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Discussion Starter #1
My 12 year old Ridgeback mix has had a mass on her tail for nearly two years. Over the years it's grown significantly. It went from the size of a kidney bean to now being the size of a kiwi. Over the last couple of days it got angry. She's never bothered it until the last couple of days. I took her to the vet yesterday and they brought up tail amputation. They said it's too big to remove because there's not enough healthy skin to close the wound. We're trying a round of steroids and antibiotics to see if it will behave. But they were cautiously optimistic about it working. I'm so upset. I understand that it's just a tail and I'm grateful that she has an option. But the thought of her going through a major procedure and losing part of herself breaks my heart. Has anyone been through this?
 

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Very common situation in practice... one of the reasons we encourage clients to have their pet's tumors/masses removed on such locations while still small, as larger masses are so much harder to remove without causing a more disfiguring surgery (eyelid masses are in a similar category). Most large tail masses can still be removed without amputation as long as you are willing to leave some of the skin covering the mass left behind to close the hole created by removing the mass. This allows one to remove even large masses without removing the tail, but it also can leave skin behind that may have tumor cells and eventually the tumor could grow back there. But for older dogs this is a viable option (not quite so with a 2-3 year old dog who may have to go through another surgery in a few years for the same thing all over again). Just an option, that is all.

But saying that, amputation of the tail is not that major a procedure, at least relative to most other surgeries that can be done on a dog. Even toe amputations, spays and other common surgeries are a bigger deal. Rarely are there complications and rarely do most dogs seem to notice their tail is missing (hurts for a short time of course, but pain meds can ease this situation usually pretty well).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply. I'm going to get a second opinion from my hometown vet about removal v amputation. The thing is that I don't want her to have two procedures if I can help it. So if everyone tells me that removal would likely end in amputation then I'd rather just amputate. And I know this is going to be way harder on me than her. She has a big, bushy, curly tail that's so beautiful. And I know it's just a tail and I'm grateful there's options - it's just sad. And I was advised not to remove when it was small. Well it was never very small - it started out the size of a grape. They said it would be difficult to get it all because it's on the tail and if it's not bothering her to leave it be. Given that most of her cysts popped and went away that made sense. I didn't foresee it growing so big and then getting angry. Steroids and antibiotics are helping but I feel like that's a temporary fix.
 
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