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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24404
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Matt. I have an 11 yr old female german shepherd. She has

Customer Question

Hi Dr. Matt. I have an 11 yr old female german shepherd.
She has been on prednisolone 5 mg (2/day) for about 6 years now due to skin problems.
About a year ago she started to develop a mass on her left side just in front of her left hip. The vet said is was a tumor and wanted to do surgery to remove it. I decided not to get surgery as vet did not tell me if it was cancer or what kind of tumor it was. I asked why and she said it would cost just as much to tell me what is was than it would just to remove it.
So I decided to wait (to take her to another vet) until her diarrhea cleared up (was also being treated for that but medication wasn't working so I put her on probiotics which has finally cleared up her diarrhea).
Anyway, so it's a year later and the mass is about 4 inches in diameter. A few days ago it burst and was bleeding from 3 different spots.
I have been cleaning with anti bacterical soap. spraying lightly with Betagen (which I had for her skin problems) and bandaging twice a day.
Now two of the holes have closed but one has become larger and the tissue? fatty? is coming out of the hole. The blood has pretty much stopped. The color of the stuff coming out of the hole is kind of a brownish gray. It doesn't smell. It isn't watery. It's a thick consistency and I have to pull on it to get the part that came out of the hole to separate (come off/apart from the stuff inside.
I took her to the vet before all this happened (about 3 months) ago and she said "she is a bumpy girl" and gave me a large amount of pain killers. She said she wouldn't recommend surgery due to her age and overall health.
Right now she acts happy and is alert. Eats and drinks and sleeps well.
I don't think the tumor/sist? bothers her as many times she sleeps on that side (which cause more of the mass to come out of the hole which is about 1/2 inch in diameter now).
Am I doing the right thing in treating this myself with the products I have? Is there any chance the stuff inside will reduce enough so that the hole will close up and heal?
Thank you for your time and help!
I am trying hard to keep her pain free and dressing her wound to insure that it doesn't get infected. I just don't know what else I can/should be doing.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry to hear of this with Ginger. What I have to tell you will be disappointing but it's necessary that I do so...

The mass has fistulated. This occurs when an aggressive cancer has weakened the skin which then breaks down, when cystic fluid builds up to the extent that its pressure can't be contained within the mass any longer, and/or when infection is present and needs to drain. Once a mass has fistulated there is no conservative manner in which it can be addressed in a satisfactory manner. If the mass were sterile prior to the skin breaking, it's no longer so. Topical therapy won't suffice to treat bacteria that have found their way into the mass - which is inevitable. Systemic antibiotics are necessary but even those will have trouble penetrating into such tissue.

To answer you directly, the products you're using are safe and will help sterilize the skin but they can't address infection under the skin nor stop the growth of the mass. Holes may close but new ones open as the mass continues to grow and fistulate. You'll find that the husbandry necessary to keep this area clean will become unwieldy and unsanitary. This isn't an uncommon scenario. For many reasons, patients aren't candidates for surgery in the early stages of these masses and when the masses continue to grow owners are then forced to make a difficult decision - schedule a more difficult surgery than what would have been performed earlier or euthanize their pet.

I'm sorry to sound so discouraging. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the knowledgeable explanation of Gingers condition. She has had continual medical issues since she was just a puppy so I have prepared (as much as I can) for the fact that she might not have as many years as many other pets. She has been my best friend and companion for 11 great years. While it was hard to hear, I do appreciate your expertise and honesty.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

You're quite welcome. Thank you for your understanding. I can't set a follow-up in this venue and so would appreciate your returning to our conversation with an update - even after rating - at a time of your choosing.

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