Hardy was a well-known dog in Ireland twelve years ago, when he was rescued by Ash Animal Sanctuary in Co Wicklow. He had been blasted at point-blank range with a shotgun by an unknown person: it was a miracle that he did not die. Hardy needed specialist reconstructive surgery, funded by the generosity of TV3 viewers. He went on to make a full recovery, although the right side of his face is still distorted, with his tongue dangling to one side. He has lived a contented life with Jon in the Wicklow countryside.
Hardy has always been the best-natured dog that I know: his tail is always wagging, and he never gets grumpy or upset in any way.
Hardy recently developed a problem that’s very common in older dogs: several warts sprouted on his body. At first Jon thought that they were ticks, but as they grew bigger, it was obvious that they did not have the typical spider-like protruding legs and swollen bodies. On close examination, they were clearly skin growths. These are common in older dogs, with some pets literally sprouting dozens of tiny cauliflower-like bumps all over their bodies. People often refer to them as “warts”, but technically, they are a type of benign tumour known as “sebaceous adenomas”.
In most cases, no action is needed, other than careful monitoring. Many adenomas remain small and harmless, and there’s no need to do anything about them. However there are two instances where action must be taken.
First, if an adenoma starts to grow rapidly: most tumours continue to do what they’ve started to do, so if rapid growth commences, it’s likely to continue. For this reason, prompt surgery is recommended, because the bigger the tumour gets, the more difficult it will be to remove it.
Second, if an adenoma starts to bleed, or to get itchy. If this happens, surgical removal is the only way to stop the animal from being in discomfort.
Jon had noticed two adenomas on Hardy. One, on the inside of his left ear flap, fitted into category one: it had doubled in size over a few weeks. The second one was the second type: its surface had turned scabby, and it was oozing blood. Both of them needed to be removed.
I carried out the surgery under local anaesthesia, with Hardy as an outpatient. No sutures were needed: one of the advantages of removing adenomas while they are still small. As ever, Hardy was the perfect patient, barely flinching during the procedure. And as he left, his tail was wagging, as if he realised that he’d just been helped.