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Breast cancer in dogs: Is it real?


What one thing never fails to make you feel better?


After spending some good time in Mombasa, to have a case which more or less appears to be devastating, but ostensibly easier to deal with.

At a glance, it was obvious from her face that Cristobel's owner had made up her mind: In the last few years of my practice as a vet, I have come to develop an obscure instinct which enables me to pick up the mood of a client-especially when they have decided that they want their loved pets to be put to sleep or euthanized and they just want a vet to ascertain that they have made an accurate decision.

At times they burst to tears of relief especially when a vet arrives at a diagnosis that euthanasia is not the only option-and this was the case with Cristobel.

Cristobel, an eleven years old white Labrador bitch, was not all that ill: however, her condition was making the entire family's life unbearable. She had a swelling in between her thighs which was oozing a fluid which presumably looked like pus. Her gait had also changed.

She was wobbling at any step she made. It was obvious that Cristobel was enduring an excruciating pain and her owners were looking at any possible way to alleviate her suffering.

So they thought that putting her to sleep was the most obvious option to end her menace. On close examination and a bit of palpation at the swelling, we arrived at a tentative diagnosis of an upcoming breast cancer, medically referred to as mammary gland tumor.

Just like human being, dogs and cats are also susceptible to breast cancer and it is the most common type of tumor, especially in dogs. The condition is common in bitches although male dogs are also susceptible.

The disease is more common in aged bitches, between 10.5 to 15 years old, which are not spayed or which were spayed after they had started going through their stage of puberty. Most male dogs affected by mammary gland tumor usually succumb and they normally end up dying. Perhaps, this is why Cristobel's owner was worried.

Being a bitch, Cristobel was to have a favorable prognosis if the diagnosis turned out to be a benign tumor-meaning the cancer cells had not metastasized to other organs. This gave me a glimpse of hope in rekindling Cristobel's life ones again: so I had continued with my examination just to ensure that my diagnosis is accurate.

On deep palpation, I found although there was some ulceration on the side of her rare right teat, the mass was freely moving, which means that the tumor was still at a benign stage. X-ray of the chest would indicate metastasis in the lungs, but in this case, it was negative.

What apparently appeared as pus was actually milk flowing from the open wound as a result of communication between the ulcerated area and the milk cistern. There was not much complication, thus, we decided to remove the mass and saved poor Cristobel's life and she is still leaving as a vibrant and intelligent pet.

As such, there is no need to panic whenever you see a unique behavior or feature on your pet. It could be an easy case! Just call a vet and you will be sorted.

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