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As dogs age, it is very common for them to develop different lumpy growths. Some of these growths are harmless, while others can be major threats to the dog's health. Cysts are frequently found growing in dogs. These growths are generally of no danger to the dog, but often need to be differentiated from problematic, malignant lumps.
Palpation alone is often ineffective for diagnosing the type of growth at hand. Both benign or malignant lumps can develop slowly over time or quickly over the course of a few hours. Even though fast growing lumps may not need removal, it is important to take your animal in for evaluation as soon as possible in these circumstances. To confirm what type of growth is present, the vet will perform a biopsy to collect cells from the lump. These samples will then be sent to a lab to be examined. Most veterinarians perform these biopsies.
Cysts may be discovered by the owner or during a physical examination by a veterinarian. Once a growth has been found, diagnostic imaging will be needed to visualize its shape and composition. To fully differentiate cysts from cancerous tumors, a cystic biopsy will be needed. The most common method of obtaining a sample of the cyst is a fine-needle aspiration (FNA).
General anesthesia is needed to complete the biopsy procedure. To determine if the dog is healthy enough to receive anesthesia, full blood work will be run on the animal. A sedative can be given in conjunction with general anesthesia to lessen the amount of anesthesia needed. This is generally safer for the dog.
At this point, if FNA is being used, a thin needle will be inserted into the cyst. Cells will be retrieved through the needle and then sent to a laboratory for histopathological examination.
The cells can be obtained using an incision and a scalpel, although this is more invasive for the animal. If this method is used, the incision will be sutured shut once the biopsy is complete.
Cystic biopsies are effective procedures for diagnosing lump composition. They are not curative, but can help your veterinarian to form a plan for treatment if necessary. Some cysts are dangerous simply due to their location. If a surgical biopsy is being performed, often the cyst will be removed during the process to eliminate the need for further surgery. Fine-needle aspiration is relatively non-invasive option with almost no recovery time.
The dog will need to be monitored as it wakes from anesthesia. Its temperature should be maintained through this time. If an incision was made, the area will have to be cleaned and checked regularly to ensure no signs of infection are present. The tissue that has been collected will need to be sent to a lab for a full diagnosis.
Once the results of this examination come back to the veterinarian, further treatment options can be discussed if deemed necessary. At this point, the dog may be referred to a specialist, especially if the growth is found to be a bony tumor. If abnormal cells are found, cancer treatment may begin.
The price for a cystic biopsy can range from $75 up to $500. This price can increase if a technician is needed during the surgery. Diagnostic imaging and lab work can also add to the cost. Fine-needle aspiration is generally a fast procedure that does not cost as much, while an excision surgery requires more anesthesia and should be performed by a specialist.
The use of general anesthesia brings with it real risks that should not be taken lightly. Removal of benign cysts may not be necessary if the cysts are not negatively affecting the dog. Risks and pain associated with surgery should be considered when deciding whether to remove non-cancerous lumps. Fine-needle aspirations can provide enough information for a diagnosis in many cases and are far less risky than incision biopsies.
Cyst formation is very common as dogs age. Some dogs may develop more lumps due to genetic predisposition. Always ask for your dog's family health history when obtaining the animal. While these growths often cannot be prevented, promoting a healthy lifestyle can decrease the chance that these growths will become cancerous. This can be done by regularly exercising with your dog on walks or hikes. Providing a high-quality diet for your dog can also lessen the likelihood that it will develop serious health issues.
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