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How to detect mammary tumours in dogs

Every year, thousands of bitches are affected by mammary tumors. The risk of suffering from udder tumor increases with the age of the bitch and is most common in middle-aged and older bitches. Here you will learn how to examine your dog to detect them in time.

Symptoms of mammary tumour

The most common symptoms are the same as in women, one or more lumps appear in the breast tissue. 70% have more than one nodule once the disease is detected. Examine the dog regularly to detect them in time and contact your veterinarian if you find a change or lump on your dog.

How to examine your dog

  • Get into the habit of feeling the bitch's udders at least once a month
  • Lay the the dog on her side when examining the area
  • Feel along both udder lines from the front legs to the groin
  • Look and feel for swelling, lumps or bumps. In the early stages, tumours can feel like grains of rice or gravel.
  • Contact your vet if you find a change or lump on your dog.
    If you examine your dog regularly, you can detect nodules at an early stage, which is crucial for the prognosis if it is a malignant tumour.

What does a mammary tumour feel like?

At an early stage, tumours can feel like grains of rice or gravel. The female's udder sits along the underside of the abdomen and chest, and the lump often appears in the rear parts of the udder, but all parts of the udder can be affected. A lump that grows in size increases the risk of a malignant tumour. A lump or uneven structure in the udder is not always the same as a mammary tumour. There are also other types of tumours in the area, for example skin tumours.

How long can a dog live with mammary tumour?

About half of tumours in the udder are benign and have a good prognosis. The malignant tumours can spread, among other things to the lungs, and then the prognosis is significantly worse. Cell tests can provide guidance if there is uncertainty as to whether it really is a mammary tumour, but for accurate diagnosis and prognosis, a tissue sample is required in connection with surgery.

Treatment of dog with mammary tumour

In the case of a mammary tumour, the dog is treated by surgery, which is curative in most cases. The extent of the surgery can vary from just removing the tumour to removing an entire row of udders. X-ray of the lungs to exclude spread to them is performed depending on the suspicions, the size of the tumour, the type of planned operation, the dog's age, etc. The tumour is sent for analysis for an accurate diagnosis and the analysis shows whether it was benign or malignant. Usually, a nearby lymph node is also removed to find out if tumor cells may have spread. Simultaneous castration can in some cases have a positive effect on survival

Which dogs are more likely to get a mammary tumour?

Cases are more likely in unneutered bitches or bitches that have been spayed late. The risk increases with the age and is most common in middle-aged and older female dogs.  Some breeds are affected more often than others. Early castration can have a protective effect.

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