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Jessica, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 568
Experience:  Licensed Veterinary Tech with 7 years experience in small animal practice
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My dog Moose has a syst like boil on his back paw, it ...

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My dog Moose has a syst like boil on his back paw, it is about an inch high and 2 inches wide and is hard to the touch and has a few small pink patches either from licking or something. He is a mix lab and st. bernard about 8 years old and otherwise a healthy woods walking dog with a mild manner and temperment. We only just noticed it a few days ago and Moose does lick it but not incessantly. Your thoughts on what we should do would be appreciated. Is this a tumor? Can it be removed safely? Does it need to be surgically removed? Should we do anything at home? An initial visit to the vet mentioned possible cancer! Is there a chance that surgery could remove it for good? What are Moose''s chances of survival? What costs will be involved in surgery and aftercare? Is there any assurance that surgery will take care of the issue? What are the risks? THANK YOU.
Christine, what you should do first is have a fine needle aspirate done, then do a biopsy of the mass if the FNA doesn't tell the vet what the lump is. The biopsy will tell you and your vet for positively sure just what the mass is. It might be cancer, sure, but it may be a benign tumor that can just be removed and that's that. If it's malignant, it still is a possibility that it could be removed successfully, but depending on what type of malignant cancer it is, some types do recur. BUT, I wouldn't even begin to worry about it until you find out what the biopsy says. Did your vet do a fine needle aspirate first and look at cells under a scope? You could ask him to do this first as he may find that this "mass" is nothing more than a benign fatty tumor (lipoma) or even a cyst. This test is quick and inexpensive; the vet simply pokes the mass with a needle and syringe, and draws out some cells to look at under a microscope. Sometimes the vet can tell right away what the cells are, and sometimes he must make slides to send off to a histopathologist. I would ask him to do this first, before he does a biopsy.

The pink spots where he is licking the area are probably "lick granulomas". They form because the dog licks the area repeatedly, causing trauma to the skin and making it become thick and scarred. I am attaching a link about lick granulomas FYI:

Because this could be anything at this point, I can't advise you as to whether surgery would be completely effective or not, or even necessary in some cases (like with a cyst). There isn't anything you can do at home, you should ask the vet to do the FNA and then a biopsy as needed, or surgery if indicated. Surgery could certainly be totally effective in most cases, but like I said, some tumors can recur, so it depends on what this thing turns out to be. Chance of survival depends on type of cancer, area the cancer is foudn and whether it has metastasized (spread) to the lymph nodes or lungs, but Christine, DON'T worry about all this yet! It could end up being nothing to worry about, and you'd be anxious for nothing, so try to keep calm until the biopsy or FNA results come back! :-) I have seen some nasty tumors end up being benign and easily removed.

Costs would depend on the time the vet needs to perform surgery, what types of anesthesia he uses, pain killers used if indicated, how long the dog must stay in the hospital, etc. In my experience, tumor removal surgeries can run from anywhere between $200 and $1000 for an especially difficult surgical procedure. Plus, it depends on how costly your vet is. You can certainly shop around if you needed to!

There are always risks with any surgery, even the "routine" ones like a spay or neuter. BUT, risks can be lessened by having a good physical exam and preanesthetic bloodwork done prior to the procedure. We use very safe drugs nowadays, and I can tell you that in the 8 years I practiced as a licensed technician, I have only lost two animals on the surgical table...BOTH of whom we already knew we would probably lose because they were so very sick. They were both cases where we could either do nothing and they would have died, or we could TRY and MAYBE there was the slightest chance we could help. I have never lost a healthy patient on the table, and I highly recommend bloodwork for this reason. But, it can happen...there are never any guarantees. Rest assured that the veterinary surgical team is VERY conscientious about anesthetic protocols and watching the animals closely while they are under. Techs are trained specifically in this arena. No one wants your pet to have any trouble on the table and they will do whatever they need to to make sure things go smoothly! :-)

I know you're worried, but do the FNA first, then a biopsy if needed, and definitely do the surgery if the vet recommends it be done. You can certainly get a second opinion, but knowing what you are dealing with will help everyone involved make appropriate treatment decisions.

I hope this helps! Best of luck and I hope Moose's lump ends up being nothing to worry about! Have a good night and let me know how things work out.

Jessica and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
The vet did not do the fine needle aspirate. We plan to go to another vet and will ask for FNA and follow up with the biopsy if needed. Your response was very informative and helpful as we struggle with the possibility of cancer in Moose.

I am very happy with your thoughtful and skilled response. THANK YOU KINDLY JESSICA!
Christine, you are most welcome! I hope the second vet can give you more answers. The only reason I can think that your first vet didn't do an FNA first is that he was pretty sure of what the mass is, but there is no harm in doing it! I hope this turns out to be nothing. Moose sounds like he has a very loving family! Have a good weekend!