I have a 2 year old Mastiff/Lab (115 lbs) who has a mass/tumor growing at the tip of his tail. One vet recommended cropping the whole tail & another vet recommended only removing the mass and possibly the tip of the tail. I think cropping the entire tail is too invasive and traumatic. But since our dog wags so hard, my husband thinks that he will re-injure the tail if we only crop the tip. Does anyone have any experience / advice on the best course of action?
Hello. First things first - what is the mass/tumor? Has your vet explained his/her diagnosis about it? Is it cancerous? Is it an infection? If it is cancerous, has it spread anywhere else? What investigations have been conducted?
The answers to these questions determine the extent of surgery, if it is required at all. A dog's tail is important to the dog - and particularly in communicating to other dogs. That said, I have a rescued greyhound that only has half a tail, due to an injury when racing and before she was retired, and she copes extremely well with it - importantly, she can still use it to wag when she is happy, and curl it up when she isn't at all happy.
If total cropping of the tail is not warranted (depending on the nature of the surgery required for future health), then I would not do it. However, I am not a vet, and I would take the advice of your own vet on this - or seek a second opinion if you are uncertain or unhappy about what your regular vet has advised. Obviously, if the mass/tumor is cancerous, then time is of the essence in making this decision. Tony
If your dog is a vigorous wagger then I tend to agree with your husband and think that docking the tail (or at least mostly docking, leaving perhaps a 6" stump) would be the best way to go. Depending upon the nature of the mass (has it been biopsied?) if he is a vigorous tail-wagger, chances are good he will continue to re-injure the tail by whacking it on doorframes, tables and anything else that gets in his way when he wags. This is not only painful but it will just result in a non-healing wound that stands the chance of getting infected and causing all kinds of problems. Tail docking would eliminate this problem and, depending on the mass, would allow for total excision of any diseased area around the mass, ensuring that the tumor is completely gone and greatly lessening the chance of any of it being left to spread to the rest of the tail.
Hi. I would have gone for biopsy first, then surgery, because then you would have all the information available to make a decision. I think removing the tail completely, without having a good diagnosis or whether most of the tail could be saved, is a bit like putting the cart before the horse. I do however appreciate the fact that you have seen three vets, so you have certainly done a fair amount of work and no doubt at a fair cost, and that is to your considerable credit. I just happen to be one of those people that believe (from my own knowledge about dog behavior and the ways they communicate) a dog's tail is very important - to the dog - and should be saved if at all possible.
All that said, I hope of course that the cause of the mass is not cancerous, even if this is discovered after surgery. More than anything, I hope the surgery goes well and your dog recovers quickly. Unfortunately, removing the tail completely may or may not "take care of any danger of it (cancer) spreading." If it turns out to be cancerous, the cancer may already have spread to other tissues and organs, which would negate complete removal of the tail - because that would be a pointless operation (not life-saving, but definitely painful and stressful for your dog).
Backtracking a little ... it may be you have more information (given for example by the vets) that you have not yet told us about, and that information may have swayed you towards your decision.
I hope all goes well tomorrow. Please do let us know how things go. You and your best friend are in my thoughts. Tony
my dog died today after being operated on. he lost a lot of blood and then his heart stopped. he was 12 and a half and 2 vets said they couldn't remove the tumor on his tail and then a year later I took him to the vet down the street and he said he could. The tumor grew so large and started to crack open and spill blood all over which caused my dog to lick at it and make it worse. he knew my dog had been on prednisone for a year now. I am concerned that I should of listened to the other vets. I'm so sad.
Hi. I am very sorry for your loss. It sounds as if there may have been little choice but to operate, as you said it had become much worse. Operating on an older dog is always a higher risk, although tail section removal isn't usually a huge problem, although there may have been complications in this case. It's the anaesthetic that often causes more issues.
Did your vet explain exactly what happened to cause the heart to stop? I assume he was receiving blood/plasma during the operation to maintain blood pressure?
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