Cancer sucks. I hate it, it reminds us every day that we can’t be in control. When you have a golden, or really any pet, you will do well to learn to be excessively vigilant. So vigilant that when my dogs come to me for pets, I examine them first. I can actually see them roll their eyes knowing that I do this every time but they put up with it because it’s worth it for the snuggles that follow. If you need a good active demonstration on this type of exam, check out the chimpanzees at the zoo or on Discovery.
Frankly anything I find on paws or in the mouth makes me really nervous, so when I noticed one of our foster dogs limping, we went digging, literally. A visit to our vet told us that we were dealing with an ulcerative (oozy and red and painful) mass on Maggie’s foot pad. We originally thought this was just a wound that wouldn’t heal, but when the pathology came back, it was not good news…..malignant melanoma. Hot tip, pathology reports are essential for finding out what you are dealing with, how aggressive it is, whether or not it’s likely to come back and most importantly, what to do next. Things we didn’t know before we sent out tissue: 1) why is Maggie limping? 2) why isn’t Maggie’s paw healing and 3) is she getting proper care? Things we know now 1) this is cancer 2) we didn’t get it all the first time 3) her paw is infected with antibiotic resistant organisms (four different ones to be exact) and 4) we can still get rid of it. I would say there’s no question this kind of information is worth getting, no matter what the cost.
Small masses are exponentially easier to deal with than big ones and luckily, even though we had missed removing the whole tumor on the first try, Maggie was willing to sacrifice her toe on the second. And yes, we’ll be sending out her toe for a second look with the pathologist as well. I’ll keep you posted.
I share this story with you in the hopes that you will take a moment to check over your pet and get lumps and bumps evaluated while they are teeny. It can make all the difference! This is how we keep our pets around until they’re old and grey.