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Boxer With Nasty Sore

September 25, 2011

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A Boxer with a Lump or Sore Is a Scary Thing

Black Nose and Black eyeliner on a grey-face old Boxer.

Look at that Eyeliner!

Cleo’s mom and dad looked unhappily at their girl.

“Doc, that sore just showed up.  We know she’s old and she’s a Boxer. Please tell us it’s not cancer,” said the beautiful brown and white Boxer’s parents.

Boxers are known as “tumor factories” to veterinary healthcare providers.   These elegant dogs seem to grow cancerous tumors at a younger age, and more frequently than other dogs.

Boxers Are Known as Tumor Factories

Boxers easily grow tumors, even at a young age.  Any lump on a Boxer should at least be tested via a test called a needle aspirate cytology– that’s a quick test were a needle is inserted and the sample that is drawn out is examined under the microscope to look for signs of cancer.  Mast cell tumors can masquerade as any other lump and show readily on an aspirate sample. If a lump or skin sore is suspicious for cancer, quick removal and testing can cure the cancer or at least give you options for oncology treatments.

The round sore area contained a grey, wet, sloughing central ulcer.

Sloughing Ulcer on a paw.

However, even though Cleo’s sore looked and smelled horrid, it did not look like a typical cancer sore.  An angry red rim of hairless pink-red sore ringed a round cavitated area of ulcer.  The center of the circular area was covered with a wet grey dead-looking scab.  The skin under the sore was thick and Doc could feel that the abnormalities extended deep under the skin.  In the location of the outer side of the hind paw, just above the central pad, there is skin and then connective tissue over ligaments and then bone.  The paw has very little else.  Except big blood vessels, of course.  And sensitive nerves.

“Cleo needs surgery to remove this sore and get it tested to see what it is,” advised Doc Truli.

Paw Surgery

Cleo’s surgery went well.  The sore extended all the way down to the ligaments that help move her toes.  Once Doc Truli removed the sore area, quite a large round hole remained to be closed.  Sometimes the skin on the lower leg is tight and does not want to close without tension on the stitches.

Once the necrotic dead, smelly sore was removed, a 1.3 inch round hole remained to be sewn together.

Surgical Close Up

“Skin sutures should just lightly hold the edges of the skin together, without tension or pulling.  Proper stitches heal quickly and do not itch and cause a dog to want to lick at the area,” says Doc Truli.

Cleo left the area alone for 2 weeks while it healed.  The biopsy report came back and stated that the whole smelly ulcer was caused by inflammation and deep infection, not cancer!

We never did figure out what started the sore.  Perhaps Cleo ran into a thorn or a splinter.  No offending material was found inside the sore, but often it is already liquified and absorbed by the body at the time of treatment.  So, assuming everything will turn out badly, even on an older Boxer, is unfair.  Cleo is doing great!

After surgery, the stitches form a straight line on the side of the paw. They will heal in 2 weeks.

A line of beautiful stitches.

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