Our Great Pyrenees, Lydia, had a mass on her belly which concerned us, so a couple weeks ago I brought her in to the vet. It turned out to be breast cancer.
The vet told me that female dogs who get spayed before their first heat cycle (9 to 12 months of age) reduce their chances of breast cancer by 95 percent. If spayed after the first heat cycle but before the second, chances are reduced by 80 percent. But if left unspayed, it's almost guaranteed they'll get breast cancer in their older years. Lydia just turned eight years old.
Her inflamed teats were weeping a watery bloody fluid, so the vet wrapped her in bandages to catch the drips. It didn't work because the bandages bunched up and hitched downward, but it was only for a day or two.
She went into surgery right away. The vet both spayed her and removed the mass, which was sent in for a biopsy. The results came back indicating the cancer may have metastasized.
She came home with an incision from north to south, tipped with drain tubes at either end. Major ouch.
Needless to say, she was stuck with the "cone of shame" (as they call it) until the stitches came out. It took her a couple of days to sleep off the effects of the anesthesia.
But after that, she felt fine and frisky, but couldn't figure out what this strange plastic thing was around her neck. She simply cannot grasp its diameter, and has spent the last two weeks blundering into things and getting stuck in corners.
The last couple of days have been hard on her. I think she's bewildered by the "punishment" she's receiving -- wearing a cone -- and is acting depressed.
Yesterday it seems she might have blundered into a hole or something and lightly sprained her left front paw. At this point the cone is doing her more harm than good, so I called and moved up her vet appointment a day early to have the stitches and cone removed (her appointment is tomorrow).
The vet showed me how to check her lymph nodes, which I should not be able to feel. We'll bring her in for a six-month checkup to see if the cancer has spread.
Sigh. Lesson learned, folks. Please spay your female dogs before their first heat cycle.