Meg recently came to see us with a lump on her side, just behind her armpit. It was very small, only about 1 cm wide and wasn’t bothering Meg at all. However it had grown slightly over a few months so her owners wanted to get it checked out.
Now dogs and cats can get lots of different types of lumps, with lots of different causes. Unfortunately just by examining a lump it isn’t always apparent what the cause is as many can look the same. There are however a few factors that can give us an idea about whether a lump is benign (doesn’t spread and usually only causes problems due to size and location) or malignant (can spread and cause secondary disease). Usually benign lumps are slow growing, don’t change quickly or cause problems. Contrary to this, malignant masses usually grow more quickly and can causes other problems and signs. However this is not always the case. We have seen several malignant lumps which are very small or have been there for a long time before suddenly causing a problem.
As we were not able to tell what Meg’s lump was we decided to take a sample from it. One if the easiest ways of doing this is to put a fine needle into the lump to remove some cells. These cells can then be smeared onto a slide to be examined at the laboratory. Usually we can take this sample very quickly and easily and it doesn’t require any sedation or an anaesthetic.
Meg’s results came back as a Mast Cell Tumour which is a type of malignant tumour that has the potential to spread and cause further problems. There can be several different types of mast cell tumour, some of which can act more aggressively than others. A higher ‘stage’ of tumour suggests a more aggressive one. From the needle sample we took we were unable to know what stage Meg’s tumour was. Therefore the next step was to remove it and send the whole lump off to the lab for further examination. This was important to find out if further treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or further surgery was needed.
Because this type of tumour can release histamine granules and particles into the surrounding skin we gave Meg some antihistamines prior to surgery. We also had to take wide margins of tissue when removing the lump. This was made a little tricky by it’s location just behind her armpit as there isn’t much tissue to spare in this region. In some cases when we struggle to fill the gap we use a skin flap from another area close by. Luckily this wasn’t needed for Meg and her skin closed together really well after we removed the lump.
The lab confirmed that Meg’s Mast cell tumour was an intermediate grade. This meant that surgery was likely to be curative, although it is important to monitor for any signs of recurrence. Surprisingly in the skin we removed Meg also had a second Mast Cell Tumour which was so small it was just a fleck of white on her skin. This Mast Cell Tumour was low grade and may have been unrelated to the first, or some local spread of the first mass.
After the surgery Meg was strictly rested so that her skin wound could heal as easily as possible. She also had some pain relief and antibiotics after her operation. Meg’s wound has been healing well and we have now removed her staples post operatively. Once her fur grows back it won’t be easy to even tell she has had surgery. It was important that Meg’s owners were so observant and noticed Meg’s lump had changed as we were able to remove it early. If you notice any lumps or bumps on your dog or cat, particularly if the appearance has recently changed it is worth getting it checked out by one of the vets. Meg can now continuing enjoying life, especially now she can get out and about again!
Often our dogs love our food as much as we do. The problem is that some of our foods can be poisonous to our animals, and even small amounts can sometimes be a toxic level, causing serious problems and in some cases death.
Some common foods that can be poisonous for our pets include onions, raisins and grapes, chewing gum and chocolate (of all kinds, not just dark chocolate!). Many are included commonly in the food we eat and are often around the home. Some medicines such as ibuprofen are also poisonous, so we would advise only giving medication recommended by a vet.
If you have any concerns that your pet may have eaten something it shouldn’t it is always best to call us and speak to one of our vets. If it is toxic quick action can often make the biggest difference and provide the best outcome. If you unsure if something they have eaten is a problem, it is always best to ask.
If you need us just give us a call 24/7 on 01606 880890.
Earlier in the year we told you about Lottie and Sooty, two of the runners up for the Royal Canin Weigh-in club 2013. This month Lottie is Royal Canin’s Weigh-in club calender girl! Take a look at her page below.
If you would like any further information about how to help your pet maintain a healthy weight just give us a call on 01606 880890 and have a chat with one of our team. Preventing excessive weight gain is important to help reduce stress on joints and organs, such as the heart, as well as to reduce the chance of developing other medical problems. It can also make a big difference to energy levels and quality of life.
Lottie before and after weight loss. Congratulations once again to Lottie and her owner for all their hard work!
Elsie came in to see us a few weeks ago when she came home with a very large wound on her back leg. She also had a few smaller wounds and had lost a nail on her front leg. Although we don’t know exactly what happened to Elsie she could have caught her legs on something such as barbed wire.
It was important to clean up Elsie’s wounds and suture them together to help them to heal. For this we had to give her an anaesthetic and some pain relief. Whilst Elsie was asleep we clipped up all of the hair getting into the wounds and flushed them all with sterile water. Wounds can often become contaminated with dirt, stones and hair, so to try and reduce problems with infection we have to clean these away as much as we can.
The next step was to repair the wounds. Some of the smaller wounds just needed a few sutures through the skin to bring the edges together. As the lower legs don’t have much tissue under the skin this was the only layer we had to close. The largest wound was about 5cm long. When bringing skin together we have to make sure that there is not too much tension that would cut off the blood supply. Sometimes we don’t have enough skin left to cover the wound so we have to let the body close the gap itself. This can take much longer than when we can stitch the edges of this skin back together. Elsie was very lucky that her wound came together very easily.
She went home with some pain relief and antibiotics. When we saw her back after five days her wound was healing well. However, her foot was slightly swollen. This can be in response to inflammation but can indicate that some infection is still present. Therefore we added some additional antibiotics in.
A few days later Elsie’s wounds were looking much better with just a few healing scabs left. Soon after she was be able to have her stitches out and started going out to play again-hopefully keeping herself out of trouble this time!
So what can our VNs do for you and your pet?
Registered Veterinary Nurses carry out rigorous training, varying from 2 – 4 years depending on their qualification. This includes placements within veterinary practices and numerous examinations. They also partake in Continued Professional Developement (CPD) to keep up to date with new developments and techniques within the profession. This means they can give your pet the highest standard of care.
VN’s can help you with lots of things. They can give you advice regarding flea and worming treatment, nutrition, dental health and behavioural concerns. Our VN’s also carry out weight clinics and can give advice about obesity management.
At Hollybank you can see our nurses for puppy and kitten clubs, post operative checks and monitoring as well as procedures such as nail trims.
Our VN’s also carry out many tasks behind the scenes, including monitoring anaesthetics, caring for, monitoring and administering medication to inpatients, taking blood samples, assisting the veterinary surgeon during operations and taking radiographs, to name but a few. They are an important part of providing care for your pet when they are in the hospital with us.
In April we have raised a further £230 with our vaccine donations for the Joshua Tree.
This brings our total for the first two months to £515!
To find out more about the Joshua Tree go to their website wwwthejoshuatree.org.uk
At Hollybank we believe it is important for our clients to know what happens when their pet comes to stay with us, whether just for the day or for a bit longer if needed. We have always welcomed new and current clients ‘behind the consulting room door’ at our open days and evenings.
As a practice we are committed to providing the highest standards of care for you and your pet. Have a look at our ‘Facilites’ page found under our ‘Hospital status’ tab to find out more!
If you are a new or existing client and wish to have a look around the practice please do not hesitate to contact us on 01606 880890 and we can arrange an appropriate time.
Microchipping of dogs will become compulsory in England in 2016. Microchipping allows dogs to be reunited with their owners if they are every lost or stolen and is a permanent means of identification.
Hollybank is now offering FREE microchipping for dogs with one of our nurses. We will also register your dog’s details for you.
Give us a call on 01606 880890 to get your dog booked in.
To celebrate our 5th birthday Hollybank is giving £1 of every vaccination we carry out this year to The Joshua Tree charity.
In our first month we have already raised £285!
We will keep you updated this year as we continue to support this local charity. To find out more about about The Joshua Tree go to www.thejoshuatree.org.uk
Many of our pets suffer from noise phobia. In particular, firework phobias can mean a stressful time for our dogs and cats, not only in November, but over the New Year celebrations as well. Signs of phobia can range from hiding away to destructive behaviours.
Whilst there are things we can do to help manage these times for our pets, in the long run we want to try and directly address the phobia itself. One of the most effective ways of helping our pets with this is sound desensitisation. This involves a very slow build-up of sound, starting at a level which the animal can barely hear and can still associate with a positive experience. The easiest way to do this is with sound phobia CD’s which can cover a range of sounds and sound phobias, and have an easy progression to follow, which you can tailor to your pets progress.
It is important that we carry out desensitisation at a time when there will be no interruptions from actual fireworks, as desensitisation is a gradual process which relies on positive experiences during all progressive stages. Firework phobia is fear based and so any desensitisation relies on an environment where fearful episodes do not take place.
This means that this time of year is ideal to start desensitisation, with plenty of time before the firework season starts. If you would like more information, or would like to chat to one of our vets about how to get started please call us on 01606 880890.