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Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 20148
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with 15 years experience
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My 11 year old GSD looks in really good health (coatwise) but

Customer Question

My 11 year old GSD looks in really good health (coatwise) but has a lump the size of a tennis ball hanging from her breast which is hard and very purple. I did take her to my vet and they want to operate on her plus spay her at the same time etc.

About 6 years ago they took around a third off the length of her tail due to cancer and recently that is growing a sore (which sometimes bleeds) near the end but on the side of the tail.

I really am struggling with this decision as I lost my husband in February this year but I wonder if you would be honest with me as I am thinking that she probably has not got a long time left anyway as a GSD lifespan and she is so so frightened of the vets in general since having had the tail amputation. They did do a biopsy and said that some cells were benign and some malignant. They put her on Rimadyl and she is now chewing her feet off!!!! Please can you offer advice on an alternative to Rimadyl as my vet is making me feel so horrible and mean that I am just going to make her life as nice as I can before ending it with sleep. This is much better for Holly instead of all the major surgery they want to do. Thanks Suzie Grimshaw
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Bruce replied 3 years ago.

Welcome. I'm Dr. Bruce and I've been a small animal veterinarian for over 13 years. Thank you for your question. I'm sorry to hear about this situation with Holly. There are lots of very hard decisions that pet owners have to make for their loved ones. I know how you are struggling with the decision of what is best for Holly. You don't want to put her through a major surgery if it doesn't really help increase her overall quality of health and lifespan. I'll be honest and say that I have seen many GSD's that are 13 and 14 years old. Older than that, they aren't as common. So she is getting up there in years, but in saying that, she could still have a very productive and happy life for what she has left. The reason your vet wants to remove the mass on the breast is to debulk that. I'll be honest here and say that the mass will most likely start to become locally unhealthy and get a sore area from it contacting the ground / rubbing and it will start to bleed. When this happens, usually the pet is still very active and feeling well. It is the mass now bleeding because it is unhealthy that makes a mess and makes a lot of owners either remove it or make a quality of life decision. I would present to you a middle of the road decision. Remove the obvious mass as this could be a straightforward and easy surgery so it doesn't cause a local problem. They want to spay her as this is totally what is recommended to help reduce the chance of other mammary tumors developing as they are estrogen responsive, but you could elect to not do that. It is more invasive as it requires going into the abdomen, but for the most part dogs handle this very well. Depending on where the mass is on the mammary gland, it may not be all that much more to spay her at the same time.

I know she is frightened of the vet's office, but in a situation like this, is that worth the chance to have more time with her where she enjoys things? I don't think your vet is trying to make you feel horrible. They want to make sure you know what options you have available to help Holly out.

If she is chewing her feet off with the Rimadyl, then one option there is to stop it. Rimadyl is used for pain management and this mammary tumor shouldn't be painful. Please hit reply to let me know what questions this brings up. I want to help as much as I can with your little girl.