Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dog mast cell surgery recovery: Treats, toys and snuggles all help

Sinead the Boston terrier resting with her toy
Sinead the Boston terrier made it home safe and sound after her mast cell tumor surgery yesterday. She's spent most of her time since she returned home sitting on the couch, on my lap or in her bed. She doesn't seem too eager to do much else, and I can't say I blame her.

As some of you may remember, Sinead's mast cell tumor was right above her eye, packed in tight in tissues that help her to blink and squint. The tumor itself wasn't very big, but it was in a delicate spot, and all of it had to come out.

A closeup of Sinead's mast cell tumor

My hand isn't a very useful reference, but I think this tumor was something like 0.5mm across. That's teeny, but the surgeon couldn't just take out the tumor and leave the rest. Mast cells don't work like that.

From what I understand, these tumors have deep fingers that dig down and out. The bit you might be able to see peeping out above the skin might be only a tiny fraction of the entire body of the tumor. And leaving bits of that stuff behind could allow it to grow back in time.

Typically, surgeons like to take something like 3-5mm all the way out and all the way down to get every bit of the tumor. If mine did that, Sinead wouldn't be able to blink. So he couldn't get every scrap, but he did take out quite a bit. Here's what she looks like now.

Sinead's eye after mast cell surgery

She has three little stitches right above her eye, and her eyelid is a little tighter and more taught than it once was. She can still close her eye all the way and blink properly (I checked), but he did take out quite a bit of tissue from her little head.

The head has a ton of nerve endings, and I would imagine that this thing hurts like crazy. If left unattended, Sinead will pull and rub and tear at her eye and her stitches. So she wears the party hat almost all the time, unless she is on my lap.

She's eating fine, playing well and she took a little walk this morning. So she's on the mend, with the help of treats and toys and pain meds. But now we wait for the histopath report. I'll need to see just how much nasty stuff was left behind before I can make decisions with her vet about next steps.

Sinead in her party hat

Overall, I'm pleased with how well my brave little girl is doing. And I am impressed with her surgery. But waiting for that report is hard. Very hard.

Thanks to all of you who have written comments here, on Facebook and on Instagram. Sinead and I appreciate it so much. And we'll keep you posted on that report!


  1. Poor Sinead, glad she came out of surgery well!! Wags and Kisses from Dante and Ziva!

  2. We are happy that Sinead is home and recovering. We will keep on purring and praying for her. And you!

  3. I'm so glad that the surgery went well and that Sinead is recovering. The mast cell tumor does sound quite similar to Sheba's spindle cell, in that it tendrils out making it difficult to remove it all. And Sinead's is only complicated by it's location. Sheba's was on her side, but even so, almost impossible to get it all. I know only too well how hard the waiting is...it's the worst....hang in there.