Americans love their pets, and for most animal owners, their pets are like members of the family. In fact, according to recent statistics, pet owners spend an average of about $125 monthly on their pets. Dogs are the second-most expensive, with an average of just under $140 spent every month. Horses rank number one at over twice that amount.
In addition to food, toys, treats, and clothing, pets require medical attention for both routine care, such as their vaccinations and checkups, as well as care to manage any chronic or acute conditions. Unfortunately, they also sometimes require surgery or other advanced care measures. Here is a look at some of the more common medical conditions dogs acquire that are seen at the veterinary hospital.
Malignant Skin Tumors
Just as people can get melanoma or other skin cancers, so too can canines. Melanoma is common in dogs with light colored hair and underlying skin, as it has less protection from the sun, but most melanomas are found in the mucous membranes of the mouth or between the toes. These are usually fast-growing tumors that metastasize, or spread, to the dog's internal organs, like the lungs.
A dog can also develop another type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. These cancers are usually related to sun exposure, and the tumors tend to occur in areas that have less hair, such as the ears or groin. They are slow-growing, so they don't usually metastasize, but they can grow deeply, requiring extensive tissue removal around the growth. A dog can also develop mast cell tumors, which are subcutaneous, or under the skin.
Middle-aged dogs with short coats are most prone to developing malignant skin cancer tumors. As with people, treatment options usually include a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Spleen cancer begins in the blood vessels and frequently metastasizes via the blood vessels to the liver as well as the heart, lungs, and brain. A spleen tumor can be quite large, and there is risk of the blood vessels rupturing, an emergency condition. Unfortunately, this is often the owner's first clue that something is wrong with the dog. This is one reason why regular checkups in pets are so important. When a dog does show symptoms, it is typically weight loss and general fatigue. In-patient veterinary care and surgical removal of the spleen is the only treatment, and the limited life extension must be weighed with the quality of life.
Puppies and older dogs alike sometimes eat things they shouldn't eat. This can cause an intestinal blockage or obstruction. It may be a partial or complete obstruction. Ultrasound and endoscopy are used to diagnose the cause of the blockage, and then surgery is performed to remove the obstruction.
If you're concerned that your dog could have one of these conditions or another condition, contact a local veterinary hospital to get them checked out.