Your Pet’s Splenectomy: What You Need to Know and How We Can Help (San Diego Veterinary Services)
At Cuyamaca Animal Hospital, we’re proud to provide surgical procedures that range from routine services you may have heard of (like spaying and neutering) to more complex surgeries you may not be as familiar with. One of the many complex surgical procedures we offer to the Santee and San Diego communities is splenectomies, or, the surgical removal of the spleen.
If you’ve recently been informed by your veterinarian that your pet needs a splenectomy, the causes or even the procedure itself may seem nebulous at best. Many pet parents will sign off on whatever is best for their four-legged companions, and understandably so! But we want all of our clients to have a thorough understanding of what is happening to their pets who are in our care. No procedure is out-of-reach in understanding for non-medical pet parents!
So, today we’re going to break down the splenectomy: what it is, why your pet needs it, and what happens when your pet goes in for the procedure.
Why Does My Pet Need a Splenectomy?
Your pet’s spleen serves many functions: it’s part of their immune system, helps fight infections, and also acts as a reserve center for blood. And although these functions are important, pets do not suffer long-term without their spleen.
There are a number of reasons why your pet may need a splenectomy, and these are the most common:
Splenic Masses or Tumors: Pets can have masses for a long time before you or your vet may be aware, but they can be picked up by routine exams. You may notice a distended abdomen, or your pet may be weak and pale from internal bleeding. 1/3rd of masses are benign, in which case your pet can continue to live a normal life. But a common mass is hemangiosarcoma, which is a form of malignant cancer.
Splenic Torsion, or Twisting of the Spleen: These are most commonly found in large breed dogs, and symptoms include physical discomfort and weakness, drooling, gagging, and vomiting. Splenic torsions can happen on their own or as a result of gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV) syndrome. The blood supply to your pet’s spleen twists on itself and prevents proper blood drainage, which then enlarges the spleen.
Splenic Trauma: Splenic trauma is the result of blunt-force accidental causes and injuries. Splenic trauma will result in the rupture of the spleen, causing hemorrhage and can be life-threatening.
What Happens During a Splenectomy?
The procedure begins by placing your pet under general anesthesia and shaving the area along his or her abdomen. Then, an incision is made on the abdomen and the spleen is exteriorized or exposed, and the blood vessels are tied off so that the spleen can be fully removed. Your surgeon will also check the rest of the abdomen to make sure there are no signs of tumor or trauma (if the spleen is fractured), before closing the incision. In most cases, the entire procedure takes about 45 minutes to an hour to perform.
Most pets are healed within 1-2 weeks, but possible complications include anemia from blood loss or heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat). Always strictly follow your veterinarian’s instructions post-op, and monitor your pet closely so that, should any complications arise, you can address them immediately with your vet.
How Cuyamaca Animal Hospital Can Help
When your pet is in our care, we go above and beyond to make sure that, whatever the procedure, it is performed with loving compassion every single step of the way. We closely monitor our patients before, during, and after the surgery to ensure a complete and safe recovery. Our state-of-the-art facility allows for a large surgery area and a formal recovery area where a nurse sits with the patient until he or she is up and walking around.
We know that, even in the most loving of hands, the veterinarian experience can be stressful for pets, and obviously even more so in the case of surgery! That’s why many of our staff-members are Fear-Free certified to ensure the emotional well-being of all the pets in our care. The measures we take within our facility to provide a low-stress environment for our furry friends and clients is what sets us apart from other hospitals, such as separating cat and dog entrances and treatment areas, releasing pheromones to help our pets relax, and handling pets in proper and safe ways to ensure the best experience possible!
That, and the fact that we can provide expert care at a fraction of the cost of specialty veterinary hospitals. After all, Cuyamaca Animal Hospital was founded with the passionate belief that healthcare services should be affordable and accessible to all in the Santee, East County, or surrounding San Diego areas. Don’t pay more for a splenectomy than you have to! Call us today at (619) 448-0707 so we can discuss your pet’s surgical needs.