Spleen Tumor

My dog recently was diagnosed with a huge mass attached to her spleen. She had a UTI that I had treated and then she was throwing up with the new urinary food so we thought it was the food and started her on a bland diet. Upon return to food, I came home one evening and she was NQR. I took her to the ER Vet and the xray showed a huge mass. They said if I removed the spleen would probably have 3 months. My girl is over 13 years old and I don’t think she is a great candidate for surgery. I was going to put her down but she was doing well after meds so I ended up doing an ultrasound and the mass is really huge…maybe 2 1/2 softballs or 3?

I’m wondering if anyone has done palliative care on their dogs and how it went…My dog is huge and a rupture would not be good for me to get her in the car and to the vet. It really is so hard to think of euthanasia after she’s almost back to normal for her age with pain meds and prednisone. I know its the meds helping her along… ultrasound shows that the heart, lungs and liver are so far ok, but my dog already airway disease and severe spinal arthritis.

Would love to hear experiences… I struggle with the thought of. surgery, but I don’t think the outcome would be much different. TIA

I am on a very similar journey right now with my elderly girl. She was diagnosed with suspected hemangiosarcoma of the heart right before Thanksgiving. Weeks to months was the prognosis. We are are four months out from that unfortunate discovery. Surgery was not an option for a tumor inside the heart so I quickly moved on from that thought. A follow up ultrasound showed a tumor also on her spleen, but of a smaller size. The internist believes the heart tumor is the one to be concerned about. Right now, hubby and I are committed to palliative care, as you mentioned. We are probably going beyond what most owners would do or would pay for but she is still wagging her tail, has an appetite, and is interested in the world around her. We will keep going while she is still interested in living. She does.not.know.she.has.cancer. She is not a rambunctious pup but is absolutely engaged in our family life. Her physical condition has absolutely declined - muscle wasting comes with heart disease. We live in the country so we don’t have to worry about neighbors reporting us for a seemingly skeletal but potbellied pup. We feed her as much as she will eat - high quality, organic, wholesome, anything she’ll dive into. She is ambulatory and continent (for the most part, but aren’t most ladies of a certain age in the same boat?).

We have three futures: she will either let us know it is time, our palliative routine will no longer keep up with her needs, or she will have a sudden episode (which I dread). We have 3 emergency clinics within 40-minutes of our house and I know exactly which one I would go to depending on the day of the week and time. We are highly attuned to her and my hubby has a very special gift of caring for infirm pets as they age. She gets home cooked meals and anything else she wants. Right now our palliative care has us going to the internist every 10 days which is an increase from every 14 days of a few months ago. That is keeping her happy from day 1 through about Day 8/9. By day 10 she needs a visit. Not sure any of this is helpful information but it may provide you comfort to know that others are walking down a similar road. I believe we are stewards of health and happiness for our pets and that we all have our individual thresholds on what we are committed to. Trust your brain and your heart to do what is right for your pup. You are strong. You’ve got this.

This is the thing I would keep in mind. If the worst happens, how hard will it be to get her to the vet, or to get a vet to come to you?


I’ve had two dogs with this. One a 17 year old Labrador, who had been very healthy her entire long life, then fairly rapidly failed after the diagnosis, even with meds, and we chose to say good-bye just a few weeks later. Putting her through surgery was never on the table.

The other was a 10+ year old American Water Spaniel, also previously very healthy his whole life, who was originally mis-diagnosed by by both veterinarians (although differently) at a local clinic. I was referred by a former small-animal vet tech, with whom I was acquainted through horses, to another practice in a major city over 50 miles away, where the vet correctly diagnosed the real problem, and performed surgery. The tumor was described to me as the size of a golf ball.

This dog had another three years (actually one day over three years) of high quality life, bouncing back as though nothing had ever been wrong. No long-term medications needed, although he did get a thorough workup at least twice a year (labs, ultrasound, etc.). He basically won the lottery.

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I need to call my horse vet to see if she could come on an emergency basis

But honestly the pred is making her pee so much that i may have to remove it and see what happens. She is keeping me up at night several times and I’ve already reduced it to a half tab twice a day. I can’t be losing this much sleep for long. This is hard to decide but may have to.

If the pred is keeping her eating and I’m forced to stop it then I’ll have my answer. A bleedout is not something I want to deal with either. Am i keeping her going for me?

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Why did the vet say she would only live 3 months without the spleen? Oddly enough, spleen issues in my breed of dog are VERY common. I know of a lot of Swissy breeders and owners who have had to have their vets perform splenectomy’s and they live a full life after surgery.

Someone just posted the other day that their Swissy had a spleen torsion (luckily her dog had gastropexy surgery when it was younger and the vet said it saved its life) and it was removed and she had a full recovery. The dog was fairly young (around 5) and will easily have many more years left.

Some owners have even had their healthy Swissys have their spleens removed when they get them fixed/gastropexy’s done. Now I would never do that to a healthy spleen (and I’m not too sure what vet would even do that), but I have heard of it being done. Just an FYI

Hugs to you and your pup. It never gets easier <3

No advice ~ the toughest of all assignments ~ Jingles & AO for some more time together ~ ((hugs))

I would ask the vet about the probabilities of a sudden rupture and crisis. I have nursed old dogs with multiple issues, but the probability of a painful crisis would have me rethinking continuing on. Would she be painful or just start fading from the bleeding? So find out what might happen, how the dog will feel, and how you could respond until there is veterinary help. Also factor in your ability to manage her.

Personally, I would make the appointment if either you cant keep her comfortable, or there is a strong possibility of a painful turn for the worst.


With my ancient Lab, the vet told me that it would be a very quick end if she hemorrhaged and collapsed, as in seconds. We wanted to avoid that, of course.

She may not have been as large as OP’s dog - she was a 55# English-type Lab (not fat). At the end of her life, it became obvious that she suffered discomfort when picked up or carried. My husband and I developed a technique that involved us both picking her up, one on each end, being careful to support her skeleton and avoid pressure on her torso as much as possible, which kept her relatively free of pain.

I wouldn’t have been able to manage her by myself without causing her discomfort, even though she was a very tolerant, cooperative dog.

You’re the only one who can answer that question. The rest of us don’t know your dog, only what you’ve told us.

For me, her advanced arthritis, the tumor, the threat of a rupture, and what seems to be a relatively short life expectancy would be deciding factors.

As we often say here, better a day too soon than a moment too late.


Join the Hemangiosarcoma groups on FB. There is one that has a protocol on how to deal with bleeds and mostly natural options for prolonging their quality of life. I was the crazy person who did surgery on their 12 year old actively dying dog. He had a spleen tumor I didn’t know about and it ruptured. I noticed he was very off and we went right to the emergency vet. They were able to stabilize him and after a commitment of a lot of money surgery was done. I had 8 more months with him. After surgery recovery he was fine for awhile. Then he started to have bleeds. And they got more often and worse. When he said he was done taking the many many pills needed to help stop a bleed I let him go on an ok day. Other than the ruptured tumor he was in good health which is why I did do the surgery. There were times I thought he was going to pass at home from a bleed. I have been told that it isn’t a painful way to go more a slowly fading event. I would still do anything in the world if I could have that dog back and was willing to move heaven and earth for his management while he was here.


I’ve had two with spleen tumors. The first one showed no symptoms but I felt it when petting his stomach one day and had the vet look into it. It was grapefruit sized, and the vet removed it and his spleen. It was not cancerous. I’m pretty sure he lived for a couple more years after that with no problems at all (his eventual end came after he progressively lost control of his hind end and bowels at 13 1/2).

The second one was in 2020 with my 14 year old dog. She was NQR and turned out to be anemic. The vet felt she had a tumor on her spleen which was leaking. He said she was making new red blood cells, but losing them faster than generating them. Blood numbers were worse a few days later on re-check. He said surgery may help but it would have to be done at an emergency vet which would be able to do blood transfusions. He left me in the exam room with phone numbers, and as I was calling I was finding the estimate to be $8-10,000, and for only a possibility of a few extra months. At 14.5, my dog was already near (or over) the end of her lifespan. I told my vet I was not going to do the surgery. He was ready to euthanize her right then, but since she was doing well, I told him I wanted to just take her home.

She was mostly okay at first. She had two incidents where exertion made her collapse briefly - chasing a squirrel and barking at Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door. Otherwise she was calm and happy for about two weeks. In the third week, she stopped wanting to eat so I was making her chicken, broth and rice every day, with mixed results. By the end of the week, she had no energy at all and it was difficult to even get her outside to go to the bathroom. That’s when I made the difficult decision to euthanize the best dog I’ve ever had. So in her case, there was never a sudden rupture, but a persistent leak.

Personally I would euthanize her and avoid a potentially traumatic experience for you both. I would agree with not putting her through surgery.
I do have a personal experience, though. I knew a dog who had a rupture and passed away about a half an hour after I last saw him. Apparently it was one yelp and he passed away. Up to that point it was not diagnosed.

First of all I’m sorry about the diagnosis, and fully support your decision not to go to surgery. The reality is that it’s likely metastasized more than what can be seen with ultrasound.

The one thing I HIGHLY recommend ( 15 years in vet med including almost 2 years managing an emergency hospital) is Yunnan Baiyao. It is a Chinese herbal medication that is basically miraculous for stopping bleeding.

Even the most traditional of traditional emergency medicine practicioners I worked with would not hesitate to throw this into the mix. It won’t cure but it can buy you time.

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I am worried that the tumor has spread more than they can see. Both the vets we’ve been to have been supporters of the Turkey Tail Mushroom and Yunnan Baiyao. She is on both right now.

I am curious for those who have dealt with this, has your dog been on prednisone? I’m finding the amount of pred to be difficult to manage because of the urinating frequency. The day time is ok, but I’m losing a ton of sleep and finding it difficult to work the next day. I have decreased to a half tab twice a day and now doing one tab. I’m hoping that the pred is not needed… I guess we will see. If she stops eating, I’ll know. I am hesitant to do this, but feel like reducing it will give me an idea of where she is really at as well. If she’s eating only because of the pred, that will be telling me alot as well.

I am thinking sooner than later is best, but she is still acting so flipping normal for her. Which is the signpost of this disease I believe. They are fine till they are not. ugh.

I just recently went through something similar. My dog had a few fainting spells. Took him to the vet. Blood work indicated most likely some type of blood cancer. Ultra Sound of the spleen was normal. He was put on prednisone for energy and it helped for a short while however the peeing got worse and worse. We went from peeing every 2 hours to every half hour. I tried to sleep on the sofa so I could quickly get him outside but the last two nights I had no sleep at all.

The vet had suggested a bone marrow biopsy and then Chemo. Did I really want to put him through this. He was only 7. He deteriorated so quickly that I decided that quality of life rather than quantity was more important.

I had to lift this 90 lb. dog into my car to get to the vet. I think the vet was relieved that I decided euthanasia at that time. It broke my heart. I still cry every time I think of him. It as now been 5 weeks.


Cat_Tap - that sounds heartbreaking. So sorry.

The first dog I had that developed a hemangio sarcoma had surgery to remove it and lived about six more years. The second though was a 98 pound guy that
I couldn’t move myself. He had other cancers as well so we opted for euthanasia. I really didn’t want a sudden painful crisis to happen at home. These decisions are so hard and so personal. Bless you whichever way you decide to go.

Almost exactly one year ago, we lost our 10yo boxer to a hemangiosarcoma on the spleen. We didn’t know it was there until it ruptured. One morning she was weak and falling down and we rushed her in - the emergency vet confirmed she had a mass that had ruptured, causing her to bleed out internally. She had almost no blood pressure by the time I got her there and was barely conscious. They stabilized her with fluids until everyone in the family could get there to say goodbye. The vet said it was possible to operate, but she might not survive the surgery and at most we would get a couple of months. It was terrible to say goodbye so unexpectedly, but there was no way I would put her through that. The vet said she would have made the same decision for her own pet. I’m sorry, it’s so hard. :frowning:


Long time ago I had a dog diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. He was close to 14, a coonhound/shepherd mix, my heart dog of all time. There was no surgical option, but they said Pred would buy me maybe 90 days. About a week ahead of that time, he stopped eating dry food. Wet was fine, then that slowed down. At almost 90 days, he wouldn’t eat so I called it quits. The day his appt was scheduled, he humped my friend’s dog who came to say goodbye. He loved the vets and went in like he was going to a party…broke my heart. I still get teary eyed.

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