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Masses are a common condition in pets. These masses can grow on, in, or just under the skin. Ranging in size from a couple of millimeters to football-sized, masses can represent a wide variety of conditions from simple skin tags, to large fatty growths, to scars, to malignant cancers.
Inquire below and one of our team members will be happy to answer all of your questions, and help you schedule a visit with one of our highly-trained, caring veterinarians.
Mass Removal Surgery
Mass removals typically require sedation or general anesthesia. This serves three functions: ensuring your pet holds perfectly still (with no sudden movements that could cause injury), keeping your pet fear-free (they’ll sleep rather than feeling nervous), and avoiding pain.
Once the mass is removed, our veterinarian will send it to a laboratory for analysis. This test, called a “histopathology,” is the most accurate way to determine what the mass is (and, if it’s cancerous, to determine whether or not all of the cancer was removed).
In some cases, our team may recommend just monitoring a mass. This is common for masses that look and feel benign (like skin tags or If a mass removal is recommended, we will go over the specific plan with you and answer all of your questions.
Yes, you’ll need to book a pre-op appointment at our clinic before the mass removal. After you submit an inquiry, one of our care coordinators will reach out to you to schedule a pre-op appointment. During the appointment, our veterinarian will discuss preparing for the surgery, the procedure plan, cost, risks, and recovery.
We will consider many factors when helping you to make this decision, including:
-Your pet’s breed and age (some conditions are more likely at certain ages, and in certain breeds).
-The location (where on the body), appearance, and feel of the mass.
-Whether or not the mass is causing discomfort.
-Your pet’s overall health.
-The mass’s history (how long it’s been there, whether it’s growing or changing, and how fast these changes are happening).ing and urine marking behavior.
Usually, we’ll start this process with an FNA, or fine needle aspirate. This test involves using a small needle and syringe to obtain a sample of cells from the mass. Those cells may be examined by your veterinarian under a microscope, sent to a pathology lab, or both.
Sometimes, this gives us our answer. Other times, more information may be needed, such as a larger biopsy that’s obtained surgically. You and your vet can decide whether that’s the best course of action based on your pet’s individual circumstances.
All medical procedures carry some degree of risk. However, if your pet is otherwise healthy and the mass is small to moderate size, it’s a fairly routine procedure and the risk is quite low. Plus, your pet will be monitored closely during sedation or anesthesia, with their safety as the utmost priority.
There’s no specific age that’s “too old” for a mass removal, especially if your pet is otherwise healthy. We will discuss the benefits and risks of any procedure, so you can make an informed decision about what’s best for your pet.
To help ensure your pet is healthy for sedation or anesthesia and surgical mass removal, your veterinarian will recommend some tests.
It all starts with the physical exam. Pets should have a checkup prior to their procedure, to have their heart and lungs listened to and their overall health checked.
Diagnostic testing may be recommended, too, within 30 days prior to surgery. This includes bloodwork to check organ function and blood cell counts, and x-rays if any heart problems or other concerns are suspected.
Each pet requires unique care, and each surgery differs in price. Our team will provide an estimate after they’ve examined your pet.
If your dog is licking their mass—a common problem for locations such as the forelimbs—the area may already be inflamed or infected. This isn’t ideal for surgery because it can delay healing, so we may recommend medications prior to the procedure. Also, your pet may need to wear a cone and a bandage before and after surgery, to protect the area.
Yes, your pet will go under anesthesia for their surgery, however, some minor biopsies and mass removals may be performed with sedation and local anesthetics.
This is common for some types of masses, and rare for others. But unfortunately, there are no guarantees that a mass will stay away.
We will let you know the likelihood of regrowth for your pet. In general, the risk is higher for masses that are large or not well-defined (not well-differentiated from the surrounding skin) because these may be more difficult to remove completely.
Some masses can grow to very large sizes, even football-sized on large dogs.
Even if the mass is benign, this still presents a surgical challenge. Because of the size, your veterinary surgeon must do some extra planning to close the large “hole” in the skin where the mass was removed.
Dogs can get benign or malignant masses inside their mouths, especially along the gumline. If that’s the case with your pup, your vet may recommend a mass removal along with a dental cleaning, especially for small (and suspected benign) masses.
Routine dental cleanings are a great way to monitor the mouth for any abnormal growths in both dogs and cats. It allows your vet to examine areas that are normally difficult to see.
Your pet may be tired, lazy, or clumsy for 12-24 hours, as the sedation or anesthetic drugs work their way out of your fur baby’s system. During this time, keep them in a quiet place away from children and other pets, and discourage them from using stairs or jumping on and off of furniture.
Your pet will need to rest and avoid strenuous play or exercise until the incision is healed. This is typically when your recheck is scheduled, and if your pet had sutures they will be removed at this time.
You’ll want to monitor the incision or bandage, and look for signs of drainage, bleeding, redness, swelling, or bad odors. If a bandage is present, you’ll receive additional information on bandage care.
If that’s the case, please accept our heartfelt condolences. This is something that is difficult for any pet parent to go through.
However, cancer is not a uniform disease, and there are many advances in care nowadays. While some forms of cancer are difficult to treat, others can respond very well to treatment, allowing your pet more time and a very good quality of life.
Every pet and diagnosis is different, so our team will discuss the options available to you, and may recommend a specialist. Your vet will be your partner in determining what’s best for you, your family, and your fur baby.
A good way to find masses earlier is by using your hands. Once a month or so, give your dog or cat a thorough petting by running your hands over their back, neck, head, limbs, paws, tail, and belly if they allow you to. Also take a peak inside the ears and under the tail.
Make it fun for your fur baby. Concentrate on their favorite spot to be petted (whether that’s a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears or something else) while you’re examining them. Offer plenty of praise, and their favorite treat.
There are many reasons why we might want to remove a mass even if it isn’t “dangerous.” Maybe it’s unsightly, or maybe it gets snagged on things and gets inflamed.
In these cases, especially if the mass is small and your pet is otherwise healthy, your vet may recommend combining this procedure with another beneficial procedure such as a routine dental cleaning. That way, you can minimize the number of anesthetic episodes your pet receives.