Tippy's spleen biopsy (graphic images), Otis the pig's neuter
August 3, 2010

Tippy, the golden retriever


At the very end of June, five adult English golden retriever dogs were brought to the Methuen MSPCA because their owner’s house was in foreclosure.  Unfortunately, in the current economic climate, this reason for surrender is becoming more and more common.  It can be difficult to find a landlord who will allow one large dog, let alone five!  Luckily, each dog was adopted in a matter of weeks.



One of the dogs, three-year-old Tippy, did have an unusual spay surgery, however.  During a normally routine procedure, Dr. Klopfer noticed that the tail of Tippy’s spleen, which is visible during a spay, was discolored.  A healthy spleen is normally a uniform dark red color, but Tippy’s was splotchy with uniform yellow-white speckling.  Dr. Klopfer cut a small piece of spleen to biopsy, in the event that Tippy might be suffering from a serious health problem.  Golden retrievers, along with German shepherd dogs, are more prone to hemangiosarcoma, a blood cancer that often involves a tumor in the spleen.


Fortunately for Tippy, the tumor biopsy came back negative.  No infectious disease or neoplasia (abnormal mass of tissue) was detected.  What does this mean for Tippy?  It means that the vet staff has ruled out a major medical problems.  Dr. Klopfer suspects that it is quite possible that whatever caused the speckling is incidental, and may simply resolve on its own.


These pictures show Tippy’s spleen during surgery and Tippy (now Trixie!) enjoying a relaxing time outdoors at her new forever home.



Otis, the pot-bellied piglet 

 Dr. Wilmot sedating Otis for surgery
 Dr. Lynch intubating Otis while Dr. Morris holds him
 Dr. Morris and Dr. Klopfer prepping Otis for surgery
 Melissa, our Barn Manager, holding small Otis

Otis, a young pot-bellied piglet, was abandoned in the Equine Center’s barn hallway in early June, left in a box with a note describing a leg injury.  Though Otis didn’t seem to be in pain, he did have a noticeable limp in his left hind leg.  The staff was able to send Otis for radiographs (x-rays), and found that his left femur (thigh bone) wasn’t fitting properly into his pelvis (hip).  A ball-and-socket joint, the hip offers a high degree of natural movement.  But Otis’ hip had a partial dislocation, causing the joint to fit improperly.  The veterinarians at Angell who looked at Otis’ radiographs agreed the injury was likely old, and that the scar tissue that had formed around the joint protected it from further damage.  As a result of this injury, Otis’ left knee was affected to some degree, as his body compensated by shifting his weight (a mere 15 pounds!).  If Otis were a large-breed pig, his knee wouldn’t be able to support his weight.  Luckily, this small pig doesn’t need corrective hip surgery.

Thanks to a guest veterinarian, Dr. Joanne Morris of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Comparative Medicine, Drs. Klopfer, Lynch, and Wilmot had a unique opportunity to observe and assist with Otis’ neuter surgery this past Sunday.  The procedure was much like a typical dog neuter, involving similar intubation (insertion of a breathing tube), sedation, monitoring of vital signs, and surgical procedure itself.  The sutures are all internal, dissolvable over a period of time.  Surgical-grade glue was used on the external skin to seal the site from microbes and possible infection, allowing for a faster recovery time and less scarring.  Following the surgery, Otis was given a prescription for three days of pain medication, and is expected to recover quickly, and without any problems.


Otis will make a wonderful pig for his adoptive family.  Not only does he have a great personality, but his neuter will help curb potential behavior problems in the future.  Across the board, neuter surgeries are incredible beneficial—not just to help prevent unwanted litters from being born, but also to prevent behavioral issues like marking, aggression toward people and other animals, and the desire to roam.


For more information on the barn animals available at Nevins Farm, visit our “available animals” page, linked to Petfinder.com.