We can perform the full range of operations usually performed at Vet surgeries, including joint and bone surgery, soft tissue surgery, and obstetrics. Some operations require a large surgical team or special equipment which is usually only available at specialist centres, for these procedures we can refer clients to either the local specialist or a Brisbane specialist if required.
Surgical removal of Skin lumps
As a dog ages almost, all of them will develop a skin lump or two, most lumps will grow very slowly while some will quickly grow larger, most owners usually notice them while they are patting or grooming their pets. With older pets it’s worthwhile remembering to give your pet’s skin a good looking over when you pat them, so you will be familiar with their normal skin, so you can notice anything out of the ordinary.
What to do if you find a lump?
To be on the safe side it would be worthwhile to have a new lump or skin change looked at by a Vet, lots of the lumps will be fine; in cases where a lump is possibly a more dangerous type it may be safer to have them removed at an early stage. In older dogs lumps that enlarge quickly over a few weeks, ulcerate or develop a similar lump nearby, are more suspicious than a lump which hasn’t changed in years.
Some types of skin lump
Lipoma (fat) and cysts (fluid)-
A lipoma is one of the most frequently seen type of skin lump in the middle aged or older dog, these are particularly common on the lower chest. They are usually small movable lumps composed of fatty tissue, soft, around one to two centimetres in size, and can be felt just under the skin surface. Most of these will grow fairly quickly to one to two centimetres in diameter then stop growing. A slightly different type of fat lump which occurs in the deep tissues under the skin will continue to enlarge and, in some larger dogs, may reach half the size of a soccer ball. The small lumps tend to be easily movable in the tissue under the skin while the larger lumps are firmly attached to the underlaying muscle layer.
Most of the smaller lumps can be left alone if they do not enlarge, however the deeper lipomas will continue to grow in a lot of cases and should be removed if they are likely to interfere with the pet’s daily life.
Another familiar type of skin lump in dogs and cats is called a cyst, they may contain dried oil material (sebaceous cyst) or be filled with yellow fluid. They can occur at any age in pets and are usually small (less than 1cm) and can be quite firm or soft if fluid filled.
Sebaceous cysts usually occur when the opening of an oil gland becomes blocked and the oil builds up in the gland, over a time he oil dries out and forms a firm cyst. It is relatively easy to lance them and express the contents of the cyst which has a consistency of tooth paste; this will usually fix the problem.
The other fluid filled Cyst can enlarge to a few centimetres or more in size; they are usually soft and may have a very thin layer of skin overlaying them if they are large. Lancing a cyst and removing the fluid may give a temporary reduction in its size but it will usually refill with fluid soon after. To permanently removal of the cyst, surgical excision of the whole structure including the wall of the cyst is required, this is because the cells that produces the fluid are found in the wall and surrounding tissue.
Sebaceous hyperplasia (looks like a large wart)
Occurs in all old dogs, but some breeds particularly Poodles it may be more common. Typically, there will be single, or multiple unpleasant looking raised wart like lumps on their skin; sometimes they can bleed, be itchy, or be covered in crusts. Despite their appearance they are usually harmless and are caused by an overgrowth of the oil gland cells (Sebaceous hyperplasia).
They can be removed, if they cause problems; if you find their appearance unsightly or if your pet is scratching at them. It is likely that more will appear over time, so your pet may require further lump removals as they grow over the years.
Not so nice lumps (Malignant cancers/neoplasia)
While many skin lumps are benign, some malignant skin lumps will also be found from time to time. Visually, good and bad lumps, can appear very similar and Laboratory testing (histopathology) may be required to tell them apart. Histopathology is always recommended when there is doubt about what type of lump we are dealing with. It is also a necessity if further specialist treatment, like chemotherapy, is being considered as part of the treatment regime.
When to remove a lump
-If you personally, are concerned about the lump and would rather see it gone
-If it is malignant or likely to be malignant
-If its position may cause future problems and early removal is of a benefit
-If it continues to enlarge, bleed, cause irritation or pain to your pet
Knee surgery for Anterior Cruciate Ligament rupture
Knee ligament damage (ACL) is becoming more common in young people who play sports involving rapid turns and stops, there is speculation the increased incidence may be due to taller players, higher centre of gravity and lack of agility training. In people an ACL rupture is commonly a sudden even occurring during vigorous exercise. In dogs the way a ligament injury occurs may be a little different, there will be pets who do suddenly rupture their ACL during exercise, but just as commonly a pet may have a slowly developing damage to the ligament which may finally break after only mild exercise.
In a normal knee joint there is very little down ward tilt of the front of the knee, if the joint is not horizontal with the ground, the ACL has to work a lot harder to stabilise the joint. This abnormal excessive pressure on the ligament can cause either a slow strand by strand failure or a sudden rupture.
Because this is a structural problem with the joint shape, both knees can be equally affected; once one leg is damaged the ACL on other leg may also break.
Conservative treatment- (for small pets, very old pets, or where surgery is unaffordable)
Non-surgical treatment can be tried in some small dogs, old pets or where surgery is too expensive; it usually involves restricting exercise for a prolonged period of time and the use of medications designed to slow down the development of arthritis. In some pets a thick fibrous tissue capsule will develop around the joint which can give enough stabilisation to let a pet get around with a reasonable degree of freedom. Physiotherapy at home will help maintain joint mobility.
Most of the available surgical techniques currently in use, are meant to reduce the movement in the joint but not to make a replacement Anterior cruciate ligament. In the past, various types of material were tried with disappointing results, as the implants tended to break after a while. Two approaches to correcting the injury are followed; the less expensive technique can be used in small dogs, but most large dogs require the more expensive surgery. (so, insurance is a handy thing to have).
Extracapsular surgery. (small dogs)
This repair relies on developing a fibrous tissue capsule to stabilise the joint, heavy suture like material is placed through the joint to reduce the abnormal backward and forward sliding motion across the joint. The suture material needs to maintain stability until the fibrous material is fully formed; the repair will fail if it becomes stretched or works its way through the tissues. It is very important to reduce the amount of exercise during the convalescent period to get the best possible result; too much exercise will result in a loose joint and inadequate repair.
Correction of the knee joint angle. (TPLO, TCA)
Both of these surgeries reduce the abnormal motion across the knee joint by changing the angle of the knee joint surface by cutting the shin bone and then using metal implants to fix it in a different position. Heavy or very active dogs will have a better outcome with these surgeries; the TCA surgery may have a faster return to normal function as it doesn’t involve transection of the tibia.
Obstructions of the intestines (eating the wrong thing)
Dog and cats can sometimes eat items they shouldn’t eat, these can be either non-food items such as pieces of toys, stones, and fabric or indigestible large items of food, such as bone or vegetables. Some pets show very little discrimination in their eating habits and will try to eat almost anything; many times, they will later throw up the stuff they have eaten with no ill effects. On rare occasions the object will get caught in the stomach or bowel and cause an obstruction of the digestive tract. When this happens, they can become quite ill, depending on where in the bowel the object has lodged and whether or not it is a total obstruction or partial.
Objects causing a total obstruction, in the stomach or upper small intestine will make pets ill very quickly, usually with large amounts of vomiting, loss of interest in food and they appear miserable. Without treatment to correct the problem (often surgically) many pets will not survive. Objects can sometimes lodge in the oesophagus where it passes through the chest, the only symptom may be a loss of appetite and sometimes salivation; many objects lodged in the oesophagus can be removed with an endoscope.
Smaller items may not cause a total obstruction of the bowel and may even move along slowly down the bowel, causing the pet to be off colour with recurrent bouts of ill health.
Hairballs. (Fur ingested during normal grooming or pica)
The classic hairball looks like a tightly compacted hair sausage that the cat has just thrown-up on your bed. When a cat grooms itself, the comb like hooks on its tongue strip a lot of loose hair from its coat, the cat will then swallow most of the hair. Much of the ingested hair passes through the cat as loose hair but some long-haired cat can have the hair in the stomach tangle together in a matted knot which is too large to pass through. This is what usually comes out as a hairball.
Rarely a small knot of hair may enter the small intestine and cause a blockage, or a very large ball of hair can collect in the stomach and effectively fill the entire stomach.
The chance of getting Hairballs can be reduced by regular brushing of the coat to remove loose hair, laxatives (paraffin based), or propriety hairball diets. In some cases, it may be easier to have the cat’s coat regularly clipped to reduce the length and reduce the chance of forming a tangle.
A small number of dogs can also develop hairballs, these are usually long-haired breeds with problems that make them very itchy and they lick out large amounts of their own hair. There is also an unusual mental disorder called Pica, which may cause them to obsessively eat non-food items including their own hair.
Bladder stones (Uroliths)
What are they?
Urine normally contains dissolved elements including such as calcium, magnesium, carbon, phosphorus and oxygen, in various combinations. When the conditions in the bladder are just right these elements can combine together to form minerals which can then produce large or small crystals, much like you may find in nature but formed by biological means. If the crystals are small enough they will pass out of the urinary system without being noticed, but if they form a large stone they will cause a problem.
Struvite or Calcium carbonate stones are the two most commonly found types of bladder stones in dogs and cats.
What symptoms do pets show?
In dogs recurrent urinary infections that do not respond to antibiotics, may indicate the presence of bladder stones or more rarely kidney stones. Many of the symptoms are due to the irritation to the bladder wall directly by a rough surfaced stone, or secondary infections.
- Frequent small volume urination sometimes red coloured due to the presence of red blood cell, discomfort during urination and foul-smelling urine
- A significant number may have stones present in the bladder and show no symptoms
How are they diagnosed?
- Larger stones may be felt inside the bladder during an examination
- Urine samples to look for cells and small crystals can be important.
- Radiographs and ultrasounds can provide information on the size and number of stones present.
How are they treated?
-If they are not causing complications, some stones may occasionally be dissolved away with a prescription diet. If struvite-based stones are present the diet may help to reduce the chance of reoccurrence.
- Other stones particularly calcium carbonate stones will need to be surgically removed from the bladder
What are they?
-Small lacerations or wounds of the skin can have a lot of causes, trauma, infection, and chemical or thermal injuries, to name a few. Some of the commonest seen are dog/cat bite wounds or small lacerations caused by running into a sharp edged or pointed object.
What symptoms do pets show?
- Traumatic wounds may be very visually distressing to the owner but may not be as severe as they first appear, simple first aid (Caution is required with freshly traumatised pets, as they may bite because they are highly stressed) if possible hand pressure can be applied to bleeding wound or bandaging to prevent further damage to the area.
- Open wounds developing after a local infection (cat bite), may not be noticed for a few days after the initial injury, when a large wet area of fur with damaged skin is seen by the owner.
How are they treated?
-Some wounds, particularly single small bite wounds made by a tooth are best left open rather than sutured.
-Deep penetrating wounds have a risk of tetanus, very rare in our area, as the tetanus bug is often found in horse manure. People using horse manure from horses shedding the tetanus bug may introduce it to their yards.
Simple suture or complex skin grafting.
Some require short term open or closed drainage if fluid build-up may occur
Some wounds are abrasions with a loss of large areas of skin, these may require a long period of wound management with bandaging and wound care medication. Usually heal with a scar.
Treatment depends on how old the wound is, how contaminated or infected