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Dr. Dave
Dr. Dave, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 4125
Experience:  21 years small animal general and emergency practice
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I have an 11 year old male Rat Terrier. About 6 months ago

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I have an 11 year old male Rat Terrier. About 6 months ago he developed some soft lumps on both sides of his flanks that do not cause him pain. I was told by a friend that those are common with older dogs and not to be concerned. Is that true?
Also in the past few weeks he has just laid down in the middle of our walk up the hill and is still. This has happened 4 or 5 times. When this happens he typically is breathing through his nose and when he breathes by mouth or pants he hacks and sometimes tries to vomit- but doesnt. When he is back in the house he is soon fine and breathes normally. Do you think he is developing athesma or is this a problem with his throat or stomach?

Hello, and thanks for writing in.

Overall, unfortunately, I can't tell you specifically what is causing Kobe's issues that you are describing (without actually examining him), but I will try to speculate a bit, knowing what commonly causes problems like this in dogs that are Kobe's age.


In general, lumps fall into four main categories:

--tumor (benign or malignant),

--cyst (fluid-filled structure),

--abscess (infection-filled structure),

--granuloma (firm area of inflammation).


The only way to find out is to have a veterinarian do a needle aspirate of the lumps and look at the sample under a microscope to try and get a better idea of what the lumps are. The other (better) way is to biopsy the lumps and send it to a pathologist where they can tell exactly what is going on.

It's possible that the lumps are fatty deposits that are common in older dogs in this area of their body.


The breathing issues and stopping while walking can go along with an underlying heart or respiratory issue (i.e. heart murmur, fluid in the lungs or chest, enlarged heart, tumor, bronchitis, heartworm disease, pneumonia). With these symptoms, I would highly recommend an exam, and possibly tests, such as a chest X-ray, heartworm test, and white blood cell count, in order to determine the best course of action to help Kobe.


I hope this helps.

Dr. Dave

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Can heartworms be seen in his feces? Also we are in Salt Lake City and the air quality is horrible in January? It is bothering a lot of people here so maybe older dogs too.


Thanks for your reply.

Heartworms live in the heart and blood vessels that go from the heart to the lungs, they are not in the feces.

Poor air quality/pollutants can certainly affect a dog's lungs and breathing.


Dr. Dave

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

is it a good idea to periodically treat a dog for heart worms with over the counter meds as a precaution? Are heart worms common in the Salt Lake City area of Utah?

There are no over the counter meds for heartworms. Heartworm preventative is by prescription only from a veterinarian. As far as actually treating heartworms - it's a big deal. A dog needs to be hospitalized for a couple days to be treated for heartworms, and it's quite expensive. I'm not from Salt Lake City or Utah, but I don't believe they are prevalent there.


Dr. Dave

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