December 8, 2021
spleen tumor dogs

Spleen tumor in dogs | Symptoms | Treatment

What is a spleen tumor in dogs?

Tumor or cancer of the spleen in dogs is a common tumor of dogs. Medically, a Malignant spleen tumor is called Hemangiosarcoma. Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer of blood vessels of the spleen, but it may liver and heart blood vessels too. Spleen tumors are common in middle to old aged dogs.

What are the types of spleen tumor in dogs?

They can be either benign or malignant and two-thirds of all splenic masses are malignant.

Malignant tumors can spread to other body parts, but benign tumors are less dangerous and grow locally only. But both tumors are dangerous when they are ruptured internally. The Chances of rupture of a malignant tumor are high due to the fragile nature of the spleen.

Ruptured tumors can cause excessive bleeding in the abdomen and some cases, acute death can occur. If they spread to other body parts, then long term prognosis is poor.

What breeds are prone to splenic tumors?

Malignant tumors are more common in German Shepherds, Poodles, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Skye terriers, and Portuguese water dogs. 

What is the function of the spleen?

spleen tumor dogs

The spleen is a very important organ in the body and it plays important roles in RBC regulation and the immune system of the pet. It removes old RBCs and refreshes blood. Even if the spleen is removed, dogs can live a good life without a spleen.

What are the symptoms of a spleen tumor in dogs?

Clinical signs of a spleen tumor are mainly due to internal bleeding. You may see some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden weakness 
  • Collapse
  • Pale gums
  • High heart rate
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Distended abdomen
  • Anemia
  • Loss of appetite

How are splenic tumors diagnosed in dogs?

Diagnosis of the spleen tumor may involve many steps:

  • A thorough history regarding pet’s general health, or ongoing medications.
  • A thorough physical examination to check the pet’s vital parameters
  • Complete blood count (CBC) may show anemia or high white blood cells (WBC)
  • Low platelet count due to DIC
  • Blood chemistry to see the functioning of kidney, liver, electrolyte imbalance, and other important blood parameters.
  • X-rays to see any tumor or other structural changes in the body
  • Ultrasound to see any internal bleeding in the abdomen and to see organ structural changes 
  • A fluid sample may be collected from the abdomen to check the nature of the fluid in the abdomen.
  • Tumor tissue biopsy with ultrasound

What are treatment options for splenic tumors in dogs?

The best treatment option for a spleen tumor is surgery. The full spleen is removed through surgery. Chemotherapy may be helpful if the malignant tumor has spread to other body parts.

In some cases, if Red Blood Count (RBC) is too low, then the pet needs blood transfusion before or after surgery. With surgery alone, the average survival time is 2-3 months in a malignant type of tumor. Doxorubicin is the main chemotherapy drug for malignant tumors. Doxorubicin has some side effects such as a decrease in appetite, nausea, vomiting, and lethargy.

Surgery and chemotherapy together have an average survival time of 4-6 months in malignant types of tumors. Immunotherapy is another option after surgery. But this therapy is rarely available.

What are the complications associated with surgery:

Severe blood loss and even death due to rupture of the spleen during surgery

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a common complication resulting in clots within blood vessels

spleen tumor dogs

What is the prognosis of splenic tumors in dogs?

The prognosis for splenic tumors is variable and it depends on the type of tumor. In benign tumors, surgical removal of the spleen gives full recovery. However, in malignant tumors, survival time ranges from 2-9 months with surgery and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the overall prognosis is not good, even with surgery and chemotherapy.

Some other important articles:   

Kennel Cough

Parvo in dogs

IMHA in Dogs

Diabetes in Dogs

Cushing’s disease in Dogs

X-rays thorax

This information is NOT intended as a substitute for veterinary consultation for any of your pet’s diseases. Always consult your veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment plan.


  • Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline by Larry P. Tilley, Francis W. K. Smith
  • Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice by Robert G. Sherding and Stephen J. Birchard
  • Emergency Procedures for the Small Animal Veterinarian by Signe J. Plunkett
  • Merck Veterinary Manual by Susan Aiello
  • 100 Top Consultations in Small Animal General Practice by Peter Hill, Sheena Warman, Geoff Shawcross
  • Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook by Donald C. Plumb
  • Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Manual, 3rd Edition by Karol A. Mathews
  • Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners, 2nd Edition by C.E. Spaulding, D.M.V. Jackie Clay 
  • Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care for Veterinary Technicians Third edition by Andrea M. Battaglia, LVT, Andrea M. Steele, MSc, RVT, VTS (ECC)

Dr Gurpal Chahal, DVM

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

View all posts by Dr Gurpal Chahal, DVM →

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