Gia, a cute 13 year old Maltipoo, was in trouble.

She had an almost 1 inch in diameter mass in one of her mammary glands (breasts).

In fact, it wasn’t a single mass, it was multiple small masses.

She had bloody discharge from it, and it turned purple.

It gets worse.

A few years ago, she had a mammary tumor removed. Unfortunately, her medical record didn’t mention the location of the mass, or whether it was biopsied… but it was believed to be in the same location…

And lastly, Gia was spayed late in life, around 5 years of age.

Most vets recommend spaying BEFORE the first heat cycle to virtually eliminate the risk of mammary cancer.

I had a heart-to-heart with Gia’s owner, to make sure she understood that the odds were against us.

Overall, the risk of a benign vs. a cancerous mammary mass in a dog is 50-50.

In Gia’s case, it was logical to believe that the risk of cancer was much higher than normal.

Who asks for surgery in a 13 year old dog, given the odds?

Gia’s owner did.

She was totally dedicated to her dog, and was ready to face the consequences of her decision.

So we took Gia to surgery.

Surgery went well and she recovered smoothly from anesthesia.

About 1 week after surgery, the biopsy results came back… benign!!!

The mass was an adenoma, which is a benign tumor. And the pathologist thought that we “got it all” (we call this getting “clean margins”).

Note: This is not an encouragement not to spay your dog or your cat, or to spay them after the first heat !!! Early spay is even more important in cats, where the odds of mammary cancer are 99% (vs. 50% in dogs).

In the end, Gia’s owner was rewarded with excellent news. This should only be a bump along the road, and Gia made a full recovery.

If you would like to learn how we can help your pet with safe surgery and anesthesia, please contact us through

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Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified

Pete Baia, DVM, MS, DACVS