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June 2015 Pet of the Month-Thor

When I first met Thor in August 2007, he was a 12.5 pound bundle of cute pit bull puppy. I would never have thought he would grow up to be over 100 pounds! Despite his size, Thor is a gentle soul and has a big beautiful head. He will sit patiently in the waiting room while there is chaos all around him. People see his size and his breed and are intimidated, but Thor wins everyone over with his gentle spirit. His favorite treats when he visits the hospital are Lean Treats or the occasional pill pocket. He always takes the treats from our staff, but not always from me. I am certain he thinks that I have put medicine in them! Thor is an exceptional patient, and over the years has always been healthy, until January 2014.

At the end January of 2014, Thor came in for some radiographs when I noticed a small amount of swelling near his left eye. Two weeks later he came to see me with what appeared to be an abscess of the upper 4th premolar on the left side, under his eye. Thor's Mom and I decided we needed to clean his teeth and take some more radiographs; this time of the mouth, and the face. Mrs. Knecht gave me permission while I was pulling his tooth to do a biopsy of the area in his mouth because the molar behind the one that had supposedly abscessed, had fallen out. This was highly unusual because healthy teeth don't just fall out. Thor's biopsy came back as squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer is very common in the mouth of dogs and cats and it is typically locally invasive and very destructive. Where they are located in the mouth can determine the chance of the cancer spreading. In the front of the mouth the less likely it will spread; in the back of the mouth more likely to metastasize. Unfortunately, Thor's was in the back of his mouth.

Everyone at our hospital and Thor's family were very upset. I set into action to get Thor the best treatment as quickly as possible. He went to a local specialty practice to have a CT scan of his head to see how big the tumor was. I was able to be present at the time of his scan and saw for myself that his tumor was rather large. We decided on a plan for Thor to have 4 doses of radiation treatment followed by chemotherapy. The prognosis for the type of cancer even with treatment is about 6 months.

Today, I am happy to say that Thor's last dose of chemotherapy was on April 29, 2014. It has been a year and he is still in remission! The only sign that he had anything wrong is some muscle loss on the top of his head and a fistula (hole in his mouth that connects with his sinus) in his palate, from the tooth removal and the radiation. We treat him with oral antibiotics when it gets infected. Thor's gentle spirit and will to survive; plus, great pet parents are what make Thor, June's pet of the month!

Submitted by,
Dr. Beth Urbaniak