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Twisted Spleen in Dogs

Splenic Torsion in Dogs

The spleen exists as a filter to destroy excess red blood cells, and as a reservoir for blood. It is a main support to the immune system. Splenic torsion, or twisting of the spleen, may occur by itself, or in association with gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) syndrome, when a dog’s air-filled stomach expands and twists on itself. It can occur suddenly, or it can gradually twist over a period of time.

Dogs are rarely affected by an abnormality such as splenic torsion. When it does occur, however, it most commonly seen in large-breed, deep-chested dogs, like German shepherds, standard poodles, and great Danes.

Symptoms and Types

  • Intermittent lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Red to brown colored urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale gums
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abdominal mass that can be felt

 

Causes

  • Appearance of genetic relation: large-breed and deep-chested dogs are most commonly affected
  • Prior gastric dilatation, and volvulus (abnormal expansion, and twisting of the intestinal or gastric organs)
  • Excessive exercise, rolling, and retching may contribute
  • Nervousness and anxiety have been associated with an increased risk of GDV

 

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on the patient, including a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition.

A coagulation test may show prolonged bleeding times, which would indicate a disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (clotting within multiple veins throughout the system), a serious end-stage disease of the cardiovascular system.

Abdominal x-ray images may reflect a mass, and/or an abnormally located spleen. An abdominal ultrasound may be used for a more sensitive imaging of the spleen. Your veterinarian may also want to use an electrocardiogram to trace blood flow, a blockage in the flow may show as arrhythmias of the heart.

 
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