Enlarged Spleen in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Enlarged spleen, or splenomegaly, can occur in all kinds of dogs, but the most commonly affected dogs are the larger kinds and it usually occurs in their middle life. Splenomegaly is a symptom that can be associated with a number of diseases.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Enlarged Spleen in Dogs


Symptoms can vary in different pets. Generally, some of the clinical signs that can be observed include:

  • Weakness
  • A decrease in appetite
  • Distension of the abdomen
  • Diarrhea & vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Whites of the eyes turning yellow
  • Pale gum


A trained vet should be able to detect the presence of an enlarged spleen in all breeds of dogs.

He/she will examine the dog and palpate for the spleen. Care must be taken to distinguish between the presence of a normally prominent spleen (as in the case of German shepherds) and that of an enlarged one. If after the physical examination, the vet suspects that splenomegaly exists, then further tests may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

These tests may include blood and urine testing, an X-ray or an ECG, testing for the presence of certain infectious diseases and even a bone marrow sample if necessary.

Causes of Enlarged Spleen in Dogs

1. Infiltration

In this condition, cells and other substances from other parts of the body start to infiltrate into the spleen and cause an enlargement. The most common reason for this is the presence of cancer or tumors in the body, including:

  • Amyloidosis
  • Mast cell disease
  • Leukemias
  • Lymphoma
  • Histiocytosis
  • Multiple myeloma

2. Inflammation

A number of infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses or other agents can cause an enlargement of the spleen. 

3. Immune System Stimulation

Certain diseases that affect the immune system can affect the way the spleen accumulates immune cells. An increase in the number of anti-inflammatory cells beyond the normal limits will lead to an increase in the size of the spleen. 

4. Congestion

The veins draining the spleen have a very important role to play. If these veins are blocked, then the spleen gets congested with blood and this is usually a sign of something pretty serious. Heart failure and liver diseases are two of the prime examples where something like this might happen.

Treatment and Prevention for Enlarged Spleen

Medical Treatment

The treatment for an enlarged spleen in dogs varies as per the causes. Here are two common treatment options:

  • Splenectomy. This will involve the removal of damaged red blood cells and/or spleen. It is commonly carried out as a treatment regimen.
  • Prolonged course of antibiotics or other medications, depending upon the presence of any infection detected

Natural Remedies

There are a few natural remedies that you can try if your dog has been diagnosed with an enlarged spleen. The main function of the spleen is to recycle red blood cells and cleanse the body. The natural remedies are aimed at assisting functions of the spleen and thus allowing it to recuperate.

Foods that help support the blood and boost the immune system can work as home remedies. For example, the dandelion greens are believed to help in cleansing the body and should be given to dogs on a regular basis.

Preventions for Enlarged Spleen in Dogs

It is very difficult to prevent an enlarged spleen in your dog, so the focus should be keeping the dog as comfortable as possible. Your dog will be low in energy and not respond to stimulus as usual. If this sort of behavior persists for a long time, then you must schedule an appointment with the vet at the earliest. The earlier this condition is diagnosed, the easier the treatment will be.

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