Your vet will recommend blood work to measure how anemic your pup might be, and they will also recommend imaging like x-rays or ultrasound to look for a reason why he is losing blood. If a splenic tumor is detected, emergency surgery is necessary to stop the bleeding. Many general practitioners are able to perform this surgery, but for others, or for situations where there is bleeding around the heart, a specialty surgeon may be necessary.
Severe blood loss and anemia warrant a blood transfusion for your dog, especially before surgery so that it will stabilize him and support his other internal organs. He will also need fluid therapy and hospitalization for a few days to make sure that he recovers after surgery. Since there is a one in three chance that a bleeding splenic tumor is benign, a biopsy will be necessary to determine if the tumor is malignant or not.
For dogs with benign splenic tumors (hemangiomas), surgical intervention is curative. But for dogs with splenic hemangiosarcomas, additional treatments like chemotherapy are necessary to help remove cancerous cells from the rest of the body. But even with chemo treatments, survival time beyond initial surgery is anywhere from three to six months. Without chemotherapy, survival time is three to six weeks after surgery takes place. This is because hemangiosarcomas spread to other body parts quickly like the liver or the lungs, causing further internal bleeding in the future.
There is no way to prevent hemangiosarcomas from occurring. If your dog is diagnosed with a hemangiosarcoma, he may benefit from an herbal supplement known as yunnan baiyao which can help prevent problems with bleeding. Anti-inflammatory medications can increase the risk of bleeding and so these should be avoided prior to surgery.
Hemangiosarcomas are one of the most insidious types of cancer because your dog can appear completely normal until the tumor ruptures. Your dog can become pale and collapse almost as quickly as the flipping of a light switch! It is important to bring your furry friend to an emergency room as soon as possible because it can mean the difference between life or death. Emergency surgery can also be expensive, so be sure to have a plan in place for payment. Savings, pet insurance, and applying for CareCredit are some of the ways that owners can prepare themselves for pet emergencies.