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I have a white dog. What sort of spots should I look out for that can indicate trouble? Q: Just like us, dogs can get a wide variety of skin spots and bumps. Most are no cause for concern, but there are a few that you should watch out for. The following applies to all dogs — not just the ones with lighter coats. • Any new lesion, or changes in an existing lesion, should be monitored. • A lesion that grows or changes quickly, such as a mass or a spot that’s been there for a while but suddenly doubles in size or changes texture, warrants a closer look. • Skin spots or bumps that are ulcerated or bleeding and don’t seem to want to heal should also be closely evaluated. • Bumps that fluctuate in size or seem to come and go may be the sign of a specific type of skin growth called a mast cell tumor. These need to be removed and biopsied since they can be quite aggressive. Some dogs, particularly those with pink skin and white coats, may have pigmented spots on their skin (my own little white Chihuahua has a freckled tummy!). These spots can get a little darker with sun exposure, which isn’t anything to worry about, unless you notice one of the other changes I mentioned. Do you have a question for a veterinarian? Visit: fetch-magazine.com/ask-an-expert But note, please check with your regular veterinarian if the problem is persistent or requires immediate medical attention. I’ve heard that giving a dog cold water with ice cubes on a hot day can cause him to bloat. Is this true? Q: This is absolutely not true. I have seen this claim circulating over and over on the internet, and it causes needless fear and concern. The good news is there’s now a lot of information refuting this inaccurate story, so hopefully word will get out. The original story came from an email that’s been popping up every so often during the last ten years. The claim is that a dog developed bloat after drinking ice water because it caused his stomach to spasm. There is no known association between eating ice or drinking cold water and developing bloat, so you can safely allow you dog to have a cold treat on a hot day (I know my dogs line up at the freezer!). A quick word on bloat itself: this is a painful distension of the stomach that can become life threatening if the stomach decides to twist or torse on itself, a maneuver that cuts off the blood supply. More common in large-breed, deep-chested dogs like Standard Poodles and German Shepherds, the torsion part of this syndrome can be dramatically reduced by a preventive surgery called a gastropexy, where the stomach is anchored to the inside of the abdominal wall. If you have a breed of dog who’s at risk, study up on the condition to ensure you know how to recognize the first signs something may be wrong so you can act fast if there’s ever an emergency. If you’re really concerned about your dog’s predisposition to bloat, talk to your veterinarian about your options and the best ways to keep him safe. wag expert advice fun in the sun issue 45


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