I've been hesitant to post about this until I find out what exactly is going on, but decided the entire purpose of this blog is a learning experience, and my readers are along for the ride as I learn everything I possibly can about dogs.
Most of you know I live in Arlington, VA, two stop lights from Washington, DC, and may have seen on the news we've been slammed with snow - I measured 28 inches in my front yard before the snow stopped falling, and we're supposed to get another 18-20" before 9pm tomorrow night! All of this snow has forced me to spend a lot of time in the house with Milly, and she has loved all of the attention.
A few days ago my boyfriend was petting her and noticed a lump on just above her shoulder. It's about the size of my thumb nail, and firm to the touch. It does not appear to cause her any discomfort when I press on it. Of course, I panicked! Cancer is a documented disease in dogs, and the large Golden Retriever population (consistently ranked one of the top five most popular breeds in the country) makes cancer that much more prevalent in Goldens. That being said, older dogs are known to develop harmless warts, and other benign growths, especially Goldens.
The odds are in my favor, Milly is a geriatric (don't tell her that, I think she missed the memo), and at an age when dogs develop all sorts of benign fatty tumors, growths and other cysts, but even knowing this, I still want to get it checked out. Normally, by now Milly would have been seen by the vet, but the snow is putting a major damper in that plan! It took three days just to dig my car out, and I had to go into work today, so the vet appointment will have to wait.
I thought I had a commitment with Junior League tonight, but I got the days wrong, and the commitment is tomorrow. As soon as I click "Publish Post" I'll be calling my vet to see if I can get a last minute appointment, otherwise I'll wait until after Snowmageddon Round II, and go at the end of the week.
I touch Milly all the time. I make a point to physically go over her at least every other day looking for any bumps, lumps, cuts, or burrs in her coat. I check inside her mouth weekly, paying special attention to her gums. When she's out in the yard I make a point of watching her movement at the walk and trot at least once a week. She's an older dog, and doing this will help me notice any signs of arthritis or joint problems she may develop as she continues to age.
Even with all of my touching and checking I missed this lump. If you don't already go over your dog at least weekly, I reccomend starting to do so. If this lump were to turn out to be the dreded C-word, which I really don't think it is, I will have caught it early, and the odds of successful treatment will be in our favor. If it isn't the dreaded C-word, it will be something my vet can aspirate and keep an eye on at each of Milly's semi-annual senior exams. There are some things we simply cannot prevent in our dogs, but knowing what is normal and what is abnormal in your individual dog will enable you to see signs and red flags of potential health problems. Catching things early, or even before they develop is critical.