We recently had a visit from one of our favorite clients because her rambunctious Labrador wasn’t feeling well. The normally bouncy pet was acting lethargic and more importantly he seemed painful. The only event that might be related to his illness was the sudden appearance of a growth on his chest. Due to an impending vacation, this problem needed to be dealt with as soon as possible. Upon arrival our client mentioned that she had taken him to an emergency veterinarian the night before, and was told the mass on the chest was just a benign lesion.

When “Lucas” was dropped off I examined him, and I noticed he seemed his perky self, but adrenaline can be powerful camouflage. The black mass on the chest was right along the mammary chain and it looked like one of those unsightly “hangy-downy” mammary masses that usually prove benign on histopathology. Now Mama said this had appeared suddenly and usually these growths take months to develop. It felt soft and fluctuant had a little redness under the surface and Lucas didn’t really seem to like having it handled. Being a veterinarian ( i.e. impervious to being grossed out) I squeezed the mass to see if I could get any pus out of it. Sudden onset would usually indicate infection or inflammation; perhaps, I should get a needle aspirate and look at it under the microscope. As I pondered this little dilemma I did what every Veterinarian (or 3rd grade boy) might do, I smelled my fingers. It didn’t smell like pus or infection, it smelled really good. It smelled sweet, kinda fruity. At the reluctance of all my technicians I made them all smell the mass. (Due to previous pranks I have played on them, this took longer than it should have, but we came to a common conclusion).

I guessed this was some kind of black gum, and although it was thickly imbedded in the surrounding fur, I ventured in with the clippers.

“You know if this is a skin tumor and you hit it with the clippers it’s gonna hurt and bleed like crazy?” came the encouraging reminder from my technician.

“Have some faith!” was my only defense.

I did cringe a little when the clippers got underneath the unidentified object then sighed when it pulled cleanly away.

After a pretty good laugh, Mama was relieved and ended up determining after quizzing the children that it was probably a purple fruit snack that had melted a little out by the pool and “Lucas” had rested upon it. Wrapped in fur, it still looked pretty gross, but it smelled good and thank heaven I didn’t run a bunch of tests on it before I smelled my fingers.

Aways having fun,

Dr. Jimmy Dietz, Jr. D.V.M.