Tuesday, November 23, 2010

252. The itchy 15-year-old & the 10-year old female dogs

"Can you remember this dog?" the man in his late 20s put the Maltese X with fully formed cataracts in her eyes on the consultation table.

"No," I said. "It is not easy to identify Malteses or their crosses as they look almost alike."

"In June, you extracted her right tooth which you said was infected with pus," the man said as I referred to the medical records.

"Yes," I said. "This 15-year-old must be the oldest dog in Singapore to suffer from an oro-nasal fistula. How is she now?"

"No more problem," the man showed me the right side of the face. Hair had fully grown and as I tried to open the dog's mouth, she turned her head away. The owner tried but was not successful. The old dog remembered the pain and was avoiding the pain.

"What's her problem today?" I asked.

"She is itchy and keeps rubbing her back on the floor."

The dog's back was losing hair compared to the fullness of hair on the face.

I put some of the back hairs under the microscope. "There is ringworm in the hairs," I asked the young man to view the hairs.

"Does the dog lick her private parts?" I asked. "See the vulval area. It is swollen and is 10 times larger than normal."

"I don't think so. She only licks her thighs," he said.

"To you, it appears that the thighs are itchy as well." I said. "She has some infections, either in the womb as she is not spayed or in the bladder. As she is so old, I would not advise spaying. If spaying had been done at a young age, we could be sure that the dog would not be suffering from infections of the womb or have ovarian cysts or tumours."

Due to economic reasons, I did not advocate more tests. The owner wanted to clip the dog himself as he had bought a clipper. "It is not that easy for you to shave her completely bald," I said. "You can't even open her mouth for me to examine her teeth." I had not forced this old dog to open her mouth this time as her main problem was the skin. It would be prudent to check the mouth but then she had her dental work and scaling just 6 months ago and had no bad breath. So, I spared her the agony.

What's the cause of the skin itchiness? Although ringworm is a primary cause in the back skin, there may be a more serious problem. It is likely that this 15-year-old dog has open pyometra. She keeps leaking out pus from her vagina. She licks off the discharge to be clean. So the irritated vulval lips become swollen 10X over the past few days or weeks. To the owner, she is just having itchy thighs and back area.

TIPS: Spay your female dog when she is young. If she lives to 15 years, she will not be having pyometra.

Her oro-nasal fistula case is recorded at:

"What are those bluish lumps?" the young lady asked me. "I check my dog daily and saw them last week." The soft lumps under the skin were present between MG4 and MG5 on the left side. MG = Mammary Gland (breasts).

"They are breast tumours," I said. "The lumps may be cancerous if they grow fast."

"What to do?"

"Surgery to remove them while they are small in size," I said. "If they are cancerous, they will spread to the other breasts or grow to big sizes like ping-pong balls.

As the lady was worried about anaesthesia, she chose to have a complete blood test done to check whether her dog was healthy. "Whether she is healthy or not," I said. "Your dog needs surgery if the breast tumours grow big and fast. It will be too late if you wait another few weeks."

Early spay will usually not result in breast tumours in the female dog in the majority of cases.

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