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Mammary Gland Tumors in Dogs

By: Dr. Jeffrey Philibert

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Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical. Administer prescribed medications as directed, and be certain to alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your dog.

Specific optimal follow up veterinary care for mammary gland tumors in dogs and cats involves the following:

  • Initially, your dog will be recovering from surgery. Activity during this period should be restricted to allow for proper healing of the surgery site. Your dog is likely to be on a short 10 to 14 day course of antibiotics to prevent any infections from developing at the site of the mammary gland tumor removal. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a short course of anti-inflammatory pain medication. Less often, opiate pain medication, given by mouth or via a skin patch, may be prescribed.

  • Sutures (stitches) must be removed in 10 to 14 days after surgery, after skin healing has occurred.

  • The pathologist's biopsy report that comes after surgery is very important. With this information, your veterinarian or oncologist will determine with you if your pet needs further therapy.

  • Even if no follow up treatment is recommended, you should have your dog checked regularly for recurrence or spread of the cancer. Re-evaluation is recommended every two to three months for the first year, then every six months thereafter. Your veterinarian should perform a complete physical exam at these visits and obtain chest radiographs (x-rays) to be sure the cancer has not spread to the lungs.

  • You should examine your own dog routinely for signs of recurrence at the site of tumor removal or for the presence of new breast tumors in the remaining mammary glands.

  • Signs that may indicate the cancer has spread include decreased activity, weight loss, shortness of breath, coughing, decreased appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you note any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

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