The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

Bruno's ACL and Mast Cell Tumor Ordeal: Corrective TPLO Right Knee—Before the Surgery

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) rupture/tear in dogs
Mast (Mastocytoma) cell tumor in dogs

Before the Surgery

Bruno the Boxers back side with an arrow pointing to a lump on his back leg

Bruno has been showing signs that his right knee is having the same ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) problems as his left one did last year. He keeps most of his weight on the left side and if he runs he will usually hold his leg up and avoid using it for a day or so afterwards. The problems with his right knee came on slowly but have been getting worse as time goes by. He went to see a specialist where it was confirmed that he does have a rip in his right ACL. He is scheduled for a TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery. Last year Bruno had a suture lateral done on his left knee. That surgery failed and it was corrected with the TPLO procedure.

Bruno also has lumps growing in various spots on his body. He had one growing on his foot a while back and it was removed and tested. It turned out to be a benign mass. Since then three more have appeared: one on the back of his right leg, on the right side of his snout and on the right side of his belly. All three masses will be removed and tested during the TPLO procedure.

Close Up - Lump on the back of Bruno the Boxers leg

Picture showing a close-up of the lump on the back of his right leg

Bruno the Boxers side with an arrow pointing to a lump on his rib cage area

Picture showing the lump on the lower right side of his belly

Close Up - Bruno the Boxers face with and arrow pointing to a cyst on his face

Picture showing the lump on the right side of his snout. Update: this lump was diagnosed as a cyst, not a tumor.

This clip shows Bruno in the waiting room at the vet as people walk by. He loves it there. He knows that eventually one of the humans will come and say hello to him. Near the end of the clip is Bruno inside a small room waiting for the vet to come in. He wags his nub of a tail at all of the noises he hears on the other side of the door.

Bruno was not allowed to eat after midnight the day before his check-up with the specialist just in case they had to sedate him for the x-ray. Before the tech had taken him into the back I asked her to please make Bruno heel on the leash. I explained that he would behave for them if they asked him to, however if they didn't ask him to, he may be a handful. They headed for the door and I could see Bruno about to go before her. I made a noise, "aaatttt, Bruno back!" Bruno immediately fell into place with the vet tech and from there she saw what I meant by asking him to have some respect for the person holding the leash. The vet was able to get a good x-ray without sedating him. They said he was a very good boy and did everything they asked of him. He lay still for the x-ray and stood nicely while they used a syringe needle to suck out samples of the lumps for testing. One of the techs commented that she wished a third of the dogs would behave as well as Bruno.

Throw Up from Bruno the Boxer on the hardwood floor

I was told to give Bruno Benadryl every day from now until the day of the surgery to bring the swelling down around the lumps. When we got home I fed Bruno a late breakfast and gave him a dose of Benadryl. Two minutes after the dose he puked up his food along with the medicine. Oh Bruno, you poor pup. I waited an hour and gave him a little more Benadryl since most of it had come back up. A little while later I gave him a little bit of dry food. You will have to wait until dinner for more food, Bruno.

The Tumors

Bruno's tumors are called mast cell tumors. Out of all dog breeds, Boxers are the most susceptible to them. The tumor on the back of Bruno's right leg and the tumor on the right side of his belly tested positive for cancer. The tumor on his snout was negative for cancer. Mast cell tumors will spread when they are aggravated or bumped. I was told to give him high doses of Benadryl to prepare him for the removal surgery. When a mast cell tumor acts up it releases histamine, among other things. Too much histamine makes the dog's body go into a complete abnormal state, causing things like low blood pressure, excess stomach acid and loss of appetite. The area around the tumors can get very inflamed as the dogs blood vessels dilate, causing itching and burning. Benadryl acts as a blocker, stopping the histamine excess.

He was given an ultrasound to see if the cancer spread beyond the tumor sites to his organs and I am happy to report that it has not.

Ultrasound Findings

  • A complete abdominal ultrasonographic examination was performed.
  • Liver / Spleen: Normal size and echostructure.
  • Peritoneal Cavity: No effusion, no lymphadenopathy.
  • Gastrointestinal Tract: The stomach and small bowel are normal. The colonic wall is normal and filled with normal feces.
  • Mediastinum: No Lymphadenopathy, no omental changes.

Differential Diagnosis:

  • No evidence of ultrasound detectable disease.
  • No evidence of systemic mastocytoma.
Bruno the Boxers head with a lump on the side

While at the vet waiting for a tech to check him in, I noticed a fourth lump on the left side of his head. He is getting that lump checked out as well. Update: this lump was diagnosed as scar tissue. He most likely bumped his head on something at some point.

Had the cancer spread to his organs we would have had to cancel the ACL TPLO surgery and focus only on his cancer. His odds would not have been good. Since it has not spread we are moving forward with the knee surgery along with the tumor removal. Bruno will have to see a specialist every six months to get checked for cancer.

Mast cell tumors can pop up at any time on any part of the body. They can be on the surface of the skin or under the skin appearing to be a lump. They can stay local or they can spore out and attach themselves to the dog’s organs. The tumors have roots that have to be cut out. When cutting out these types of tumors a lot of the dog has to be removed around the tumors to ensure all of the cancer is removed. Some mast cell tumors are removed and never appear again, while others are removed and keep growing back. Bruno will have to be watched closely. Any little lump or bump will have to be checked.


Update: The vet called and said all went well. The tumors will be sent out to a lab and the results of the biopsy will determine if Bruno needs any type of chemotherapy or radiation treatment. They also said that the lump on his face seems more like scar tissue of some kind. They were not able to pull a sample from it. We will have to watch it to see if it grows. Maybe Bruno ran into something at some point which caused the lump.

He also said the TPLO procedure went well. Bruno should be able to come home tomorrow.

Picking Bruno Up

The day after surgery I had called to check on him and the vet tech said he was "his usual wiggly-butt self" and doing well. I was able to go and pick him up.

Raising a Puppy: Bruno the Boxer