Stressing About Your Dog’s Surgery

by Melissa R. on March 1, 2011

Mocca is almost 12!

Mocca is almost 12!

A few weeks ago, I took my 11- year- old Border Collie, Mocca, into the veterinarian for a wellness exam. Since she’s a senior dog, and has several Lyme Disease infections, I feel it is important to have her checked over every six months.

Several years ago, I discovered a mass on the underside of Mocca’s left leg. We immediately had it examined and tested to see if it was cancerous. It was not, so we just kept our eye on it. The mass is UNDER the muscle, and as such in a bit of an odd place. It has not bothered her so far, but it has been growing. Our veterinarian is now concerned that if it continues to grow it will start to impede her, and that the larger it gets, the more difficult it will be to remove. And, I can’t help but think this huge lump on her leg MUST cause her some discomfort, even though she doesn’t seem to show it.

Since it is winter here, and our dog agility trials are on hiatus until the weather clears, I decided now would be the best time to do the surgery. She’d have plenty of time to heal before we start up with agility in the spring. It did however; take me 4 weeks to come to this decision! It is so scary to think about having her go into surgery! I put it off for as long as possible, but finally gave in and made the call to schedule. (Thanks to the encouragement of my friends & coworkers!)

So now in a couple weeks, my dog will be having her mass removed. I hope everything goes smoothly. I trust our vet 100%, but it sure is scary.

Does anybody have GOOD pet surgery stories they would like to share to help qualm my fears? Please no heartaches… I don’t think I could take it!

Also See:


  • Doggie Day Care? Really? – Why might you take your dog to a daycare? This dog owner talks about her experience with a doggie daycare: benefits, cost, and considerations.
  • Odd Dog Behaviors: Instinctive or Learned? – Why do dogs dig? Why do dogs sniff – A LOT? Learn about these and other dog behaviors that we find a bit odd or humorous.
  • Pets With Pets: The Fun They Have! – Might your pet like a companion pet? Another cat or dog to play with and maybe even snuggle? Enjoy these stories of multiple pet situations helping to keep each other mentally and physically active. (Fun videos, too!)

About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosemary March 1, 2011 at 8:20 am

My old dog, (Doberman mix) Gin, had a fatty tumor in a similar place, her left armpit. After it grew large enough to bother her, we had it removed. She was about the same age as Mocca, and she was fine. I was also worried, because she was on heart medication (good old Doberman genes), but the mass was making it dificult for her to walk freely. I had her for another 4 or 5 years. It does help to have a vet you really trust. Gin had several fatty tumors over the years, and had three or four of them removed all at the same time.

Also, ask about the anesthesia they plan to use. If they can use just gas, she will be awake in no time. The hardest part will be keeping her quiet until the sutures are out.

Caryn March 1, 2011 at 8:32 am

My old dog Zoe underwent 3 surgeries for cancer, 1 was really major, we nicknamed it the Frankenstien Surgery because of how extensive it was. She had a Mass Cell Tumor that was excised but did not have clean margins, this was the second surgery to get it all. When it was done it looked like she had a shark bite out of her shoulder area and took over 150 staples to close. She was home within a week, they had gotten all of it!!! Within a month she was jumping up on the bed & the sofa and all her fur had grown back. She was back to herself. We had our baby back!!!!!! We sweated doing this surgery & had many sleepless nights, so many people including a few Vets told us not to do it, that she would probably be fine & the little bit that remained would be “okay”, but I wouldn’t have left a liitle bit in me so how could I do that to her.

Relax, you are doing the right thing, it’s going to be harder on you than on your dog, she’ll have pain meds, Take a deep breath and keep breathing all will be okay.

Caryn Hersh

Carol (Middle-aged-diva) March 1, 2011 at 8:32 am

I have a good cat story–My 18 yr old cat had surgery to remove her thyroid, came through GREAT even at that advanced age, and lived til she was 21years old. They are so much stronger than we think! Will send out positive, healing vibes for your dog!

Mary March 1, 2011 at 9:09 am

Anytime we have to have a pet undergo surgery, we all stress about it. The age does not help, but it is better that you are planning this surgery rather than needing immediate and unscheduled surgery. Pray, have faith in your vet and the people they work with and know that you are doing what is right for your baby. Ask questions and have them keep explaining it until you understand it. If you are still hesitant, get a second opinion. Remember, you are the voice and the keeper of this bundle of love. When our cocker swallowed a chicken bone and needed immediate surgery, we fretted and worried until the vet explained everything in detail and made us comfortable with the procedure. Our vet and the people who work there love our babies almost as much as we do. Have faith and keep us informed. Will be praying that all goes well.

Bonnie Ramba March 1, 2011 at 9:15 am

Our first dog, Jasper the sheltie, had a very similar suspicious mass under the skin. Jasper’s was on his side, up near his ribs. Like you, I opted to have it removed. I had a wonderful vet and it was his recommendation. Jasper came through the surgery just fine πŸ™‚ With Mocca having the mass on her leg, I think the fur will also grow back more quickly too. Let us know when Mocca will have her surgery and we will keep you both in our prayers πŸ™‚

Bonnie Ramba

Kim March 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm

We will send postitive thoughts your way.. I had a 10 year old GS that developed a lump on his frong leg. It was not cancer but it grew and grew until they had to removed it. He did great, and lived another 6 years. Best of luck

Kelsey March 2, 2011 at 11:20 am

My dog Addy, broke a tooth when he was an old guy. He had to have it removed to stop the bleeding. The vets were great! Both of them worked on him so that he was under for the shortest time possible. The vet told us that after he woke up, he would give a little growl every time either one of the vets walked by his kennel! They kept him at the office until the end of the day so that they could kept an extra close eye on him. He came home that evening and was very happy. He healed up quickly and lived for quite awhile after that.

Janet S. March 7, 2011 at 10:12 am

Best wishes for Mocca and Mom today! πŸ™‚

Melissa March 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Wanted to update everyone – Mocca’s surgery went well. She did fine, and recovered from the anesthia quickly. I brought her home around 4. She was definitely a little “glassy eyed” but seemed to feel pretty good. I had to hold her back from leaping up into my vehicle, and stop her from barreling down the stairs. We set up a step for her so she could get up on the bed in her room (yeah, she has a real person bed…*spoiled*)…. She’s got antibiotics for a couple weeks, as well as pain meds. I can tell the leg is quite sore as she limps on it, and will only sit or lay down a certain way. She has to wear the dreaded “Cone of Shame” (if you don’t know what that is, you need to go watch the move “UP” as soon as possible!). She really hates it, but seems to tolerate it when she’s left alone. She’ll be only going outside leashed for a week or 2 so she doesn’t strain her incision – this will be a challenge! We are supposed to get up to 8″ of snow tonight, so I will be out in my boots kicking up the snow tomorrow. Thanks to everybody for your support!

Diane March 8, 2011 at 5:05 pm

My 9 year old lab/shep/chow mix had ACL surgery last May. I tried to keep my emotions in check and try not to “freak out” over discharge instructions. He looked so pathetic with his neck board (the neck cones freaked him out)… so I would sleep on the floor with him at night he didn’t have to wear the board at night… the neck board was in place so he wouldn’t lick his incisions.

Pug Owner March 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm

My dog has had several issued in recent years, including a benign tumor being removed from his chest. Now he has a small growth on his eyelid that we need addressed. Nevermind the financial stress it brings, which is very real, but we always get a little bit stressed when he has to go to the doc.

CelinaMac March 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm

My 14 yr. old dog just had cystotomy surgery. And the most important thing I did for my dog was to look for a veterinarian who was capable, compassionate, and trustworthy. And since you already have a vet you trust 100%—-that should give you strength. Big hugs.

It took a while for me to get the right vet. Others were just quick to schedule my dog to surgery but I already felt then that they were only in it for the money. Why were they so quick to decide to just open up my *14 yr. old dog and enumerate to me all their fees? I asked them pointblank if I should give her some meds first to make her stronger for surgery and 2 of them said they don’t have any meds to prescribe— just schedule her for surgery they said.

But with this doctor who operated on my dog. He had a therapy of what meds, antibiotics, and supplements to prescribe to get my dog ready for surgery. And the effectiveness of this therapy was supported by the results of my dog’s blood test. Three weeks before surgery, her liver ezymes were both over 1,000 and white blood count was low! I was crying then because she needed surgery but her liver was not strong enough to metabolize the anesthesia.

So I followed the doc’s instruction on diet and gave her meds, antibiotics, and silymarin supplements to prepare her for surgery. In three weeks her blood work showed significant drops in liver enzyme levels and everything else in the bloodwork results improved. I was still scared but was at ease more with my decision to pursue surgery. And yesterday, she had her surgery and she is doing fine!

Today is the 2nd day…will bring her home after two more days and will update you guys on her progress. Goodluck with your dog. But with the right surgeon and good care after surgery, I’m sure your dog will be fine too.

melissa March 29, 2011 at 8:21 am

Celina – Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am so impressed, and what a wonderful vet you found finally. Please keep us updated how your dog is doing – sounds like a real trooper and I hope she recovers swiftly!

Mocca is fully recovered – she had her stitches out 12 days after surgery (and lots of CONE) wearing, much to her dismay. However it was worth it because the stitches came out fine and now there is hardly a trace of the incision left.

vicky ashford April 13, 2011 at 9:34 am

my 11 year old spaniel bitch is in surgery for a tumour as Im writing this. Im clock watching and got 45 mins left. We dont Know if they just going to do biopsy or full removal. Im hoping we be as lucky as the messages of support youve had. Youve been so lucky I just hope my baby will be too.

Ellen B. April 13, 2011 at 9:42 am

Vicky, we’re sending positive thoughts out to you and your dog. May her surgery be successful and recovery quick. Although Melissa is on vacation, we can all related to the sitting on pins & needles feeling while waiting. Please let us know how she does, and take care of yourself, too!

melissa April 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Vicky – Hope your girl did OK in her surgery! Keep us posted!!

CT June 22, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I’m up having myself a sleepless night over my pooch’s surgery scheduled for 7:30 AM. She has a nasal mass thay has presented like cancer but 2 biopsies have yet to confirm. Ct scan comfirmed the mass so we are treating it as cancer at this point. We realistically have to do this even if its a fungus or abscess the Dr. said (which would be best case scenario – meaning no subsequent radiation.) Problem is she also has a benign mass in her stomach that is old enough to have mineralized. The ultrasound made it look like it wasn’t attached to anything and it could just come out. But still…two surgeries on two different parts at the same time has me worried like crazy! I hope my baby comes through it!

Melissa June 23, 2011 at 8:24 am

CT – Please keep us posted on your dog! I surely hope everything goes smoothly. It is amazing what the veterinarian can do and how our dogs recover. Mocca recovered very well, but it sure was agonizing for awhile.

Kim December 1, 2011 at 10:03 am


My 14 year-old dog Pepper (A Sheltie) is having surgery today to remove a fatty tumor from his belly. We have known about the tumor for a long time but the vet has always said not to do anything yet. It started to bleed middle of last week and the vet has now said that because of the bleeding they should go ahead and remove it.

I am so nervous for pepper, and I am just sitting here wondering how he is doing at this moment. Pepper is the smartest dog I have ever had and he has had some bumps along the road, for example, when he was about 2 years old he slipped a disc in his back while playing frisbee and the vet said he may never walk again but sure enough a couple months later pepper was back to almost normal. Now that he is in his old age…his back legs are not as strong as before but he is a tough guy.

My positive thoughts are that having this tumor removed while make it easier for him to walk around. I know recovery may be hard but I need to have positive thoughts right now in order for me to get through the day.

melissa December 1, 2011 at 10:12 am


Sounds like Pepper is a great dog, and very strong! I bet he pulls through is surgery fine. We hope he has a speedy recovery, and doesnt worry you too much. Keep us posted!

Brian L February 6, 2013 at 5:28 am

My best friend Alix is going in for surgery this morning to remove what has grown into a large baseball/softball size mass on his leg. Like Kim, this lipoma has been with hi for YEARS but I was never encouraged by vets to have it removed. They all said, “why put your dog through an unnecessary surgery for something that is basically aesthetic?” I agreed and kept an eye on it over the years. It has definitely gotten larger which started concerning,

This past Monday, I noticed him paying special attention to it which was unusual and while feeding him and his little sister, I noticed what looked like blood in the area. After careful inspection, I noticed that there was a hole in the thing!!!!

Long story short, my buddy is having that damn thing removed today!!! I am so unbelievably grateful that the biopsy that was done shows that it is NOT the “C” word.

Alix, a beautiful Sable German Shepherd, will be 12 in August and I have had this little man sine he was 4 months old. Like probably all of you reading this, I don’t remember life without him and, as parents of children say, he is my world, my best friend and my guardian angel. I am extremely nervous for this surgery because of his age but the vet assured me that surgery in senior dogs is not as bad as people say. I will be a mess today and his best buddy, little Emma, is going to be lost without him.

Shelly Andrews February 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Tomorrow my Maltese Mix (Gilbert) will be sedated to have his teeth cleaned. He Is around a year old. I found him as a stray. He was only 8lbs and close to death. After taking care of his problems I tried so hard to find him a home but ended up keeping him after-all. He is a now a healthy 16lbs and is the sweetest pup ever. He is displaying some separation anxieties and so do I. I need to leave him in the early am and pick him up in the afternoon. He gets really nervous when we approach the vets office. I don’t want him to think I am leaving him for good and I don’t want him to be scared. I know this is for his own good. Can’t wait until it’s over and he is back with us again. I don’t like feeling this way because I want him to feel ok. How can we get them to relax during these times?

Jesse August 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm

My 14-year-old Rat Terrier will have several tumors remove and get spay at the same time. I am very nervous about this surgery because she is too old for a surgery and she has abnormal heart beats. I am doing this because she feels very uncomfortable. I don’t want to put her down, that’s why I decided to do the surgery.

Please pray for my dog.

Thank you

Kathryn McDonough January 9, 2014 at 10:41 am

My nine year old chocolate lab has a large tumor in the soft tissue between his hip socket and his colon. Our vet is quite sure it is malignant because of the size and rapid growth. He recently started whimpering when I touch the area. She put him on meds for pain and inflammation and presented the various options from palliative care to major surgery and chemo. We do not have the money to go the surgery route. She suggested we get him an ultrasound to determine if the cancer has metastasized to any major organs before considering surgery. At this time we are considering just palliative care and she estimates he will have one to four months if we do not do surgery but adds that surgery may only give him additional months to live b/c this cancer has likely already spread. Jake is the sweetest and most lovable dog we have ever had. I feel guilty not doing surgery but considering his age and the trauma of surgery, I am reluctant to proceed with major expenses in order to give him “a little more time.” He still can run and jump and play. Any advice would be appreciated.

Nancy January 25, 2015 at 8:48 pm

I’m so sorry you can’t afford your baby surgery. I’m so fortunate my vet cut her rates so I could have a mass cut off my 14 year old baby chest. He goes in at 815 in morning and I can’t rest tonite. You will be in my prayers. It hurts so bad to see our babies suffer

victor March 17, 2016 at 4:10 am

Hello i stumbled onto this website, my 14 year old youthful boston terrier has a very large tumor in his stomach it cant be seen nor felt i just though he had gained a few pounds because hes older. The vet says his days are numbered if i do surgery he has a 50% chance of survival if not he will die very soon. He isnt in pain yet sometimes in discomfort what should i do? either way is not good? if he survives it will be a miracle if not then he will die either way.

Sue November 12, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Hi there
Can anyone give me advice. My 14 yr old dachshund is schedule for an open surgery biopsy next week as she has very high liver enzymes and is losing weight. For 12 weeks she’s been on chicken and rice and a little veg as she has dioriah some days it’s not too bad but more often than not its bad. She’s had blood tests which shows the high liver enzymes and ultra sound which shows slightly larger liver and inflamed bowel and intestine that’s why he wants to see inside and can’t do keyhole.her gall bladder has thick bile coming out. She’s got under active thyroid. She’s on zentonil and destolit and leventa for her thyroid. I’ve tried her on prescription good but no better. Average age for a standard dachshund is 15 aparantly and she’s 14 so people keep telling me I shouldn’t have it done as she still walking every day and is a happy dog. I know it’s a risk to have the biopsy I could be told it’s for nothing if it’s serious. If I don’t have it I might have time with her while she feels happy but then she could get worse. Has anybody got any thoughts please .

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