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"Of all possessions, a friend is the most precious."

- Heradotus

boxer dog for vet blog post about signs of cancer, lumps and bumpsOne moment, you’re relaxing at home cuddled up with your furbaby, and the next, your stomach drops. 

When you’re a pet parent, finding a strange lump or bump on your dog can send you spiraling. You may wonder how long it has been there, whether or not it’s painful for your pup, and most ominously: could it be cancer? Of course, the only way to know for sure (and the best course of action) is to make an appointment with your vet. In the meantime, however, it can help to read up on the most common explanations for skin abnormalities in our furry friends. 

Benign lumps and bumps in dogs

While you wait for your pup to be examined by a veterinarian, take heart: most of the skin growths found on dogs have an explanation other than the Big C. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Lipomas: Painless, fatty tumors that often appear on aging, large-breed, or overweight dogs. 
  • Perianal Adenoma: Benign tumors that form around the anal glands. They are typically slow-growing, and more common in male dogs. While harmless, they do have the potential to become ulcerated.
  • Warts: If you notice a sudden cluster of cauliflower-textured growths, warts could be to blame. They are caused by a highly contagious virus that is easily communicated in social environments like dog parks. Young dogs with developing immune systems are the most susceptible. 
  • Abscesses: If wounded or irritated skin becomes infected, a painful, swollen pocket of pus may form. If the lump is hot to the touch or appears to cause your pup discomfort, you may suspect an abscess. 
  • Allergic Reactions: Just like us, our furbabies can experience raised hives in response to seasonal irritants or insect bites. Hives are often accompanied by excessive scratching.

 

Treating and diagnosing skin lumps

Because the best course of treatment for abnormal skin growths depends entirely on an informed diagnosis, step one for you, as a concerned pet parent, should be an appointment with your vet. You can help your vet accurately access the underlying cause of your dog’s skin issues by providing answers to questions, such as:

  • Has the growth appeared suddenly or changed over time?
  • Has your pet experienced a recent decline in appetite or other behavioral shifts?
  • Have they been scratching, chewing, or indicating that the affected area is itchy or painful?

 

Diagnosing lumps and bumps in dogsCould my dog have cancer? 

In some cases, your vet may be able to visually determine the cause of concerning skin growths. In others, he or she may recommend a biopsy to examine the lump or bump more closely. If a tissue sample does reveal cancer cells, recommended courses of action depend on the type of cancer but may vary from the surgical removal of the mass to chemotherapy or radiation. Fortunately, treatment options are constantly improving, and so is the prognosis for pups facing cancer. Your dog is a member of your family, so it is important to work with your pet’s healthcare provider to establish the right treatment plan for you and your best friend. 

 

Canine lumps and bumps: the bottom line

Though the wait may feel excruciating, make arrangements to get your furbaby examined by a professional if you discover a lump. Some diagnoses benefit greatly from early intervention, so time lost may be options lost.

Every moment that you don’t hesitate to seek out a vet’s opinion is a moment closer to putting your worries to rest.

Vet Blog Post about Parvo in DogsFor new pet parents, just the mention of Parvo may inspire dread. Symptoms are known to set in suddenly, and dogs are at the highest risk of death just 24-72 hours from when they first become ill. Even with medical intervention, 30% of puppies still die. Without veterinary care, most cannot survive. If your typically exuberant puppy is suddenly lethargic and out of sorts, early intervention can make all the difference in their prognosis. By familiarizing yourself with the first warning signs of Parvo, you can be prepared to act quickly and get your pet life-saving treatment when moments count. 

What is Parvo?

Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) is a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus that most commonly attacks unvaccinated puppies. Parvo targets rapidly dividing cells, such as those in the bone marrow and lymph nodes on its way to invading the small intestines. Parvovirus attacks dogs’ intestinal lining, making it difficult for them to absorb nutrients and keep gut bacteria isolated from other organ systems. 

Dogs infected with Parvo typically show signs of illness 6-10 days after exposure and can decline rapidly. If left untreated, many dogs who contract Parvo will succumb to dehydration, sepsis, or hemorrhaging, so concerned pet parents should seek out their vet right away.

 

dogs playing in water at a dog parkHow does Parvo spread?

Parvo is transmitted from dog to dog through infected feces. What many pet owners do not realize is just how contagious and robust the Parvovirus is. Even when all visible poop has been scooped from the ground of your local dog park, the virus can linger outdoors for months. It also clings to improperly sanitized bedding, toys, and food dishes; and can be carried from one place to another via paws, shoes, or unwashed human hands. 

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated puppies risk encountering the virus in communal environments, so parents of young furbabies with vulnerable immune systems should use caution before agreeing to puppy playdates or using a shared dog run. 

 

Can cats get Parvo?

Cats have a species-specific form of Parvovirus known as feline panleukopenia. While dogs are not susceptible to this virus, it may be possible for cats to contract Parvovirus from dogs. As with puppies, vaccinating your kitten greatly reduces their risk of illness. 

Though humans are not vulnerable to Parvovirus or feline panleukopenia, we can still act as vectors for cross-contamination. Proper handwashing and sanitation are paramount, particularly when handling young pets. 

 

What are the early symptoms of Parvo?

If your puppy has a sudden change in temperament, be on the lookout for:

  • Vomiting
  • Severe, bloody diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Fever 
  • Hypothermia

 

How can I prevent Parvo?

When it comes to Parvo, prevention is truly the best intervention. The Parvo vaccine is highly effective at reducing your dog’s risk of contracting the virus, so new pet parents should do everything possible to adhere to their vet’s recommended vaccination schedule.

For very young or newly rescued puppies who aren’t yet fully vaccinated, the best course of action is to practice good household sanitation, avoid cross-contamination, and take a raincheck on communal play until your furbaby is fully inoculated. 

 

How is Parvo treated? 

There is no cure for Parvo, but an early intervention of fluids, antidiarrheals, and antibiotics give your pet the best possible chance at recovery. If your furbaby shows any of the signs or symptoms of Parvovirus, trust your instincts and contact your vet. We’re at the ready with expert guidance for you and help for your best friend. 

 

Giving pills to cats can be time-consuming and stressful — for both you and your pet. Nobody questions your devotion to your kitty, as even a minor health scare can seem like a CATastrophe. Hiding pills in soft, yummy food sometimes works, but cats are notoriously finicky. Your Raleigh veterinarian can suggest alternatives to giving pills to cats.

How Else Can I Give Medication to My Cat?

Falls Village Veterinary - Alternatives to Giving Pills to CatsWhen your cat needs medicine, make it easier on yourself and your favorite feline by using an alternative to pills. As a side benefit, your kitty won’t run away whenever you approach because you’ve created a negative association.

You can avoid giving pills to cats altogether. Some medications are now available in other forms that are easier to administer, such as:

  • Liquid medicine
  • Chewable tablets
  • Transdermal medications

Many of these alternatives are available from compounding pharmacies upon request. Some even come in a variety of flavors!

How Do I Administer Liquid or Chewable Medications?

The process for giving your cat liquid medication is similar to giving your cat a pill, but liquid goes down easier. Here’s what to do:

  1. If needed, wrap your little buddy in a blanket or towel.
  2. Don’t tilt your kitty’s head backward, or there’s a risk of inhaling the liquid.
  3. Slip the medication dropper into the side of your kitty’s mouth.
  4. Squeeze the medication toward the back of the tongue.

You may need a helper to hold your fur-baby’s head steady. Once your pet has swallowed the medicine, provide treats or attention as a reward.

Tasty chewable tablets are easier to administer. Mix them with food or give them just like a snack. You can find a variety of medications in the form of flavored chews, including for hyperthyroidism, certain anxiety, pain, and gastrointestinal problems.

What About Transdermal Medication?

You apply transdermal medication directly to your kitty’s skin where it can be absorbed without being licked away, such as on the inside pinna of your cat’s ear. Follow your vet’s instructions for dosage and proper handling. Advantages of transdermal medication for cats include:

  • It’s often more effective and works more quickly than pills.
  • It bypasses the digestive tract, avoiding upset stomachs.
  • It’s more pleasant for your cat than pills or unpalatable liquids.

Currently, medications in transdermal form relieve pain, treat hyperthyroidism or prevent fleas and ticks. There’s even an appetite stimulant for cats who won’t eat. If you’re looking to avoid giving pills to cats, go to our store for cat supplies, where you can find liquid, chewable, and transdermal medications. If you have any questions about these alternatives, don’t hesitate to ask your Raleigh veterinarian.

The difference between “lost” and “found” can be incredibly scary. Thanks to microchips for pets, it can also be incredibly simple. Even the most diligent pet owner can have an accident happen that results in a dog or cat getting lost without a collar and ID tag. Since pets are often found by a stranger or picked up by animal control, the single best thing you can do to help them get home to you is to make sure that you can be identified and contacted when they are found. This is why pet owners microchip dogs and cats.

We have many experiences in our animal hospital where pets are found by kind people who bring them to us to be checked for a microchip. We’ve witnessed the happy reunions. They work!

What Are Pet Microchips?

Microchipping dogs and cats is great and easy because it’s an electronic chip, kind of a tiny transponder, that bears a unique identification number. If your dog or cat is found, any vet or animal shelter will have a scanner to check to see if they have a microchip. If they do, the scanner will display the ID number of the chip. That number will be registered to you, the pet’s owner. Now, even a dog or cat without a collar can get home because you can be called to let you know your pet has been found.

Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice. They are implanted just under the skin with a large needle usually between the shoulder blades. This is just as quick as getting a vaccine and does not require any anesthesia. Subcutaneous tissue then holds the microchip in place, which is made to work for up to 25 years. Because it’s so small, pets won’t even feel that it’s there over the course of their lives.

After the microchip has been implanted, all you have to do is register your contact information with the manufacturer of the microchip. Just remember to keep your information up-to-date just like you would on a collar tag.

What To Do If Your Pet Is Lost

Anytime your pet is lost, regardless of whether they are microchipped or not, the first thing you should ALWAYS do is call your local animal control. Find out if your pet is there, and if not, leave a description and your contact information in case they end up there. There is no time to waste on this front because if a pet is picked up by animal control and there is no way (a collar tag or microchip) for an owner to be located, the pet is put on what is called “stray hold”. Each county has laws about how long this is, but basically there is a safety window, usually 72 hours, during which time a pet cannot be put to sleep or put up for adoption at the shelter. This is specifically to allow time for an owner to come and reclaim their pet.

Here in the Raleigh, NC area, we have an additional resource, Triangle Lost Pets. This is a great website on which to post information about your missing pet.

When Pets Get Lost The Most

Did you know that there are certain scenarios when pets are more likely to run off and get lost?

Pets that aren’t spayed and neutered are significantly more likely to get lost, and the longer they go without being returned to their families, the more likely they are to be pregnant, injured, or to have contracted an illness, some of which can be life threatening.

Storms and holidays are also very common times for pets to become lost. Think thunder, severe storms winds, and fireworks, all of which are frightening to most pets. Scary situations like these almost always mean higher intake of pets found roaming the streets by animal control.

 

Schedule Your Microchip Appointment

Microchipping dogs and cats is so quick and easy with the possibility of great benefit. Let us know if you’d like to schedule a quick appointment to get one for your four-legged family member!