Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: To Biopsy or Not Biopsy, Cholesterol, and more ...

Aural Hematomas – A Puffy Ear Flap Problem
Dr. Christopher G. Byers/Critical Care DVM

Aural hematoma. Photo Critical Care DVM

Ever had your dog's ear swollen up like a balloon? This is actually fairly common. It's called aural hematoma and it is a blood-filled pocket in the ear flap. It can happen from excessive head shaking, such as with an ear infection or other irritation in the ear. Small blood vessels within the ear burst and blood pools between the skin and cartilage. This can be quite bothersome and painful. It is best to have it treated by a veterinarian, whether surgically or by draining the fluid. Many veterinarians recommend surgical approach as when drained only hematomas seem to come back. By not treating it at all you'd allow your dog to be extremely uncomfortable and the ear to become deformed.

The Veterinary Surgeon's Dilemma: To Biopsy or Not Biopsy?
Dr. Phil Zeltzman/Veterinary Practice News

When it comes to tumors, the best thing is to catch, identify and deal with them early. JD's mast cell tumor was quite tiny and yet the amount of tissue that needed to come out was relatively quite large. Our goal, once we knew what it was, to get it out with clean margins. But given the location where there is very little tissue, what had to be take out already prohibited normal closure and skin had to be grafted in place to close. That was quite challenging in itself.

Often veterinarians and owners opt for just removing the mass regardless of what it is. While I don't believe it's the best approach, so it happened that just recently I agreed to doing just that on Cookie's lump. The reason for that was that it popped up very fast and looked very suspicious, while around here it would take about two weeks to get aspirate results. Given how active this lump seemed to be, neither myself or the veterinarian wanted to wait that long. We decided that it was coming out. However, we also decided to treat it as a cancerous tumor, meaning taking out enough surrounding tissue to get it all out in case it was indeed cancerous. Fortunately, it wasn't. But if it was, we would have been in a clear. I didn't like the idea of taking out any more tissue than had to come out but I didn't like the idea of waiting and letting the thing grow. So to me, that was the best decision I could have made under circumstances.

Everything that came out, though, was sent for histopathology. Would you want your vet to remove a tumor and throw it out so you can forever wonder what it was just to save a little money on the fee? I would not. Should your vet agree to that in the first place? I suppose they'd have no choice. But by throwing away the tumor you're throwing away potentially life-saving information.

The best approach is to properly identify the mass, then remove it (or leave it alone if it's not a problem) AND then yet again examine all removed tissue.

Find out what veterinary surgeon experts advise.

Heartworm prevention: "Oops, I missed a dose!"
Dr. Clarke Atkins/dvm360

Heartworm life cycle. Illustration VIN News Service

Have you ever missed a dose of your dog's heartworm preventive? I bet you did at least once. I bet I did at least once. In fact, the main argument when prevention fails it's not that the medication didn't work, or because there heartworms are becoming resistant, but because dose(s) were skipped. On the other hand, the is evidence of heartworm drug resistance is real. That is, however, a problem we, owners can do little about. So the main question remains, if we miss a dose, what should we do? The best thing we can do is to come clean to our vet as soon as we realize what happened. What should the vet then do? That depends on what product you were using, how prevalent heartworm is in the area, how long since the last dose/how many were missed ...

To see best expert recommendation to veterinarians read dvm360's article. And to see what you should do, talk to your vet. You might bring a printout of the article with you.

To spare your dog of the risk of infection and save yourself the trouble and worry, do your best not to miss doses.

Do Pet Owners need to be concerned about cholesterol in their dogs and cats?
Dr. Carol Osborne/Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center

I bet you're thinking what I was thinking when I read the title: "huh?" High cholesterol is strictly a human problem, isn't it?

While a big problem for us, high cholesterol in dogs is generally not an issue for dogs. In dogs, high cholesterol mostly isn't a cause of a disease, it's the effect. Diabetes, hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease or kidney issues can result in elevated cholesterol in dogs. Which also means that one wouldn't try to treat the cholesterol levels but the underlying problem.

However, often high cholesterol goes hand-in-hand with obesity too. We all know what we need to do then.

Read Dr. Osborne's great article on cholesterol in dogs and cats. And high cholesterol or not, keep your dogs slim. They will live longer and happier lives.