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Mast Cell Tumors (Mastocytoma) 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 crucial. Administer as directed any prescribed medications and call your veterinarian if you have difficulty administering them.

Restrict your pet's activity during the time he is recovering from surgery, usually 10 to 14 days, to allow for proper healing of the surgery site.

Your pet may be placed on a 7- to 14-day course of antibiotics to prevent infection from developing at the site of tumor removal.

Your veterinarian may prescribe a short course of anti-inflammatory analgesic medications. In cases in which radical surgery was necessary, your veterinarian may prescribe narcotic analgesic medications. These medications may be given by mouth or in the form of a patch applied to the shaved skin. The patch is placed on your pet's shaved skin and the narcotic is absorbed slowly over several days, delivering constant pain relief.

Your dog usually will need to have sutures removed from the skin 14 to 21 days after surgery after healing has occurred.

The veterinary pathologist's biopsy report will help your veterinarian (often in consultation with a veterinary oncologist) decide if your dog needs additional treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Even if no follow-up treatment is recommended, your pet should be evaluated on a regular basis for recurrence or spread of the mast cell tumor. Follow-up examinations are recommended every 2 to 3 months for the first year and then every 6 months thereafter for dogs with mast cell tumor. Your veterinarian will take a complete history and perform a thorough physical examination during re-evaluations, and may also perform buffy coat smears to check for circulating mast cells.

You should examine your pet routinely for signs of recurrence at the site of tumor removal or for new masses. Unfortunately, dogs that develop one mast cell tumor may have a tendency to develop others during their lifetime. If you detect any skin masses, contact your veterinarian for a re-evaluation visit.

Signs to watch for that may indicate spread of the mast cell tumor may include decreased activity, decreased appetite, vomiting or diarrhea. If you note any of these signs, contact your veterinarian to schedule a re-evaluation visit.

If your pet receives either radiation therapy or chemotherapy, your veterinary oncologist will instruct you on proper follow-up.

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