So we’ve been wrassling with a doggie health issue since the 4th of July. On the 4th we noticed that a little skin lump on his tummy had suddenly swelled up to the size of a golf ball. The backstory here is this: Mowgli’s an American Staffordshire terrier/Great Dane/misc. mix and his tummy has no hair. He has terrible seasonal allergies and in the summer his skin gets really rashy and itchy. He takes special doggie antihistamines and sometimes just straight up Benadryl. Anyway, I though that the little lump was a skin hive and related to the fact that I’d run out of his special allergy meds. I upped his Benadryl and left a message with the vet to bring him in on Monday (the 4th being a holiday).
So we get him into the vet and the vet’s all “ew, gross, that’s not right” and I’m agreeing so they did a needle biopsy to see what the big ole nasty lump is about.
On Tuesday Mowgli’s kind of sluggish, doesn’t come running for his breakfast, which is worrisome – this is NOT a dog who turns down food. I come home from work to see that he’s left his treats untouched and that his whole belly is freakishly swollen with fluids under the skin. And it looked like something from a horror movie because his skin has ruptured and he’s leaking blood and fluid and it’s just disgusting – I honestly expected a swarm of alien babies to appear at one point. (I’ll spare you all the gruesome details and photos because seriously, it was gross.) I freak out and call my husband to get home and to bring bandages. He rushes home and we go to the overnight emergency animal hospital. We arrive at about 8:30p and leave after midnight. The overnight vet took fluid samples to run a CBC (full blood test) and a culture of the weird fluid to see what kind of infection(s) he now has. Mowgli has a body temperature of about 105 at this point so it’s pretty clear that between the horror show and the temperature there’s some kind of infection raging through his poor little body. He’s just pitiful too – all he wants to do is climb up in our laps and cuddle so we can make him feel better. We go home with pain killers and antibiotics to start battling the infection.
At 6:30 Wednesday morning the overnight vet calls – the blood test came back clean – slightly elevated levels in one category but nothing to indicate organ failure or anything troublesome. We already have a vet appointment scheduled for Thursday morning to do a punch biopsy on the mass to see if it’s cancerous or not. The overnight vet tells us about something called mast cells and this seems like something that might be relevant as mast cell cancers release histamines in the skin and often present like skin allergies. So now we’re braced for a cancer diagnosis.
Thursday rolls in and we bring Mowgli to our vet. He’s shocked by the new grossness and warns us that he might not be able to do the punch biopsy because the infection and swelling might make Mowgli unable to take the local anesthetic and that’s going to be necessary since they want to cut a chunk out of his skin. We ;eave him at the vet for the day and I get a call at 1:30 that they did successfully get a biopsy and that he’s all done. Bring our poor confused, sick, tired, pup home and cuddle him. He has a single stitch but doesn’t have to wear a cone of shame. He’s got some necrotic tissue from the skin rupture but we’re to leave it alone for now and let his belly continue to drain if needed and just keep mopping up.
Mowgli was feeling pretty punky for a couple of days after that, but as of Sunday, he’s pretty much back to form. He’s eating like a champ, moving pretty well, barking at things again. He still gets slightly gross on occasion, but all in all he’s doing well.
We’d been told that all the test results would be in Monday, Tuesday at the latest. I got the call today (Wednesday) at about 5:30p, and it’s a mixed bag. All of the tests came back negative. As in no cancer, no infection, just “inflamed tissue.” And that’s clearly not right. There’s a golf ball sized hard lump and the antibiotics have clearly had a positive effect. So… we’re still on square one with how to proceed.
I talked with our vet for a while and we decided to do nothing until Monday afternoon – I already had an appointment to get Mowgli’s suture removed. The doctor’s taking over the appointment and wants to check out the area, see what he sees so we can decide our next steps. He ran over options with me and right now I’m leaning toward doing another punch biopsy, but deeper this time. The vet says it’s possible that the biopsy result was inconclusive because they didn’t cut far enough to find cancerous tissue as he was so very swollen on Thursday. It’s also possible that there’s something totally rare and weird going on. They also haven’t ruled out things like spider bite, weird encounter with something toxic in nature, that kind of thing.
Anyway… that’s what’s going on with Mowgli. We’re crossing our fingers and toes that it ends up being something easy to treat and then we’re done with it.
I’ve you have had a dog with skin cancer or funky skin I’d love to hear what you learned.
In the meantime, we cuddle and sleep with and pamper the boy.