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Retriever’s Senior Exam Reveals Mass Before Rupture

Reviewed by Dr. Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM on Thursday, January 7, 2016
Posted January 07, 2016 in A Vet's Life

dog sleeping on couch

AJ Debiasse, a technician in Stroudsburg, PA, contributed to this article.

It is sometimes difficult for dog guardians to appreciate the value of yearly or twice-yearly “routine” visits and lab work. After all, if your dog seems to be acting normal at home, and given the rising cost of pet care, why bother?

Why are routine, senior, veterinary exams important?
Despite your pet's healthy appearance, there may be a life-threatening condition lurking inside, waiting to cause trouble. The following story is a classic example of the importance of regular exams. Why classic? Because I hear similar stories all of the time.

Tucker is a 10-year-old, exuberant golden retriever. His guardians are still waiting for him to slow down with age. Tucker presented to his family vet for an annual exam and vaccines.

Tucker’s senior veterinary exam
A thorough, physical exam is “from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.” This includes examination of:

This is recommended every 6 to 12 months, along with lab work. Tucker’s senior blood work and complete urinalysis were within normal limits, except for a slightly decreased red blood cell count.

The senior dog’s exam was pristine, besides some tartar on the teeth and palpation of his belly. Then, his veterinarian felt a mass in the front of the abdomen. She was concerned that there could be a mass in the spleen, a common finding in golden retrievers.

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at, and follow him at

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