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April 12, 2021

Pet insurance worth a look

Q: I have an 11-year-old indoor neutered male cat. Recently, I
noticed one of his teats appears quite swollen, the size of a pea.
It also is discolored, but it isn’t painful and isn’t oozing like
an abscess. What’s causing this? Should I be concerned?
Q: I have an 11-year-old indoor neutered male cat. Recently, I noticed one of his teats appears quite swollen, the size of a pea. It also is discolored, but it isn’t painful and isn’t oozing like an abscess. What’s causing this? Should I be concerned?

A: While this swelling is probably the result of an infection, there is a possibility of a more serious problem here. An infection from a bite or a claw wound happens frequently in kitty-cats. Often times, these infections swell and develop into abscessed wounds that can be discolored and distorted. Sometimes these abscesses don’t surface easily and need surgical treatment. Your veterinarian may have to excise the lesion to drain out the infected material inside. Deep abscesses like this can be fairly benign inasmuch as they don’t make the kitty feel ill, and they don’t cause any pain. Left untreated, they can become a serious problem.

But your description leaves the impression that this might possibly be something different. Any unusual swelling like this arouses suspicions of cancer and should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Mammary cancer is not common in cats, and even more unusual in male cats. But I think you’ll feel better knowing what caused this lesion, so go in for a checkup right away.

Q: My sister’s dog has been in heat for about a week . She has very swollen genitals, about the size of a softball. This is her second heat, and she was not like this the first time. This time she is in a lot where other dogs come up to the fence. Could she be rubbing against the fence and causing the swelling?

A: It sounds to me as though your sister’s dog has a condition called vaginal prolapse. When a female dog is in heat (or estrus), the lining of the vagina swells slightly as the body prepares for breeding. All this occurs because of high levels of estrogen in her blood as she goes through her heat cycle.

Occasionally, this swelling goes beyond its normal limits. When this happens, the lining of the vagina swells so much it actually protrudes (sticks out) beyond the opening to the vulva. The swelling you see in your sister’s dog is a serious problem because it can easily be injured or infected, resulting in the need for surgical and medical treatment.

If this is, indeed, a vaginal prolapse, she needs to be examined and treated. Most of all, she should be spayed. Spaying a dog removes the ovaries, eliminating the production of estrogens. Once spayed, that swelling will recede and never come back again, all because she will no longer have high estrogen levels. Your sister’s dog will have little chance of breeding and carrying a litter of puppies through pregnancy and delivery, so have her spayed now before she develops complications and needs expensive veterinary treatment.

Q: I am investigating whether or not I should get health insurance for my dog. Is pet health care insurance a smart thing to buy, or is it a big rip-off?

A: Pet healthcare insurance is becoming increasingly popular as more and more people become aware of its availability. I believe it can be a great program for many pet owners. But like any other insurance program, a consumer needs to study the policy carefully and understand what illnesses and medical conditions are covered and what exclusions exist.

For example, some policies cover routine vaccinations and preventative care, while others only provide coverage for serious illness or surgery. Make sure you know what you are buying before you sign up.

Under the right circumstances, pet healthcare insurance is no rip-off at all. It can be a great way to assure your pet of quality medical treatment throughout its lifetime. There are a lot of pet owners who use pet insurance and are quite happy with it.

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