cough concerned us so the vet did an x-ray cause she told us it could be an early sign of blout. We had a german shepherd whose stomach flipped in the middle of the night with no symptons and emergency surgery corrected it and she lived another 4 years. The x-ray showed the enlarged spleen which we would have not known about had she not started this alarming cough. We are going today for an ultra sound. I have read the posts "remove the spleen", "monitor with regular checkups and blood work" etc. So the only way to know if it is cancer is to remove the spleen and have it biopsied? I appreciate the post of having the stomach stapled to the wall while they are doing this, would make sense since that is such a common occurance in large breeds. I don't want to ever go through that nightmare again. Wish us luck and will post her results. I love this forum and found it very helpful. Thank you.
Bloat and stomach torsion is of course a separate issue, from tumours on the spleen.
Sadly splenetic tumours are all too common; fortunately the dog won't miss her spleen
if they take it away to ensure they have the whole tumour.
But be prepared - all too often they find out it has metastisised when they get inside and
there are tumours on other less disposable organs too.
Regarding the spleen, wait to see what the ultrasound shows. Our dog also has an enlarged spleen, but that doesn't necessarilly mean something has to be done about it. Of course, if tumors are present, that is different. Regarding the cough, has a heart issue been ruled out. Did the chest xray show the heart was of normal size?
We just went through something very similar with our 10 year old GSD, Grace. She went into the vet for a spot on her nose that just wouldn't heal and we left with the knowledge that she had a mass about 8cm across in her spleen (following xray and ultrasound). A few days later, we opted to have her spleen removed. A softball sized tumor was found in her spleen. No other organs looked affected. After days of waiting, we learned that Grace's tumor was benign. It was likely caused by an injury to her spleen. She is recovering wonderfully and is looking better than ever.
It was so hard to decide what to do...we researched and learned that while the spleen can be biopsied, it is dangerous to do so. It could cause a rupture. Additionally, the spleen can rupture at any time in a situation like this, so time is of the essence. If it's cancer, it could have spread. Even if it hasn't spread, it's still a poor prognosis if its malignant. Three view chest x-rays and a complete blood panel were helpful in making a decision for us. Grace's xrays were clear and her bloodwork was excellent. Honestly, it's just a terrible experience all around and I'm so sorry you have to go through this.
Definitely go forward with the ultrasound so you can get a better idea of what's going on.
On a side note, should it be cancerous (I surely hope it is not), the Yahoo group called The Sumner Foundation was extremely helpful in helping me make a decision, offering advice, etc. They were simply wonderful!
My male had an enlarged spleen at the age of 8 when i thought he was bloating and off his food. Something was wrong but the "wrong" wound up being constipation from enlarged prostate. They did the ultrasound and the spleen was normal, just large--and about a month later it had returned to normal size. I was told GSDs can have odd spleens anwyay and also that tick diseases can cause an enlargement so you may want to run a tick panel. He is now 9 year 3 months and doing fine in that regard. We also did the hemangio study (the assay) and he was fine on cancer markers ( another option to check out). So it is certainly cause for concern but hopefully all will be ok for you.
If there is a decision to remove the spleen I would make sure the team doing it is very experienced. I gather it is not uncommon for a fatal arrythmia to develop when the spleen is removed. Tough decisions there if they think it IS cancer.
It is quite common for the spleen to be unusually large in GSDs, so much so that should the dog have an abdominal x-ray for some other reason and the spleen enlargement is noticed, but there are no symptoms of trouble evident, the recommendation is usually to watch and wait to see if anything changes. That said, in the OP's case, since the issue that sent you into the vet's office was coughing, and hemangiosarcoma can not only show up in the spleen, but in the heart as well, if chest films were not yet done, I'd strongly suggest you have them done before you even start considering what course of treatment you want to pursue for the spleen. If there's evidence of any cardiac abnormality visualized, that will factor heavily into which options are available for Susie.
Unfortunately, the incidence of hemangiosarcoma of the spleen in the GSD is distressingly high.
Spleen removed last night
My name is Malia. I live in Hawaii with my love and 4 dogs. I got last tonight from an emergency surgery on my 11 year old pit mix, Mama Mia. She was bleeding in her abdomen and had a ruptured spleen. The spleen had tumors on it. They removed the spleen, and she rested with an IV in the cage at the vet over night. It has been a horrible experience, and I am so grateful that she survived surgery. They did not think she would make it. I had to say goodbye before surgery. I can not imagine my life without her. I am so thankful she pulled through.
I came to your posts after searching about care for dogs without a spleen. Your posts are very moving and full of love for dogs and knowledge. If you have any recommendations for nutrition and care for my Mia, that would be fabulous. I appreciate your time and wish you health and happiness. I am so sorry for the pain and trauma that you face with your dogs, and I appreciate all who love dogs, for they are true blessings and add to the harmony and love on our planet.
Malia, Mia and Family
Here are a few links that were passed to me, but keep in mind that these are replies to forums and use your own judgement.
This is not from a forum but a clinic---->
The spleen can twist and enlarge causing bloat. I have an eleven year old german shepherd, who bloated from the spleen twisting and taking the stomach along with it at age 9. The emergency vet had done hundreds of bloat surgies and spleen removals. After the surgery she went to her regular day vet who monitored her for arrhythmia for a few days. I personaly feel the e-vet was teh best to do the surgery within a 20 mile radius of my home and I feel the same about her regular vet, in regards to the arrhythmia monitoring. In the end her spleen was removed, the biopsy showed no cancer and she 100% recovered physically and mentally in a little over 30 days.
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