Tuesday, May 3, 2016

See Something, Do Something: Cookie's Lumpectomy

Just when I thought I was busy enough worrying about Cookie's joints and muscles, life threw in a twist [as usually]. And at the least ideal moment too.

It was Thursday evening. We came home from Cookie's last critter check of the day and I was petting and rubbing her when I felt a bump on her belly.

I did not like the look of this bump at all. And neither did the vet.

Ugh, where did the bump come from?

Could it be some kind of a bug bite? It felt quite large and not like a bug bite. But Cookie gets so many belly rubs by the two of us, as well as by her physical therapist and vet techs and everybody, somebody would have to have felt it if it was there before, wouldn't they?

To get a better look and feel I grabbed a flashlight and glasses and crawled under the hood. That's what we call it when I want to check something on her belly without having to make her to roll on her back in order to do it.

Like a mechanic, I get under and have a good view of what lies underneath.

This did not look like a bug bite I've ever seen before.

It was kind of fleshy, warty, blister type of thing. I did not like it. But here was the problem. The next day Cookie had an appointment for her physio at the other end of the world than her vet is. Making both appointments would be very difficult if not impossible. And the day after we were leaving for hubby's work.

"You gotta make a decision," hubby said.

Hmm ... what decision was the right one? A lump isn't really an emergency even though I was convinced that it popped up out of the blue. I did not want to pass on Cookie's physio. I did not want just ignore the bump either.

Maybe it IS some kind of a really weird bug bite and will be gone or at least smaller by morning ... ?

Well, it wasn't gone or smaller by morning.

And I still had to make a decision. Right or wrong, I decided to keep the physio appointment and have Cookie's physical therapist who is also a vet tech take a peek. Perhaps she will deem it a bug bite. And if not, we had appointments to continue Cookie's therapy lined up at the place we were going.

I decided to do the physio and try to combine one of Cookie's appointments with a needle aspirate once we get to where we were going.

Cookie's therapist checked it out and said that maybe it's a histiocytoma.

The bump wasn't bothering Cookie. In fact, I don't think she new or cared it was there.

I was hoping it was a histiocytoma too, though it was in a strange location for it.

And didn't QUITE look like one. But it kind of did.

Some further technical complications arose but a week after we found it Cookie's bump got seen. We had made the appointment for examination and fine needle aspirate.

But when the vet saw it she said she didn't like it and that she didn't want to keep it there until we might find out what it is.

Getting results of an aspirate takes about two weeks around here.

That IS rather long to find out what a bump that grew overnight is. She wanted to take it out and then wait for pathology results when it's already gone off Cookie.

The reason one should identify a bump before cutting is achieving clean margins. Without knowing what it is, you can either take enough tissue to make sure the margins are clean - but you might take way more tissue than is actually needed if the bump is harmless or, perhaps you wouldn't need to do a surgery at all ... or, you don't take out enough and your dog might end up having to have another surgery.

Because the lump was on the belly where there is plenty of skin, it was decided to take it out with margins generous for a cancerous bump to play it safe.

Perhaps Cookie was going to lose more tissue than she had to but it seemed the most reasonable decision under the circumstances.

Yesterday Cookie had her lumpectomy.

Because her last blood work was recent enough and everything looked good, she didn't need new blood work. Otherwise, pre-anesthesia blood work is a wise thing to do.

To make sure Cookie undergoes as little stress as possible, I packed our "communal" blanket for her and we arranged hubby being there with her when she starts waking up.

She wasn't at all concerned about being whisked away into the back; in fact the technician didn't have to drag her, she dragged the technician. So many things to check out, so little time.

The surgery went well and Cookie recovered from anesthesia really well.

She did need couple of hours to come to completely but after that she was all bouncy and hungry and ready to go. I was very relieved because I still had concerns since the sedation for her x-rays gone bad.

It was decided to use anesthesia instead of sedation because there is much better control which makes it that much safer. With IV and endotracheal tube in place any complications could be handled easily.

Cookie came home bouncing and hungry. After I fed her she decided she was still tired after all.

All went well and without a hick-up. Now it's the waiting for the pathology results.

Fortunately it should be in on Thursday. Here is hoping that the lump isn't half as naughty as it looked.

Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: What Is that Bump? 
JD's Biopsy Results Revealed Mast Cell Tumor: You Don't Know What the Bump Is Unless You Look at the Cells 
JD's Mast Cell Tumor Diagnostics, Strategy and Treatment
JD's Mast Cell Tumor: Surgery and Pathology Report
Don't Wait, Aspirate: JD Grows New Bumps

From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic 
Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips 
It Never Rains ... Cookie's New Injury 
Mixed Emotions: When What You Should Do Might Not Be What You Should Do for Your Dog 
Cookie's New Injury Update 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: The Symptoms 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies 
Cookie's Muscle Injuries: What Else Is Going On?
Theory and Actual Decisions for an Actual Dog Aren't the Same Thing: Cookie's Knee Injury
Does Your Vet Listen to You? Cookie's Post-Sedation Complications
Would I Ever Treat a Symptom Directly? 
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Cookie's Bad Knee(s)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for Cookie's Bad Cruciate Update 
Injury or Surgery Recovery: Mishaps versus Setbacks 


Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from yo

Monday, May 2, 2016

Adoption Monday: Zeus, Black Labrador Retriever Mix, Toronto, ON

Zeus came from a kill shelter. His current foster mom  is truly ill and is looking at weeks of recovery and this is the only reason he needs to be moved from there.

Zeus is a happy, high energy dog. 


He's well suited to someone active who can give him lots of walks and stimulation. He LOVES to fetch and is darn good at it. It's not enough to fully drain him, he does need a walk, but he will fetch for a good long time. He does pull on leash so training with a gentle leader will help or an easy walk harness.

Zeus is a very bright boy who trains and bonds quickly. 

All he wants is to please his people. He knows several commands including sit, down, stay and off. He needs an owner who knows their way around dogs and training. This also comes back to his exercise needs. Zeus is not suited to apartment living.

Zeus is extremely good with people - sometimes he will mouth if allowed but he is gentle to extreme. He is terrific with other dogs off leash and has made great improvements when meeting them on leash as well.

Zeus is a love bug. 

After his walk, a game of fetch or some tug, he's ready to curl up and snuggle. He does enjoy the companionship of the resident senior female in the home and will snuggle up to her when it comes nap time.

If you think Zeus could be the boy for you, please visit www.furkidsrescue.ca and complete the adoption application

***

ANML-RESQ is a dedicated group of volunteers looking out for the 4-legged creatures we share this world with. Their goal is to save a dog or cat from being euthanized in a shelter, through no fault of their own - just in the wrong place at the wrong time. If they don't have a foster home available they will work with other reputable organizations to find a place.

ANML-RESQ relies solely on donations and fundraisers to spay/neuter, vaccinate and microchip their pets prior to adoption.  They don't even use funds for gas to transport the pets in their program to their new homes!




Saturday, April 30, 2016

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Sneezing Dogs, Bug Bites, and more ...

Sneezing Dogs
Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

Sneezing dog always concerns me. I don't mean situation such as Cookie sneezing after she inhaled half of a groundhog hole. She sticks her head right into the dirt and you can hear her snorting - I have no idea how she can actually inhale anything other than dirt down there ... After she pulls her head out of there she might sneeze a few times. A few sneezes every now and then won't concern me.

If my dog's sneezing got more consistent and lasting, though, I would be on my way to a vet. Why?

Dogs normally don't sneeze from allergies. In dogs allergies manifest in the skin rather than the nose. There are, however, some scary things that can cause persistent sneezing. Foreign bodies (such as foxtails), nasal tumors or fungal infections.

When your dog sneezes a lot, don't think allergies, think a vet visit.


7 Common Bug Bites on Dogs and Cats
Dr. Patrick Mahaney, petMD

Spring hasn't really started out there yet, but some bugs are already out. Last year the bug season was unreal. Black flies, mosquitoes, deer flies - there were days the air was thick as a soup. Our guys never had real issues with bug bites other than the whole situation being irritating both physically and psychologically. JD in particular really gets nuts over them. I think the bugs know it and therefore find JD more fun to bug.

At the end of last summer Cookie got a hornet sting but it remained under control and all was fine the next day. When a bump suddenly sprung out on Cookie's belly, at first I was really hoping it was a bug bite of some kind. Particularly since it really just "popped up over night" kind of thing.

When I examined it closer I didn't really think so any more by was keeping my hopes up until the next day. No such luck, though. (More on Cookie's bump later this week)

Ant bites. Photo petMD

Would you recognize which bug(s) feasted on your dog just by appearance? Check out petMD's great slideshow showing how each of the different bug bites might look like.


What Are the Signs Your Pet Has Suffered Toxic Exposure?
Dr. Patrick Mahaney/The Honest Kitchen

Knowing when your dog might have ingested something poisonous is one of the most important things you can do for them. I believe that when you're dog looks or acts really ill, see a vet right away. Knowing what happened isn't half as important than knowing when to drop everything and be on your vet to a vet hospital.

As far as toxic exposure goes, symptoms include many different things from drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, to sneezing, pacing, crying, panting or strange behavior. It can get as serious as a collapse, coma and death.

Lethargy is an important sign to never ignore.

Bottom line is that if your dog looks very sick, they most likely are and time can be of the essence. So don't wait and see a vet.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Injury or Surgery Recovery: Mishaps versus Setbacks

I am one of the most paranoid dog mom's out there. With Jasmine before her, and now with Cookie's health challenges, I watch her every move and every other thing makes my hair stand on end. As far as I see, there are dangers to smooth recovery lurking everywhere. Slippery floors. Wet grass or mud. Squirrels and bunnies. Holes. Loose rocks. Tempting furniture. Doorbells ...


Since I see all these things, I try really hard to minimize the risks.

We are using ramps. We cover floors with rugs. We use ToeGrips. We keep Cookie on leash at all times when outside. We try to avoid challenging terrain. We keep furniture low or easily accessible. We make sure everybody calls before showing up ...

The bottom line is that one cannot control every move their dog makes however hard they try.

Knowing that and accepting that isn't the same thing.

I have friends freaking out because their dog, recovering from a knee surgery, jumped on the couch and many such things all the time. Yes, they shouldn't be jumping on and off the furniture. Particularly not off it, as jumping off is actually more dangerous than jumping on. Yes, one should do everything in their power to prevent that.

But it can still happen.

Dogs are dogs and they will jump on the couch when nobody's looking, they will lunge after a squirrel ... Yes, you can try blocking the couch off so the dog cannot get on it. Depending on the dog, though, that may or may not be a good idea. I've had a dog barge through or over barriers when they really wanted to get some place. So the question is whether blocking things off makes the situation safer or even more dangerous.

I think the best thing is to allow them access to the places they want to be at but make it as safe as possible. You can put a ramp to the couch or bed and teach your dog to use it. You can make a "step" to it, such as we did with Jasmine. We've put a mattress in front of it so it was easy to step on and off.

As it seems, though, no matter how hard you try and how many precautions you take, something will happen that should not. Given my experience I can almost guarantee it.

The good news is that not every mishap equals a setback.

Yes, one unfortunate jump off a couch can bust a TPLO plate. Fortunately, this will not happen EVERY time.

That doesn't mean you should be cavalier and let your dog do whatever they please. But it means that should something like that happen, your dog can still be perfectly fine.

On the other hand, sometimes your dog might not have done much at all and not be fine.

After Jasmine got surgery on her left knee, we were watching out not only for the knee that was operating on but also for the other one which wasn't great either and we were trying to keep it healthy enough to get he through the recovery so it too could be operated on later.

We took all the above precautions and then some.

And then, a Jack Russel came at Jasmine from behind a corner, barking and lunging in her face. She gave only a small lunge and bark to tell the little dog his behavior was not acceptable. And her knee was done. That's all it took.

While rehabbing from her iliopsoas injury and right after she was diagnosed with a partial tear, Cookie had a major mishap. We are using a ramp for getting in and out of the truck. She normally waits nicely until the ramp is in place and uses it gladly. This time, though, too much was happening and she was trying to jump out before the ramp was in. She was verbally corrected so she tried to not jump but her body was already on the way. So she kind off fell out instead. My heart was in my throat. It looked terrible. And yet, nothing bad came of it. She was fine. Everything was fine.

Two days later she suddenly was limping on the left leg without anything weird or crazy happening that day at all. What happened? We'll never know. Fortunately as it seems it was just back muscle spasms and it resolved quickly.

At the beginning of the year, all I did was take Cookie potty. She decided she really had to have some zoomies. And even though on the leash, and in spite of my trying to calm her down, she did a few crazy jumps around me. That night she was limping heavily and the lameness remained for a long time.

When Jasmine's neck went bad, she hasn't done anything that day or the day before. And yet woke up in the middle of the day with her neck out of wack.

You never know what might happen and what might come of it.

There is only so much you can do. Sometimes the worst looking mishap doesn't result in any damage. Sometimes it does. And sometimes nothing happens and things go wrong anyway.

All you can do is try your hardest and hope for the best.

But know that not all the bad things always happen. Though our girls might beg to differ.

Related articles:
Surviving The Post-Op: After Your Dog's ACL Surgery 
Cruciate Ligament (ACL/CCL) Surgery Post-Op Care: Example Plan 
Best Practices After Your Dog’s Surgery

From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot? 
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking To Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy and Chiropractic 
Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips 
It Never Rains ... Cookie's New Injury 
Mixed Emotions: When What You Should Do Might Not Be What You Should Do for Your Dog 
Cookie's New Injury Update 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: The Symptoms 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies 
Cookie's Muscle Injuries: What Else Is Going On?
Theory and Actual Decisions for an Actual Dog Aren't the Same Thing: Cookie's Knee Injury
Does Your Vet Listen to You? Cookie's Post-Sedation Complications
Would I Ever Treat a Symptom Directly? 
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Cookie's Bad Knee(s)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for Cookie's Bad Cruciate Update

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How Losing His Spleen Saved Buddy's Life

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM

Buddy is like most of the Jack Russell Terriers that we see in rural Maryland. He is fierce, brave, obstinate, and incorrigible. He is also unapologetic about all of this. He is a big personality in a small football sized package. He is the quintessential JRT. There are a few breeds that follow the breed specific personality test to the  letter; JRT's are that breed. They go full tilt full time and they want, need, or desire few things. It is a short list of "likes" and a long list of unmatched indifference. To love one you have to own one, to understand one you have to live with one.

Rather suddenly his parents noted that his belly was getting mysteriously bigger quite quickly.

Buddy is a fit muscular pup.
Can you appreciate the "roundness" to his belly?
Photo Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian

Should this happen to your dog you should go your vet as quickly as possible, OR, you could visit me at Pawbly.com and ask me what might be going on?

I am first going to tell you to head directly and immediately to the vet.

Any vet, anywhere as this can certainly be a life threatening emergency.

There are a few things you need to be worried about:
  1. Something is leaking. Maybe blood? Maybe fluid. All are bad.

  2. Something is expanding. Maybe the stomach (gastric) is inflating like a balloon? This is called dilatation. If that balloon twists it is called volvulus. If this happens these organs can become strangulated, this is like placing a string that is too tight around your finger. If not treated and relieved quickly this tissue dies. We all need a stomach. GDV can kill your dog in minutes to hours.

  3. Something inside is growing. After adulthood is reached your organs aren't supposed to keep growing. In almost all cases that growing thing inside is not supposed to happen. Cancer is the most common cause of abnormal growth.

  4. The abdominal wall can be stretching due to muscle loss, but this is usually a slow gradual process. Think diabetes, Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism.

Now, sometimes pets simply getting fat. But fat is not a round basketball just got inflated in the belly!

Buddy is not fat. Buddy is in crisis.

Where do you go after the examination ($50 at Jarrettsville Vet) confirms your burgeoning belly suspicion?

A radiograph is the best way to decide which of the above Buddy has going on. ($100-$150 at JVC).

And there it is.. well, maybe not a basketball,, but it is a big round mass in Buddy's belly.
Photo Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian


After the radiograph was taken it was time to make some decisions. 

Up until now every vitally needed diagnostic has been done. You need to do these two things if this happens to your dog. I also should mention that the radiographs allowed us to assess the chest for evidence of metastasis. This piece of information is vital to the dogs prognosis moving forward. If there are mets in the chest the surgery will likely not change the prognosis or lifespan.

The next decisions and steps are the ones filled with question, doubt, and intense scrutiny for clients.

Here's my advice on where to go from here:

  1. Listen to your dog. Buddy was still rambunctious and barking at every passing dog. Buddy was still behaving like Buddy. In other words, Buddy thought he was perfectly fine. Huge prognostic indicator for a likely successful surgery. Do surgery on these dogs. Don't sit there thinking about worst case scenario.

  2.  Be prepared for a financial hit. These happen to every dog that lives long enough. Every pet owner should have pet insurance for these situations, OR, a pet savings account. I recommend $1,000 for each pet. If you do not have this have a way to get access to this; a friend, a vet who trusts you, etc.

  3.  Start strategically planning the next few scenarios. Here is how I approach these cases with my clients; I want to get as much information as possible pre-operatively. This includes blood work ($170). I also want to do an ultrasound ($200) to "see" what the rest of the internal organs look like. If there are other lesions throughout the abdomen the prognosis is more guarded.

Here's what my reality for these cases is:

I am NOT GOING TO SPEND SO MUCH OF MY CLIENTS MONEY THAT THEY CANNOT AFFORD SURGERY.

I sit down with my clients and discuss what everything costs and what I want to do with the money they are spending on the information I am gathering.

Nothing in the world drives me to the brink of insanity than talking to a client who has exhausted all of their resources on diagnostics and now cannot afford to treat their pet. There is no sense spending money to get a diagnosis if the treatment then becomes unattainable. I consider it unethical and reprehensible.

We suspected that Buddy's spleen was the culprit and that spleen needed to be removed ASAP!

If you do not do surgery these dogs will very likely die of internal blood loss.

The estimate for a splenectomy at JVC is $1000*. Buddy's parents did not have $1,000. We did what we always do in these cases. We discuss with our clients how we can get them the help their dog needs. This is the difference between JVC and too many other clinics. We will help your pet get back out the door. We have multiple options to help insure this. For Buddy's family a deposit and a payment plan through our good friends at Vet Billing Solutions were his answers.

Buddy's spleen was the only thing you could see in his belly when we opened him up. 

It never ceases to amaze me how large a tumor can get and how incredibly resilient these patients are.

When it comes to splenic tumors a few things are key:
  1. Get it out as soon as it is discovered. The spleen is essentially a blood sac. It loves to bleed, even when it is happy and healthy, if it has even the tiniest bit of trauma. BUT, when it is an abnormal mass of tissue it really, really, likes to bleed. A bleeding tumor, especially in the spleen, is ticking time bomb.

  2. Get as much information as possible. Radiographs, blood work (full chemistry, CBC, PT/PTT), and ultrasound are super helpful.

  3. Buddy was happy and acting oblivious to his tumor. This is the best prognostic indicator I ever hope to have.


Have an excellent surgeon and support staff. I don't say this often. In my heart I love being a small town quiet rural practice, BUT, I also have a stacked exceedingly capable veterinarians and staff. At JVC we can do almost every emergency surgery on almost everyday. When it comes to picking a vet to call your own, remember to ask about the dark days that may lie ahead. I know of many small practices that either do not, or will not, do emergency surgeries. There are too many times where the cost to go to a specialist prohibits care.*

When I am about to do an exploratory surgery on a patient I ask my clients to be standing by a phone. 

Here's why - I am never really sure what I am going to find until I look inside that patients abdomen? In some cases I have found widespread disease that was not evident in the pre-op work-up (most of the time we had to skip these due to finances), and in others the mass is not resectable (cannot be safely removed). If the patient cannot be saved by the splenectomy I want to discuss whether it is fair to wake them up?


The most common presentation of dogs in need of a splenectomy are weak, lethargic, pale, internally bleeding, and teetering on the brink of death. 

These cases require quick confirmation of the diagnosis and surgery.

Buddy is a 20 pound dog who had a 3.25 pound splenic mass. That's enormous on anyone's scale. Buddy did very well through surgery and woke up calmly, quietly and effortlessly.

Buddy returned the next day his normal bull headed dominant self. He also had a beautifully quiet incision.


Closing notes:

  • There are some surgeons who perform routine gastropexy after splenectomy to prevent post-op GDV. It is something you should discuss with your vet pre-operatively.

  • Post-operatively these patients should be monitored very closely. Ideally, at a 24 hour facility. ECG, blood pressure, PCV/TP. Transfusions may be needed in cases where blood loss was severe.

It is my belief that any and all abdominal masses warrant an internal look before euthanizing. 

We are reminded daily that life is full of miracles and second chances. I know it is hard to hear, scary to admit, and expensive to treat but 50% of these pets are curable! Take a leap, look inside, and get the spleen out fast... sometimes fate will deal you a good hand and often life will remind you it is worth fighting for.


Buddy's cost of care at JVC was as follows;

Presentation;

    Exam $50 and radiograph $100.


Surgery Day;

    pre-op chemistry w/ CBC $50
    injectable NSAID $20
    injectable antibiotic $30
    iv catheter and fluids $80
    splenectomy $350
    surgical supplies $75
    anesthesia $200
    post-op analgesia and antibiotics $40

Total cost $1050.

Many thanks to Vet Billing Solutions for helping us provide a way to make Buddy's surgery affordable to his family.

*Estimates for this surgery at an emergency clinic can range from $1500-$3500.

Related Blogs:

Making Vet Care More Accessible. How JVC provides care to every pet in need. How comfortable are you in thinking AND acting outside of the box?

Burnt Out From being Burned. Meet Vet Billing Solutions.

Economic Euthanasia

If you have a pet question, or want to share your pet knowledge, please join the free online pet information exchange network that is dedicated to helping pet parents learn about how to best care for their pets. Pawbly.com is free to use and open to anyone who loves pets.

I can also be found at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, in Jarrettsville Maryland. We post our prices and fees every year and we have a wonderful Facebook page. I am also on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma
The Ear Ache That Wasn't Going Away: Tottsie's Story
Cody's Eyelid Tumor
Ruger's Mysterious Illness
The Day The Heart Stood Still: Timber's Story 
Different Definition Of Comfort Food: Levi's Story 
Savannah's Pancreatitis  
Histiocytoma: Rio's Mysterious Bump
Von Willebrand's Disease: Greta's Story 
Alice's Heart Murmur  
Jekyll Loses His Tail Mo-Jo 
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 
To Amputate Or Not To Amputate: Heidi's Story
Lessons From A Real-Life Veterinarian 
Charlie's Life Saving Lipoma Surgery  
Understanding and Diagnosing The Limping Dog, Why To Probe The Paw 
Angus' Dog Fight And The Consequences
When To Induce Vomiting And When It's Not A Good Idea  
Abby's Survived Being Run Over By Car But Sucumbed To A Mammary Tumor 
Palmer's Hemoabdomen: Nearly An Unnecessary Death Sentence
A Puppy That Doesn't Want To Eat Or Play Is An Emergency: Aurora's Story
Does Your Dog Like Chewing Sticks? Hank's Story  
Lexi's Bump 
Pyometra: Happy Ending for Pheonix 
Never Give Up: Bella's New Legs


Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from yo
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