Posted By: Martin - Vet

Pepi - from Cairo to Somerset

We see some patients whose histories can be a little unusual and some that haven’t had a great start in life.  Pepi, the middle aged cross breed dog, was a patient that fell into both of these categories, but has now certainly landed on his feet in a very loving home.

We first examined Pepi in December 2013 after he was rescued from the streets of Cairo where people would throw stones at him.  Pepi had had numerous blood samples to ensure he had no exotic infectious diseases that we needed to know about and then was brought over to hopefully find a good home.

Pepi’s history had obviously been eventful and traumatic as Pepi had extensive injuries to both eyes, rendering him blind, and serious damage to both ears that made them prone to infections.  Pepi was a very timid dog, only natural after his previous life, but otherwise very well and just in need of good care.

Pepi’s eventual new owner came forward and they offered the perfect home for Pepi in every way.  His owner had time to dedicate to his needs and from the moment they were united you could see that Pepi really started to thrive as week by week he gained weight and generally improved in his overall health and vitality.

Whatever the concern, Pepi’s diligent owner brings him to the practice to be examined. So, when he found a swelling under Pepi’s neck a few months ago that showed no sign of going away after a few days, he thought it should be checked out.

The mass appeared to be in the region of his thyroid gland on one side of his neck.  A tumour in this gland can be serious and so identifying the nature of the mass was important.  As such a sample of cells from the mass was taken with a needle that day, to go to the lab to be analysed.

The lab confirmed that the cells from the mass did indeed look like those from a thyroid gland tumour, so the next step was to get some more information on the mass – whether it was localised or starting to spread. Pepi came into the surgery to have further blood tests and X-rays and all the results were positive, with no spreads of tumour spread or effects elsewhere.   This tumour was not something we wanted to leave to develop a moment longer, so the next step was to operate to remove it.  

Pepi visited again a few days later, this time for surgery.  Surgery to the thyroid gland can be a very complicated surgery with heavy bleeding possible due to the extensive blood supply these lumps can sometimes have.  Pepi’s concerned owner was aware of this but knew that we had plans to mitigate this problem during the surgery.

The surgery started and a special electrocautery machine (which uses electrical energy) was used to help cauterise all the small blood vessels connecting to the tumour, closing them off and preventing them from bleeding.  As we gradually cauterised each tiny vessel we dissected the tumour away from the surrounding tissues.  The surgery took some time but, importantly, the lump was susccessfully removed and there was very minimal bleeding.  As such Pepi recovered well and was discharged to rest at home were he was happier.

Pepi continued to progress well as we waited for the definitive biopsy results for his mass.  After about 5 days the results were back and the result was as good as we could have hoped.  It was indeed a cancerous mass, but a low grade one, and the excision appeared to have been early and had removed it in entirety.  The results were passed to a specialist oncologist to review and the advice back was good.  We could consider complementary chemotherapy but if the owner didn’t feel this was in Pepi’s best interest then his prognosis should still be very good.

Pepi, despite flourishing in his new home, was still a nervous dog who wasn’t keen on vet visits. Consequently it was felt that further chemotherapy wouldn’t be in his best interest and so it was elected for him to have regular check-ups considering that, ultimately, it was still expected for him to do very well. Six months on and Pepi is not only still looking well but also gaining in confidence because of the care and dedication that his owner shows to him. 

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