Gum Tumours In Old Dogs
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
Case done: May 25, 2009
Date: 28 June, 2011
Be Kind To Pets
2011, I usually consult from 9.30 am to 11 am except on Saturdays
while Dr Vanessa Lin practises from 11 am to 7 pm. The caseload is
sufficient for one vet without giving undue stress and causing long
waiting times of more than 15 minutes in the majority of cases.
From Sunday to Thursday, starting from Sunday, June 27, 2011, I was
on full-day duty as Dr Vanessa Lin had taken leave. Sunday had
two interesting cases, the most memorable was the
Fibrosarcomas in a young cat brought
in for a second opinion by a young couple in their early 30s.
The second memorable case of the 12-year-old Fox Terrier which had
"skin disease" every 6 months for the past 10 years. The owner was
living in Toa Payoh and did not know that Toa Payoh Vets existed
till he searched the internet yesterday. He had been to another
practice for the past 10 years till recently when the vet in that
practice gave him another type of antibiotics which did not cure his
dog from having dandruff and itchiness.
I looked at his veterinary report and said: "The vet recommends
total canal ablation with bulla ostectomy. Why don't you accept
"The cost of the surgery is $3,000!" the man in his 50s said. "After
10 years consulting the vets there, I am told that my dog needs an
ear surgery! Every time I go there, I see a different vet!"
I said: "The surgery recommended takes a longer time to perform and
therefore costs more than a simple lateral canal resection
which costs around $500 per ear in Toa Payoh Vets".
"You go to a very busy brand-name practice. More pet owners go there
for the name too and don't mind waiting for over an hour. Therefore
it must employ many vets to cope with the large numbers of cases.
Therefore, you don't get to see the same vet every time you go there
for your antibiotics."
It is not a good practice to just prescribe antibiotics when the
owner asks for it as the dog needs to be examined. But I note that
some owners in my practice request the same medication for their
skin problems too. Usually, I will not give them repeat medication
after two times as skin problems need to be reviewed as you can see
in this Fox Terrier case where antibiotics every half yearly for the
past 10 years has not resolved the problem. The dog had large
circular patches characteristic of ringworm in his trunk and legs!
Antibiotics do NOT cure ringworm!
I am still handling the Fox Terrier which was a generalised ringworm
infection including infestation of the two dog ears which are black
pigmented due to the last 10 years of scratching. If the
ringworm and yeast infections in the ears can be cured, there is no
need for the $3,000 ear surgery or any ear surgery in this old dog.
It is 12 years old and is a very high anaesthetic risk case. I don't
want to do this ear surgery as no dog owner appreciates a dead dog
on the operating table even if the veterinary cost is only $5.00.
Back from my digression, on Monday, June 27, 2011, a young man in
his late 20s wanted me to examine an 8-year-old toy poodle he had
adopted. The dog was well groomed but his internal health was
"This dog has a large gum tumour on the left upper gum and bad
breath," I showed him the reddish purple tumour of 8 cm x 5 cm by
everting the left upper lip of the dog.
"Are you sure you want to adopt this dog? Why not adopt a younger
one as you will need to spend money to cure this old dog," I
"The dog is thin and dehydrated due to his difficulty in eating and
drinking," I said. "His gum tumour needs to be removed. There is a
high chance that he may die on the operating table as he is a very
high anaesthetic risk. I have to be upfront with you about the
financial costs to prevent misunderstanding. Removal of the gum
tumour does not mean that the tumour will not recur again if it is
cancerous. I have a young lady client who had her dog with a similar
problem operated 3 or 4 times by me as the gum tumour was
The young man was OK with the
money matters. A blood test was taken. The dog was given
antibiotics for the next 7 days. Whatever the results of the blood
test, there was no option but surgical excision of the gum tumour as
the dog had great pain and difficulty in eating and drinking. The
teeth and gum were infected too.
I searched my past case histories and below is a similar case of a
gum tumour in an old dog. Most likely I will use electro-surgery to
excise the gum tumour of the toy poodle. Gum and mouth tumours occur
in dogs whose dental health is poor. So, a good tip for dog owners
to prevent such tumours will be to get their dog's teeth and gums in
good health and to get a dental scaling done at least once in two
years and to brush the teeth!
May 2009 case. Intern Daphne seen here
had completed her A levels. Now, she
is a 2nd year veterinary undergraduate
and enjoying every second of her
studies in Australia. I remember
Daphne well as she has a happy
and a keen interest in veterinary medicine and surgery
- 2356. Ensure that the dog is stable. Had
antibiotics >7days. Plan ahead for
your surgery. Shorten
isoflurane gas anaesthesia and surgery
time to minimum to ensure survival of
old dogs. Don't do dental scaling and
extraction. What the owner wants is a
live dog at the end of surgery.
Therefore decrease surgery time by
using a bigger team to assist during
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