The mast cell tumor is very common in the Pug, Boxer, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Shar-Pei and other breeds. This tumor most commonly occurs in the skin as a raised, inflamed nodule or mass. Sometimes it is found internally in the liver or spleen.
The cells that make up this tumor are called mast cells. There are some unusual aspects of these cells that should be paid attention to.
First, they secrete a substance called histamine, which most have heard of in the word “antihistamine”. Histamine is released in the body during allergic reactions and it causes some nasty things. First, histamine causes inflammation, which is no fun for anyone. Redness, swelling, pain… all parts of inflammation. If you squeeze a mast cell tumor, many will create a red, swollen effect due to the histamine that gets liberated.
Histamine can cause serious harm to the body when released in larger amounts. When a dog experiences massive histamine liberation, her blood pressure can drop through the floor, causing life-threatening shock. No blood pressure, no blood getting to vitals like the brain and kidneys. Bad news.
Imagine if you were to do surgery on a mast cell tumor loaded with histamine. This is more than just squeezing it, folks. We are talking scalpel action, along with some pulling to free up the mast cell tumor. Imagine the amount of histamine that could be released.
So, it is wise to make sure your vet is on the ball. Since doing surgery on some mast cell tumors can result in shock, make sure you double check that your dog gets an injection of Benadryl before surgery. This can block the effects of massive histamine release. Also allow your vet to place an IV catheter and deliver IV fluids or meds during the procedure to keep the pressure up.
Dog cancers are all different. Each tumor in dogs behaves differently and needs it’s own special treatment.
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.
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