Splenic Tumor In The Dog: When To Put It To Sleep? (Counselor)

A canine spleen tumor is a terrible diagnosis. It is often recognized too late and is therefore no longer curable.

Deciding when to euthanize a dog with a spleen tumor is a difficult and individual question.

This article is designed to help you understand and make that decision.

When is the right time to euthanize a dog with a spleen tumor?

A spleen tumor is often recognized too late. And even though almost 50 percent of tumors are benign, late diagnosis is often enough to be fatal.

After the diagnosis, the veterinarian will determine whether an operation and chemotherapy would have any effect at all and then recommend the further procedure.

In the case of benign tumors, there is a lot of hope that an operation will bring the desired success and that the dog will be healthy afterwards.

A malignant tumor, on the other hand, is aggressive and promises little hope of improvement unless it is discovered very early.

If the dog then suffers severely from pain or other consequences, the veterinarian’s recommendation is often to relieve it and put it to sleep.

What is the life expectancy with surgery?

Even with surgery, a dog’s chances of survival are greatly reduced.

As a rule, only 10 percent of the operated animals have a life expectancy of more than a year, since metastases usually already exist and the cancer cannot be brought under control in this way.

Does a dog with a spleen tumor have severe pain?

Spleen tumors are usually associated with severe pain, which, however, only occurs when the disease has progressed to a life-threatening level.

This is primarily a question of location, because the growing tumor presses on other cells and demands space.

But the original tumor is not the only cause of pain. The metastases can settle anywhere in the body and also cause pain there.

How does a dog with a spleen tumor die?

The most common direct cause of death for a dog with a spleen tumor is the consequences of ruptured metastases.

These can form anywhere in the body and are particularly fatal in the liver, lungs, heart, brain and lymph nodes.

If they burst open, internal bleeding occurs, which in the case of metastases in tissue that is very well supplied with blood can be fatal almost immediately.

It also spreads the cancer cells further throughout the body.

The growing metastases not only cause pain, but can also prevent vital functions, e.g. if they block blood vessels or put pressure on important areas in the brain such as the respiratory center.

What treatment options are there?

Removal of the tumor with surgery

In an operation under general anesthesia, the veterinarian removes the tumor tissue. Usually the whole spleen is already affected, so that it is completely removed.

However, this is not a problem for a dog, since it could live for years without a spleen.

The tissue thus obtained is then examined histologically in the laboratory to determine exactly what type of cancer it is and whether it is benign or malignant.


If the spleen tumor is malignant, chemotherapy and, more recently, dendritic cell therapy are options.

Conventional chemotherapy has many disadvantages because it puts a lot of strain on the already weakened dog. In addition, it can only slow down the cancer, but not cure it.

It is well researched and safe to use.

Dendritic cell therapy

Dendritic cell therapy is also known under the name “tumor vaccination”. It is still new in Germany, but is being used in more and more veterinary practices.

This involves taking blood from the dog, enriching the cells with laboratory-grown cells and then feeding it back to the dog. The “extra cells” obtained in this way help in the fight against the cancer cells.

Dendritic cell therapy is often recommended by veterinarians when surgery has required the complete removal of the spleen and there is a good chance of success due to the low number of cancer cells in the blood.

For very old or sick dogs, however, most veterinarians advise against surgery and often any other treatment. Because each one is a heavy burden and severely restricts the quality of life of the dog.

How can I support my dog with a spleen tumor?

The most important thing is always to keep the dog’s quality of life in mind and to promote it. Each step should always be discussed with the veterinarian.

Dogs that want to eat less because of a spleen tumor can also be given particularly tasty food. Water mixed with a little chicken or beef broth encourages you to drink more.

A dog in pain usually seeks peace and security. His basket should therefore no longer be in the middle of the hustle and bustle and form a real retreat.


The diagnosis of splenic tumor in dogs is devastating. It is characterized by suffering and pain for the dog and often euthanizing as a salvation is the most humane option.

Have you already had to go through the disease spleen tumor with a dog? how did you deal with it Tell us your story in the comments.

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