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Points On Pets:

Question: Our veterinarian recently told us that our 12-year-old dog may have testicular cancer and he should be castrated. We are devastated by this news. Our dog has fathered several litters. His offspring have performed well in obedience trials and in the show ring. We do not want our dog to suffer due to cancer, but we also don’t want him to lose his maleness. Is testicular cancer commonly diagnosed in dogs? Should we get a second opinion? Are we overreacting?

Answer: Your reaction to the news that your dog most likely has cancer is normal. Having your dog castrated to remove the cancerous tissue will not likely result in any changes in his personality nor cause him to lose any of his dignity. The procedure is routine and should not cause a great amount of discomfort.

Treating your dog as you have in the past will help him have a speedy recovery and will avoid creating a situation where he acts differently. In other words, your reaction to having your dog castrated will probably have more impact than your dog’s reaction.

Although testicular cancer is fairly common in older intact male dogs, it is generally not a frequent diagnosis because most male dogs are castrated while puppies. Testicular cancer is commonly diagnosed in dogs with undescended testicles. The testicles remain in the abdomen rather than descending into the scrotum. Dogs in which one or both testicles do not descend are 13 times more likely to develop testicular cancer than normal dogs. Tumors of the testicles can lead to an enlarged prostate gland, enlarged mammary glands, enlarged nipples, symmetrical hair loss, anemia and the tendency to attract other male dogs. Most veterinarians base their diagnoses of testicular tumors on the observed clinical signs, the history of abnormal behavioral signs and the examination of testicular tissue, which is obtained through a biopsy technique or microscopic examination following castration.

Castration is the best treatment and prevention for testicular cancer. You should not hesitate to have your dog castrated. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations regarding the care of your dog.

Question: I am thinking about buying an iguana. The clerk at the pet store said he will tell me everything that I need to know about the care and feeding of my iguana. I am a little skeptical about how easy it is to care for exotic pets and the amount of companionship that they are able to provide.

Answer: Unless you are very enthusiastic about it and committed to long-term care, you should not buy an iguana. Most exotic pets, such as iguanas, have special housing and dietary needs. Remember that most exotic pets do not offer the same warmth and companionship that normal domestic pets do. Also, they can have long lives if cared for properly. Buying or accepting an exotic pet is a huge commitment. You should only take on the responsibility after thoroughly educating yourself.

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