While the holidays are a time for baked goods galore, it’s often unsafe for our four-legged friends to join in on the sugar-filled fun. Just before Christmas, Tinkerbell, a two-year-old, five-pound Chihuahua, wolfed down eight macadamia nut cookies that she found in her pet parent’s backpack. When her pet parent, Joseph C., saw that Tinkerbell was vomiting and lethargic, he brought her to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH).
ASPCA veterinarian Dr. Michael Dugan assessed Tinkerbell, and submitted lab work. Her symptoms and test results were consistent with possible macadamia nut toxicity. AAH staff consulted with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and confirmed that this was a strong possibility.
Tinkerbell was admitted to AAH where she received supportive care in the Intensive Care Unit. Luckily, she responded well to treatment. She went home the next day with antibiotics and antacids, and Joseph reports that she has made a full recovery. He says from now on, he’ll keep sweet treats out of Tinkerbell’s reach. We’re so glad this tiny pup is happy and healthy!
Many pet parents don't realize that pets can also suffer from breast cancer. In veterinary medicine, these tumors are referred to as mammary gland tumors, and are unfortunately one of the most common kinds of cancer in pets.
Cats generally have eight mammary glands, arranged in four pairs. Dogs usually have 10 glands arranged in five pairs, though the number varies with the size of the dog. Mammary gland tumors in dogs and cats can be benign or malignant. In cats, around 90% of mammary gland tumors are malignant. In dogs, approximately 50% are malignant.
How can mammary gland tumors be prevented in dogs and cats?
The most effective way to prevent mammary gland tumors is to have your pet spayed before she ever goes into heat. There is a myth that animals should have one heat cycle (or give birth to one litter) before they are spayed. In fact, dogs who are spayed before their first heat cycle are 2,000 times less likely to develop breast cancer! Cats spayed before their first heat are 91% less likely to develop breast cancer than unspayed cats. After just one heat cycle, the risk rises in both dogs and cats.
Detecting mammary gland tumors
Just like in people, performing mammary exams in dogs and cats is very important. Early detection is key. If your dog or cat allows, perform a mammary exam on her once a month. Gently feel the tissue under and around each nipple, "rolling" the tissue between your fingers. Very small mammary tumors often feel like a little BB pellet under the skin. If you feel even a tiny lump or firm area, bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
There is evidence that canine mammary tumors can become malignant over time, so prompt removal is essential.
Treatment of mammary gland tumors in pets
The main treatment at this time is surgical removal. Depending on the situation, your pet may need to have the affected mammary gland, several mammary glands, or all the glands on that side of her body removed. The tumor that is removed will be sent to the lab for a biopsy to tell you if it is benign or malignant. If the tumor is malignant, your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary oncologist for consultation.
Selecting a veterinarian can be a daunting process for some. From convenience and price to competency and compassion, there are a number of factors that you may consider when deciding on a doctor for your pet.
Barbara Glover had many reasons to select the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) as her veterinary practice of choice. She has been an ASPCA adopter and a volunteer for more than 10 years. She has been coming to the ASPCA hospital since 2006 because she trusts the doctors and staff to provide the best care for her special-needs animals.
In 2008, Barbara’s cat Leo had already received treatment for hyperthyroidism and was several months into treatment for small cell lymphoma when Barbara learned that Jazz, the love of her life, had cancer. She began a rigorous course of chemotherapy treatments for him, but knew that it was time to say goodbye a few months later when his mass continued to grow. Barbara says that when the time had come for Jazz, everyone at the ASPCA was so wonderful and so compassionate that saying goodbye to Jazz was one of the most memorable and touching experiences she ever had at the hospital.
Dr. Janice Fenichel, who has been treating Barbara’s cats for years, says Barbara is an amazing client. “She is always right on top of things,” Dr. Fenichel notes. “She is very aware and conscientious and follows through.” She also says that Barbara will go the extra mile for her pets, but knows when to make the hard call.
Barbara has had kitties with a wide range of special needs, including socialization issues, neurological conditions, hip laxity, heart conditions and blindness. Her current kitties—Serena (born with no eyes), Creamsicle (heart disease and a neurological disorder) and Pumpernickel (rear-limb weakness)—all receive buckets of attention from AAH’s staff on every visit, and it’s one of the reasons that Barbara keeps coming back.
When all is said and done, your choice of veterinarian simply needs to “feel right.” Whether it’s the way the staff greets you, or the way the nurse carries your pet into the exam room, or even the way the doctor is able to explain something frightening in a reassuring way, your veterinarian should not only be a medical expert, but a trusted partner in the care of your pets.
Looking for a trusted vet? To make an appointment at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, pleasefill out this formor contact us at (646) 259-4080.
This story begins when Vanessa Jacobs, a licensed veterinary technician at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, spotted a young cat on a rooftop. Vanessa was concerned that the cat was stuck on the roof. She threw food down to the cat, and notified her coworkers at the ASPCA’s Animal Hospital.
Michelle Falcon, the Hospital’s Internal Medicine Department Manager and “cat wrangler extraordinaire,” rushed to the location. Once at the site, Michelle and Vanessa met up with NYC Animal Care & Control Field Supervisor Kevin Sexton, who gained access to a nearby building to survey the roof. But there was no cat to be found.
The assembled group conferred: Perhaps the little cat had climbed down via a nearby tree? But Vanessa was worried–she really felt the cat had been in distress. That’s when the FDNY got involved. Gallant firefighters from the local firehouse used their ladder to climb up to the roof and conduct a thorough search.
A firefighter’s sharp eyes spotted the maiden in distress. She was crouched behind a ledge with big frightened eyes. Her knight in firefighting gear gently lifted her into a carrier and delivered her safely to those waiting below.
Next stop: the ASPCA! The now-safe feline waif was assessed by the medical staff at the ASPCA’s headquarters on 92nd Street in Manhattan. Dr. Anna Whitehead performed a thorough exam and blood work, and found the kitten to be around six months old, dehydrated and much too thin, with fleas and ear mites, but otherwise healthy. The sweet kitten, thrilled to be in caring hands, purred gratefully. She was treated with intravenous fluids and anti-parasite medications, dewormed, vaccinated, and given plenty of nutritious food.
After a few days of hydration, square meals, and plenty of pampering, “Vanessa,” as she had been dubbed in honor of the persistent technician who saved her life, was pronounced ready to move to the ASPCA’s Adoption Center and await that special family to start the next chapter of her life! Our guess is that Vanessa has had more than her share of excitement, and will be happy to be a lap kitty for the rest of her days.
Interested in adopting our brave Vanessa? Please call the ASPCA Adoption Centerat (212) 876-7700, ext. 4120. To make an appointment at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, please fill out this formor contact us at (646) 259-4080.
Small animal internal medicine specialist Dr. Kristen Frank is a staff internist at the ASPCA Animal Hospital in Manhattan.
Treating pets, adoptable animals and those rescued by the ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group, Dr. Frank regularly assists with abdominal ultrasounds and other procedures, checks in on emergency room patients, and helps monitor animals’ recovery from injury and disease. She also supervises ASPCA Animal Hospital interns.
Dr. Frank brought a wealth of experience with her when she joined the ASPCA Animal Hospital in 2012. After receiving her undergraduate and veterinary degrees at the University of Florida, Dr. Frank completed an internship at the New York City Animal Medical Center, followed by a three-year residency in internal medicine at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston. Lucky for us, Dr. Frank decided to return to New York City, where she worked for two private veterinary practices before joining our team.
Dr. Frank chose internal medicine due to its wide scope. “I enjoy getting involved in cases and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together,” she says.
We asked Dr. Frank to tell us about a particularly rewarding recent case, and right away she thought of Markita, a sweet cat who had been returned to the ASPCA Adoption Center suffering from liver dysfunction. After examining Markita’s blood work and a series of ultrasounds, Dr. Frank and her team determined the cat’s issues stemmed from stress that prevented her from eating.
Today Markita is benefiting from a feeding tube and is well on her way to recovery. Soon, Dr. Frank says, Markita will return to the Adoption Center to find a loving home.
Pet parents in the New York City area can make appointments with Dr. Frank by calling (212) 876-7700, ext. 4200, or by emailing AAH@aspca.org.