In house pathology training helps vet see big picture

March 15, 2018

Frequently we are asked in practice to diagnose ‘lumps and bumps’ in our client’s pets because they are a new problem, or they have been present for quite a period and now they are brought to our attention.  As a rule, we take the attitude that all lumps should be taken seriously because dogs or cat age faster than humans. Making a quick and accurate diagnosis of the skin change therefore, is critical before they get out of hand.

Understanding what the lump is can be quite challenging. There are many types of lumps; some benign, some nasty and others that may be just normal tissue. To make a diagnosis samples need to be taken via a small needle aspirate. The sample is prepared on slides for staining and then the cells are examined under the microscope. These simple steps are done in our clinic, so we can arrive at a correct answer as fast as possible. If we are unsure, we can also email an image to a specialist pathology and have a diagnosis back in a matter of hours.

Recently, our team enjoyed some in-house training by our referring vet pathologist Dr Sue Beetson. Over two days, both vets and vet nurses were shown cases of clinical disease in small animals, taught how to prepare slides and given lectures about how cell behave and when to know if they are inflammatory or neoplastic. Practice owner, Chris Reardon believes this annual training is a valuable exercise for our team and for our patients. ‘We all acknowledge that having a specialist give one-on-one support makes us more confidence in getting a diagnosis and looking for early signs of disease in our patients’.

If your pet has a skin lump (or two), we encourage you to have it checked out without delay. The procedure of taking a skin sample is relatively quick and painless and the results can be discussed on the day. Having peace of mind that the lump may not be cancerous can make the effort of early detection very worthwhile.