This month's patient of the month has been submitted by our very own Amy MacDonald, Clinical Operations Manager for Vetwest.
Amy's observations, experience and quick actions saved Ruby's life. This story serves as a timely reminder for us to be vigilant when we notice any changes in our pet's health.
Amy tells us:
"Ruby is a 9 year old Rottweiler cross that I have owned since she was 8 months old. She is the first dog I have ever owned so has a very special place in my heart which is why I was so worried when she recently had to have surgery.
It was a Sunday morning a few months back when I was outside with her enjoying the sunshine and I noticed a small patch of hair standing up on her back leg. I thought she must have just rolled in something but upon further examination I realised it was a lump. It was about the size of a 10 cent piece and was not painful to touch. My immediate thought was that it was an insect bite as it had come up so suddenly, I was sure it wasn't there the day before. If it was just a reaction from a bite or sting then it should go away within a few days so I decided to wait and see if this would happen.
By Wednesday it was still the same size and despite it not seeming to bother her it was bothering me so I took her to see one of our vets to have it examined. There are a few different ways to determine what a lump may be but the quickest and least invasive is to do a fine needle aspirate. This is where a sample of cells is extracted via a needle and then examined under the microscope. It is not 100% definitive, however it is a good start to knowing what the best course of treatment should be. Expecting the worst but hoping for the best, the vet came back to me to deliver the news. Unfortunately it was not as I had hoped. It was a Mast Cell tumour.
Mast Cell tumours are a type of cancer that can take on many different appearances. Whilst some are harmless (benign) and cause no problems, others can be very dangerous. It is difficult to tell if and when they change from a benign cancer to a malignant cancer, so all mast cell tumours should be removed.
(For more information, read about lumps and bumps here http://www.vetwest.com.au/pet-library/lumps-and-bumps-on-your-pets-skin )
Whilst I was hoping it would be benign I didn't want to take any chances so the best course of action was to have it removed asap. The following day I took her to Vetwest South Perth and had Dr Cirsten Werndly perform the surgery. A pre-anaesthetic blood test was performed to make sure Ruby had no other health issues and she was placed on intravenous fluids to support her internal organs and maintain blood good blood pressure throughout her anaesthetic. Because of the nature of the tumour, a large amount of tissue surrounding it had to be removed. It is important with potential malignant tumours that no nasty cells are left behind otherwise it may reoccur. Ruby was given strong pain relief medication to make sure she was kept as comfortable as possible. Her surgery and recovery went very well but it was still very difficult to see her having to go through it and she was not out of the woods yet. The tumour had to be sent to a pathologist to determine whether it was benign or malignant so now I had to nervously wait to find out if she needed further treatment.
Ruby's results came back 10 days later. Unfortunately it wasn't benign, however it was classed as a low grade Mast Cell tumour and it had been removed completely, so there was no need for further treatment. A few months on from her surgery Ruby is back to her old self, and despite a small defect in the muscle you would not know she had anything wrong."