A few hours later the vet called me. Maverick was doing "fine" but they had found a GOLF BALL sized tumor. After doing 4 of the masses they headed to the one on the butt and before starting had decided to express his anal glands. That is when they found it.
My heart started racing. A tumor? A large tumor? What does this mean? I told the Doctor to remove it and that I trusted him to take care of my boy. And then waiting…
A little over an hour later he called me to tell me that Maverick was out of surgery and that he was able to remove ALL of the tumor. Whew! Ok, that’s good. Now I could ask some questions.
How did this happen? Do poodles have a higher incidence of this? Should I have been expressing his anal glands? I didn’t think you do that unless there is a problem. Did I fail my dog? Did I miss some signs? How do you diagnosis this?
It is what they call an anal sac tumor. Some dogs show signs of it but many do not. The only way to diagnose this is with a rectal exam. He told me that EVERY dog over the age of 8 years old should have a rectal exam yearly with their check up. He told me that he doesn’t like to do them because most dogs hate it and if the dog looks healthy it’s easier to skip it. He told me to demand it.
I hope you NEVER hear the words “we found a tumor”. This week has been an emotional roller coaster for me. We will get the biopsy results in about a week and I am PRAYING with every cell in my body that the results come back as a granuloma or benign tumor. I know Maverick can’t live forever but I am NOT ready for him to go yet. Maverick is home recovering now. What was supposed to be a fairly easy surgery ended up being a major surgery and he came home with stitches from head to butt!
So, while we wait for results I want to share some suggestions with you.
· If your dog is over 8 years old demand a rectal exam. Male and female dogs have the same incidence rates.
· GET YOUR HANDS ON YOUR DOG!!!! You need to know every inch of their body and do so on a regular basis. This is more than just grooming. FEEL them with your hands. Know what is normal for your dog so you know what isn’t normal.
· Teach your dog to LIKE touch so that you both enjoy it when you are doing a body check. I really like TTouch for this reason. Not only am I doing a body check but I am enhancing my bond with my dog at the same time.
· Teach your dog to TOLERATE procedures. This goes beyond nail clipping and grooming. This includes gentle restraint, ear care, eye care, nose care, mouth care (are you brushing teeth?) and yes, even butt care! While you aren’t going to give your dog a rectal exam yourself you should make sure that they tolerate someone handling their butt! Use a q-tip to circle the anus (don’t stick it IN) just circle it to get them used to touching in that sensitive area. Maverick didn’t blink an eye when I found the lump by his rectum. If I hadn’t found that we wouldn’t have found the other tumor.
· Be proactive about your dog’s care. Be educated about the diseases your breed of dog may be prone to getting so you can notice them at the early stages. Maverick bloated when he was 2 yrs old and I knew immediately what the problem was and when the vet (who I no longer see) told me he was “fine” I told her “NO” he isn’t.
· Make sure your dog gets ANNUAL checkups and if you spot something out of the ordinary take them in to see the vet. Don’t wait until their next visit, get it checked out while it’s small. And don’t complain about the cost. Your dog will NEVER go to college, NEVER play team sports or go to dance class, and NEVER drive a car. Even if you feed a really expensive food and great treats the annual cost of caring for your dog is cheap in comparison and there is more to owning a dog than just feeding it!
I don’t know what the future holds and waiting is hard. But, right now I am holding an image of my beautiful boy surrounded by healing white light, a clean slate with all abnormal cells gone from his body. I am picturing him in perfect health surrounded by those of us who love him.
Now, go kiss your dog and tell them how much they mean to you.
“The wish for healing has always been half of health.”
~Lucius Annaeus Seneca