As a pet parent, only a few things in life can break your heart than hearing your dog has a tumor.
It’s frustrating, depressing, and almost unbearable. Then comes the worry of the dog tumor removal cost. And whether or not it’s too late to save your dog.
As a pet owner and having worked as a vet assistant, I understand how hard processing all this information can be.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about a dog tumor, what it means for your dog and how much it costs to remove it.
What is Surgical Tumor Removal?
When the vet says your dog has a tumor, it means they have an unusual set of cells that grow, forming a lump.
In most cases, the vet will recommend immediate treatment even for the harmless lumps to prevent them from developing into anything cancerous.
Depending on the type or size of the tumor, the vet may recommend radiant treatment, chemotherapy, or surgical removal.
Of all the options, surgical removal is one of the most common solutions for dog tumors.
What are the Symptoms of a Tumor in a Dog?
It can be really hard to tell whether your dog has a tumor or not because some are internal.
However, some pet parents notice the lumps when they’re bathing their dogs or petting them. Although not all lumps are cancerous, it’s important to consult your vet anytime you feel any lump.
Unfortunately, some tumors aren’t outwardly evident as they’re deeply buried in the body. While you may not feel them, your vet may notice them during routine checkups. Therefore, it’s important to take your canine for a checkup every once in a while.
Other symptoms that you may notice depending on the kind of tumor your dog has include:
· Abnormal swelling
· Sores or wounds that are taking too long to heal
· Sudden noticeable weight loss
· Lack of appetite
· Abnormal discharge from ears, rectum, mouth or eyes
· Weird odor coming from your dogs’ ears, mouth or any other body parts
PS: Some of these symptoms don’t necessarily mean your dog has a lump, but it’s important to have them checked to confirm.
Surgical Tumor Removal Procedure in Dogs
Before the vet starts the surgical procedure, they’ll need to know the kind of tumor your dog has. This is what will guide them in planning the whole process.
To determine the kind of cancer your dog has, the vet removes a few cells through a needle, a procedure commonly known as fine need aspirate and send the cells to the lab for analysis.
If your dog has life-threatening cancer, the vet will note the cancer stage or extent of damage it has caused. The process will involve radiography to check for secondary tumors, checking how far the lymph nodes have spread, and scanning the rest of the body to see if they’re more cancerous cells.
The results help your vet decide whether your dog is fit for surgery, and if yes, how soon it needs to be done.
Extra blood tests are also done to check if the dog has other underlying health conditions that need to be considered during surgery. And to determine whether they’ll need intravenous fluids during the anesthetic. The dog is then given a pre-med injection that includes a painkiller in preparation for the anesthetic.
The anesthesia is induced in the dog’s leg through a catheter and is maintained using anesthetic gas supplied through their windpipe.
Next, the vet clips the area near the tumor and sterilizes it with surgical scrub. If the tumor is internal, the preparation is made by making an incision to give access.
Finally, the lump is removed with huge tissue margins around the lump. The incision is then sealed with sutures, and the wound is dressed (if necessary).
The growth is then further tested to understand the diagnose and ensure it’s all been removed.
Efficacy of Dog Tumor Removal
They’re so many factors that determine whether a dog tumor removal is a success or not.
Some of them include:
· How far the tumor had gone before it was discovered
· How accessible it is for removal
· Amount of tissue that was removed around the tumor
· The surgical technique that was used to remove the tumor
· The type of tumor your dog has
If a dog has a large malignant mass, the surgery will only help reduce the symptoms and allow the dog to live a longer, quality life.
On the other hand, if the dog only has small benign masses, surgery can be curative. After the lump is removed, it’s sent to the laboratory for further analysis. This aids in confirming that the cancer was entirely removed by eliminating the proper amount of tissue around the tumor. The analysis also helps in ensuring that the tumor doesn’t re-occur.
However, in many cases, the surgery is successful, especially when the preparation is well done. This means screening before surgery to confirm the patient is fit for the surgery.
Surgical Tumor Removal Recovery in Dogs
It will take 10-14 days for the dog to recover and regain its energy and appetite if it underwent a simple procedure.
However, your dog may require support during its recovery journey.
Here are some things you can do to make their recovery process tolerable.
Keep the Surgical Site Clean
Ensure that the site is clean and dry until the external stitches are removed. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done because your dog will keep attempting to lick the wound.
To prevent this from happening, make sure the wound is dressed at all times or get them an Elizabethan collar.
This also means keeping your dog from activities like swimming, baths and limiting outdoor activities that may make them messy.
Just like humans, dog tumor removal may cause some kind of discomfort. Therefore, the vet will recommend some painkillers and antibiotics to relieve pain and protect them from getting infections.
Ensure you buy the meds, and if your dog has trouble taking them, consult your vet.
Food, Water & Rest
Although your dog may have trouble feeding for the first 48 hours, it eventually regains its appetite. Ensure your dog is hydrated at all times by placing their water bowl where they can easily access it.
You’ll also need to ensure your dog is getting enough rest to avoid straining its wound.
If your dog is hyperactive, consider crating them to prevent jumping on beds and couches.
After 48 hours, you can take them for short walks on a leash.
Keep an Eye on Them
Check your dog’s surgical site to ensure they’re recovering well. Some of the warning signs to check out include:
· Any redness on the wound
· No signs of improvement
· Your dog has ticks and fleas that have to be washed before their stitches are removed ( this isn’t a warning sign but you’ll need to consult your vet).
· Bleeding and swelling
If you notice any of these signs, take your dog to the vet immediately.
Cost of Surgical Tumor Removal in Dogs
A mast cell tumor surgery can cost anywhere between $180-$2000, depending on the complexity of the surgery.
There are many factors that determine the surgery costs, and the procedure cost is just part of the cost.
For example, your dog will need x-rays that may cost $60-$180, ultrasounds that may go anywhere between $60-$280, and other screening costs.
Depending on the nature of the tumor, they may also require radiation and chemotherapy treatments that may require specialists. This can amount to thousands of dollars.
Although many surgeons are well-equipped for mass removal, if the lump is hidden, you may need the help of a specialist, which may cost more.
While all these costs may discourage you or tempt you to wait longer, it’s better to address the issue as soon as possible. The tumors may have long-term effects that may be life-threatening for your dog and cost you more.
If the cost is too much, ask your vet if they can give you a payment plan to ease the pressure. Additionally, consider setting up a Go Fund Me page for your pet; many pet parents out there are always happy to help.
Lastly, consider taking pet insurance to be on the safe side in the future.
Dog Surgical Tumor Removal Considerations
Dog tumor removals range from simple to complex surgical procedures. And although surgical tumor removal is always the safest and best way to cure dog tumors, it can cause more harm than good in some cases.
Before the vet goes through with surgery, they have to ensure the benefits will outweigh the risks.
The procedure can be draining, and it requires your dog to be healthy to heal and recover.
If cancer has already spread too far and your dog is weak, you may have to explore other options.
Sometimes removing the tumor can lead to cancer spreading further in other parts of the body reducing the dog’s quality of life.
In these cases, the vet may suggest pain suppressing meds to prolong your dog’s life.
Surgical Tumor Removal Prevention in Dogs
When your dog is diagnosed with a tumor, it’s easy to beat up yourself and wonder what you’d have done differently to protect your dog.
However, it’s nothing you did wrong that led to the tumor. There is really no way to protect our pets from cancer.
That said, feeding your dog the proper diet and exercising them enough can push the odds in their favor. By doing so, even if your dog can cope with the treatment even if they get a tumor.
Additionally, you can keep an eye on your dog by always checking for tumors weekly or during their baths.
If you find any lumps, check their texture and size, photograph them, and take any details you can.
Lastly, share this information with your vet because the earlier the lumps are dealt with, the better and easier it will be to get rid of them.
Mistakes to Avoid in Dog Tumor Removal
Although there is nothing you can do to prevent mast cell tumors, they’re mistakes you can avoid once they’re discovered to increase your dog’s survival chances.
Some of them include:
Not taking action immediately
I can’t stress enough the importance of talking to your vet about the lump the moment you see it.
Many pet parents ignore the lump until the dog starts showing some kind of discomfort.
Waiting will ultimately cost you more money and cause more distress to your dog.
Removing a tumor without testing it
Scar revisions can be very stressful for pets, and they mainly occur because tumors were removed blindly.
I get that you want the lump or tumor gone, but it’s crucial to know whether it’s cancerous or not.
The pre-tests will also allow showing the extent of the tumor, which will dictate the best way forward.
Declining a biopsy
This may seem like an unnecessary extra cost, but it’s vital for your dog’s safety.
Even if your dog says the masses are removed to look benign, it’s best to confirm.
If your dog has 3 tumors removed, have each of them tested. In some cases, some can be benign while others are malignant.
Confirm the margins are clean
I know this may feel like a lot of jargon, and understanding the biopsy jargon can be daunting.
To simplify, the margin refers to the area of tissue cut from the surgical site to avoid the re-occurrence of the tumor.
The margin is determined by the type of tumor. For instance, while the report may say that <1mm is clean, this is a tiny margin for a malignant tumor.
So, ask about the margin and consult an oncologist if your vet isn’t sure.
Not consulting a specialist.
There is always the fear of how much-specialized services will cost. However, don’t give up before even inquiring about their prices. If your dog really requires a specialist, try getting a referral.
Dog Tumor Removal Cost (Conclusion)
Learning that your dog has a tumor is the worst news you can receive as a pet parent.
A tumor can cause so much distress to your dog, and it can be financially draining too.
However, whatever you do, take action as fast as you can to avoid further damage.
I hope you got some helpful insights from our blog post.
And if your dog has just been diagnosed, we are sending you lots of love. XOXO.