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Splenectomy in Dogs

By: Dr. Cathy Reese

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Splenectomy is the medical term for the surgical removal of the spleen. This procedure is often combined with exploratory abdominal surgery, in which all of the abdominal organs are inspected and biopsies are collected if needed.

Indications for splenectomy include splenic tumors, splenic torsion, which is twisting of the blood vessels supplying the spleen, and trauma to the spleen.

Splenic Tumors

The most common splenic tumor in dogs is hemangiosarcoma. The breed most commonly affected is the German shepherd dog, but other breeds can be affected too. It is usually seen in older animals.

Other types of tumors affecting the spleen include fibrosarcoma, mast cell tumor, lymphoma, osteosarcoma and leiomyosarcoma. Blood clots, or hematomas, are also seen.

Splenic Torsion

Splenic torsion is most commonly seen in large and giant breed dogs. It is also sometimes seen with gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV). Symptoms of a splenic torsion include pacing, and frequent changes in body position while sitting or lying down, drooling, gagging, retching, physical weakness, mental dullness, sudden collapse.

Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, is often seen with splenic torsion, as the pancreas is located adjacent to the spleen. Pancreatitis causes abdominal pain and vomiting.


Trauma to the spleen from a kick or a car accident can result in rupture of the spleen. If the spleen ruptures from trauma or from a tumor bursting, the patient can lose a lot of blood into his abdominal cavity causing shock and collapse.

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