Has your dog suddenly slowed down?

December 12, 2011

Medicine Cases, Surgery

Time is flying by and I am experiencing life in a whole new dimension. For the past couple of weeks, I have been through some tough times. I am feeling very homesick especially because I know I am missing out on a huge family reunion. My adorable nephew is visiting his grandparents and is being smothered with attention.

To make matters even more dramatic, I was pretty sick and had to be worked up to the nine by a mob of great doctors.

Feeling so unwell simply gave me a rude awakening and pushed me to embrace a healthier lifestyle.  Even though I am a vegetarian and exercise regularly, my eating habits could do with a bit of improving. Anyhow I’ll quit boring you with gory details of why I have been unable to blog regularly in these past few weeks.

I finally went back to work last Friday and was so excited about seeing my patient ‘Tenzing’. He did not share the same sentiment because he is a shy fellow that hates the vet clinic. He had not left my mind for all the time I was off work. I kept thinking: ‘I wonder how he is going. I hope he pulled through.
Tenzing (2)

‘Tenzing’ is one of the most remarkable dogs I have ever met. His will to live and conquer his illness was beyond belief.

He was admitted afterhours by my colleague Dr. Bruce for collapse. He had pale gums and required an immediate blood transfusion. The next morning I had to operate on him immediately to stop the bleeding. He had a ruptured splenic tumour. These tumours can be benign (don’t spread) or metastatic (ones that spread). When I opened his abdomen up, I was greeted with so much blood. It was pretty challenging trying to visualise all the vessels that I needed to ligate to safely remove his spleen. Brace yourselves, below is a photo of his x-spleen:


Unfortunately it did not end there.

‘Tenzing’ had lost so much blood during the surgery and so he needed another blood transfusion.

You can always get away with giving a dog the first blood transfusion without cross matching. However, in theory, should you need to give another transfusion in very close proximity to the first, you must always cross match to prevent a reaction. The reality of the situation was I did not have much choice in the matter. We did not have the gear to cross match and ‘Tenzing’ was in dire need for more blood. I simply had to take a leap of faith and give him a second blind blood transfusion and hope for the best.

Thankfully it paid off and he did not have a transfusion reaction! He was stable but still not eating when I took time off work. It was just crazy to see how great he looked 2 weeks after his massive surgery. He needed two holders to restrain him while we took his sutures out!

So I know what you are all thinking? My god, how will I know if my dog has a tumour in his/her spleen? What can I do to check and so forth…

Splenic tumours are common in middle to geriatric aged canines.

What happens is a tumour (benign or metastatic) starts to grow in the spleen and it may occasionally cause small bleeds. The subtle symptoms owners usually pick up on in the early stage of the disease process are that their dogs have suddenly gotten very quiet, are hesitant to jump up and seem generally uncomfortable. Sometimes a veterinarian can palpate an enlarged spleen during a health check and will recommend further workup (x-rays + ultrasound) to confirm the diagnosis. It is obviously far better prognosis to remove the spleen before it ruptures and leads to a massive bleed.

The tricky thing is the early symptoms of splenic disease are similar to arthritis. The crucial details to pay attention to are how quickly these pooches suddenly slow down and not want to jump up. Arthritis is usually a commulative process and so patients rarely present to us for suddenly getting stiff! Most patients guard their abdomen and make it very difficult for vets to palpate the enlarged spleen.

We often diagnose splenic tumours when they have ruptured and the patient’s life is hanging in the balance.

This brings me to the importance of blood testing middle-aged to geriatric patients. We can easily pick up on an anaemia and if the patient is guarding its abdomen, we can take radiographs to rule in/out an enlarged spleen.

I could keep going on and on about this but I think it is enough details for now. Fire away any questions you may have.

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About Rayya

Hi I am Dr. Rayya. I created this site to take you on a journey of my life as a vet! I hope to inspire you, teach you, learn from you. Most importantly help pet owners and animals around the world by sharing pictures, videos and posts from my everyday experiences.

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43 Comments on “Has your dog suddenly slowed down?”

  1. animalartist Says:

    Dr. Rayya, I wondered wher eyou’d been. These crises are opportunities for getting to know ourselves a little better, and I’m glad you had that team of human doctors to work on you. I really didn’t know how you managed to be a vet and write about it too! And thanks for saving Tenzling!


  2. Britt Says:

    My 13 year old boy was diagnosed with a spleen tumour at the beginning of the year and had it removed that day. We were pretty lucky that he actually told us something was wrong by lying on the floor clenching his tummy. It has now become his thing to do if something is wrong. Apart from a whole list of other issues that he now suffering from eg prostate cancer, he has remained strong throughout the whole process. My boy is a fighter and 9 months later he is still here with us.

    It’s so good to hear that Tenzing pulled through too and I hope you are feeling better.


    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      Wow your pooch sounds like a trooper. He is battling on and still wanting to enjoy life. I hope Tenzing makes a great recovery just like your dog. Unfortunately my patient Jake, I’ve written about him previously, had his spleen removed 3 months ago and now he is anemic again and we suspect his liver is involved 😦 … You can’t win them all.


      • Britt @ absolutealaia Says:

        Oh poor Jake, I hope he pulls through 😦 Yes, Jordan is a trooper. He has prostate cancer, an adrenal tumour & hepatitis of the liver. I make sure I keep up with his urine checks to see if his kidneys are coping & I have also become the pee & poop patroller making sure it’s all functioning ok 🙂 oh the things we do for out fur-kids.

      • Rayya The Vet Says:

        Keep up the amazing dedication to your fur-kids. They are very blessed to have ya!I am praying for my handsome Jake.

  3. barb19 Says:

    I was wondering where you were Rayya, sorry to hear you have been ill and hope you are on the mend now.
    Glad to hear that little Tenzing made it through, you have have been so happy to see him so lively when he came in to have his sutures removed!
    You deserve the Liebster Award Rayya, your blog is interesting, educational and fun! I think we are all learning so much from your 4 legged patients – and the feathery ones!


    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      Hey barb. Always great to hear from ya! I am feeling great and will be back to my weekly blogging routine. Those furry and feathery creatures teach me new things each day :-).


  4. Cowboy Says:

    Howdy Doc –

    My goodness ! Sorry to hear about your medical problems, but if you’re changing your lifestyle – then maybe it’s a good thing you experienced the problems now rather than later. Plus, you also have the added problem of working in an often stressful environment. I hope everything continues to improve for the future.

    Sounds like you did a great job dealing with the splenic tumor. I can imagine how you felt when you opened the abdomen to find it full of blood. You were faced with decisions that you had to make. Your decisions were the correct answers, but I have no doubt that your metabolism sped up and you aged a couple years in less than an hour.

    Your care and consideration of each animal is above and beyond what so many Veterinarians will do !
    For all the times, you don’t hear the words “Thanks” , I’ll say it here ….. Thanks for caring so much about your clients and client owners……….



    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      Hey cowboy. It is definitely easier to embrace a lifestyle change while you are young! You are absolutely right, the stress of the job and the continued high adrenaline rush is bound to take its toll on my health. Thank you so much for being so thoughtful and supportive of my work. Take care.


  5. Donkey Whisperer Farm Says:

    I missed your posts, was wondering about you. So sorry you were ill was hoping you were on vacation enjoying yourself. Praying you get well fast.


  6. Misty Shores Chesapeakes Says:

    So sorry to hear you were ill but glad you are feeling better.

    I’m glad you were able to help little Tenzing and he is doing better!


  7. Jo Woolf Says:

    Sorry to hear that you’ve been ill – I hope you are now well recovered, and try not to work yourself too hard.


  8. Animalcouriers Says:

    So pleased to have you back online! Tenzing has great character. Great info on spleen tumors and advice on spotting the indicators. Thanks for the kind mention too. Keep well and don’t overdo things.


  9. Bassas Blog Says:

    I hope you have fully recovered and regained your strength. It must have been so frustrating for you! Good to hear that Tenzing is on the mend. He is a plucky little chap! Congratulations on your blog award – your blog deserves many more!


  10. Rosie Scribblah Says:

    Oh Rayya, so sorry to hear that you’ve been ill. *HUGS* across the ocean from me and the fluffy ones 🙂 And congratulations on getting the Leibster Blog award. And thanks for flagging up my blog.

    Rose 🙂


  11. becomingcliche Says:

    I’m so sorry that you have been ill! Hope it’s something you can get a handle on easily. Dietary changes are the hardest for me! Your posts have definitely been missed. I was hoping you were taking time off for fun.

    Thanks so much for the shout-out!


    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      I’m feeling heaps better and have started adjusting to the new lifestyle! I’m back so stay tuned in to my weekly blogs. I really enjoy your blog and it was well deserving!


  12. Jodi Stone Says:

    I need to always be wary when I approach your blog….LOL I am never sure what sight will greet me. I saw the photo well before I read the write-up and I said, “What the bloody hell is that?” 🙂

    You can be sure I will be on top of any health issues either of my dogs present. Thanks for keeping us informed Dr. Rayya!


  13. Jodi Stone Says:

    Oh (silly of me to forget) I am glad you are on the mend, I was wondering where you were!


  14. IsobelandCat Says:

    I read this this morning – the spleen was a bit of a shock over breakfast! – but didn’t have time to comment. So I just came back, and wondered why this had pinged. Now I see! Thank-you so much Rayya for the kind mention.
    I am glad to hear you are on the mend. You seem to live at such a frenetic pace, I am not surprised your body sometimes decides to demand a rest!
    Very good news about this chap too. Hasn’t he the sweetest face?


  15. 2browndawgs Says:

    Glad to hear that both you and Tenzing are doing better. So that is what Thunder’s spleen would have looked like if they had removed it when he bloated. (I guess not exactly like that….lol.)

    Thanks for the shout out. 🙂


  16. Misty Shores Chesapeakes Says:

    By the way I have enjoyed your blog and wanted to share and award with you, although I do see I am not the first but you are very deseving, the details are on my post Liebster Award http://mistyshoreschesapeakes.wordpress.com/2011/12/12/liebster-award/


  17. inpursuitofrealfood Says:

    awww… that almost sounds like my dog. I hopped on here to ask you a question, what a great post!! My dog has slowed down and we just took him for his annual. He is 10 years old and is a cairn terrier. I know about the “Luxating patella” problems they are suppossed to have. But we asked about how tired he seems and wanting to sit down more. The doctor let us know his knee pops out of joint fairly easily- he did it in front of us some 15 times?! (I thought that was a bit much? especially if it’s painful) He gave us some meds to try for arthritis. To our surprise he actually left limping a little from the trauma I think and several days later he ran out into the yard after a squirrel and his leg got stuck. His back right leg somehow got messed up, probably the knee cap- and now he’s been limping around the house barely using his back leg. What do you suggest??! I’ve read massaging helps and maybe a couple days time of rest…should I go back? I’m thinking of trying another vet? Thanks!!


    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      Your poor darling. He definitely needs rest but may also need some pain relief. I would definitely get him reassessed by a vet. I think it is very important for you to go to a vet you trust and respect and one that you feel comfortable asking questions. Ultimately go with your gut feeling about whether the vet you went to was worth a second chance. I think getting your dog’s blood tested is highly recommended to make sure he has no underlying problems. I missed tenzing’s splenic tumour in my first consult because he was too tense during the examination. If I had done bloods, I may have diagnosed tenzing earlier. I hope my advice is helpful and wish your little champ a speedy recovery 🙂


  18. magsx2 Says:

    I’m terribly sorry to hear that you haven’t been well, but it’s good that you are on the road to recovery.
    What a lovely surprise for you though when you got back to work and Tenzing was doing so well, he certainly is a little cutie. 🙂
    Thank You very much for the visit over at my blog.


  19. nicole Says:

    this post is so important to me, rayya. gwendolyn’s first boyfriend, a pitbull, passed away after being diagnosed with cancer of the spleen. despite months of chemotherapy, his sweet body did not recover. i’ve always worried about the, “how will i know?” i now feel more informed because of your article, and i know that your tips will help me to ensure gwendolyn’s quality of life. thank you! ❤


    • Rayya The Vet Says:

      Hey nicole. Sorry to hear about what happened to gwen’s first boyfriend. It really makes me feel like I’ve achieved my goals when you say my article gave you insight! I just want all animals around the world to be given the nbest possible care that’s out there 🙂


  20. Sheeba Says:

    Dear Doc

    I am the owner a beautiful pug but I am really upset now as my pug has some sort of illness that I cannot figure out he is 6 months of age now but he has got localized mange from some where and i got him treated and it has come back of late he has really confused to eat anything and it is really getting hard for me i am really upset he has lost a lot of pounds ad look really weak is there any thing that i can do to help him back to his zest he doesn’t like milk I even don’t have a proper vet around here so that I can take him so see what the problem is could you please help me. i love him so much and he is very dear to me i cannot bear to see him like this


  21. Russel Ray Photos Says:

    Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as clean as when I arrived. I’ll be back!


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