January Case of the Month: Briger
Briger is an 8-year old male Greater Swiss Mountain Dog who has been a patient with All Pets Animal Hospital since he was just a “little” (23 pound!) pup. Over the years we’ve seen him grow to an impressive 130lb adult whose broad smile and easygoing personality have earned him a place amongst our most beloved patients.
When Briger’s owner called saying that the big guy could not get up, we all began to worry. His concerned “parents” rushed their boy in so we could evaluate him as soon as possible. Indeed, by the time Briger got to us the giant dog (who is usually on a perpetual hunt for cookies) was extremely lethargic, and his beloved treats were the last thing on his mind.
Briger presented to All Pets Animal Hospital for sudden onset of vomiting and severe weakness. We all rushed in to action to find the source of Briger’s sudden severe symptoms. Physical examination revealed that his gums were moderately pale and his belly was somewhat distended. To find the source of these worrying symptoms, further testing was necessary. An abdominal ultrasound was performed which revealed a large mass on the spleen with free fluid in the abdomen. Splenic masses are concerning not only because they can be cancerous, but because they can cause acute abdominal bleeding (the “free fluid” we see on ultrasound) which can lead to life-threatening anemia. Chest x-rays and the abdominal ultrasound did not show any obvious signs of the splenic mass being a cancer (in the form of spread or “metastasis” of the cancer), so we were cautiously optimistic. However, approximately 75% of cases where a dog is diagnosed with a bleeding splenic mass, the mass is an aggressive cancer (typically hemangiosarcoma). Despite the odds, Briger was rushed to surgery to have his spleen removed (splenectomy). The big dog did wonderfully through the life-saving procedure. Now, it was just a matter of recovery and waiting for the test results to come back on the mass.
Several days later we received the good news: Briger was one of the lucky ones! Histopathology on the splenic mass was consistent with a benign (non-cancerous) mass called a hematoma. While these masses can still lead to life-threatening bleeding, the problem is cured by surgical removal of the spleen. After Briger recovered from surgery, it was back to normal life for this gentle giant.
Briger is an amazing dog with fantastic pet parents. He gave us all quite a scare, but we are thankful to have him back to his sweet healthy self again!