John’s 13-year-old Jack Russell Terrier has been diagnosed with a rectal mass that may or may not be cancer.
His veterinarian recommends surgery, but he is worried about complications…
… especially because his dog is older and has always been a picky eater.
Is his dog too old for surgery?
Dr. Nancy Reese, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D. joins us today on Dog Cancer Answers with some things to consider if you have a senior dog who has an operable tumor. If you haven’t said yes yet, this is a good episode to hear.
“I always say that age is not itself reason enough to avoid surgery,” says Dr. Nancy. “If all the other health parameters are in good shape, the heart’s good, lungs are good, blood work, X-rays, all of that are good, and there’s no definitive signs of metastasis, then an older dog usually can undergo surgery successfully. Jack Russells are pretty hardy dogs.”
“Age is not itself reason enough to avoid surgery.”
– Dr. Nancy Reese
Things to consider include:
- Overall health of the individual dog
- Typical breed lifespans
- Survival rates for the type of cancer (if known)
- How dogs typically do after that surgery
For an anal tumor, a growing lump can quickly become a quality of life concern. Dr. Nancy commends John’s veterinary team for finding his dog’s tumor so early!
After all… that’s not an area most dogs like having poked and prodded.
Dr. Nancy also recommends having any unusual surgery done by an experienced surgeon who does that type of procedure regularly and asking lots of questions beforehand.
As well as asking how often the surgeon does this particular surgery, ask about success rates.
If lots of dogs get the surgery and 95% do very well, that’s a good sign.
… But if lots of dogs get the surgery and only 5% do well, you might want to think twice.
As for John’s concerns about his JRT’s appetite after surgery, an appetite stimulant can help with that if needed!
There are always things that can go wrong, but with a healthy dog and an experienced surgeon, you’re starting off on the right foot.
You can read the whole transcript on the episode page on the Dog Cancer Answers website.
Here’s the video version of the podcast:
Paws and wags,
Kate Basedow, LVT
PS: Feel free to share this article or the podcast itself with your veterinarian and their staff.
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Kate Basedow grew up training and showing dogs, and her passion for canines has affected all parts of her life. She earned a BA in English from Cornell University and an AAS in Veterinary Science from SUNY Delhi, and is a licensed veterinary technician in the state of New York. Her writing on dog-related topics has earned numerous awards from the Dog Writers’ Association of America and the Alliance of Purebred Dog Writers. Kate currently serves and adores two Belgian Tervuren and a Pembroke Welsh Corgi.