Posted By: Greg - Vet

Confronting Lumps and Triumphing with Stelfonta

In the intricate tapestry of a dog's life, lumps and bumps are not uncommon threads. Some are innocuous, mere quirks of skin, while others unravel tales of concern. It's a narrative often explored in our vet consultations. One such story unfolded with Puri, a vibrant Weimaraner.


Lumps and bumps can come in all shapes and sizes on dogs, and some can be more worrying than others, but all should be checked out during an examination in a vet consultation. Often, they will be nothing to worry about and can be benign such as warts or fatty lumps (lipomas) but sometimes they can be more untoward, as was the case with Puri the Weimaraner.

Puri is relatively young at 6 years old, and is still incredibly bright and active, with all the energy of a puppy. The Weimaraner breed can be prone to skin lumps, particularly one called a mast cell tumour, so Puri's owner was concerned with the sudden appearance of three lumps over his back legs and promptly made a vet appointment. Puri's owner has had Weimaraners before and had seen first-hand them suffer from mast cell tumours in the past, knowing how aggressive these lumps could turn out to be.

Mast cells are present in large numbers in the skin of dogs, and occasionally things can go wrong biologically, such that mast cell tumours develop - therefore they are a common and important malignancy. This means they are not benign, and shouldn't be left, as they can have a harmful effect on the body in a variety of ways, ultimately causing cancerous spread (metastasis). However, they are variable in their grade - low grade tumours can be dealt with quite simply, but high-grade tumours are of a lot more concern. They are also known as 'the great pretender' of all canine skin lumps, as they can take on a lot of different appearances and appear almost anywhere on their body. As weimaraners as a breed are particularly prone, sudden appearances of fast-growing lumps in these dogs can be considered to be mast cell tumours unless proven otherwise.

Puri's lumps were sampled with a needle during the consultation and the resulting microscope slides sent to the lab for analysis by the pathologist. Sure enough, as with everyone's suspicions, mast cell tumours were diagnosed. Normally with tumours that aren't benign, the action taken is surgical to be curative. Surgery can of course come with its drawbacks - a general anaesthetic, large wounds with stitches, and post-op restrictions. Particularly the last factor was a worry with Puri, as with such a bouncy, active dog having lots of stitches on his back legs, there was a concern there would be complications with his surgical recovery and he would be unable to be rested adequately.

However, there was another option available to Puri and his owners. A relatively recent injection, called Stelfonta, had become available as a treatment therapy. The injection is administered into each lump, and over the course of a few days, the cancerous mast cells within the tumour should die off. This results in the lump falling off - this leaves a wound that is left to heal naturally within a few weeks.

This choice seemed most appropriate in Puri's case, so he was booked in for sedation to have the lumps injected with this therapy. Over the next few days, the injection worked its course and went to plan, as sure enough the lumps turned black and fell off. This process can be a little painful so pain relief along with a few other tablet medications were given during this treatment week. Fairly large wounds remained, but Puri was unfazed by them, and they healed quickly, even despite his active lifestyle. A month on, and all that is left on Puri's legs are 3 small scars, and he is now pleasingly clear of lumps after a relatively stress-free procedure!

- Greg Elliot-Moustache


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