My Dog Has a Splenic Tumor – When do I make the call to let go?

Receiving the news that your dog has a splenic tumor is devastating. Because a splenic mass has the potential to rupture suddenly, or bleed slowly over time causing a litany of symptoms, many pet owners struggle with the difficult decision about when to consider euthanasia.

This guide will help you understand the signs that indicate it might be time to say goodbye and provide insights on how to ensure your dog’s remaining time is as comfortable as possible. 

By recognizing these signs and knowing how to respond, you can make an informed and compassionate decision, ensuring the best care and comfort for your cherished companion in their remaining time.

Caring for Your Dog with a Splenic Mass

Caring for a dog with a splenic tumor involves vigilant monitoring and providing the best possible quality of life. Here are some important aspects to consider:

Monitoring for Changes in Behavior or Health

It’s crucial to monitor any changes in your dog’s behavior or health. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help track the progression of the tumor and address any emerging issues promptly. Diagnostic tools such as bloodwork and radiographs can be instrumental in monitoring the mass, potential metastasis, declining quality of life and other complications.

Pain Management and Medication

Managing your dog’s pain is paramount, and may significantly affect the longevity of your pet.. Consult with your vet to find the best pain management plan, which may include medications to keep your pet as comfortable as possible. Effective pain medication can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life during this challenging time. 

Proper Nutrition

Ensure your dog receives a nutritious diet that supports their overall health. Sometimes, dogs with cancer may have a decreased appetite, so offering their favorite foods or treats can help maintain their nutrition. Supplements might also be recommended by your vet to support your dog’s health, especially if they are experiencing significant weight loss.

6 Signs Before Considering Euthanasia for a Dog With a Splenic Tumor

Deciding when to euthanize your dog with a splenic tumor involves looking for specific signs that indicate a decline in quality of life. Here are the key signs to watch for:

1. Lethargy, Weakness, or Decreased Activity Level

Sick dogs may become significantly more lethargic and show a marked decrease in their usual activity levels. If your dog is no longer interested in activities they once loved, it might be time to consider their overall well-being. Lethargy and weakness may indicate that the tumor is affecting their energy levels and overall health.  It may also be indicative of blood loss, which is a hallmark of a bleeding splenic mass.

2. Loss of Appetite or Difficulty Eating

A noticeable loss of appetite or difficulty eating can be a sign that your dog is not feeling well. Decreased appetite can lead to weight loss and further weakness, negatively impacting their quality of life.

3. Increased Pain or Discomfort

If your dog is showing signs of increased pain or discomfort that is not manageable with medication, it may be an indication that their quality of life is diminishing. Look for signs such as unusual vocalization, restlessness, or avoiding physical contact. 

4. Pale Mucous Membranes and Cold Limbs

Pale mucous membranes and cold limbs can indicate poor circulation and blood loss from a splenic tumor, leading to significant distress and suffering. If these signs are present, it may be a sign that your dog’s condition is critical.

5. Abdominal Enlargement and Bloating

A visibly swollen abdomen can be a sign of internal bleeding from the splenic tumor, causing significant discomfort and difficulty breathing. This often indicates a severe progression of the disease, and is an emergency situation.

6. Collapse and Heart Arrhythmia

Collapse and heart arrhythmia are severe signs that your dog is in critical condition, possibly experiencing life-threatening complications. These symptoms suggest that the cancer has significantly impacted their cardiovascular system.

Life Expectancy of a Dog with a Splenic Tumor

The life expectancy of a dog diagnosed with a splenic tumor, particularly hemangiosarcoma, can vary widely based on several factors such as the stage of the disease, the type of tumor, and the available treatment options.

Typically, dogs with malignant splenic tumors like hemangiosarcoma have a poor long-term prognosis. Without treatment, the life expectancy ranges from one week to three months, with many dogs living only a few weeks if the tumor has already started to bleed. For those undergoing surgery (splenectomy) without further complications, the median survival time extends to about 1-3 months. When combined with chemotherapy, survival can extend to 6-9 months, with about 10% of dogs living up to a year​.

Consultation with a veterinary oncologist can provide more detailed information based on your dog’s specific condition and possible therapies to treat and prolong quality of life. Understanding the potential for metastasis to other organs and the overall prognosis can help in making informed decisions.

Preparing to Say Goodbye

Preparing to say goodbye to your dog is a heart-wrenching process, but ensuring their final days are filled with love and comfort can make a significant difference.

Make the most of the time you have left by engaging in your dog’s favorite activities. Take them for car rides, let them enjoy their favorite treats, and spend as much time as possible giving them love and attention. Focusing on their happiness and comfort can help create lasting memories.

When the time comes, choosing a reputable service provider for pet euthanasia is crucial. Options include in-home euthanasia services, which can provide a peaceful and familiar environment for your dog, and euthanasia at the pet’s regular veterinarian. After euthanasia, you can choose from various options for laying your pet to rest, such as aquamation, flame-based cremation, or home burial. Consulting with your vet or a pet cremation facility can help you make the best decision. 

Find the help you need today. Call us to discuss the best option for you and your pet.

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