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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Diagnosing mast cell tumors

Updated: November 27th, 2018

When should you see an oncologist for a mast cell tumor (MCT)? I recommend you get an oncologist involved early. But before you see me, you need to know what a MCT looks like, and how they are diagnosed.

Most dogs are not feeling or acting sick when they are diagnosed with MCT. Usually the first sign of illness is when you or your vet find lump, or mass, on or just under the skin. Most MCT tumors look like raised, hairless, pink bumps – but their appearance can vary widely. Because of this, MCT is called “the great impersonator.” Tumors can look like benign skin tags, or harmless lipomas. The tumor can be ulcerated (an open sore), swollen, and inflamed — or relatively benign looking.



It can also be confusing because MCT can get bigger and bigger, and then smaller — without any seeming rhyme or reason. We don’t typically think of tumors waxing and waning on their own. The reason these tumors do is because histamine is involved. Histamine causes swelling, and as it is released from the tumor cells, it causes inflammation and swelling. When it dissipates, the swelling and inflammation resolves. So it’s not the tumor changing in size, but the inflammation associated with the tumor.

Tumors can be found anywhere, but the trunk and the limbs are the most common locations. Some tumors are present for months or even years with little change in growth or appearance. Others appear suddenly and grow very rapidly.

Some MCT masses itch, so your dogs may scratch or lick them. If your dog chews, scratches, or bangs the tumor against the ground, it can release inflammatory chemicals from the granules. This is called degranulation, and the release of histamine can cause a localized swelling that looks like a hive.

Massive degranulation can also cause system-wide symptoms, like full-body swelling or in very severe cases, anaphylaxis (shock). This is uncommon with a single, smaller MCT. It’s more likely when there is a very large tumor, or if there is metastasis (spread) to internal organs.


Want to learn more on Mast Cell Tumors? Get a copy of this highly informative seminar!


Because of the wide variation in MCT appearance, I strongly recommend that every skin mass be aspirated for a microscopic evaluation. Without this evaluation, you might not catch MCT early.

MCT are typically diagnosed with a fine needle aspirate, which has proven very reliable in confirming the diagnosis. No one – not even experienced oncologists like me – can be sure that a suspicious lump is benign just by feeling it, which is why every skin and subcutaneous mass (those just below the skin) should be aspirated. If the mass cannot be aspirated, a surgical biopsy should be considered.

But for the majority of MCT, a simple and inexpensive fine needle aspirates will typically confirm MCT.  After the aspirate confirms MCT, the next step is typically surgery, especially if we are dealing with your dog’s first MCT and there is only one. If possible, the goal of surgery is to remove the entire visible tumor along with a wide (usually 2 to 3 cm on all sides and a layer of tissue below) margin of surrounding normal tissue. Then the removed tumor is biopsied. The surgical margin must be confirmed with the pathologist’s report. “Clean margins” on the report will mean that the tumor was removed completely. (Remember, there is always a chance that cancer cells remain that we can’t detect with our current technology — but in general clean margins are a good sign.)


Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide to read more on Mast Cell Tumors in Chapter 30


The biopsy report will also provide the MCT grade, which we will discuss in the next blog. Grading MCT tumors has always been a challenge, because they are so changeable. There is the classic, 3-tiered system (grade 1, 2, and 3), but also a newer 2-tiered system that rates tumors are “low grade” or “high grade.” We’ll talk more about this in the next blog. We will also discuss who should do the surgery, when should staging like abdominal ultrasound be done, should you include a buffy coat in staging tests, and what the implications are if your dog has more than one MCT.

This and so much more about MCT is also discussed in the Guide.

Best,

Dr. Sue

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment





  1. D on March 18, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Our beloved boarder collie cross mastiff has come up with a mass lump on the side of his neck within a week or 2, took him to the vets which i wasnt very happy with they put him to sleep to drain it to see if it was an infection but no puss or anything came out, also took a sample of it apparently but no cells present, she mentioned its squishy surrounding but firm in the middle and doesnt know if its a tumour or fatty lump etc so have put him on 10 day antibiotics to see if the lump shrinks, if not they want to put him under fully and open up to see if they can remove it and then send the sample off to find out what it is. My question is if its cancer does this mean its spread already or can he make a recovery hes happy runs around eats barks etc only thing i noticed thats different for awhile is when he eats he drools like crazy and really trys to chew with his head to the side as well as ” hoicking” like trying to get rid of something in his throat

    Please help

    • Molly Jacobson on March 18, 2019 at 4:45 pm

      Hi D, thanks for writing, and we’re sorry to hear about your pup. It’s impossible to know yet whether it is cancer or not, and whether it has spread or not. You just have to wait for those lab results after they remove it (if they decide that’s the next best thing). It stinks that we have such a hard time diagnosing things, but the reality is that we just have to go through the process of eliminating things. Vets (and doctors) look for the most common thing that could be wrong, and treat for that, hoping that it’s what is happening. Only after they have eliminated the most common cause of the symptoms do they look for a different disease. Hopefully the antibiotics will help shrink it, if it’s an infection. While you have those ten days of antibiotics, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian if anything causes you concern. The throat symptom and drool could be because of an infection, of course, but if they get worse or you see other symptoms develop, or if the lump doesn’t shrink (or gets bigger), call your vet! You don’t have to wait the whole ten days — if those antibiotics don’t seem to be helping, let them know so they can try something else or move on to the next step. If it turns out to be cancer, Dr. D’s book will really help you to decide how to handle it. https://dogcancerblog.com/book.

  2. judie lafrance on February 3, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    My 11 year old bichon poodle has a had an intramuscular MCT in her right bicep removed 2 months ago.They removed 1/3 of her bicep muscle and reattached the tendon, she is walking beautifully. Although the MCT was encapsulated, the soft tissue surgeon was unable to get all clean boarders . The MCT was graded as stage 2, The mitotic level was 0. No involvement in lymph nodes, liver, spleen. There is no reasonable place within 300 miles to follow up with radiation. The oncologist is suggesting chemo. I know an intramuscular MCT is extremely rare.
    My question to you, please, is would it be more favorable to have a second surgery performed with the possibility that my dog may loose function of her leg and or amputation as opposed to chemo?
    I so appreciate your input. Thank you Judie Lafrance

  3. Ginny Lombardi on August 23, 2018 at 3:17 am

    Hi. I’m in desperate need of information. I walk a 17 yr old Jack Russel who looks & acts more like a 10 yr old. Her mom is 90 & can generally run circles around me. The pup has an oozing sore on her right lower side so mom brought her to her vet. He did a biopsy – I assume aspiration- and diagnosed cancer. Devastation all around. Vet recommended surgery to remove growth. Mom is worried that, because of her age, pup wouldn’t survive the surgery. Family & Friends suggested a second opinion from a veterinary oncologist. Mom took pup & the doctor looked at the records from first vet and immediately said to mom, “this dog must have surgery immediately, and then chemotherapy and radiation.“. Mom told vet she had granddaughters wedding in a few weeks. Can they wait? Dr said, “the dog will die if you wait”. Dr did some tests. Mom was sick in trying to make decision. Next week, dr calls mom with test results. Says “no surgery, no chemo, no radiation. Go to wedding & have a good time”. Confusion reigns. Back to her vet who still wants to remove tumor. Question: does it make any sense to do surgery on a 17 yr old Jack Russell?

    • DogCancerBlog on August 23, 2018 at 6:11 am

      Hello Ginny, thanks for writing and we are so sorry to hear about your Jack Russel. We are not veterinarians here in customer support so we can’t offer medical advice, however, we can offer information based on Dr. Dressler’s writings 🙂

      There is an amazing article on the Dog Cancer Blog that discusses the topic of whether or not a dog is too old for cancer treatment. Here’s the link: https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/is-my-dog-too-old-for-cancer-treatments/

      There are many aspects that need to be taken into consideration when determining a treatment plan for a dog with cancer– age can be just one of those factors. Another is whether or not your senior dog would need more recovery time, or have a harder time healing after surgery.

      Whether or not you decide to treat with conventional treatments, there are many things you can do to help your dog. As Dr. D says in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, a cancer diagnosis is not an automatic death sentence. Most dogs– of any age–can benefit from making dietary changes, using specific nutritional supplements, lifestyle adjustments, and brain chemistry modifications– increasing their happiness.

      Many factors have to be taken into consideration when deciding on a treatment plan for a dog with cancer and it’s up to us as dog guardians to make the right choice for our dogs because we know them best.

      We hope this helps 🙂

  4. Marilyn Thomas on April 8, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Mast Cell: Google “Vera’s boxer cancer”
    Follow her directions exactly! It’s helping us.
    Good luck and share.

  5. Ashlin on March 18, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Love your advise.

  6. mary schroeder on September 17, 2015 at 6:56 am

    thanks for your encouraging words!! i have an appointment monday to have my 6 year old chiweenie biopsied i had gone to my regular vet he could not get any cells out of the aspirator and so he gave her antibiotics for 10 days and metacam and benedryl and never really explained why she had to be on benedryl well i finally got the right info and i made an appointment with another vet who is less expensive because the other place wanted to charge me $700 for the entire procedure this vet is at least 100 to 200 less and highly recommended so actually i really learned a lot by talking with the new vets tech she was the one who explained about histamines and why my baby more then likely needed to take this so i have 2 more days of meds and she goes in on monday morning.the area where this round raised lump is on her backside of hind leg or i think they call it her hock its scabby on top because she licks it occassionally but shehas been prety much not licking that area i have a cone for her neck but it is irritating so i will find a more comfy one. well all i can do is Pray and asking everyone who reads this to say a Prayer that its nothing terrible, it could be a callous!! thanks for listening!! GOD BLESS!!

  7. Susan Kazara Harper on July 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Hi Silke,
    I’m sorry to hear about your girl. She sounds like a fighter.
    Palladia is the first chemotherapy drug approved by
    the FDA specifically for use in dogs (all other chemotherapy drugs are human drugs that we have learned how to use effectively in dogs). Palladia is approved for mast cell tumors, specifically those of grade II and III, with or without regional lymph node involvement. Palladia is a chemotherapy drug, but can be given at home, in tablet form.
    There is also a new drug called Masitinib (or Kinavet CA-1) which can also be given at home. It has also been developed to help fight MCT in our dogs. It has some similar properties to Palladia, and some of the same possible side effects. Dogs ocasionally develop resistance or intolerance to Palladia, in which case they may be helped by masitinib. You may want to ask your vet, or your vet oncologist if you have one, to investigate both Palladia and Masitinib and help you choose one if it is appropriate for your dog. Nutrition is also paramount. If you don’t have it yet, the Dog Cancer Diet is available from the main blog page as a free pdf download, and the full diet is in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide Book. Sometimes dogs with MCT itch as well. If so, you may want to alter her nutrition even further by feeding her low histamine foods. We have a great blog on this at https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/food-and-nutrition-for-dogs-with-mast-cell-tumors/. I really hope this helps and that your vet is staying on top of her pain with some good meds. Give your gorgeous Beagle a cuddle for me. Good luck!

  8. Silke Schoeman on July 23, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Hi

    Our 11 year old beagle has gotten mast cell for the third time now in two years. The previous times we got it surgically removed and also put her on chemo therapy. She’s more in pain for the treatment than having the actual cancer, so I’m not convinced that going this route for the third time is the way to go.

    I have heard about treating this with “Palladium”. What are your thoughts?

    Please help.
    Thanks
    Silke

  9. Lauren on November 15, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Our beautiful adopted Shepherd/Rottie who is about 9 years old, as diagnosed two years ago with MCT, grade 3, very aggressive. We decided against chemo and radiation and chose to give her a more holistic approach — quality of life over quantity of life.

    We started feeding her Dr. Harvey’s Canine Health. It’s all organic and easy to make. We have seen a huge difference in her coat which is soft, shiny, darker and richer in color, and not so brittle and dry before. We were feeding her a premium dry dog food but switched to this “miracle food” and I do think it’s a miracle. We know it’s a matter of time for her but it’s been nearly two years with minimal issues. We had surgery twice to remove the growth on her muzzle, hoping it might not come back, but it did. We can’t keep cutting off part of her nose. She is slowing down and often has to be on prednisone, but only when necessary. She is such a good girl and we are glad we made this choice, a difficult one. Quality over quantity. It’s never enough time for our beloved pets, but we want what’s best for her. God bless you all and your pets with health issues. Cherish the small moments and give lots of hugs and kisses. That’s all we can do.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on November 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm

      Good advice on cherishing the moments and giving lots of love. Good luck with your dog!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  10. Eric Boles on August 25, 2012 at 3:00 am

    My maltese was diagnosed with mast cell cancer, grade 3, three years ago. It was a spot on his foot but removed with not so clean margins because the area was so small, he is only 4 pounds. He has had a couple other spots removed over the past 3 years but he is hanging in there. Originally he was only given 6 months to live but with prayer and love he is still with me.

    I have two questions.
    First, there is a newer drug out thats by BA Science called Kinavet (Masitinib). It is suppose to inhibit the receptors in mast cell tumors and slow down the growth. What do you think about this drug and do you think it will help if the cancer has spread to other organs, (which I am not sure of but having it for 3 years theres a good possibility).

    Second, there is a diet called Budwig Diet that is a mixture of flax seed oil, flax seed, and cottage cheese. I have been giving him this daily since he was diagnosed with cancer. Are you familiar with this diet and what is your take on it.

    Many thanks
    Eric Boles

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Hi Eric,
      Before starting chemo, I would see if the cancer has spread, starting with an abdominal ultrasound. I have used Kinavet, it’s in the same class of drugs as Palladia, and both are good options especially if your dog’s tumors are positive for the c-kit mutation. There is more info on MCT in the Guide, and more posts to follow soon. Your oncologist can review the chemo options as they will review the full medical record and do an exam – so important!
      As for the diet, I like the one included in the book from Dr Dressler, but you can download a free copy from the site. If your dog is doing well on his current diet, you can stick with that. Or consult with a nutritionist.
      All my best, Dr Sue

  11. Kristen on August 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    My black lab has mast cell tumors. Sorry, I forgot a most important piece of information.

  12. Kristen on August 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    My black lab will be 11 in a month. In April we learned that he may have cancer. In May it was confirmed. 2 tumors in his right lung, 2 in his spleen and the lymph nodes at his bronchial tubes are almost cutting off his airway. I wanted to start slow so he started on chloramucil 5mg every other day. There was a decrease is the size and density of the tumors and lymph nodes. One vet recommended changing to lomustine and another to using vinblastine. Each vet had less side effects with the chemo they recommended compared to the opposite vet. My vet agreed to complete the vinblastine treatment for the cost of meds and labs only. Thank God because our funds are past dried out. The next recommended treatment is using Palladia if we can afford it and if we cannot we would go back to chloramucil. Prednisone and Benadryl have been taken along with this as well as a multivitamin, healthier diet and k9 immunity with transfer factor.

    Can you or anyone recommend a different cancer treatment or have comments on his current treatment and some suggestions? This dog is the other half of me and so far he still has quality of life.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Kristen,
      All the drugs you mentioned can be effective for MCT. If there is progression on vinblastine, I agree it is time to change protocols. Palladia is a ckit inhibitor and would a a good choice if your dog’s tumors has the c-kit mutation. There is no perfect or “right” protocol. There are pros and cons to each drug, so I encourage you to discuss them with an oncologist. As I wrote in my blog, these tumors, and the chemo options, are not one size fits all.
      All my best, Dr Sue

  13. shellie on August 17, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Hi,

    I have a 5 year old Ridgeback that has 7 Mast Cells removed since the age of two. Until this year they were curtaneous wart like, all but one punch hole bio worked and got good margins I find them when size of a head of a pin, however she had two removed Jan 2012 that were subcutaneous now she has another on rear thigh at the fatty fleshy part the problem is finding it. All have been grade 0-1 to date. This new one causing a real issue as it swells with histomine and will reduce sometime within hours or up to 12 hours but all you can feel is a thickning of the skin not a lump or tumor itself so the vet cannot cut something out they cannot id. My experience with them is 3 years and onoging no doubt it mast cell and vet agrees. It’s becoming quite a issue as it swells sometime 2-3 per day or 2-3 per week so effecting her activity of daily living.

    If we cannot note an epa center to needle bio or feel any suggests ?

    Can ultrsound id a very small mast cell tumor ?
    Should the pup be taken off her antihistomine ( 50mg reactine per day) etc let it swell and go without restriction of antihistomine to try and id an center/lump ?

  14. Sandy on August 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Hi!
    My 9yr old flat coat recently had aspiration of a lump sent for pathology with suspicion of MCT. It shrunk with prednisone & is now in the weaning stages. My question is: can the aspirate determine if the cells are malignant or benign? Is surgery the only option? I’d like to avoid surgery as the vet is suggesting he also has laryngeal paralysis & should have that corrected at the same time.

  15. Eileen Tredway on August 14, 2012 at 9:24 am

    My 9 year old chow chow mix has had a large MCT removed from his side. It was determined to be grade II, but with well differentiated cells and a mitotic index of 2. He healed well and seems to have no other symptoms. After surgery had healed we had his hair cut off so as to better see what is going on. Discovered another MCT (confirmed by in house aspiration) near his chest. Unclear whether it is new or undiscovered previously.
    Vet is suggesting Palladia with Carafate 1G without removing the 2nd lump. Is this a reasonable course of action? It costs over $500.00 for each lump removal. We’ve just had one done, but my reading suggests the first tx of choice is surgery.

  16. Eileen Tredway on August 14, 2012 at 9:22 am

    My 9 year old chow chow mix has had a large MCT removed from his side. It was determined to be grade II, but with well differentiated cells and a mitotic index of 2. He healed well and seems to have no other symptoms. After surgery had healed we had his hair cut off so as to better see what is going on. Discovered another MCT (confirmed by in house aspiration) near his chest. Unclear whether it is new or undiscovered previously.
    Vet is suggesting Palladium with Carafate 1G without removing the 2nd lump. Is this a reasonable course of action? It costs over $500.00 for each lump removal. We’ve just had one done, but my reading suggests the first tx of choice is surgery.

  17. Carol on August 14, 2012 at 4:21 am

    My 9 year female golden retriever was diagnosed in Janurary with mammary cancer with metastis to her lungs. A tumor was also found in her liver or right beside it. To look at my dog you would think nothing is wrong with her. I have treated her holistically with Essica tea Flaxseed oil and cottage cheese and a change to good dog food. The mammary tumor was aspirated and came back not cancer but suspicious, and I am told that the primary source of cancer is usually a larger tumor than the secondary. This is not the case with her. The lung tumors are much larger. She has started to cough a little lately but is active and playful. Any chance that these tumors are benign and she actually doesn’t even have cancer. I was given 4 months left with her and it has now been 8 wonderful months and hopefully alot more to come.

  18. Gabriel on August 5, 2012 at 8:25 am

    There is a product named Rose Bengal that is very effective for many tumors. It is currently in clinical trials here in the US for humans, under the name PV-10.
    PV 10 is the new name for Rose Bengal since it was developed for humans.
    Rose Bengal is used in other countries for treatment of tumors but seems to be unknown or ignored in the US.
    There is an Australian veterinary website, EASTWESTVET that uses Rose Bengal, Chinese herbs, and a variety of alternative treatment approaches with some extremely good results. Please look at their site.
    The Rose Bengal is available in the YS Ina very pure form from a very responsible
    Company….just google Rose Bengal.
    Rose Bengal is injected into the tumor.
    Ask your vet to consider this option.

  19. CHERYL on August 4, 2012 at 7:32 am

    my 6 y/o Shar pei, just had a MCT removed, came back as grade 2/low grade not fast growing BUT *dirty margins*, i can either do chemo, radiation or amputate her leg, tumor was removed on hind leg at bend in calf and thigh…….I was wondering was there a less invasive procedure, supplements???? or any natural remedy besides the ones mentioned?? any help would be great!! thank you!!

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Hi Cheryl,
      Sounds like you got good advice about the MCT. Radiation is very effective to prevent recurrence if a second surgery is not an option. In my opinion without actually examining the patient, I would recommend radiation. But check out the Guide for alternative options, if you prefer. Always helps to get informed!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  20. Jeannette Botza on August 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Can you give some information on Hemangiosarcoma. My 12 year old poodle
    just past away from it. It started in the right atrium, and disappeared after 2 sessions of chemo…the radiologist did not see it. she continued to have 2more
    sessions of chemo and had ultrasound of abdomen an chest. there again nothing since. One month later it was in her liver and spleen. I am so sick over
    this. How from not seeing it, to it beeing in liver and spleen.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 11:00 am

      HI Jeannette,
      I am sorry about your poodle. Unfortunately these tumors are very aggressive, and imaging (Chest Xrays and ultrasound) cannot detect microscopic cells. So you can have “clean” tests and then things progress. Know that you did all you could. Hemangioarcoma is one of the most aggressive and challenging cancers to treat. I am sorry for your loss.
      With sympathy, Dr Sue

  21. Carmen on August 3, 2012 at 11:04 am

    I have a white boxer that has had many surgieries in his 10.5 years to remove low grade mast cell tumors, lipoma’s, mole type growths, skin tagsm etc . In terms of the mast cell tumors, would giving dogs affected some kind of anti-histamine therapy help reduce the chances of these tumors occuring or at least prevent the inflamation or release of the histamines that contribute to the problem?

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 10:52 am

      Hi Carmen,
      It’s a great question, but I am not aware that anti-histamine use will prevent MCT, but it does help with the histamine that is released from the MCT.
      All my best, Dr Sue

  22. Oakley Roberts on August 3, 2012 at 4:08 am

    My golden had a MCT on her ear which was removed with clean margins as well as a lymph node that showed the cells. Her ear became infected and after 3 chemo treatments I stopped until the ear is healed. It has been three weeks since her last chemo. Her ear is almost healed–maybe another week or so should be complete. Because she was so miserable with the high doses (even low doses) of predisone, I just hate the thought of starting over. I would prefer to keep her off predisone and use Apocaps instead. Do you have any information as to whether Apocaps can be used with chemo? I am still waiting to get her off of Predisone (one more today) and then I want to start Apocaps–hopefully tomorrow? I would appreciate your opinion of further treatment.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 10:15 am

      Hi Oakley,
      I routinely use Apocaps in my chemo patients once they are off prednisone. While on chemo, I drop the dose by one weight category on the Apocaps bottle to minimize side effects. In my patients, the combo is extremely well tolerated!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  23. Barbara on August 3, 2012 at 2:40 am

    Hello!
    My 9 year old dog Rafo had mast cell tumor on right tonsil which closed his esophagus. We treated him in Animal hospital Postojna in Slovenija, he was radiated, recived chemotherapy and after few month the tumor has gone. after 1 year and 9 months Rafo is still alive, very happy and active 10 year old boy.
    During the tratment I changed his diet just as you recomended.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

      Great news Barbara! Wishing you and Rafo continued healthy and wags!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  24. Mary Emmons on August 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Dr. Sue-
    My AB was diagnosed with MCT stage 2 last summer, because he had 4 of them removed. Two of them were rather good sized, while the other 2 were small. My vet told me that we had clean margins on all. He was 5 1/2 at the time. He is overweight due to arthritis in his back knee, but he is pretty active for a big guy weighing in at close to 100 pounds. I also had my vet look at his eye due to “fly biting” that he had been doing at the time, and she thought it was from floaters in that eye. I am leaning towards the fact that they are not floaters and he might have a tumor on the brain? I am only assuming this fact because other litter mates have died from that fate I have heard. Now I noticed that he has a few 3-4 small bumps popping up and disappearing again, and he becomes distant at times, and severe panting some evenings while just sitting there staring in to space. He has not had a full blown seizure thank goodness, as I went through that with my Boxer. My concern is that he might have something going on internally. He seemed really bloated this morning, and hadn’t eaten yet. Maybe it is bloat and not so much overweight? I am wondering if I should have blood work done on him, or an abdominal ultrasound? I have him on Halo Spot Stew, your supplements, along with Aloe that I put on the bumps when they appear. Can you give me some advice, as I want to make sure he is not in pain. He is a pretty happy go lucky dude and I dont want him to suffer of course.

    Thank you,
    Mary (Mom of Dozer D9)

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Hi Mary,
      I agrees that blood, urine tests, and an ultrasound are next – especially since he has had 4 MCT. Maybe also see a neurologist for a good neuro exam. The best way to find a brain tumor is an MRI, but I would start with the tests above.
      Good luck to you and Dozer!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  25. Helen sargent on August 2, 2012 at 10:47 am

    My 7yr springer has had a grade 3 tumour removed & has had an ultrasound, aspirates etc no spread was detected thankfully, she is undergoing radiotherapy & chemo to kill off any remaining cells, my question is once treatment is over & she has recovered can she have vaccinations? we are in the uk & our kennels here do not accept titre test result certificates, I keep reading about vaccinations bringing back cancer but I don’t know if these are just scare stories or if there is some truth in them?

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Hi Helen,
      It’s a complicated topic. I typically hold on vaccinations during chemo and then consider each vaccine in each case, and run titers like you mentions. But you are required to have them, I am guessing you have get them or see if you vet will write a letter of exemption.
      All my best, Dr Sue

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