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When I noticed my dog's rear legs seemed to be weak suddenly I googled it and found this forum with a post about sudden weak hind legs and most replies pointed to degenerative myelopathy. However it turned out his back legs were weak likely because he was weak from a ruptured mass on his spleen that was bleeding internally. Spleen tumors are very common, however I had never heard of them before.

I had started him on Rimadyl 2 weeks prior because he has bad joints and was slowing down more (11.75 years old, had hip replacement, TPLO on knee). But then a few days ago I noticed his rear legs seemed to be weaker (maybe the hip replacement dislocated?) and he seemed to be drinking more water and his stomach seemed upset so I stopped the Rimadyl and took him to the vet for follow up liver tests, thinking it could be related to the Rimadyl causing a liver issue. I had thought I might have seen a worm in his stool - or was it grass? So I had a stool test done too. I waited 2 days for the test results (and his vet was off these 2 days). In the meantime he was eating normally, playing, no diarrhea, no fever, gums looked pink. FINALLY I got ahold of his vet and there were no parasites in his stool and the blood tests showed his liver enzymes were fine but he was getting anemic and he had a high WBC, so I left work early (and got the next day off anticipating a vet visit to get to the bottom of this) and when I got home he was pretty weak and his temp was 99.9 (normal is 100 - 103 and his normal is closer to 102). I took him to the emergency vet where they did an ultrasound and found the mass on his spleen and they were going to remove it immediately but wanted to get his vitals up first, but they didn't improve and he died 8 hours later.

I am writing in hopes of making people aware that spleen tumors are quite common and are known as a silent killer because often by the time there are symptoms it may be too late, and early subtle symptoms are often attributed to something else - he has bad joints so he is laying around more and laying on the floor instead of the dog bed; he is a picky eater so he isn't eating as much; I changed his diet so his stomach is upset; it's a warm day and he's playing so he's drinking more. Sometimes a mass can rupture and bleed and the dog may seem lethargic for a couple of days, but then the bleed stops and they are back to normal, for the time being.

There is no blood test to indicate a spleen tumor, but anemia and high white blood cell count and low red blood cell count can be indicators if it is bleeding internally. Really only ultrasounds and xrays can identify it. Some vets recommend semi-annual ultrasounds for breeds most prone to it once they get to be 8 years old (golden retrievers, german shepherds, boxers, great danes, pointers, setters, bernese mountain dogs - many larger dogs - my dog was a border collie mix).

About 50% are malignant. If not malignant and the spleen and tumor are removed the dog will likely get back to normal. If malignant it can spread to the liver, lungs, brain, spinal cord, skin, muscle, and fat beneath the skin. Chemo is generally not very helpful and most dogs will die within a few months even if the spleen and tumor are removed.

Here is a video of Marlin just a day before he died. He is the bigger dog.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnFCBipOvac&feature=c4-overview&list=UUfNH3eL79BkagpFcq9YRazA

This website has some more good information. http://voices.yahoo.com/spleen-tumor-awareness-dog-checked-regularly-7957370.html?cat=53

I will forever miss my dog, Marlin.
 

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Thank you for this post. And I am so very sorry for your loss.
 
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