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Twisted Spleen in Dogs

Splenic Torsion in Dogs

Twisted spleen, also known as splenic torsion, is a condition that affects dogs. The spleen serves as a crucial filter, eliminating excess red blood cells and acting as a blood reservoir while supporting the immune system. Splenic torsion can occur independently or alongside gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) syndrome, where a dog’s stomach fills with air and twists upon itself. This condition may manifest suddenly or gradually over time.

Although splenic torsion is uncommon in dogs, it predominantly affects large-breed, deep-chested dogs such as German shepherds, standard poodles, and great Danes.


  • Occasional loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Urine color ranging from red to brown
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Pale gums
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Detectable abdominal mass


  • Genetic predisposition: Large-breed and deep-chested dogs are most susceptible.
  • Previous occurrence of gastric dilatation and volvulus (abnormal expansion and twisting of the intestinal or gastric organs).
  • Excessive exercise, rolling, and retching may be contributing factors.
  • Nervousness and anxiety have been linked to an increased risk of GDV.


  • A thorough physical examination will be conducted, along with blood chemical profiling, complete blood count, urinalysis, and electrolyte panel analysis.
  • Providing a detailed history of your dog’s health, symptom onset, and any potential incidents that could have triggered the condition is crucial.
  • Coagulation testing may reveal prolonged bleeding times, indicating a disseminated intravascular coagulopathy, a severe end-stage cardiovascular disease involving clotting within multiple veins.
  • Abdominal x-rays may reveal the presence of a mass or an abnormal spleen position. An abdominal ultrasound offers a more sensitive imaging method for assessing the spleen.
  • Your veterinarian might recommend an electrocardiogram to monitor blood flow. Any blockages in blood flow may manifest as heart arrhythmias.


  • Immediate fluid therapy and medical intervention are essential prior to surgery.
  • A splenectomy, or surgical removal of the spleen, is typically performed. During this procedure, the stomach may also need to be surgically secured to prevent future flipping.
  • A sample of the spleen will be sent for histopathologic examination, a laboratory study of abnormal tissue.
  • Post-splenectomy, fluid support and cardiovascular monitoring will be provided to ensure the dog’s stability and recovery.

Living and Management

After the surgery, your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments to track your dog’s recovery progress. Post-surgery infection is a significant concern, so it’s crucial to monitor the surgical site for cleanliness. Follow your veterinarian’s guidance on proper wound cleaning methods. If you notice any signs of redness, swelling, itching, or discharge at the site, contact your veterinarian promptly.

Since the spleen contributes to the immune system, there’s a possibility that the absence of the spleen may increase the risk of infection for your dog. Discuss with your veterinarian about potential strategies to bolster your dog’s immune system or safeguard it from injury and illness.

If your dog exhibits symptoms of GDV again, such as abdominal discomfort or bloating, contact your veterinarian immediately for advice and guidance.

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