Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Enlarged Lymph Nodes, Dewclaws, and more ...

Lymph Node Enlargement in Dogs & Cats – A Swelling Not to Be Ignored!

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Lymph nodes you can feel. Image Willows

To understand the significance of enlarged lymph nodes, it's important to know what they are. Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system, a system that plays a major role in the immune system. A large part of its job is "taking out the garbage," in other words, transporting toxins and waste products from cells. The lymph nodes are "check-point stations" that can take care of minor infections or alert the immune system to a problem.

The reasons why the lymph nodes can become enlarged have to do with their function, and the causes range from infections, immune-mediated diseases, to cancer. The treatment, then, depends on the cause. There are often times when aspirating some of the content of the enlarged node and checking it out under a microscope is a great idea.

Not every time your dog has enlarged lymph node(s), it means it's cancer. But lymphoma is always a high suspect. Jasmine, though, had enlarged local lymph nodes a few times and every time it had to do with an infection and not cancer.

However, never ever ignore enlarged lymph nodes if you find any. Any cause behind it needs to be addressed, and in case it was a lymphoma, the speed of treatment has a significant bearing on prognosis.

Dog Dewclaws: What Are They Good for? You Might Be Surprised!

Dr. Marty Becker

Photo IHeartDogs. Check out IHeartDogs great article on the subject.

Dewclaws are weird things. It's like dogs were meant to have a thumb, but then nature changed its mind about it. Most of our dogs already had them removed before we got them. The argument behind it is that they are extremely prone to being injured. It is true that Jasmine's best buddy injured his enough times.

The main question is whether or not dew claws serve any function or not. And there are arguments that they do. If that's the case, automatic removal should be at least reconsidered.

Read Dr. Becker's thoughts.

Top 10 Mistakes New Pet Parents Make

Dr. Krista Magnifico/Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian

We are all perfect and never make any mistakes, right? Oh, wait, that's probably on some different planet or in a different dimension. I certainly made mistakes, and I'm sure that one day, you might too.

What are the ten most common mistakes new pet parents make according to Dr. Magnifico?
  1. Not being prepared for their life to change
  2. Not understanding this is a living being who will need them, their wallet, and will have stumbles along the way
  3. Not making a designated pet place and allocating enough time
  4. Not knowing how to love on their terms
  5. Not being educated on the pet's breed, needs, and behaviors
  6. Not seeing life from their vantage point or standing on their paws
  7. Not sharing the joy of being a parent
  8. Not socializing early enough and thoroughly enough
  9. Not raising an independent, responsible member of society
  10. Not knowing who to get advice from and not getting help early enough

What do you think? Have you made any of these mistakes? Have you made different ones? Or have you not make any?

Read Dr. Krista's explanation behind her top ten list.

How to Identify and Treat Ant Bites in Dogs

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Where I come from, we only had two kinds of ants, and while their bites stung, they weren't dangerous and didn't hurt for very long. And they'd leave you alone unless you stuck your face into an anthill, which, coincidentally, I happened to manage once.

Dogs, of course, are much more likely to stick their noses where they could get hurt; there was a number of times Cookie thought that digging in an ant hill would have been a great idea.

On top of that, not all ants were created equal, and some are much more dangerous than others, depending on where you live. Around here, ants are not high on my list of bug concerns. If I lived somewhere south, I'd look at things differently. Fire ants, for example, are a whole different story.

How do you recognize and treat ant bites? Find out in Dr. Mahaney's article.