Random lumps and bumps are likely to surface on your precious furkid’s body at some point in its life, so you want to be prepared when they appear. “Such lumps are very common in domestic pets and the odds of them appearing rises as Fido or Puss ages," says Dr Eugene Lin, veterinarian and founder of The Animal Ark Veterinary Group.
However, there’s no need to panic just yet—not all masses are malignant. There are four different kinds of lumps and only one out of the four–the mast cell tumour–is potentially malignant. Formed by cells that defend your pet’s body against the invasion of germs, organisms and foreign objects, the mast cell tumour is often the deadliest form of cancer. These lumps can spread rapidly, so time is of the essence.
“It’s important to get a thorough history from the paw-rent when diagnosing a lump,” says Dr Lin. For example, how long has the lump been there? If it’s been there for an extended period, then it’s probably not a sebaceous cyst, which is caused by plugged oil glands in your pet’s skin. It usually resolves on its own. If the lump has turned red or purple and is painful to the touch, then it might be an infected cyst, which will need a vet’s attention for surgical removal if required.
If Fido or Puss was recently injured in a fight, then the lump may be a hematoma or abscess, especially if it has formed around a wound. Hematomas are lumps filled with blood, while abscesses are filled with pus. Other lumps include warts (which are most common in young pups) and lipomas, which are fatty deposits under the skin and pretty common in middle-aged furkids.
The dreaded mast cell tumour
The danger of a mast cell tumour is that it can look like just about anything. It can present itself as a solitary lump, multiple lumps, or masses in or underneath the skin. It might quickly change in size (i.e. grow or shrink in appearance) because of the reactions around the mass. The most accurate way to identify the mass is to sample the mass. “This can be done through a fine needle aspiration (FNA), but a biopsy provides a more accurate diagnosis,” explains Dr Lin.
A FNA involves using a hypodermic needle to extract a small portion of the mass and examining it under a microscope. Biopsies involve taking a small “chunk” of the lump and sending it to the laboratory for a histopathology. If the report comes back with news that the mass is benign, it can be left alone or surgically removed, says Dr Lin. However, if it’s malignant, an ultrasound or CT/MRI scan is recommended to rule out the spread of the tumour to other parts of your furkid’s body.
Depending on the severity of the cancer, the treatment plan might include radical surgery (such as wide area resection or even amputation) and chemotherapy.
Easing the load
Treatments are incredibly costly. According to veterinary surgeon Dr Koh Cher Ling, a cancer surgery and chemotherapy can cost up to $7,000 and $2,500 respectively—these figures don’t include diagnostic tests and medication. Furthermore, chemotherapy and medication often need to be administered throughout your furkid’s life, which will burn a huge hole in your bank account.
Thankfully, Happy Tails Pet Insurance is here to share the burden. All three policy types (Fur, Furry and Furball) provide cover for pre-surgical tests (as long as it leads up to surgery), surgeries, as well as chemotherapy and post-surgical care. The policies also cover Fido or Puss for life, with varying annual coverage limits (the highest plan offers a maximum payout of $12,500!). For more information on the policies, click here.
Pets enrolled before four years old can also enjoy the lowest co-insurance level of 20 percent. What this means is that Happy Tails can pay up to 80 percent (before deductible) of your pooch’s surgery-related bills. The earlier you enrol your pup, the lower the premium and co-insurance share. With Happy Tails Pet Insurance, you can rest assured knowing that you are putting your furkid’s health first at a fraction of the cost!
This ad is not a contract of insurance. Full details of the terms, conditions and exclusions of this insurance can be found in the policy wording on our website at www.aonhappytails.com. Happy Tails is arranged by Aon Singapore Pte Ltd and underwritten by MSIG Insurance (Singapore) Pte.Ltd. © 2017 Aon Singapore Pte Ltd, Co Reg No. 198301525W. All Rights Reserved.